Sunday, July 31, 2011

Ironman Lake Placid Run

I speed into T2 with the fear that I’m still not going to make the cut off, because I wasn’t sure if you needed to be on the run course by 5:30 or simply off the bike. Now I know you just need to be off the bike. The volunteers grab my bike from me and I run to get my run gear bag and change into my compression socks and sneakers. Thank goodness I had Vaseline in there…definitely had some chafing I needed to fix. I changed my insulin pump settings down to a 80% reduction so I was taking 20% of my normal basal. I know other T1’s told me I might not need ANY insulin for the run or maybe only 10% but I know I need something higher than that so I kept it at 20% and would keep it that way for the entire race. I made one final stop to the bathroom before heading out. I felt good, my legs felt fresh, and of course I had the cheering crowds to make me feel even better. To top it off my BS was a perfect 90, a great number to run with. Even though it was later in the day it was still hot. For the first 2 aid stations I took their cold, water soaked sponges and wet my head and chest. My plan was to run in z2 or pace of 13:30-14:00 and walk the aid stations. Well, that didn’t quite go according to plan. I was slower, and I was only running ¾ of a mile and walking. My pace was slower at around 16min mi., then I’d run and get it back to 13min mi but I wasn’t as consistent. I also thought I felt a blister coming on within the first 4 miles. Oh lord. It would be a long night. BUT a couple of things happened that would repeat in my head for the entire marathon.

  1. I saw a bunch of QT2 racers throughout the day and then kept seeing them on the run and thought of Cait Snow and my friend PJ and how they run. Their form. I decided in that first 5 miles to change my run form. I know, I know, you never try anything new right before an A race let alone the DAY OF the race. But I did. I changed my form. I kept my arms glued to my sides pumping them forward and back. I also took shorter, quicker strides. So for my usual 2 strides I was now taking 4. Now I know I’m not fast, and running is my weakest link but this approach helped me and kept me going. Not once did I have shin issues, or tight calves, which has always happened in training.
  2. The second thought that kept playing in my head was my T1 friend Shannon, and how she crossed the finish line in her first Ironman with blisters and raw feet galore. If she could do it - I could do it. Besides I wasn’t even sure if I HAD a blister, it just felt like it. I was going to make it no matter what.
  3. The final thoughts that played crucial throughout the marathon were the words from my coach Tom, my friend Igor and my “D” sister Denise (she was also racing and making her way to a PR!). EAT! Keep moving one foot in front of the other. Any run pace is faster than walking.
Those 3 big things would all be re-playing in my head. Within the first 10 miles of the race I was able to eat 1 banana, 4 GU’s, 6 orange slices, some grapes and a few pretzels. I saw many athletes on the side of the road doubled over or sitting down on the side barriers within that first loop. I now realize they must have been on their 2nd loop while I was on my first. I saw them and I Just. Kept. Moving. Never stop, don’t stop moving. I felt bad for them but what could I do? Coming back into town on the first loop was great but at the same time I kept on having the volunteers telling me that “I was almost done, you’re almost home” when sadly I was only just finishing my 1st loop. When I would correct them they would say, “you’ve got plenty of time 4 hours still”. However, while that seemed like a lot I was already calculating how I needed to pick up the pace and that I would be cutting it very close. The last 3 miles of the half marathon are great, you have lots of crowd support, and I was able to see my friends and teammates again. My new friend Sarah ran with me during miles 12 and 13. I was grateful. She was awesome and was cheering me and telling me how great I was and the next time she saw me I’d be crossing the finish line an Ironman. I was getting so choked up at that time that I had to fight back the tears because I couldn’t breath, cry and run at the same time. The emotion chokes you.

running through mile 14 IMLP
 As I was running down mile 13 I remember telling my friend Seb as he was videotaping me that “this is hard”, he of course was laughing because he’s done it. Twice before and will be doing it again in August for IM Canada. Yes he’s another T1 too. We are all over spreading the good word about how cool it is to have diabetes and racing with it. I felt restored again, thanks to my friends and the crowds. Yes I was still smiling. As I approached mile marker 15 I remember seeing that sign in wonderment because I had never run that far. I thought that was pretty cool.

As I’m plodding along there are less and less people on the road. It was getting dark. I felt like the last person on the course. I was also getting nauseous again. I drank some of my Nuun water for the electrolytes but I remember I needed to eat something. There’s no nutrition in Nuun water. Miles 17-22 were the absolute worst miles of the race. I was on autopilot. One foot in front of the other. Eat a glucose tablet (it’s a simple sugar and would not upset my stomach). Sip some water. Drink some cola (I hate cola but it really did help). Drink chicken broth. If I walked I was trying to walk faster and then I’d just start running again. My quads would scream at the initial start but then they’d settle. Follow the white line in the road. That’s how I know I’m going straight. I’d look at my CGM to make sure I wasn’t low and it was a straight line of 100. Every time I’d pass an aid station they’d offer cookies, pretzels, bananas. I couldn’t even hear them say the word cookie and I wanted to gag. “How could anybody eat anything sweet?” I’d think. Just keep moving. I have to make it. I figured if I could get to the turnaround point by 10pm I’d be good because that means I just had 7miles to the finish. I could run 6miles in an hour. Hold on, Back up. Did I just say I could run 6 miles in an hour? Haha funny. Not even on a GOOD day have I ever been able to run 6 miles in an hour, there was no way in hell I was running 6 miles in an hour today. Let’s move that time to 10:20pm turnaround. That’s better, and I made it at that time too. I was running more. Remember what Tom said, any pace is faster than walking and he was/is right. Seeing that turnaround mat was like seeing the finish line. I was so frigging happy! Only 7 more to go!

