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Friday, August 10

Iron in the veins, Pain on the radar (Part 3)

Sunday July 22nd:
The scene: ~2,800 floating pink (female) and green (male) caps located in Lake Placid’s Mirror Lake.  In just moments an event unlike any other (from my perspective) will begin and will carry me from this rather wet location to a point within half a mile from where I’m treading with one minor caveat, I will have travelled 140.6 Miles to get there.  Once finished I will officially have earned the title ‘Ironman.’...

The past 3 days have been quite exhilarating.  Sam and I left Ithaca, NY on Thursday evening around 7PM to make the journey to the official Nick Kirk race crew cabin located in Saranac Lake, NY (12 Miles from Placid).  We arrived after an arduous 5.5 hour drive and immediately fell into a coma.

Sammi and I
Friday arrived and I quickly realized, in a panicked state, that a key suit case filled with raceday items never made the incredibly far journey from Ithaca the night before.  A lot of this: !!!! and a little of this: ??? filled my worried mind.  Apparently, in all the excitement I blew out of the house leaving my patient bag awaiting its lovely trip to the Adirondacks.  After the use of a few profound words I gathered my broken self back together and started to formulate a plan.  Surely I could find someone who hadn’t left Ithaca and who would graciously offer to shuttle it up with them?  With the help of my friend Ian I was able to arrange just that.  Selina saved the day!  J

Throughout Friday, Sam and I meandered around Placid accomplishing pre-race tasks such as getting my bike outfitted with race wheels (Thanks to my Mom and Brother), checking in (acquiring race bibs and other such items), indulging in the plethora of free samples at the Expo, and meeting up with support crew members as they trickled in one by one.

After attending the pre-race dinner (think over cooked pasta, loads of meaty sauce like substance, and, oh yeah, gourmet ice-berg salad, clearly we weren’t on the VIP list) and the mandatory race meeting we settled back into our cozy little cabin.  Admittidly I did experience some pre-race jitters and stress throughout the day.  Thankfully, my crew kept me together, :)

Saturday morning began with a 50 minute easy bike ride into Placid where I met Sam to convene on the rest of the items I had to complete before the afternoon ended; such as last minute bike adjustments, placing the bike in the transition area, visiting my new friend Selina at her campsite to pick-up my bag (yay!), returning back to the transition to place other cycling and running gear in the miniscule space allocated to racer 1157 (me), and gather with the support crew.  Once together we decided it would be best to reconvene back at the cabin in order to minimize decision making difficulties. 
Race cap
The race vehicle
Where's 1157?
Cabin activities included shenanigans such as poster making, food devouring, quaffable consuming (minus a select one of us), nutrition planning, and much laughing. 

The support crew hard at work 
The finished products

What I've observed thus far is that the coordinated ‘cattle herding’ of athletes and supporters is quite incredible at an Ironman event.  I truly applaud the race directors, assistant race directors, the handful of coordinators, and the army of volunteers that make an event of such grandeur become a reality.

...00:00:00 - CRACK, goes the race gun.  We’re off!  Stroke after stroke 2,800 of us begin the 2.4 Miles of violence known to everyone else as ‘The Swim.’  The energy is static yet fluid.  Everyone is moving in the same general path although the splashed water seems to be suspended in the foot and a half of air directly above the surface of the water.  My choice to start in the front was a scary yet very rewarding one.  Scrambling to find a vacant 2’x6’ area of the lake was inconceivable yet not quite as alarming as I previously thought it would be.  The current amidst the crowd sucked me in the only direction I wanted to go, forward.  The energy fell during the second lap as the group began to spread.  To my surprise the second lap proved to be more painful than the first as I took a few good thwacks to the rear of my head.

Swim start
01:09:19 - From the water I made my way to transition #1 located 400 Meters from the swim exit.  Taking my time I transformed from a rubbery swimmer to a 'techy' looking cyclist.

After driving one loop of the bike course I had a good feeling that I would enjoy this ride.  From Placid the course dives down into Keene throughout which I approached speeds in excess of 40MPH.  It was during this time and again during the second loop that I was the farthest from another competitor (~200’) the whole race.  Consequently, loneliness isn’t a feeling I would relate to this experience.   Inspiration, on the other hand, never ceased to fuel my ambition to drive this 112 Mile expedition to 0.  Much of this inspiration came from the sidelines, encouraging volunteers who repeatedly shared their delicious (at least in the beginning) food and semi cold bottles of water proved to bolster my very spirit.  Along with this I always had a fellow group of Ithacans or a rambunctious crew of personal supporters to look forward to.  And in return they always received a warm smile and an occasional remark or burp of laughter for their efforts. 

