HomeathleteFat to Fit: Ironman Lake Placid – It’s Here

Fat to Fit: Ironman Lake Placid – It’s Here

It’s here. 2013 Ironman Lake Placid Race Week.

July 23, 2012 at 2:59pm I forwarded Elise this email with a very simple message:

Officially insane. Just need to find the VW bus

Ironman Lake Placid Registration

That seems like a lifetime ago. And it also seems like yesterday. That moment, like so many others that matter, changed my life.

That was before my first and only other triathlon, Savageman. Before I knew just how much it would take to get to Lake Placid well trained and ready to race. Before I knew how weird triathletes were: obsessing about details that I now obsess about. Before I had any idea how incredibly rewarding this entire experience would be. Before I knew how deeply Ironman training would change me.

And I haven’t even raced yet.

One year and one day later we packed up the sport wagon (our Mazda 5 which we refuse to call a mini van) and with Riley and Seth in tow we headed to Lake Placid. The adventure begins.

Arriving at Ironman Lake Placid 2013

We arrive around 7:30pm and settled into the Crowne Plaza Lake Placid. According to Seth the elevators are nicer than other hotels. The views are spectacular over Mirror Lake where the swim will take place. There are athletes everywhere. The hotel reminds me of Skytop in the Poconos where my grandparents took us as kids to vacation with them. The weather is like Deep Creek Lake, home away from home in Maryland: crisp, cool, clean. It’s 57 degrees when we pull in.

Dinner at Milano's North in Lake Placid

After unpacking we drive through town and find what the front desk claims to be the best pizza in town: Milano’s North on main street. If it’s not the best in town I want to find the other place. Milano’s is terrific: brick oven pizza with great toppings, awesome bread to start the meal, great atmosphere.

My support crew is top notch. I couldn’t ask for more support on this journey than I’ve gotten from Elise and the kids. They roll their eyes when I wheel the bike out of the house for every trip we take, or when I bring up for the 1,000th time some race detail I’m thinking about. But they are my biggest champions. If I haven’t told you lately, I am married to an incredible woman.

Ironman Lake Placid Evening Walk

I have no idea what to expect this week. I’m a bundle of excited energy combined with an appropriately healthy dose of fear. This is unusual for me. I rarely get nervous before races. But the awe inspiring atmosphere, the number of athletes, the formidable event all cause me to feel vastly different about this than other races.

I’m emotional. I’m rarely emotional. I can be stoic in many ways. But here I tear up easily. It feels like I’m watching a chick flick about my own life. I was 265 lbs a very short time ago. Overweight, out of breath, unable to conceive of doing an Ironman. Now I’m approaching what will be the hardest day of my life physically and I’m looking forward to it. It doesn’t seem real.

With the nerves, the excitement, the atmosphere I rely on a couple of things that I know. I’m well trained. I’m well rested. I have done everything I can to prepare for the gun when it goes off at 6:30am on Sunday.

I know for now what my job is:

  • To be in the moment
  • To appreciate this opportunity
  • To be grateful and not take this for granted

God gives unique moments in life. This is one of them that I won’t forget.

Keep moving forward,


p.s. I woke up to this weather this morning out of the front door. It’s going to be a great week.

Crowne Plaza Lake Placid View

Written by

I am the CEO of Blue Ocean Ideas, a creative agency in Baltimore, Maryland. My job is to clarify the strategy and take care of my team. I am married to the beautiful Elise Rittler and we have four great kids. When I’m not at Blue Ocean Ideas or with my family I am riding a bike, running, playing ultimate frisbee, eating, or sleeping. There is a little more about me here.

9 Responses to “Fat to Fit: Ironman Lake Placid – It’s Here”

By Brian - 25 July 2013

I’m excited for you. Go kill it up there.

By Dina - 25 July 2013

I am so proud of you. Your story is so inspiring! Way to go! I have enjoyed reading about your journey. You are so well prepared and I can’t wait to hear about how you rocked it! Good luck!

By Don Rittler - 25 July 2013

I also am grateful for your life. And I am especially grateful for the transformation in your body over the last 2 1/2 years. This has resulted in transformation in your spirit as well. Mom and I are praying for you and the family in this experience this week. Thanks for the great pics. Can’t wait to hear all about it.

By JoWynn Johns - 25 July 2013

Beautiful account of your experience, Greg.

I look forward to seeing/hearing more about it. With joy!

By Rich Polt - 25 July 2013

You’re an inspiration to all your friends Greg. Now go do this thing so that we can begin riding with you again 😉

p.s. Savor the moment … you’ve more than earned it!

By Margaret Miller - 25 July 2013

Elise and kids…be sure to wear bright clothes and have a balloon or a flag so that Greg can see you as he races around. Can’t wait to see photos at the finish line!

By Jerry Akin - 25 July 2013

As a four time IronMan finisher, I vividly remember the moment when the cannon went off and the swim began at my first IM (Lake Placid.) The first swim strokes are ones that you’ll remember the rest of your life and will lead to the words “You’re an IronMan” as you cross the finish line. Enjoy the day, it’ll be one that you remember from start-to-finish. Good luck and try and thank as many volunteers as possible, they’re the best!

By brian b - 25 July 2013

Have a great race. I’m officially jealous that I’m not there.

By Doug Nagan - 26 July 2013

All the best. Great story no matter how you do you have won.

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