2022 Ironman Lake Placid: Trust Your Wings

A group of people posing for a photo in front of a projector.

By Coach Maria Simone

“A bird sitting in a tree never worries if the branch will break. Her trust is not on the branch, but on her own wings.” ~anon. 

I shared this quote with the athletes at the start of our 2022 Lake Placid Training Camp, and again at our Ironman Lake Placid pre-race team breakfast. When you prepare for days upon weeks upon months, you are ready to fly – no matter what the day brings. And an Ironman day is guaranteed to bring plenty of unexpected twists and turns.

I first learned to soar as an endurance athlete thanks to my first Ironman here in Lake Placid. That first experience began a life revolution. “Change” isn’t enough to explain the impact of that race on all that has happened since I first came to Lake Placid 13 years ago.

I owe much to Lake Placid. In this town, I: 

  • Raced my 1st, 2nd, 4th and 10th Ironman 
  • Summited my first mountain
  • Did my first winter hike
  • Made friends who are like family 
  • learned there is more potential inside of us than we often realize
  • Found a swagger that propels me to continue to dream big and do audacious things – while talking others into doing the same
  • Have had my heart broken, at the same time I’ve watched my soul grow
  • Found many of the things that I love the most in life 

As long as my means and health allow, I will always come to Lake Placid. This past weekend, as we spectated, one friend said to me, “I guess LP isn’t as great anymore now that you live in ColoRADo.”

That couldn’t be further from my reality. If anything, I love Lake Placid even more. It’s a reunion. It’s a celebration. It’s a reminder of everything I love the most about community and sport. Without Lake Placid, there would be no ColoRADo. 

In 13 years, much has changed in my life, and in the lives around me. In the beginning, it was just my husband John and I. And now, I am a part of this amazing No Limits community, who joins me in my mission to push the limits of the body in order to learn about life. 

It exceeds the biggest of my big dreams. And, I am so grateful to these people for all they give me. 

Ironman Lake Placid Pre-Race Team Breakfast

This year, the No Limits Coaches and I supported 16 athletes in their journey to Lake Placid’s finish line in the Olympic Oval. Eight of them were on the Ironman journey for the first time ever, and 3 of them finished LP for the first time. All of them fought plenty of battles to get to that start and finish line. I can bath for hours upon hours in this first time finish line energy. 

We also shared other inspirational journeys. One athlete who came to our training camp had DNF’d in a previous year. She came back this year – making that finish line with ample time to share. I soaked up those pre-finish line hugs on Mirror Lake Drive like fine wine! She teaches us that if we continue to try, we can never fail. 

I watched one of our team members apply lessons he learned from the previous year – coming back to hit the podium and a PR. He executed a stellar race and it was a beautiful thing to watch! Yet another athlete triumphed with a 90 minute PR. She shows us strength through adversity.

Two others crossed the finish line of their 17th Ironmans, fighting hard for the finish line and teaching us that quitting is not an option. These two athletes have been a part of my life for so many years, and have been central in the community we’ve built. 

One of my very first No Limits athletes came back this year to race her 10th Ironman at Lake Placid. Her strength and perseverance led her to one of her best Ironman times of all time – despite the winds and atypical heat. 

These stories are just amazing—and I could tell plenty more! And, I’m the luckiest of all because I get to be a small part of them. 

I fully recognize the privilege being a coach affords. These athletes trust us with their bodies and their big dreams. It is is heavy responsibility. We feel their lows deeply, and we celebrate their highs intensely. Without a doubt, this race is one of the best days in the “office” each year. 

Thank you to our athletes for letting me be a part of this journey. My life is fuller, richer, deeper because of you!  

If you are thinking about a big dream – whatever it is – it’s time to fly. What you learn about yourself and life is well worth the risk, the sacrifice, the highs and the lows. Trust your wings. 

Working the megaphone!
2022 Ironman Lake Placid: Trust Your Wings
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