The ride didn’t truly begin to hit home until around mile 80, ironically coinciding with the bulk of the courses uphills.  I know, I was shocked too J Luckily I knew I only had to complete a marathon after battling the relentless Adirondack ‘hills.’  This was surely motivation and if that wasn’t then maintaining a positive attitude was a must.  My IM training included such aspects and were labeled ‘Mental toughness' training.  The technique I chose throughout the bike ride was positive self-talk.  By simply repeating a positive word or statement in your head you can orient your mind around a positive train of thought which eliminates any negativity from your thoughts.  ‘Yes, yes, yes,…’ was as creative as I was able to convince myself to be.  Turns out it worked, I made it to transition.

6:54:37 (bike split: 5:45:18) - During transition #2 I escaped my cyclist costume and donned a pair of anxious running flats to embark on the final leg of this adventure.

From here on in it will be one foot in front of the other.  Getting to the run felt like a huge accomplishment only to be dwarfed by the thought of running 26.2 Miles while feeling more exhausted than I have felt in the past six months.  The only difference was that I had adrenaline and a sea of spectators on my side and I took advantage of both.  Unfortunately, the adrenaline wore off after the first 3 Miles.  The crowd, except for sections of under populated areas kept the energy high.  I quickly realized that by simply smiling I could reap two benefits, one was the simple act of smiling made me feel better about the indelible feelings that persisted throughout my body.  The second was that spectators LOVED it!  Yeah, it was palpable.  Instead of getting not so motivating ‘Hang in there!’ remarks I was now getting ‘You’re looking great!’ and ‘Looking strong 1157!’ or my favorite ‘He’s not even breathing hard!’  The last one probably had something to do with the fact that my legs simply couldn’t go faster than the shuffle I now maintained quite steadily J

On the run!
10:52:52 (run split: 3:46:37) - By far, out of the whole experience, the finishing shoot was the most exhilarating.  So much so that it brought me to tears.  Rounding the Olympic oval seeing the crew and crossing the finish line was a powerful and moving experience.  One that could only be topped by a post race burger and beer at the LP brew pub with a dozen close friends and family members.
On the Olympic Oval
Tomorrow morning I’ll be leaving Placid with what I came for, an unforgettable experience filled memory complete with a tangible reminder of such, a finisher’s metal.

Wednesday, Aug 8th: 
My gratitude to this day (two plus weeks after IM) is immeasureable.  I’m supremely grateful for the 14 individuals who made the trek to Lake Placid to partake in my journey to becoming an Ironman.  I would also like to thank the many remote supporters that sent their positive energy through the internet.  On top of this I gleened much positive energy from the 22 other fellow Ithacans that joined me throughout this event and all their supportive people that followed them to the start line to spectate.

It is without further ado that I would like to unvail a little video treat that that I put together for everyone who helped make this happen:

Until next time (50 mile trail race on the horizon???)...


  1. Great tribute to the event, the preparation and everyone who contributed their energy to the experience. I appreciate the honorable mention. You light my world by your presence in it! I ponder your next adventure!!

    1. Thanks Cathy. I look forward to the next adventure as well.

  2. YES YES YES! I was really happy to hear that was your positive reinforcement word. Now i see 20k foot peaks on your horizon my friend!

  3. CONGRAT'S NICK! You did awesome. I can't even imagine the feeling of accomplishment and emotions of completing an Ironman. I hope to share these feelings with you some day. I enjoyed the three sections of the blog. You would make a good writer. Hope all is going well and hope to see you soon. Congrat's again Nicky Wicky.

    1. Thanks Jay. It was good seeing you a few weeks ago. I look forward to the day that we can call ourselves ironmen!

  4. david kornmeyer11/8/12 2:24 PM

    Nick that is such an amazing achievement! Congrats buddy.

  5. Yes Nick!!!


    Thank you for being so bold, outrageous and courageous.


  6. I love this blog post. Your writing is really getting beter and better. You are so impressive in so many ways. Thank you for the tribute. And for being so positive. Yes is a phenominal word.

    1. Hi Sammi! Thanks for the feedback. It's great to see. I hope you're travels are treating you well!