Ironman Lake Placid 2008
It was time again to meet the challenge of Ironman. I had actually signed up for this race before I had done my first Ironman in Canada last year. The race sold out online in under 10 minutes. My goal for the year was complete The Furnance Creek 508, so technically this race was a bonus. My training had been focused mostly on cycling and improving my swim technique.
I arrived with the team on late on Thursday, we spent Friday do pre-race preparation and going to expo. The weather could best be described as volatile. On Friday afternoon we headed out for a practice swim on the course (which is actually Mirror Lake and not Lake Placid itself). We were halfway through the swim the heavens open above us. Of course being the water already it didn't make to much difference right? Well then the lightening started and swimming next to a metal cord which spanned the lake just didn't feel too safe. We headed back to shore, to put back on our dry, well at this point drenched clothes. The streets of the town became rivers which made the short drive back a little longer. We drove the bike course to get a feel for it, though strangely the hills never quite feel the same as they do when your on the bike itself. Saturday was a relaxing day, just needed to get my bike into the transition area and rest.
Sleep before an Ironman? I would of thought it was going to be better the second time around but I was still anxious. My running had been somewhat lack in the run up to the race, in fact so much so my longest training run had only been 10 miles. Also I had my classic nightmare of turning up late to the race without my tri gear. Though it should be noted if you ever do turn up to an Ironman race with nothing, there is nothing that can not be bought at the Expo: Bike, Wet suit, Shoes, you name they have it (well albeit at price). I managed get my standard 4hr sleep before waking up at 5am to get ready.
The time flew by and before I knew I was standing in the water getting ready to start. I tried to get as close to startling as I could. It was a water start so this meant treading water for while. The excitement builds with 2000+ athletes all ready to go. Bang! (and the race begins)
The first moments were anticlimactic as it felt like I was standing in a queue rather than being in a race. This quickly passed the pace picked up and before I knew it I was in the washing machine again, being thrashed from all angles. The nice thing about the course was there was a wire that went along the whole course just under the water that could be followed. I was not the only one with this idea.
There is nothing like the brutality of an Ironman swim, it is war in the water, a fight for survival. I survived the first loop, then had to get out of the water and back in again to continue the second. At moment you have to pause and take it all in, it is a sight to be seen. I was more confident and less battered on the second loop, with a more scattered pack. I was please to see had taken 13 minutes off my time from the previous year as I finished the swim course and started running to transition area.
It was a 1/4 mile run to transition area, just enough time to get some blood back in my legs. I reached the Transition tent, it was like medival war times. The troops were preparing for battle again. You could easy sink your foot in muddy ground, which is great when your trying to get changed. There was also steam coming from the ground, yes it took more than water to get this environment. I got my shoes on and ran out in to the transition area to get my bike.
While I been swimming I was thinking how nice it was going to be to dry of on the bike, this just wasn't to be. It had started raining during the swim and it was not going to let up. I started cautiously on bike there was a steep downhill follow by a sharp turn, this had already proven to be dangerous for others. After a few miles I was out of the town and on to the main part of the bike loop. It starts with a small climb followed by a big downhill. It seemed the weather was just going to get worse, with the sound of thunder in the distance. Had I trained for this? Well it turns out I had. My obession with getting the team to do rides up to Skyline Road in the winter and been meet a couple times with adverse conditions, now I know it was worth it.
The downhill? Answer 42mph in the rain. Wow, that was scary and what was best I had to do again on the second loop.
The route also featured an out and back which was good for the purpose of seeing where the rest of the team was and cheering them on. This also seem to be mostly likely part of the course to get a flat, with a number of people on the side of the road making repairs. As it was a loop and I had big downhill in the middle, the loop obivously concluded with an equal uphill. This was actually a great portion of the course, as it was on the edge of the town the crowds were out to cheer the racers on.
Midway through the bike course was the first special needs bag, which contained the food and any other supplies I might need to continue the race. I got my bag from the volunteers and pulled over for a minute to eat some food. Back in town the crowds out despite the weather, I was right in front of them eating my sandwich. This was perhaps the silver lining the to the many clouds in the sky, the rain need for privacy (fellow triatheletes will know what I mean).
On the second loop I was now in rythm and knew exactly what to expect. I was watching my heart rate and speed to make sure I didn't burn out before the run.
The Run. The bike had been great despite the weather, all I had to do now was put on my soggy running shoes and knock out a marathon. Easy, right? Eh no. I got out onto the run course feeling pretty good. Unfortunately my watch was dead, this meant no data. I'm fond my data and it helps keep my mind occupied and reminds me I am indeed still moving. Still not everything always works when you want it, it wasn't going to stop me from running. The run course was also two laps, an out and back through town out to a forest. The town section was great, my family were there to cheer me on, this was the first time I'd seen them since the swim. It is important that when ever some cheers you on that you are appriciative and look like your feeling great and enjoying it, even if you aren't. "How are you feeling?", "Great" :-)
I did feel great the first five miles but on the first out and back, my stomach started to turn. Swiming, biking and then running seems to have negative affect on body in general, the stomach is just an easy target. If I had a working watch I would be able to tell you exactly how long I spent in more than one porta-potty out on the run course, but that data is missing. Lets just say it was time I would have rather been running. I pulled my stomach back together and remembered why I was out there (hmm, "I'm crazy"). I started to see some of my teammates out on the run course, that is always a go movitivator.
By the time I was on the second lap I was feeling better again, just a little tried (a minor understatement). The rain had slowed down but it was still like running with two sponges on my feet. As for the chaffing, well if your skin is wet all day it does become a little tender, I'll just leave it at that :-)
Comming back into town for the final time felt great I knew then I only had a couple miles left until I would be finally dry. By now I had seen all my teammates on the run course and knew they would all successfully finish too. This is the part of the day that makes the last 12+ hours of madness worthwhile, the finish!!
Ride Details (Click here to view on Google Earth):