Call Now: 443-286-2488

Secrets of Success

Iron Lessons The Lake Placid Ironman – Part 2

Completing the 2006 Lake Placid Ironman was a life-changing event. Here are some of the lessons I learned:


Completing a fifteen-hour extreme endurance event and waking up the next morning pain free, I was struck with the level of physical conditioning I had achieved. I had no idea I could attain that level of fitness at age 56. I began to wonder what other areas of my life have potential I am not tapping simply because I am unaware of my own abilities.

In what areas of your life do you need to challenge yourself?


Lake Placid is a fertile area in which to find Ironman experts. I recall a conversation I had with Shane, a multiple IM finisher, a few days before the race. Suppose, he said, we were to clear the course roads of all traffic, stock each aid station with all the food and drink you would need and then run the race with no spectators or volunteers. How well do you think you would do?

The answer is “not very well.” The crowds provide nourishment- a different kind of nourishment- emotional and psychic. As I was beginning the second loop of the bike during the race, I was riding out of Lake Placid another athlete. The crowds were screaming both of our names. Over the noise I laughed as I yelled to him, “We will never be this famous again for the rest of our lives!”

This steady diet of support and encouragement was repeated throughout the day and because of it my spirits were high even as my body began to wear down.

How wonderful it is to have people in our lives cheering us on. What a difference it can make in our performance. I realized I need to do more cheering for others in my life and I need to acknowledge my need for cheers.

In the next hour, contact someone and give them a word of encouragement.


The first few days following Ironman were almost an out-of-body experience. There were the athlete’s victory breakfast and the volunteer appreciation dinner during which the athletes were called up to the stage to acknowledge and be acknowledged by the volunteers. I received nearly one hundred emails and phone calls. In Lake Placid, everywhere you went you were treated like a celebrity.

That all began to change Friday following the race. I began to experience tremendous fatigue, and started to feel depressed. That night I contacted my coach to ask, “What’s going on?”

“It’s called Post Ironman Syndrome” she told me. After days of being “drugged,” the endorphins my brain was releasing had begun to diminish. After focusing on a goal this large for so long and then attaining it, a letdown was natural. I began to wonder if I would ever do anything this big again. I thought about the question for a few days.

After much soul searching my answer is “why not?”

What’s the next big goal you want to accomplish?


Based on my calculation, my times did not add up to allow me to finish the race within the 17 hours allotted… but I did. I could not complete the down hill on the bike quickly enough…but I did. I could not survive the uphill climbs…but I did. My shoulder was too damaged to allow me to swim the 2.4 miles…but I did. Essentially, exercising for 15 plus hours nonstop and covering 140 miles HAD to be impossible…but it wasn’t. For the first 91/2 hours of the race, my energy level actually INCREASED.

I remembered when I was a little kid and my world was filled with wonder and magic and endless possibilities, and I realized I still had that person inside of me.

What can you do in the next week to create some wonder and magic in your life and the lives of others?


During the race I had so much to think about and process that I found my mind seldom wandering. I was pretty much in the moment for 15 hours straight.

When almost 2,200 people are swimming in the same lake at the same time, you bet you’re paying attention. It wasn’t until the very end of the swim that I even began to think about the bike. And the bike is the most information intensive sport of the three. You have to be concerned about road conditions, the gear you’re in, whether someone is about to pass you, how fast you’re going, and on and on. The run is all about how you’re feeling and how much fuel is still left in the tank. Throughout the race you are also preoccupied with your nutrition and hydration needs.

A friend of mine recently commented that the reason our minds often wander is because there is nothing compelling enough to keep us engaged in the present. Though I’m sure there are more, I can recall five days in which I was totally in the present–the day I was married, the day each of our three children was born and Ironman.

I realized I need and want to have more of those moments.

When was the last time you spent an entire day in the present?

The experience of Ironman made me think about my life in new ways. Hopefully, some of the questions I posed will cause you, too, to think in new ways.

Leave a Reply

CTS Consulting, Inc

3126 Berkshire Road

Baltimore, Maryland 21214

phone 410-444-5857

cell 443-286-2488