Jo Lawn, Kate Major and Heather at the awards
Lake Placid Race Report 2004 - Heather FuhrHeather Fuhr – 2004 Ironman Lake Placid Race Report
We’ll, they say all good things must come to and end, and unfortunately my winning streak of 4 in a row came to and end this Sunday at the Ironman Lake Placid.
I toed the line this year in search of my 5th victory at Lake Placid. From the competition, I knew that this would not be any small task and that I was going to have to have a very good day to beat the likes of Kate Major (AUS), and Jo Lawn (NZL).
The picture perfect day started with a great swim in Mirror Lake. I had a good swim for myself – slightly faster than I had been on previous occasions, and more importantly closer behind the main competition. I came out of the transition a few minutes behind Jo Lawn and right with Kate Major. Off on the bike we went and Kate took off like it was an Olympic race. Just be patient I kept telling myself – she will come back. Well, was I wrong, Kate went on to post what could only be called an “INCREDIBLE” bike ride – having the 9th fastest ride of the day overall. The time checks that I was getting out on the road were anything but encouraging, with Kate eventually coming off the bike 27 minutes up on me. I have come back on the marathon from some pretty significant deficits, but realistically 27 minutes was an insurmountable lead – but then again, this is an Ironman and anything can happen.
Off onto the marathon I went. I have to be very honest – more than a few times, I questioned whether I was going to be able to finish the race. I felt OK while I was running but also had to hold off the desire to just stop and walk – or maybe pull off and call it a day. I just went from aid station to aid station, from one mile to the next. Next thing I knew, I was half way through, and actually finishing looked possible. I kept trying to focus forward, but was also worried that someone might come from behind and catch me. Based on how I was feeling, survival seems like the theme of the day and the chance of catching either of the two ahead looked pretty grim. I was slowly chipping into the lead that Jo Lawn had on me after the bike, but honestly, didn’t think that I had enough to bridge the gap. With about 2.5 miles to go, I could actually see her up ahead in the distance. I told myself – OK you have toughed it out this long, let’s see what you can do. It took every ounce of energy that I had to pull even with Jo, and of course this happened at the bottom of the Mill Hill – the steepest and longest hill on the course. Jo matched me stride for stride up the hill and it appeared that she was not going to just let me go. I knew that once we crested the hill, there was a nice flat section where I would have to make my move. Off I went and built up a slight gap. Those last couple of miles were some of the most painful. I managed to cross the line 1:19 in front of Jo, and a whopping 13:57 behind Kate.
While I was disappointed to not be able to defend my title here, it was definitely a character building race for me. I have always said, you learn more about yourself on those days that don’t go as well as you hope – and I can say that I definitely learned a lot. I am proud of myself for sticking in there when the easy thing to do would have been to give up and either call it a day, or jog on in to simply finish. You can only ask of yourself to give everything that you have, and I can truly say that I gave every ounce of energy I had both physically and mentally.
My hats off to Kate Major for an incredible performance – she has proven that she is definitely the next generation of winning Ironman athletes and has a very bright future ahead.
A special thanks to everyone for all of their support, without which I would not be able to do what I do.
Now it is time for some R&R to recharge the batteries before the big push for IM Hawaii in October. We were fortunate enough to be able to make a little side trip up to Toronto after IM Lake Placid to visit our friends Homer and Kendra. Many of you know the two of them from the numerous camps that they have helped out at. Kendra is putting the boots to the Leukemia that she is fighting. She looks great and we have no doubt she is going to win this battle. Her strength in fighting the disease shows how important it is for us to stay active and healthy, by doing this we can have the strength to face anything. KENDRA – you are an inspiration to us all!!!!