I picked up the pace again and was with a group of other athletes (I guess I wasn’t alone), an official told us near mile 21 we needed to maintain a 16min mi pace in order to make it to the finish line. He said my run pace was good. I’d make it the way I was going. Phew! I was coming back to life. Still nauseous but I was doing better. I saw a woman running and leaning to the side and I felt bad for her, she was ahead of me but then I passed her. I was getting stronger. Oh god I just wanted to get to that last 3miles! I needed to make it. God I needed to make that time. It was going to be so close. Please don’t let me fail. Keep moving. Any pace is faster than walking. One foot in front of the other. As I was coming into town I could see finishers walking with their bikes, one woman who had been sitting on her lawn was cheering me. She remembered when I went out and told me then she’d stay until I passed again. And she did, she stayed on her lawn until 11pm when I passed. That emotion when I passed her choking me again. People telling me I was going to make it as I’m doing my short quick step run. Then we get to the hill leading up to Main Street. I started walking fast; I needed a break just for a second. I had another official tell me I needed to maintain a 16min pace in order to finish. I started running again. As I make the left onto Main Street still running up another hill I start panicking because I still have 2 more miles to go. It’s 11:25pm, oh my god I’m scared! Please let me make it. The few people who are still watching from the sidelines are cheering me, yelling “GOOOO BROOKLYN! You’re an Ironman! Keep going at that pace”. I didn’t believe them. Not yet. I still had 2 miles. Then a volunteer started running with me, I think her name was Joy. She started pacing me along with another guy who was volunteering. Joy was great. She was reminding me how I trained all year long for this, I was an Ironman, and I’ve got this. Keep moving those arms fast and my legs would go faster. Don’t stop. Mile 25 people were screaming my name “Jennifer is an Ironman! Go Brooklyn!” I saw my coach Danny again and he was telling me to keep moving! I’ve got this! My dear friend Danni was passing me in mile 26 (I was so happy she was making it!) and she yelled “JEN – RUN!!! DON’T STOP JEN!” That emotion was choking me again. I couldn’t breath. I needed a quick walk break again just for a second. My pacers gave it to me for 30seconds telling me to stride it out. They kept looking at their watches. Start running again. I was almost at the mat where I turnaround. Joy said: “that’s YOUR mat, run across and then it’s downhill, loosen up, breath in through your nose out through your mouth, fast arms, fast legs”. 1.2 miles to go. They gave me one final break of 30 seconds then I was running to the finish. No stopping. As I was running I could hear people screaming but it was almost distant because I was focused on the finish and just MOVING, RUNNING. I needed to make it. Then Danny ran next to me. Danny the comforting voice throughout my race. There at every point. He was screaming/yelling “Jen baby you got this! Don’t stop now!” Then he told me how proud he was of me and I was doing great, gave me a kiss and quick hug and I was off. My pacers telling me I was an Ironman. I was going to make it. That emotion choking me again. I still didn’t believe them. Not yet.

As I got into the last 200 yds officials stopped my pacers and told them they couldn’t go any further. I thanked them profusely (as I had been the entire time they ran with me), I saw my friends Jack and Sandra first screaming for me. The crowds of spectators were going CRAZY! I felt like I was flying. I saw my other friends and friends of friends in the crowds. My girls Jen, Dee and Cheryl. Seb and Sarah. I was running and giving high fives to everyone who had their hands outstretched. I was almost there. I could hear Mike Reilly through the screaming crowd announce my name and say “Jennifer Davino YOU. ARE. AN. IRONMAN!”

I believed him.

You can see me cross the finish line here

Overall Time: 16:55:09T2 12:13
Final Run Time: 26.2 miles 6:35:50 15.06/mi

BS Info: Temp basal reduced to 80% for entire run (so I was only taking 20% of normal basal), gave 1.70 units correction at 11:25pm because I was in the 200’s.

5:35pm 90
7:20pm 106
8:25pm 109
10:05pm 157
11:20pm 235

Nutrition Info:

1 bottle of Nuun water sipped throughout run
1 or 1½ banana
4 GU’s
6 grapes
6 slices of orange
Ice chips
7 glucose tablets
~4 ½ cups of cola
~4 ½ cups of chicken broth
1 salt pill (for good measure)


  1. Awesome report--IRONMAN!!! :)

  2. Hey Jen- I'm the guy who ran with you at the end of the run. (I also helped you at the run special needs station but I'm not sure you remember that.) :) Many congrats on becoming an Ironman. Your story is very inspiring and I am so glad all of your hard work and training paid off. I am very happy I stayed until end. I was planning on leaving around 10 but the run course seemed very lonely so I figured the more support the better. Paceing you at the end and seeing you after the finish was the highlight of an already awesome day. Best of luck!! Congrats again, Ironman!!


    PS- If you have that pic of us you can send it to Thanks!

  3. Jen, I am sitting at work CRYING at my desk. Beautiful, inspiring story. Love you!!

  4. Jen, you are a star, as well as being an Ironman! What a great accomplishment and gives me inspiration for Coeur d'Alene next year! Well done.

  5. Jen,
    David forwarded me the link. David has had similar challenges with BG during his IMs as well. You just never know how it is going to go.

    I had chills watching your finish. It's been five years since I IM'ed, but will never forget that feeling crossing the finish line. You will never forget either.

  6. Jen,

    Awesome report...youre a GREAT writer and also VERY inspiring.I really feel BLESSED to be a part of this story. Being there felt magical.
    Love you, Ironman