Friday morning Pelee, Sarah and I loaded into my car and began our trek to Lake Placid New York. Far ahead of us were Bill and Sharon, and then Kara. I emphasize far ahead because all three were nailed with speeding tickets as they flew through Tupper Lake!
Like I always say.. slow is smooth… smooth is fast.
On the voyage to LP I laughed so hard that my abs hurt!
Most of the twenty athletes we were meeting had arrived at the Alpine Air Motel and were in the process of settling in and preparing for an evening ride. I knew what they were thinking….
What is this course really about?
This course is about patience, and about believing in yourself. This is something I can help nurture only after someone knows what I mean about hills and most importantly what I mean about descents.
So Friday evening in 94 degrees we rode 42 miles of the Ironman Lake Placid Bike course. There is an out and back section of the loop which we reserved for Saturday. I hung back quite a bit to watch how our athletes were climbing, descending, making sure they were shifting gears often. I was watching form, hydration… it was a chance for me to really be a coach. I was proud of what I saw. Lots of spinning, lots of drinking. Bodies remaining relaxed and still. Great big smiles as we descended 6 miles in 10 minutes towards Keane. Awesome.
Friday evening at dinner nerves were calmer. And everyone was early to bed, calculating calories, ounces and milligrams. The luxury of race day is that there are aid stations every 10 miles. Saturday we’d have a gas station on either end of the loops, so not only did we need to carry calories, we had to carry water. But everyone planned well.
Saturday I allowed myself to completely focus on my ride and my training. It was a ride at your own pace ride, and there are lessons to learn on this bike course. If you ride it correctly there are opportunities to recover from the hills, but you must understand where those are and understand yourself. There are lessons that I can not teach, like certain things will go wrong, certain things will hurt and certain things will present themselves. Until you know what those certain things are however, it is nearly impossible for me to teach them.
Experience would be the teacher today.
I settled into a good groove through the first loop with Bill, Mark and Glenn. Kevin who is preparing for Eagleman, would join us on the second loop when we’d need a fresh face.
Through the first 30 minutes of climbing I felt great. Through the 6 mile descent I felt great, gaining confidence. My bike was so darn light that it made it a bit scary… something I knew I’d have to overcome.
The flat section into Keane felt like heaven. Just spinning and looking to the mountains. The out and back felt like a roller coaster! We got to see other athletes on the course, a terrific group from Tri Life in NYC.
Once we hit the turn around we began to see the other Train-This athletes who looked fabulous. We stopped for some water before the infamous last 11 miles.
The last 11 miles of Ironman lake placid are not hillier then the first 11 miles. But the combination of wind, rolling, rolling and rolling, with a little fatigue mixed in can make it a tough place for anyone.
But today I felt amazingly fresh. I dropped my group but I was not pushing. I was simply spinning. No matter what throughout that part of the course I kept my cadence 70-80 and I had zero fatigue. ZERO. It was almost horrifying. Where was the pain? Was I going fast enough?
Yes. I reached the top of Papa Bear in 3:05. Ten minutes ahead of schedule. Gulp.
After picking up Kevin we began loop 2 and I tried to take it much the same as loop one. Nutrition was working. My carbo load the day before was helping things tremendously.
And when it came to the final 11 miles, I kept the same plan. I monitored cadence and I sailed through them. I remembered to look right towards Whiteface and watch the river flowing and the most amazing scenery on earth. Better than Hawaii I promise. Better.
Towards the end of Papa Bear my legs still felt absolutely awesome. Like I hadn’t ridden at all. After 112 miles of hills in 6:10 (my 2003 bike time here was 6:07 race day)…. I felt nervous. Did I ride too slow? Too fast? Where was the pain? Can I get excited?
Off the bike to a short 30 minute run…. I felt…. bouncy. I felt like I was running easy.
Where was the pain? Where was the agony? Why wasn’t it there? Could it be?
Don’t get too excited, I told myself. Stay on top of yourself. But this is a good sign.
With a few mishaps, everyone finished the ride. Kitima’s cleat came off her shoe, but she borrowed screws from her other shoes and repaired it herself. Pelee and I had a minor bike crash on Friday night (into each other) and he rode with a brake rubbing for 100 miles. You could not even turn the wheel by itself. His nutrition on Friday gave him what I call “Runny Butt”. After my run on Saturday I got a text message form him
“I am shitting myself” I laughed “I am 9 miles away”.
I hopped into the car for the rescue mission, and found Pelee riding up Mama Bear. He allowed me to rescue him and then still did his run. way to go Pelee!
Saturday night we all celebrated with dinner on Mirror Lake, drinking coffee at Starbucks and laughing more and more and more.
When some mentioned that they hoped they’d be ready to run 3 hours on Sunday I reminded them of one thing…
“At least we aren’t Tom”. Tom was at the American Desoto Triple T Triathlon Festival in Ohio. Four races in 3 days and at our time, still a half Ironman to go……
Part II tomorrow.