Kima dn jackie post ride. Kim is still protecting her head.
Subtitle: Coke is it.
I have ridden this course about 51 times. I have had 51 different experiences. I have cried on this course twice and today was the second time. I have ridden this course in rain, a lot of rain. Hail, wind like you wouldn’t believe. I have averaged 55 miles an hour on some parts of this course and 3.4 on others. I have flatted, crashed, qualified for Hawaii and DNF’d this course.
Lake Placid and I go way back.
Yesterday it was 99 degrees here in Lake Placid. The hottest it’s possibly ever been. It was one of my hardest coverings of these miles.
Matt and I hit Starbucks at 6am with great excitement. Upon our return to the motel everyone was out side eating their pre ride breakfasts. Reviewing directions. Excitement filled the air.
Somewhere between 7-8am we all began our rides. Some had one loop, some had two. The sun was shining and it was warm. Triathletes were everywhere. Ironman without the Ironman. Many clubs and groups were out doing what we were doing…. Looking for an adventure.
I rode loop one as a coach. I rode loop 2 as an athlete.
If you are coming to this race you need to know a few things about this course. Out of the high school there is a hairpin turn and a descent. A right hand turn and another descent. The road here is sketchy and it’s a great place to launch some bottles. As you make a right onto 73 you begin some climbing, another descent past the run course turn and then you head up Jack Rabbit Hill. We call it Jack Rabbit hill because the Jack Rabbit Hostel is about 1 mile up on your left. The hotel burned down. You know you are doing with climbing for a few minutes when you see the Cascade Inn on your right. Between the Cascade Inn and part one of the descent there are a few miles of false flats. You will wonder what’s wrong with your legs, if you have a flat, or if something is rubbing. The road appears to go down but it goes up. This is why we ride it in the opposite direction today. The first of three diamond signs will appear after Mount Hovenburg, they will have a truck with a downhill symbol that says use low gear. The descent happens in three stages. Descend, flat. Descend, flat. Descend, flat. Keep in mind that on race day you will have swum an hour or so and climbed for 30 or so minutes before you hit this descent. This descent is the perfect place to get some nutrition in. Yes there are some flats at the bottom awaiting. Will that 10 minutes, will that 100 calories make a difference? You will know by mile 6 of the marathon. Don’t risk it. Get some calories in on the way down. Take a pee. Hold your line.
I was with Don, Mark, Ken, and Chris at this point. As usual Jackie came bombing down the hill and smoked us there. Times were good, Scenery was perfect. The river beside us on the descent was picture perfect. We made the left onto 9n which is not only another perfect opportunity to get nutrition in, but to relax and pick up a good clip. We were averaging 23-26 mph on this part without much effort. I would be very careful not to push a big gear on this road. You have a lot more climbing ahead of you. There is a bridge out on the “out and back” which is Hazelton road in Wilmington. God only knows if it will be repaired. A call to WTC revealed they “knew nothing about it and had no plans to change the course on race day”. Someone we knew “spoke to the race director” and learned of a detour.
For the record: if Graham Fraser still owned this event you would know what the backup plan was.
Anyhow the latest rumor is that instead of making the right from 9N to 86 you do an out and back here. So we continued on 9N for 5 more miles. Which was a gently sloping downhill. At the big yellow sign past the Tombstone making place, we turned around. Those 5 miles were a gently sloping ascent. The thing about losing the regular out and back on this course is that while it was hilly, there were equal descents to ascents, a chance to regroup rest and a chance to climb. This again was 5 miles down, 5 miles up. Which means when you come back to 86 you hang a right and begin the 2 or so mile climb towards Wilmington. I would guess it’s all the same amount of climbing in the end, but the new rumored unofficial route puts the climbing together all at once. So we made the right onto 86 and climbed. You climb, descend and are welcomed into Hazelton. We did make the right onto Hazelton rd (be careful out training, you are actually not in Wilmington on Hazelton road). We went a few miles in and turned around.
Here we noticed several vans for other tri teams out as a water stop.
