July 18, 2024
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July 18, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Ironman Lake Placid 2017: The Race Day Experience

Part 4


My bike ride had only put me 5 minutes behind last year’s pace.

I was down a total of 6 minutes.

Happy because I knew that I could make that up on the run.

If I run a 5:45 marathon, I would have a new record.

(Last year I ran 5:59)

Mile 1-7

I emerged from the changing tent into the bright afternoon sun.

It was like staring into the eye of a nuclear explosion

You’re not helping.

I stopped for the volunteer to apply suntan lotion to my limbs & I ran out onto main street.

The crowds were cheering the athletes like it was a parade.

I smiled and tried to focus on my pacing.

As nice as it is to have people ringing cowbells & blasting music from their cars, I find the crowds a distraction.

I’m trying to settle into my marathon pace and do a diagnostic checkout of systems.

The only way to know how my run is going to go is getting a sense of how my legs feel after 112 miles and my GPS watch…which was not finding a signal

It was acting as a stop watch.

No matter. The course has mile markers, so all I had to do was the time & distance calculations to figure out how hard to push my run. I was averaging 10:45 minutes miles, which put me ahead of schedule and then I started to feel back pain.

A low throbbing pain like a kidney punch. Lower back muscle fatigue. Breathing became labored. All the time spent trying to free the locked bike gears stressed my lumbar. I told myself.

Don’t think about records, just keep moving at your fastest walking pace.

At mile 3, I reached Shlomo who was walking. We walked.

We hit the turnaround at mile 6.

At mile 7, I started running again.

I got a half mile and had to walk…again.

So it was going to be a walk/run type of afternoon.

Mile 8-13

A young man was standing in the road holding a large Hershey chocolate bar.

“You know you want it.”

“Yes I do.”


“What do you have?”

“Evan Williams Bourbon”

So after a piece of chocolate & shot of Bourbon, I was happy and running again.

Soon I was back into town, past the Olympic Oval to the 13 mile turn around.

I was only 5 minutes behind last year’s marathon.

When I added the swim & bike times I was just 11 minutes behind last year’s finish.

I was optimistic that my run would return, it had in other races.

Mile 13-26

Now the sun was going down & so was my pace.

All the stress of the bike was taking its toll, but hey, I’M DOING AN IRONMAN!

As fatigued as my back was, the rest of me felt strong.

The fact that I was cramping and yet I was still walk/running is a testament to all the training I did. To all the early morning runs.

And let’s not forget I’M DOING AN IRONMAN!

At mile 25, I told my wife that I was near,

“Just hurry up and finish, we miss you”.

That was all I needed to hear.

I pulled my costume out of the backpack I had been carrying for 26.2 miles.

I wanted to give my 5 year old something he would never forget.

I wound up giving myself an experience I will never forget.

I suited up and ran into the the Olympic Oval. I have done this 4 times before, but this was different.

As I jogged passed the crowd I kept hearing two things:


“He really does look like Ironman!”

The cheering as I approach the finish line became near

deafening. You are literally running towards the light.

I took a minute to drink it in. The moment you step onto the red and black carpet you are home.

Then I jogged past announcer Mike Reilly and heard my name…

“David Roher, Teaneck NJ,…you are…an IRONMAN!…Yeah, he does look like him.”

In the end, I didn’t break my record…I did something much more rewarding.

When things did not go as planned, I kept my head and persevered. Something I learned from Mom and Dad.

Something I hope I am passing along to my boys.

By David Roher


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