Ironman Lake Placid Goals

Here we are, seven days away from Ironman Lake Placid. It’s so hard to wrap my head around the fact that this is actually happening. I’ve been thinking about my goals for this race for months.

first tri

Ever since my first sprint tri!

My main goal is to finish, right?

Right. But when I took the time to break the race down into smaller segments with smaller goals, I actually got a little boost of confidence. Knowing that I have all of these mini goals that seem achievable really helps me focus on reaching my main goal – finishing with a smile on my face.


Smiling’s my favorite.

Besides playing around with my fancy race calculator apps (it’s addicting, I tell you) I hadn’t written down my exact time goals. But today’s the day.

I’ve been pouring over results of past Lake Placid finishers with similar paces to mine, and it’s helped me break it down and understand the different paces I need to keep up to finish before the cutoffs. What did I learn? There are a MILLION possible time combinations out there. And you just never know what might happen!

So, as “everyone” says, it’s helpful to have A, B, and C goals for a big race. Yes, I really just want to finish. That’s all I care about. But again, having goals helps me balance the day out and keeps me focused. Here we go!


Here’s what I’m up against:


Not super complicated – just two 1.2 mile loops. Ironman is trying something new with this race, in that they are allowing a rolling start (instead of a crazy, washing-machine-like mass start). I’ll be able to seed myself into the proper “corral” based on time (except there won’t be actual corrals) and hopefully avoid getting punched. Any day you don’t get punched is a good day.

I swam the Quassy 1.2 mile course in about 44 minutes, which is 2:19 per 100 meters. I definitely didn’t swim straight on that course, and I’m hoping with the extra practice over the past couple months, I can at LEAST swim that pace the whole time, if not a little faster. We also get out of the water for a hot second in between loops, so maybe that tiny little rest will help. (A short rest definitely does help in practice!)


A: 43 minutes per lap = 1 hour and 26 minutes or less (2:13/100m)

B: 47 minutes per lap = 1 hour and 34 minutes or less (2:26/100m)

C: 50 minutes per lap = 1 hour and 40 minutes or less (2:35/100m)

Cutoff: 2 hours and 2 minutes after the last swimmer enters the water.

Transition: 10 minutes or less – there’s a bit of a run between swim exit and transition, which is included in transition time.

Honestly, my A goal might be pushing it (but that’s why it’s the A goal, right!?) I’ve swum the full distance (in about an hour and a half) and have found that my pace stays pretty consistent throughout. A little extra effort at the end will not only get the blood flowing to my legs again, but might help me take a minute or two off my time!

Cutoff: 2 hours and 20 minutes after the last person starts. I’m not very concerned with this one. (KNOCK ON WOOD!!!!!!)



Oh, the bike course. Biking in general. This will be the most challenging for me. I’m worried that I’m on a road bike (not a fancy tri bike) but hey, what am I going to do about that now? I’m staying OPTIMISTIC! Only POSITIVE THOUGHTS for the next seven (seven!!!) days! Again, this course is two loops, with the last 30 or so miles full of long, tough hills called “The Bears”. I’ve also heard that the first 10 miles or so are totally underestimated and to be careful with pacing there.

Overall, I think they key to owning this course is proper pacing and hydration. (But let’s be honest, what do I really know?!) The hills will be really hard, especially on the second loop…but if I stay in the right mindset and “run my own race”, I’ll be okay. I just need to be confident in my skills and not worry about what anyone else is doing. I’m not really sure where to start with these goals, but this is what I’m going with:

A: Between 3 hours & 50 minutes and 3 hours & 55 minutes per lap = 7 hours and 45 minutes or less (14.45 mph average).

(I would be ecstatic with this time, but it’s more just wishful thinking. I do have new lighter tires that my bike guy swears will make me ride one mile per hour faster that normal. That’s probably a huge exaggeration but a girl can dream!)

B: 4 hours & 5 minutes per lap = 8 hours and 10 minutes or less (13.7 mph average)

C: 4 hours & 15 minutes per lap = 8 hours and 30 minutes or less (13.17 mpg average)

Cutoff: Must complete the first lap by 1:30PM (6-ish hours after start, depending on when you enter the water.) Must complete bike course by 5:30PM (10 1/2 hours after start).

There are big gaps between these times, I know. Depending on my swim, they might put me dangerously close to the cutoffs. What if I have bike trouble or have to stop? These are the things I’m freaking out about. When I began this journey, the LAST thing I wanted was to not be able to enjoy the experience because I’m so worried about the cutoffs. But I’m going to do my best, smile, and make success happen. I will, I will, I will!