As a coach I told my athletes that I will never have a van out there and be a water stop. Why? Because life is not a catered event. You have to go out on this course and get lost, breakdown (mentally and mechanically) run out of water. You have to put yourself in a position of using a used powerbar wrapper as a patch, struggling with your tire, sitting at a gas station wondering how in hell you will make it back.
That’s how you learn.
If you need a sagwagon you call a damn taxi.
I am all about tough love. Because I will tell you in a bit what has happened to me here.
Coming out of the normal out and back you make a right on 9N, go to the intersection. See the sign for the North Pole. Make a left on 86. These is the “last 11 miles”. This is where most lessons are learned. These 11 miles are deceivingly difficult. Especially with a wicked headwind. Especially in 99 degrees. It’s a damn tunnel through there.
This is where on the second loop every ego maniac cyclist will wish they had a 12/25, or even a 28 rather than the 23 like I was riding today. I knew I forgot to do something for camp. Like switch my cassette. But I would be fine with a 23, I would just have to be careful.
Spin these last 11. Keep your cadence above 80. Use your small chairing like you are getting married to it. Bring your biggest dose of patience. BE PATIENT. This entire course will reward patience. This course is ridden with strategery.
Every year I sit at the top of Papa Bear, which is the second to final climb on the last 11. Before you make the right onto Northwood’s and ride back through town. Each year I watch the pros go by. The first 10 or so age groupers. And then I write down the numbers of the next 10 amateurs. Every year I have done this….. at least 8 out of 10 of those cyclists throw down a 5:30-5:40 bike split and a 5 hour marathon.
Check your ego at the door on this course.
We made our typical stop at Stewart’s gas station in town and refilled, hit the bathroom. We picked up Alexa and Adam. Because Adam is a massive slacker and swam 6 miles the previous day, he was only riding 140 miles today, that’s one hundred and forty miles…. Oh those Ultra Man WIMPS!
And then came the second loop. It was HOT. Everything was going fine. As we came down the descent I had the same feeling in my stomach I had in Texas. Over 85 degrees this damn nutrition plan of mine seems to fail. I was nauseous. The powerbar endurance sat in my stomach. I was bringing up little bits of it at a time.
I should warn you that this loop is going to get a little bit ugly.
9N was fine. We made the executive decision to skip the out and back and just made the left on 86. everyone was riding well. Alexa was perky and that meant her nutrition was going well. Adam talked to me about pizza. I warned him that I was going to need to stop in Wilmington and get a coke.
After climbing and descending and the short jaunt on the out and back we stopped at the gas station. I had been unable to take in any more gel and I told Alexa I was going to teach her how to make the ultimate save.
I walked into the gas station and bought the following: 2 gallons of water and 3 X 12 ounces of Coke. I came outside and a guy asked me if I was QT2. Yes, I told him. I was fashionable today, with my Crankskins top (THANKS MARK) and my QT2 shorts. He asked what I was doing. I told him I was making the ultimate save.
“It’s a QT2 protocol.” I said to him. “Watch and learn.”
I then proceeded to dump the entire gallon of water over my head. AHHHHHH. I dumped the power bar endurance into the bushes and filled up my bottles with Coke and water. I then drank about 10 ounces of Coke after I had shaken it up and made it flat.
“Hope this works”. I told Alexa. “We still have the last 11”
We began the last 11. My derailleur was misbehaving which normally wouldn’t bother me. Except apparently I was pulling a damn train behind me and every time my chain skipped I’d hear oooo, bad shift. Ooooo chain rubbing. It was one of my teammates. I told him to go ahead of me as I was feeling homicidal at that point. I jumped on alexa’s wheel and watched how she was riding. She was riding smart, shifting, changing her position, I was feeling super proud. She led us to the front of the pack and I sat in and in her draft while the wind blew and the sun blazed.
After realizing there were so many people behind me I jumped out of the train. If I am going to have a bad day I need to have it alone. I sat up and spun for a while. I looked at the beautiful scenery. I let them all go. I thought back to 2008 when I DNF’d here. The DNF was not painful. The DNF happened because I had a grade 3 concussion sustained in the swim. I don’t remember much of that day. Because of that Concussion I subsequently had a CT scan. Before you have a CT scan you have a pregnancy test. Which revealed I was pregnant. Which meant I trained and even attempted my fifth Ironman pregnant. The thought of what have I done…. Was obviously there. Especially when I learned it was a doomed pregnancy. 100% chance it’d fail. Ectopic.
