LAKE PLACIDNESS

As we took the 5+ hour drive to Lake Placid, we once again felt that great “escape” from the city and took our time, knowing we weren’t in any rush with no other obligations. We stopped at a few rest areas (we located every one of then that are on the Thruway) and laughed at how gas prices dropped by the dime at each one. Once we got into Lake Placid, the weather was warm, the crowds hadn’t arrived yet, and the quiet, calm, crystal clear waters of Mirror Lake would serve as our backdrop for the next 4 days. We checked into our hotel and tried to get a idea of our surroundings. That meant getting all the local maps we could find and comparing them to the information we ALREADY gathered prior to our trip. The hotel had its own lake pool, indoor pool, game room, access to the “backyard” which to them means a big open grassy area with gazebo, places to BBQ, plenty of lounge chairs, and a dock where you can take a row boat or paddleboat onto the lake – free. With a Rite Aid across the street, MC D’s for ice coffee next to that, we were nicely located for the weekend.

We were a good 15 minute walk back to Main Street, which is the only street really, and we had the option of a free trolley that ran every 15 minutes that made a loop of the area (even stopped in front of our hotel). We ended up using the car maybe 20 minutes in the four days here!! The population of LP is only 2500 and with the Ironman, that grows to almost triple, bringing in an estimated $7 million to the area. Together with the neighboring towns of Keene and Wilmington, the get 3000 volunteers!!. This place is a great low-key town. No traffic lights, hardly a cop car drives by, designated crosswalks, and no taxis. One way in, one way out – and no one honked their horns!!! The shops are plentiful with a local flovor and after registering, we did a lot of that. We found a library for internet possibilities, a Christmas store (there is only 150 days ya know) and where all the action will be this race weekend. Of course we located the nearby food shopping center (Price Chopper) since we had a fridge/micro, and whatever bakery and ice cream shops. One happened to be named the Mountain Mist Custard with their logo being M2 = C, so I had to get a shirt.

We crashed early and slept like rocks. Absolutely silence.

We woke to the sounds of ducks walking their babies around the backyard and chirping birds, but it was raining. After an extra 30 minutes deep sleep, the sun started to warm the day again. Locals say “If you don’t like the weather here, wait 5 minutes”. We drove down to Mirror Lake where they had a swim practice. I swam one lap of the course and was surprised the water was in the upper 70’s. Since no motor boats or jet skis are allowed on the lake, it is just like swimming in a pool. It provided plenty of vision and no waves or current to be concerned with. I then biked around the area and met Gina back at the hotel. Most of roads travel around and into the Main Street so you can’t get lost. By now, people started to arrive and the excitement was brewing. We enjoyed breakfast where we were able to sit in the main cabin and relax while reading the paper. We planned on scanning the area again and simply just enjoying the 70-80 degree sunshine. We toured the Olympic venues, had an IRONSHERPA shirt personally made for Gina, admired the “house we’d love to live in”, and did some more shopping. I did see the only panhandler in the area and as one local mentioned, everyone knew him and he was the best dressed “bum” we’d seen. He still made some good loot too. After sorting out the transition bags and packing and planning that comes with an Ironman race, we had dinner at the Greek restaurant 2 blocks away. Now we were glued to the Weather Channel as a cold, rainy forecast had taken over what was suppose to be a mild weekend.

Saturday was gloomy. With an overcast skies and temps now in the 50’s, it was almost 15-20 degrees cooler. Gina went for a long walk along the Lake while I did a short run and bike ride. When we started to have breakfast, it rained. And rained. And rained. Not good. We still had to drop off my bike and gear bags as per race protocol and we made sure everything was double bagged and waterproofed. Even the bike had a tarp which we keep in the XT and a rain poncho. Not much walking around today as we stayed in the hotel the rest of the afternoon and relaxed. We were fortunate also to have St Agnes 2 blocks way as we were able to get to Mass with relative ease despite the weather. It was packed with triathletes and families as the “Iron Friar” was the celebrant. He was competing too and had a special prayer and homily for all of us. Then it was back to the hotel for a quick dinner, and well, the usual anticipation for the big day. Not much sleep tonight.

G’s phone alarm is one that will definitely get you up. May even give you a heart attack. But it does it’s job. In the darkness, the light drizzle persisted and the temps were in the 50’s. Stay positive. I can get cold very quickly in this weather and I knew from Japan that it could be a long day. I was undertrained purposely for this event – having not biked more than 95 miles and a few long runs, with my goal for the November World Champs – I wanted to reacquaint myself with the emotions and “shredding of skin” as I call it of my personal self. I wasn’t alone, with 2400 other racers and 700 first-timers, the energy to feed off of was there. I just like hot, well heck, warmer weather. I was surprised to see that nothing got soaked overnight. My clothes were dry in the bags, the bike was fine. You had to walk around a lot to set up your special need bags, bodymarking, etc so it helped to warm up that way. As G and I said our “farewell” I hugged her tight. I knew she had an even longer day ahead of her and she hates the beginning of these races – especially where 2000+ people all jump in the water for a mass start. I held here a bit longer this time, since I myself wasn’t fully looking forward to it.

As I entered the water, I made my way to the far right towards the front. With 10 minutes before the start, you focus, scan the area and make your line. You also make sure you see the 2000 people surrounding you ready to make the same line. The cannon fires – its time for Ironman.