Transition: 6 minutes or less

And now, for my favorite. The run. I already cannot WAIT to get on the run!



Again, two loops with some turnarounds. And more HILLS.

I have absolutely no idea how fast (slow) I might run this marathon, so I’m being extremely cautious and not setting my goal pace high at all (as you can see below). I know that after my 7 hour ride, my legs still felt fairly fresh. Even at Quassy, the longer I ran the better I felt. But those runs were much shorter in comparison. Can I keep my predicted pace on the hills without making my heart rate skyrocket? Maybe I’ll surprise myself. It’s nerve-wracking, but I guess that’s what’s exciting about triathlon. You just never know. And I’m not tryin’a win, right?!

A: 2 hours and 50 minutes per loop = 5 hours and 40 minutes or less (12:58 per mile)

B: 2 hours and 52 minutes per loop = 5 hours and 45 minutes or less (13:09 per mile)

C: 3 hours per loop = 6 hours or less (13:43 per mile)

Cutoffs: Must complete first loop by 9PM. Must finish by midnight (or 17 hours max if I start the swim earlier than 7AM).

Goal Times

Obviously, it’s not likely that all of my goal times will line up perfectly. I may have an A swim, a B bike, and a B run, or any combination of the three choices for each sport. Just for fun, here are some overall time goals; being honest with myself and taking into account what will need to happen for me to finish. Some are a little different from the above individual goals, and might not even make sense to anyone else. Sorry, friends! I’m just having fun playing with the numbers:


On a perfect day, I think A is possible. Please oh please bring me a perfect day, Ironman gods!

I really hope I’m faster on the bike, but based on my view of my abilities, this looks pretty good to me. I’m embracing the fact that I’m a back-of-the-packer! No matter what happens, I’m so happy to have had this opportunity – the journey has been incredible.

All in all, I've come a long way since my first team practice in January!

All in all, I’ve come a long way since my first team practice in January!

So now…all I can do is prepare, rest up, eat a lot of carbs, and hydrate. I’M SO READY!

How do you prepare for your goal race? Do you like to break in down into smaller pieces, or look at the bigger picture?

I’m a writer currently living in New Jersey and blogging about running, fitness, wellness, and motivation. I want every reader to laugh and feel empowered, balanced, and motivated! Subscribe by email to get 1-2 newsletters a month with post updates, my favorite articles, running playlists and more!


  1. July 20, 2013 / 10:11 pm

    Good luck, Kara! I’ve really enjoyed following the ups and downs of your journey over the past few months. You’ve inspired me to consider a tri (“Not an Ironman!” I say right now…) and I look forward to hearing all about your experience. Best of luck, kick ass, and go for GOAL A!!!

    • July 23, 2013 / 10:45 pm

      Thank you so much for sticking with me all this time! :) I’m so excited for you to try a tri!! Can’t wait to hear all about it once that time comes! I’m no pro, but if you have any questions I’m happy to answer!

  2. July 21, 2013 / 1:38 pm

    7 days baby!!!! You are going to do awesome!!! You have to stay POSITIVE…the entire time!! No bad thoughts!!! Keep the first bike loop “easy” do NOT push the pace! You will feel really good…do not go faster!! U will regret it on the 2nd loop and than on the run!!! Just stay steady!! Try not to think about the cutoffs because you aren’t going to enjoy the race if you are!!! Have fun!!! Take it all in!! Good luck!!!

    • July 23, 2013 / 10:46 pm

      You are so great! Thank you for always being there to give great advice and positive support. You are awesome!!

  3. July 22, 2013 / 5:56 pm

    How exciting! You’ll do amazing. Last year I ran the Lake Placid Half and saw all the Ironman athletes training, it looked so fun and should be a great time. Plus its beautiful up there. GOOD LUCK!

    • July 23, 2013 / 10:46 pm

      I was up there for a Ragnar Relay last year; it’s so beautiful! Can’t wait to go back :) Thank you!!

  4. July 24, 2013 / 10:19 am

    oy, waaaay too complicated for me to understand what these mean but I hope you get them all!

  5. July 25, 2013 / 3:52 pm

    It’s here! I’d say good luck, but luck is not needed. Rely on your training and make sure to just enjoy the day. This is the moment that you have been waiting for. You’re going to be nervous, but don’t worry, that’s natural. Just smile, stay calm, and have fun!

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