It’s something I have never properly dealt with. July 31, 2008. The day I feel as if I ended a life that never had a chance. I always felt it would have been a girl and I would have named her Lucy. Luc and Lucy. I love the name Lucy. The doctor said it has nothing to do with ironman or my lifestyle. As a nurse I knew that. As a mom I couldn’t accept it. I wasn’t able to do what a mother is supposed to do. Protect her child. Unexpectedly I began to cry right there in the middle of the hills. Two years worth of tears. Out loud I said “Lucy I love you so much. I am so sorry.” The guilt I carry over it is sometimes unbearable. If you have ever been in this position you understand what I mean. You think about it every. Single. Day. It’s a fracture line in your heart that always bleeds. Always there. You want it to go away but at the same time you don’t. So I freaking cried. And I felt it. Because things happen here in Lake Placid. Lake Placid has torn me up and spit me out. Healed me, hurt me, and loved me. These 112 miles have been 51 different experiences. It’s like I have to go to a deep place of physical hurt to unlock the hurt I feel in my heart. Like homeopathy. Treat like with like. Pain with pain. Pain heals pain. And in those 20 minutes that I broke down I kept pedaling, kept crying. I freaking sobbed. I knew what was happening. I knew this needed to happen. This is called healing. I never thought of quitting, stopping, I knew I had to keep going forward. By the time I got to papa Bear I felt better. I felt like I had been through a spiritual experience and I felt like someone, maybe it was Lucy herself, came down and put a heart shaped patch on the fracture line in my own heart.
And just like I have always done, just like I always do, just like I always will….. I kept moving forward. With the fracture lines in my heart, some patched, some not…… and I took a deep breath and I rode back to the hotel. Back at the alpine Inn the team was trickling in and heading out on their runs. In the heat. I went to the pool. Stood there for about 20 minutes in my cycling gear. Just cooling off. Glad for my water running necessity due to my Achilles.
There is so much camaraderie on this team it’s incredible. We left Adam to go on his third loop, and headed down to the Dancing Bear for some dinner. War stories were traded. It was one of the hardest days ever in placid. The poor new folks who experienced this course for the first time were shocked. I promised them this was one of the toughest days and hoped they believed me. I got to ride on a motorcycle with Jake (picture forthcoming). It was awesome. My first ride ever. Together we swam an easy 30. Paused in the lake and looked at the mountains. Laughter was abundant. I felt safe with my teammates, safe to just say nothing, be one of the gang. I shed a few more tears in my goggles and allowed the feeling to pass through me.
sharing beer and ice at the motel
Lake Placid gives you what you need sometimes. A total breakdown to build up.
Adam joined us with a ravenous appetite and we hit Ben and Jerry’s. we sat outside and ate ice cream. Adam gave me a six pack of beer to carry around. I felt like a wild child! Back at the Motel we gathered on the balcony and we had a beer. Eddy brought scotch. Jochen was off to ride up WhiteFace (after 112 miles on the bike and a 30 minute run). We sat around, drank a beer, and shared more war stories. Got bitten by mosquitoes.
And then we called it a night.
Today we swim, bike and run. At about 1pm we will gather at Generations… formerly the Black Bear… formerly Charlies….. to look over the lake and eat eggs. Then we will head home. Who knows what will happen today. Who knows what lessons are to be learned out there. Who knows what awaits us. Lake placid is a magical place. It teaches you what you need to learn. Patience. Resilience. Strength.
You just have to keep pedaling. Moving forward. Because life is not a catered event. In life you have to hit the bottom to reach the top. You have to experience the lows and the highs. You can’t live in a mdeciated make myself feel better kind of a world. You can’t skip the bad times. They are necessary. They are the most important parts of life. They are what teach you the biggest lessons.
I personally would like to extend my sincerest thanks to the makers of Coca Cola. Thank you for being there for me today. Thank you for saving me out there.
Good Morning. day Three.