‘On race day, it had been nearly a year since I signed up for this long time goal. I don’t know why I had in my mind that I would race Ironman Lake Placid, but it is the race I always thought I would do. So when the chance came to sign up, with Matt’s encouraging, I signed up.I can say now that I only partly knew what I was getting myself into. I knew the time requirements for training were a lot but I didn’t have any idea, really, how I was going to make it work with my life. I can say honestly that I almost never minded the hours of training.
What was hard was the time away from my family. The number of times I had to lean on family or friends for help so I could get the training in. The sacrifices everyone had to make for me to get to this race. For everyone and their support, I am eternally grateful.A year of preparation seems like a long time and now that it’s all over, it’s gone in a flash.
Race morning I woke up at 4:00 and felt fairly calm. I even was able to eat a bagel (or at least most of it) and my stomach was no more crazy than it usually is on race morning. Matt and I left at 5 and got to the race start by 5:30. The only thing I really had to do was attach the tubular spare tire I had bought the night before and add water bottles to my bike. Mike Reilly, the voice of Ironman, welcomed the 954 ironman first timers with a reminder to take it easy on the bike downhills and not kill ourselves. Not exactly the inspirational words I thought he might give, but after that, I finished in transition and headed to body marking.
I saw my teammates Sarah, Russ, Andrew, Matt and Steve at body marking, and had Rachel mark me. It was calming to see everyone one last time before the start. These teammates had done more than I could have ever hoped to help prepare me for this day. After dropping special needs bags, I kissed Matt goodbye on the beach and headed for the swim start.
My plan was to start front and center since I thought the majority of the fighting would be front left as people tried to get on the rope line. I tread for what seemed like an eternity.They sang the national anthem and I cried. Then before Mike gave his famed line of ”Go out there and have the best day of your life” he said: May the road rise to meet you, may the wind be always at your back. I don”t know if he says that often but it was my Nanny”s birthday and it was as if she
somehow channeled him to say that to let me know she was there with me — and I cried again.
I knew from the first stroke the man in front of me took that he should not have been in the front of the pack. A lot of the men in the front should not have been at the front. I was kicked, hit, pushed under. I had half my goggles kicked off. I had a foot to the chest ( several times). I drank more water than I wanted and in general I was miserable. The first 1000 meters I couldn”t put many strokes together at all. I actually remember thinking “I will never do this again”.
At the first buoy, I swing wide and swam outside the pack by about 10 meters most of the second 1000.When I got out of the water the clock read 42 min. My heart sank. I know I said time didn’t matter but that was nowhere near what I had wanted to do. As I ate a gu, ran around the timing mat and back in the water, I began to wonder if that was the Pro clock which was 10 min ahead of the age group start. Either way, I was back in the water and the third leg was the first time I saw the rope line. I was mad that I even tried to get on the rope line to begin with. The course is so narrow and straight that i should not have even worried about it. The last 1000 meters was maybe the most negative I let myself get but when I got out of the water and the clock read 1:07, I was instantly lifted since I was hoping for @ 1:05.
My wetsuit ripper was my teammate Sarah’s sister and when I looked into her face to thank her at the end, I realized who she must be. Then I went into the changing tent and the volunteer who helped me was another T3 racer that I had never met. It was like I was meant to find the volunteers that were helping me. So two hugs from new friends and I was off on the bike.The negative side of coming out of the swim on the early side is that you passed a LOT on the bike. Like 1200 times!! I hardly ever lost focus on the bike, though, and never felt like I needed to ride differently than I was. It was a long day and I was content with my riding, my heart rate and my game plan so I just settled in for a beautiful (long, hot, hilly) ride.And I have to say that it’s easy to get bike envy at races like this. Bikes that cost 4x my bike are all around. But I must have received about 30 comments on my pink bike –men and women alike commenting on how much they liked my pink Elite bike. I guess that’s one plus side of being passed so often :)I changed my bike shorts at special needs and took probably a bit too much time before setting off for loop two. My family spread out all over the course to see me. Matt, Kerry, Alex, Mom, Dad, Nora and Kids were in Wilmington heading to Whiteface on the first lap and at our house rental the second lap. Amy was right in Lake Placid in her own quiet spot where she could offer support away from the crowds. Aileen was my virtual cheerleader –watching my time checks online and waiting for family photos and posts after I saw them to share with everyone on Facebook.Part way into the second loop, my feet started hurting and then my left hip ached. I wasn’t used to this pain and didn’t know how to relieve it. I got off my bike at an aid station and then just pushed through the last hills to get back to transition. I started to drift into negative thoughts about not being able to run if my feet or hip hurt but I pretty quickly reminded myself that I was not on the run and that I was only on the bike. One of my mantras for the day was “there’s no place I’d rather be”. I called on that often during my ride to bring me back to a state of being present and grateful instead of anxious and worried.I climbed the three bears, saw Amy again, saw my co workers and the signs that came all the way from Portland, Oregon and rode back to the oval.I have no recollection of someone taking my bike or even getting my bike bag. I do remember going into the changing tent and wanting no help. I didn’t want a volunteer to help me along or rush me. I just wanted to sit for a few minutes, collect myself and relax. And I did – for an 11 minute transition.And then all that was left was the run. It didn’t take me long to see Matt, Alex and Kerry. Matt actually ran with me for a while. I am sure after 9 hours of racing he was anxious to know how I was feeling. And its hard to say how you’re feeling. I was mostly OK, but I didn’t have a lot of energy to share that. I did tell him about my feet hurting on the bike but could also tell him that nothing hurt now while running.My plan was to walk through the water stations, which were mostly about 1 mile apart and then walk the two big hills back into Lake Placid that I would have to do twice. Nora joined me on several sections and the kids were in position to see me near the horse fairgrounds several times. I always felt like jogging more than walking so when I was done with my water or the hill, I continued my slow jog.I saw my Dad at the second uphill. I saw Amy a little further up. I saw my co-workers and got high fives.I passed the half way point.I headed back out of town.