Fight, hit this one, hit that one, make sure goggles stay on. Head up, back down, whoa! Watch your right, no, left. A foot brushes your cheek, a hand hits your back. Get me the $%&* out of here. Finally after 10 minutes I get a break, turn it up, get some freedom. Stroke solid, breathing good. Can’t tell if its raining until you complete the first lap. Still raining. Happy with first split, then enter water again for the second, but by now, the crowds have spread out. As I exited the water after the second lap, I knew the big test is to come. I have assistance with the wetsuit “strippers” and make sure they are women (no?) and then jog to the bikes. Still raining. Fumble through what to wear and try to take my time. Calm, relax. Once on the bike, you find your tempo. Not today as for the first 30 miles, and after a few big downhills, I was frozen. As much as I tried to stay with it, I knew if it didn’t stop raining, I was done. Before the first lap too. This is a hilly course and I like it, but on a better day. I had to use so much mental energy just to get through the first lap. Thankfully, the sun was peaking through and it stopped raining. I finished lap one and headed out again. More battles but I started to get comfortable. It turned out nice, and warmed up so I was able to convince myself to finish the bike. But a marathon? Can’t think that now. At mile 80 I had other problems. A flat front tire. In 10 years of racing I never had a flat. So I started to change the tire and tried to stay calm. A few minutes later a SAG vehicle came and helped me out. Luck. We chatted a bit as he was great in making sure I stayed in my head. I was soon off without a spare and hoping to get to the finish.

What happens at mile 96?? A flat REAR!!! What the &*^$!! I rolled into an aid station that was located at a local fire department. There were a few guys there on ATV’s that were helping with bike breakdowns. I had no spare and they had my size tube. As one helped fix my tire, another talked with me about life in Lake Placid to life in Brooklyn. These guys were great. I now knew I had to finish this. I was fired up now too since I had the fortune to be able to keep going.

Off the bike – finally!! The sun was out. I was mad. I saw G and got a kiss. I was now feeling good. I started to clip off 7 min miles with ease. The run is hillier than Boston but I knew if I stayed on pace, it would go by in a breeze. I pac-manned everyone in my way. I was very in the moment. I mapped the loop in my mind so I was confident on lap 2. The sound of the Kiss song “Lick it Up” playing in someone’s yard was a simple reminder for me in my head for a few miles. They had a truck setup on the course where G was able to send a message that displayed on a big screen as my timing chip hit the mat. Her message was all I needed out there to stay focused. I reserved enough not to waver off pace. My heartrate was fine but it wasn’t until mile 19 that I started to feel dizzy. I was fading, but decided to try the chicken broth at an aid station. Perfect. By now I was cruising and after passing a bunch of Amino Vital team members at 25, I hammered home. Finishing on the Olympic speed skating oval in a time of 11:27 was gratifying and a defeat of all the mind battles I had to face was priceless. With my personal volunteer assistant walking me to the area making sure I was ok, I only wanted to find G. It took a while with the crowd, but I grabbed her tight and didn’t want to let go. She had endured just as much and we both were champs once again. Love will get you through anything.

We found a grassy spot and I collapsed for a bit trying to drink or eat. Nothing usual. Couldn’t do it. I watch people finish for a while and Gina was wondering how she’d have to possibly carry me and all our stuff back to the hotel. We began our slow walk back and stopped at Starbucks for a smoothie. That didn’t even want to go down. No Amino Vital, no diet Dew, no ice cream, no SBucks. Wow, this is different. I just wanted to sleep. Sure enough after stretching, showering, Biofreeze/icing and another attempt at eating, I crawled into bed and watched some more finishers on tv. It started to rain and dozed off soon after that.

On Monday I woke up early and was refreshed. Sore, but felt good enough to eat, drink, move around. Gina was out and I watched her sleep and reminded me how lucky I am to be in love with this person. She is the world to me and she likes these events as much but certainly puts her share of work into them. How many triathletes can stake that claim??? It was a great day as we walked back into town for breakfast, saw Pirates at the only movie theatre (and for $5!!), and enjoyed a black angus burger for dinner (yes Pops a burger!!!)

The results are listed below. Very well. Great job. Everyone wore their finishers’ shirst and congrats were shared. I made sure to thank all the volunteers to since it is the best crew to date. More bumper stickers added to the XT too.

At dinner, we discussed our war stories. We came to the conclusion also that I would heed to her recommendation of “no more” for Ironmans. Too much racing and she thinks it is taking a lot out of me. I agreed and listened. After 10 years, and many races, while I still have Lobsterman in Sept. and the World 70.3 in Nov. we’d chill out a bit and seriously plan our move to North Carolina. I whole heartedly understood her concern and was comfortable with OUR decision. We’re a team and intend to stay that way. When you love someone this much, it was a decision easy to make.

Results: 2.4 swim – 1:05

112 mile bike: 6:49 (2 flats)

26.2 run: 3:18

421st place overall out of 2400

As per Polar RS200sd and CS200cad computer calculations: calories burned 5400 (not including swim)

Body fat : 5.6%

Thanks again to Amino Vital and Polar for their sponsorship and all TEAMMC crew!!!!

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