July 23, 2024
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July 23, 2024
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Ironman Lake Placid 2022: Part 24

Smiling and cheering crowds as I rounded the oval. (Credit: Mirel Fisch)

8:32 p.m. (13.75 hours since race start)

Mile 18: Second turn around. Only 8.2 miles to go … with hills to climb as the sun began to set behind the distant mountain. The tree-lined road is a spooky place in the darkness, but I focused on the fact that my all-time record for completing an Ironman triathlon was 15:39:10. Two hours was going to be more than enough time to break that record … I hoped.

9:09 p.m. (14.25 hours since race start)

Mile 21: Time to climb a mountain … for three miles.

Thomas Paine wrote, “These are the times that try men’s souls” to describe the low point in the American Revolution. Walking up a hill while others ran past me was trying my soul. Moments like these in an Ironman remind me why I keep saying, “I’m never doing another Ironman.” Yet, Paine was on to something; something I learned a long time ago. You learn things about yourself on the journey to your finish line. Not every journey is a physical one, but each step brings you empowerment.

(I bet you were missing your bike.)

I was so missing my bike. I spent 112 miles trying to get off my bike and now I really wanted that bike to get me across this course soon.

(How much sooner?)

I completed the first bike loop at 17.5 miles per hour. You do the math on how fast I could have covered 26.2 miles on that bike.

9:32 p.m. (14.75 hours since race start)

The last 200 feet are on the red and black carpet.

Mile 23: A 5k to go and I was back on flat ground. My record for running a 5k is 27 minutes flat.

(Yeah, that’s not happening.)

But mentally, I knew, I was close.

(There’s still another hill to climb.)

I’m gonna focus on the here and now. I saw a finisher across the street, headed back to his hotel.

You can always spot “a finisher” at an Ironman. The streets will be lined with people’s families, many sitting in lawn chairs, with drinks, maybe playing music out of a giant speaker. There’s this guy, pushing his bike. He has his medal on and his family is helping him carry his bike gear bag.

(Did that make you angry?)

No, it made me happy.

(Happy that he was done and you were not?)

Fewer than two miles to go. I could hear Mike Reilly calling out, “You are an Ironman!” I was so close I could taste it.

10:00 p.m. (15.2 hours since race start)

Mile 25.75: I was at the top of the last hill!

(Almost home.)

I made the right turn down the road to the last out and back; the last timing mat to cross before I could rest. I was amazed that this late, there were crowds on both sides of the road cheering. I heard my friend Gene and his girlfriend Mirel calling out my name as I ran to the orange cone on a timing mat at the end of an unlit street. I stopped and grabbed a barricade. It was time to put on the suit.

(Power up the arch reactor?)

It’s more like slipping into an adult onesie, but yeah, I do imagine JARVIS powering me up.

I do feel a wave of strength come over me.

(In your head.)

I’m sure, but I strengthened my back and I ran down the road to the Olympic Oval. Everywhere I looked were crowds, cheering, calling out, “It’s Ironman”; “It’s Tony Stark.”

I entered the Olympic Oval, but I still had 200 meters to go. I heard Mirel call out my name from the crowd as I rounded the final turn, but I wasn’t stopping. My heart was racing, I knew what lay ahead. I had been in motion for 15+ hours and the record was mine. It was time to claim my prize.

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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