And then I heard my song.Sweet Disposition by the Temper Trap was playing as headed down the hill away from Lake Placid. I remember thinking “Finally”. I had been waiting to hear this somewhere on course during the day. But then I realized that this was no coincidence. There was Matt and Kerry and Alex by a DJ on the course clearly having requested my song to be played. I had tears in my eyes and I could hardly breathe.I’m not sure how many moments like these I have had in my life but I don’t think any have literally taken my breath away like this did.It is overwhelming to be loved this much.I saw Nora, the kids and my Mom one more time heading out towards the ski jump and I told Nora to start heading towards the finish and not wait for me to come back.The miles kept ticking away, jogging still felt better than walking and as I passed the place where my family had been cheering for me, there were plenty of people telling me “You’ve Got This, Marcy”, which of course, was my other mantra for the day.As I got back to the last hill, there was my Dad who walked with me as I had my last few pretzels and sips of water. As Matt videoed my journey, Nora joined in the walk. And as I turned the corner to continue up the hill, there was Olivia, Nigel, Emma and Sofia and so, the six of us ran together for a while. I know spectators are not supposed to be on the course, but after 14 hours of racing my fans were not going to be denied.It’s a great feeling to pass special needs again and not need them. The final mile out and back seemed fairly eternal but I saw two more unexpected supporters in Nick and Eileen Baughn and at last, I was coming into the oval.I knew if you were by yourself that you would hear your name called more clearly as you cross the finish line. A larger group of people were in front of me and I thought I had a clear shot to the finish. I didn’t see my family but was lifted by the collective roar of the crowd. That feeling of hundreds of people cheering you on is something that is indescribable and it’s remarkable what that positive energy can help you do.I did hear Mike Reilly call my name but it was not as I had heard it in my dreams. I did not hear “Marcy Gialdo, YOU are an Ironman”. I was combined with the person behind me and we were declared Ironmen. It may seem so trivial, but that was a disappointment.Nonetheless, I crossed the finish line smiling, like I had been all day.Final time 14:17:41Swim: 1:07:27T1: 9:59Bike: 7:35:51T2: 11:34Run: 5:12:52Though it is probably a given, I have to say that this was not a victory for me alone. I had my parents, my sisters, my children, my nieces, cousins, aunts and uncles, my friends, and my coworkers all supporting me live and from afar on race day.I had teammates that invited me along for a training weekend over Memorial Day who helped show me the course, let me know what to expect and helped me train to get to this day.Nora did long runs with me. Olivia missed two swim meets for me to be in Lake Placid. Mom and Dad had helped watch the kids, sponsored my sneakers and always supported my decision to take on this race. Amy drove nearly 1000 miles round trip to be there in person. Coworkers overnighted signs of support to four amazing coworkers and friends who showed up in person.And all of this so I could cross that finish line to their collective cheers.And then there’s Matt. No one sacrificed more for me to achieve my goal. Matt took the lion’s share of parenting, housework and Nigel night wake ups. He let me have the lion’s share of weekend and early morning hours to work out. He tucked me in and enforced my early bedtime only minutes after the kids were in bed. He photo-journaled my training. He made me feel like I was going to make it every step of the way. He had (and has) a faith in me that helps me realize how strong I truly am.
A moment, A love, A Dream, A Laugh, A Kiss, A cry, Our Rights, Our wrongs
So Stay there, ’cause I’ll be coming overAnd While our blood’s so young
So Young, it runs
We won’t stop until it’s over
Won’t stop to surrender.
‘, ‘Ironman Lake Placid July 22, 2012’,