June 21, 2024
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June 21, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Ironman Lake Placid 2021: Part 3

Saturday night, 10:45 p.m. (Eight hours to race start.)

I checked the race day forecast; rain with lightning to start at 2 a.m. and lasting all day.

(So, thunder and lightning at the swim start?)

Basically, a biblical level punishment.

(For signing up when you said, “I was never doing another Ironman” no less.)

Yay me.

This was my seventh Ironman Triathlon and over the last 10 years, I’ve become an amateur meteorologist.

I was confident that on race day the weather would not be that bad.

(Define “not that bad.”)

I was confident there would be no rain.

(Were you right?)

No way. Read on and see for yourself.

Sunday morning 4:30 a.m. (Two and a quarter hours to race start.)

I awoke to heavy rain, but no longer the predicted biblical flood.


Gone was the chance of getting electrocuted in the swim.

(Do you swim in lightning?)

No, but we do swim in rain. I mean, swimming is a “get wet” event.

My pre-race routine is “coffee, pray, bathroom.”

(Isn’t it “eat, pray, love”?)

Coffee: I wanted to get some calories into my system, but not too much. Triathletes and marathoners all have their pre-race foods. Most of the ones I have spoken to like oatmeal or a bagel with peanut butter. I usually have some lox with my coffee.

Pray: I like to do my morning prayers outside, at the race start area if I can. I feel more connected when I am seeing the sunrise than the curtains of my hotel room.

Bathroom: This is something I do not want to be thinking of once the race starts.

Last, I applied my race “tats.” The rub on numbers help the photographers identify me on the swim.

The red “M” is the badge of honor for being an Ironman finisher.

(Why not get a real tattoo?)

Leviticus 19:28.

5:15 a.m. (One and a half hours to race start.)

I was in the line for the shuttle…in the rain, in the darkness.

In a normal year, all I would have to do before the race start is take a five-minute walk to my bike in the transition area.

This year, everything was different. Due to construction, the bikes were not a five-minute walk from my hotel in the Olympic Oval. The bikes were on the far side of the lake.


No, we swim in Mirror Lake next door.

Now, where was I?

(Standing in line for the shuttle…)

…in the rain.

(How much did that ruin your mood to be standing in the rain?)

While I was wet, I wasn’t cold and I wasn’t alone. But I was worried.

I had to get from where I was standing…

(In the rain..)

To my bike and then to the swim start.

(The swim start wasn’t near your bike?)

No, and that was worrying me.

In past years, I only needed 30 minutes from the time I left the hotel until I was at the swim start.

(Including the bike?)

Including the bike.

Not being in control of my own travel, when there was a ticking clock, did not sit well with me.

I had to remind myself, I timed this perfectly, so it should work.

5:15 a.m. on the shuttle to bike.

5:30 a.m. at bike.

5:45 a.m. shuttle to the race start.

6:00 a.m. at race start.

6:25 a.m. race start for the pros.

6:45 a.m. race start for me.

How did that work out for you?

The shuttle pulled up at 5:25 a.m.

We crammed in, some sat silently, while others tried to pass the time by making conversation:

“How many Ironmans have you done?”

“Which events?”

“How many times have you done Lake Placid?”

(And you???)


(Yes, you.)

I listened. Ironman has taught me humility.

(Seriously? You are being serious here, right?)

For someone with OCD, I often feel the need to “tell” everything I am thinking and this race culture has helped me to learn to “listen.”

There is always another person with more experience or a better finish time, so I try to listen more than I talk.

5:45 a.m. (One hour to race start.)

By the time we got to our bikes, the drizzle was now a medium-heavy rainfall.

You could hear the raindrops hitting the tent tarps with an audible pop. The greenfield of bikes was soaked to the point of being squishy when I walked across it.

I pumped my tires and loaded my water bottles onto the bike.

(Why wait for the last minute to inflate your tires?)

If you inflate your tires the day before they will swell in the heat and you may find two flat tires on race day.

(You carry a bike pump with you to the race?)

I have a handheld one on my bike for emergencies, but you can “count on the kindness of strangers” at an Ironman Triathlon.

One last check of my phone, nothing that needed my attention. I turned it off and put it into the back pocket of my bike top.

(Is it a shirt or a jacket?)

A bike top is a lycra short sleeve shirt with a zipper down the front and three pockets in the back. I tucked my race top, kippah and race tzitzis into my “bike gear” bag in an attempt to keep them dry.


Before you leave, double-check.

Swim cap, yes.

Goggles, yes.

Wetsuit, yes.

Throwaway flip-flops, no.

Looks like I am walking barefoot, in just swim shorts, in the rain, to catch a shuttle…that would hopefully get me to the race start, before the race start.

(Ironman sounds like a lot of fun. Were you having fun David?)

David Roher is a USAT certified triathlon and marathon coach. He is a multi-Ironman finisher and veteran special education teacher. He is on Instagram @David Roher140.6.

He can be reached at [email protected]

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