I raced Ironman Lake Placid a few days ago. I had a good go at it, cut 25 minutes off my time from 2012, and came in as the 7th pro. I did a lot of things right, but also made a few big mistakes that cost me some time. But I’m not here to write about my race. Rather, I’m here to write about one of my athletes…
Mike Bergstein is an unassuming doctor from Westchester, NY. He races in the 55-59 age group, and is just about the nicest and most positive person you could ever meet. He’s very new to the sport of triathlon, and Ironman Lake Placid 2013 was his first attempt at an Ironman. We had to deal with a few minor injuries during training, but nothing major, and the build to race day was relatively smooth. (side note: he’s the king of asking classic “newby” questions… Some of them make me laugh out loud… I love it, haha!)
The swim went well for Mike, as he came out of the water in 1:08, which is very close to where we expected him to be. He then came through the first bike loop in 3:50, which is also right about where we expected him to be. Then, this is where things got a bit…. crazy…
As he was coming down Mirror Lake Drive, a gust of wind caught one of the spectator’s tents, and the tent went flying across the road… right into Mike! A couple of the steel poles impaled his bike, and Mike went tumbling to the ground. It took the help of 4 people, and over 30 minutes, to completely untangle the tent from his bike, and help him get the bike in working order again. And that was just his bike! Mike was also banged up. He didn’t know the extent of his injuries at the time, all he knew was that it “really hurt to breathe”, and something was definitely wrong with his left hip.
But maintaining his composure and positive attitude, he soldiered on, and completed the second bike lap, even though his rear derailleur was so messed up that the bike would randomly shift gears on every pedal stroke. He got off the bike at T2, and tried to run at our planned pace, but was only able to maintain that for about 3 miles. After that, his hip was just too injured to run, and gave out with every step. So, his run turned into a “modified shuffle”, and he just did whatever he could to get to the finish line. And you know what? He made it! He made it. He friggin’ made it. It was goddamn epic.
Mike got some X-rays the day after the race. Diagnosis? Two fractured ribs. But, whatever… Bergstein don’t care. He’ll race with broken ribs. NBD. He’s going in tomorrow to get a hip exam. Hopefully there’s no serious damage.
Also, he forwarded me an email from Andrew Messick, the CEO of Ironman. Here’s what it said:
From: Andrew Messick Sent: Wednesday, July 31, 2013 08:39 AM To: Michael Bergstein MD Subject: Tough day at placid Michael, I heard you had some bad luck at placid this weekend. Would you like to try again in 2014 as our guest? Best, Andrew Sent from the road
Andy Messick didn’t have to do that. This was a freak accident. It wasn’t anyone’s “fault”. It was just a crazy thing that happened. But he reached out, and offered to help make things right for Mike. Total class.
Ironman has taken a lot of heat over the last few years, and it’s “fashionable” to bash them on some of the message boards. But everything I saw from Ironman this weekend, from the innovative new swim start, to the race execution, to their CEO doing the swim and bike with us on race day… Wow. I’m beyond impressed. They are completely focused on delivering the best possible race day experience for us athletes. I can’t say enough good things about what they’re doing.
Now… let’s hope Lake Placid 2014 goes a little more smoothly for Mike, haha!
Until next time… keep training hard, and resting harder!