Dairy Farmer, Registered Dietitian, AND Ironman!

Author: Administrator | August 14, 2017

Dairy Farmer, Registered Dietitian, AND Ironman!

Well folks it’s me here, your dairy farmer-dietitian…. and…. Ironman! After taking a few weeks to recover and absorb the feeling of being an IRONMAN, I wanted to recap my race day thoughts and reflections of this Ironman Lake Placid journey... Thank you for all the support and well-wishes – they really helped push me to the finish line!

Pre-Ironman Jitters

Considering how much can happen in the 14 hours and 4 minutes it took me to complete Ironman Lake Placid, I made it through race day with only a few minor hiccups.

Heading up to Lake Placid was a mixture of nerves and excitement. We arrived a few days early to acclimate to the course and climate - we swam mirror lake, warmed up with Ironkid races with the family, and went through the check-in process (which was a welcome distraction from race day).

 Ironman Race day!!!

I awoke on race day to perfect weather determined and ready to grind out 140.6 miles. I downed oatmeal and a banana at 4:30am before making heading to the transition area.  After filling my bike water bottles and dropping off my “special needs,” bags (bags I had access to, while out on the bike and run course), we slowly made our way to the lake for a warm up swim before the 6:40am race start.

Looking back, I felt pretty relaxed starting the race. I finished the first swim loop feeling strong as I re-entered the water for my second loop. For swallowing more lake water than I would prefer, I still clocked a 1 hour, 11-minute swim and made my way through transition to start the bike portion.

I travelled out of the village of Lake Placid on the bike with the bulk of my race ahead of me. My legs felt great during the whole bike segment, but as I entered the second loop my fuel started disagreeing with me. I probably made the mistake most triathletes do on a 2-loop bike course… going too hard on the first loop. I still finished my anticipated bike time right on target 7 hours and 31 minutes.

Going into the race, I knew my mental stamina after cycling would get me through the run. Even though swimming is my strongest leg, I’m mentally strongest on the run. The first loop of the run flew by. To be honest, it was most exciting 13.1 miles I’ve ever ran. Being greeted by family and friends and cheering on fellow racers gave me an energy boost. By the second run loop, my scaled back fueling on the bike (due to disagreeing nutrition on the bike) was catching up with me. I knew I’d still finish, but I felt sluggish.

As I made my way back into town, the sun started to set. I still can’t find words to describe my emotions at this point. I passed my sister before she dashed down the Olympic oval and received one last hoorah from my cheer squad before tackling my last 2 miles of my 140.6-mile day.

At mile 25 of the run there was a volunteer telling us to “finish strong but not fast, to take in our last mile” along Mirror Lake where the day begin almost 14 hours ago. It was the best advice! I still remember all 9 minutes and 20 seconds of the last mile as ran down Mirror Lake Drive into the Olympic oval.

Then I heard the words I have been working so hard to hear:

“Abigail Copenhaver, you are an Ironman!”


When I started my Ironman Lake Placid journey, I intentionally made myself vulnerable by sharing my story with others, hoping it would inspire others to “tri.”

I have two professions; dairy farmer and dietitian. Both are very transparent professions, where we must practice what we preach. Naturally, when I choose to take on a full distance Ironman, I wanted my whole story shared - the good, bad, and the hangry!

I hope I’ve inspired others to find their own challenge and to fuel their bodies for success. Whether it’s a 5k, going for a walk twice per week, or competing in the next IMLP, you need both nutrition and physical activity plans to succeed.

I hope followers have discovered that farmers and dietitians deal with similar struggles when it comes to making health choices, balancing work/business, and family.

A special thank you goes out to the American Dairy Association Northeast for helping bring my IMLP dream to life. Although, I don’t see this as my last Ironman, I do not have any Ironman races plan for 2018. I will be running the Philly Rock n’ Roll half marathon in September to transition into “off” season (a few months of maintenance and technique training) and still plan to keep everyone involved in future workouts, training progress, and race challenges. If you didn’t follow my story from the beginning, feel free to read past blog posts for the full story.

Signing off as your dairy farmer RD and now Ironman :)

Split Milk: Itching for Success?

I’ve only had poison ivy twice. Once was right before my wedding and…. the second was the week before IMLP. After using calamine lotion for a week it wasn’t budging. Because it was located on my lower leg I was worried about itching during the race being covered by my compression sleeves. After brainstorming with my support crew, I decide to tourniquet the poison ivy with alcohol soaked cotton balls and K tape. It made my transition from swim to bike much longer but I was pretty much itch-free until the second loop of the run. As my ghost editor, Frank would say; “make solutions not excuses!"

American Dairy Association North East is one of 16 state and regional promotion organizations working under the umbrella of the United Dairy Industry Association. It is the local affiliate of the National Dairy Council®, which has been conducting nutrition education and nutrition research programs since 1915. For more information, visit www.americandairy.com.