Several people have asked me how Ironman Coeur d’Alene compares to Ironman Lake Placid, namely the bike courses. So, I decided to attempt to answer that question with a bit of a comparison of the data that I accumulated from the last two races. It was fairly difficult to find any one tool that conclusively compared the two courses, so I used a few different methods. It is a bit off-the-cuff, but it might help to give some people a little idea of how similar or different these coursed really are.
First off, I tried using Garmin Connect. While it is pretty easy to select two rides and click compare in GC, having IMCdA recorded as a “Multisport Activity” from my Garmin 920xt proved more difficult to compare since IMLP 2014 was recorded as just a single ride. Then I had to export the IMCdA Ride as a TCX file from the MultiSport activity and re-import it again by itself. When I did that, it didn’t calculate my Normalized Power watts at all and my average watts were off by about 3 watts. I then filled them in manually. So I finally got them in a table format which is below.
So, these courses above look very similar. The only major differences was my power output for Coeur d’Alene was about 20 watts less on average and normalized power. Note that I used the same Stages Power Meter for both races. The corrected elevations here show only 400 more feet of climbing at Lake Placid and about 500 more feet of loss as well.
Next I jumped over to Strava where I have the Stravistix extension which provides some more information on the grade of the courses. Thanks to the Stravistix Google Chrome Extension for Strava from Thomas Champagne for the statistics below…
Here again, the courses are very close. The only thing that really stood out to me was that IMCdA has a little more flats and IMLP has a little more downhill.
Equalizing Course Profiles at 0 Elevation
I also was able to import the original Garmin FIT files into Golden Cheetah, which allowed me to the export the raw data points from each ride/course into a spreadsheet. I then imported those rides into my favorite analysis tool, QlikView.
I equalized the starting elevations for each course to zero for each race profile. Next, I adjusted the rest of the points elevations’ by the difference from that starting elevation to zero. Plotting this way then moves the course profiles on top of one another(below) as if they started at exactly the same elevation. This gives us a interesting perspective of the courses that I would not have seen looking at the numbers above. While the numbers look the same the profiles are very different.
The Coeur d’Alene course is much more up-and-down in the range of 0-500′ climbing. Lake Placids’ long downhill section into Keene provides you with a nice long and speedy descent, but then you pay for that later with the very a very long, gradual climb from Jay all the way back to Lake Placid. This climb continues on into your second loop at LP too after heading through town. So if you like a constant gradual climbing then Lake Placid is more your style, whereas CdA is more for the folks who like big rollers.
The one thing I didn’t take into account here was the wind. For Ironman Coeur d’Alene 2015, the wind was coming out of the NNE mostly at around 7 MPH. This provided a nice tailwind from mostly the first turnaround at Heggins Point all the way out to the second turnaround. Coming back to town thought was obviously a headwind. Not a bad one, but I could definitely feel it. Lake Placid in 2014 was a little higher at around 8+ MPH out of the South. It always seems to just whip right up through the Wilmington Notch as you are grinding your way back to Lake Placid. 2014 also had a the nice edition of nasty thunderstorm on the first half of the first loop too.
EFD -Effective Flat Distance Overall
For one last comparison, I had stumbled upon the Flacyclist.com site by Tom Jordan. Tom has a calculator tool he put together that figures our what the Effective Flat Distance(EFD or EDO) of a ride is. This is basically how long the ride would be if you took into account the climbs and descents and just flatten everything out. It seems pretty complicated, but probably a more accurate way to equalize different courses for comparison.
I downloaded Toms’ spreadsheet version of the calculator and filled in the data. Getting some of the required fields tooks some data wrangling. I used the ride extract from Golden Cheetah and then did some Excel magic to figure out the climbing(> 1%)/descending(< -1%) distances. I had also downloaded hisorical weather info from Weather Underground site. I used some default values for area of rider and things like that. I set the wind direction at 45 since both courses were basically out-and-backs so there was a combination of headwind and tailwind. You can view the calculations here…
Looking at the two course calculations above, you can see the (EDO or EFD)Effective Overall Distance for each ride is in the 2nd to last row of each image above. The first distance value is taking wind into consideration the other is not. Based on the no wind calculations here, the IMLP was equal to about 121 miles in EFD but the IMCdA course was just a couple miles more at 123 giving it a very slight edge in difficulty. But not much
Taking the wind into consideration, IMLP 2014 averaged about a mile or so more per hour(8.24mph) over the time on the bike course than IMCdA 2015(7.4mph). With an equivalent amount of head vs tailwind, this effectively evens both the courses out at about 142 miles and some change.
This comparison also seems to point to both courses being very comparable in difficulty. The only difference being what type of ride do you prefer? Do you like to maintain a steady uphill climb over a long distance or do you prefer more shorter ups-and-downs?
Personally I liked both courses in their own way I guess. I really feel like I could have PR’d the Coeur d’Alene course under normal temperatures this year. Once that heat kicked in, the wheels just fell off. Despite that I was still able to come in only 5 minutes later than Lake Placid the following year. I was under 3 hours for the first 56 miles while the temperatures were still reasonable.
I hope that was somewhat helpful to anyone considering either of those races. They are now moving the full Ironman in Coeur d’Alene to August next year, so 90-100 degree temperatures may be the norm for that race now. Some locals told me that that weather is more typical at that time of year there. That pretty much takes that off my list of races to try again! Hopefully next year I can compare the Ironman Mont-Tremblant course to these two courses.
Last year at Ironman Coeur d’Alene the weather was pretty windy and cool. The water temperatures was in the 50’s and it was cool and windy. I signed up for this race specifically because that type of weather suits me well. Cool, damp and even a little rainy. I don’t like the heat. So, when the weather forecast was predicting temperatures of 107+ for raceday, I knew my perfect race day was not to be.
My goal for this race from the minute I finished Ironman Lake Placid last season was to go sub 12 hours along with around a 4 hour marathon time. That goal went by the wayside in the last two weeks leading up to the race. I knew from there it was going to be a matter of just surviving at that point.
We arrived in Spokane, Washington and made our way to Coeur d’Alene, ID, which is about an hour drive, on the Thursday before the race. We settled into our AirBnB accomodations which were about about 20 minutes northwest of town and about 10 minutes from the bike & run course on Coeur d’Alene Drive. It was nestled on a hilltop overlooking the surrounding mountains. A perfect location to get away from all the Ironman drama that goes on in town. I have to say though that I think Coeur d’Alene is a little better than Lake Placid in this respect since it is larger and more spread out. Lake Placid is so small and there is just such a high concentration of athletes there, so you can’t get away from overhearing all of the pre-race chatter.
We headed down to Tony’s Restaurant for dinner which just down the road on Coeur d’Alene Drive and overlooks the lake. It is nestled in cove which is great because it gets shaded from the sun in the evening. They have a big outdoor deck and the food was great. We were fortunate to get a table since we didn’t make any reservations. We ended eating here twice during our stay.
On Friday, we headed over to Post Falls and had a killer breakfast overlooking the Spokane River at LePeep. Then we headed over to the race expo area in City Park for athlete check-in and to check out the expo. I had “All World Athlete” (AWA) status this year, so one of the perks is that you get to go to the front of the line for check-in. This was nice at first, but then you end up having to stand in the regular line with everyone else once you fill out your waiver forms. When I went up to register, I handed the girl my drivers license and she said “Pennsylvania?! There was just another athlete from PA.” I said “is her name Megan?” Sure enough it was Megan, who I met up at the Todd Wiley Lake Placid camp a couple months before. I spotted her ahead in the line and we chatted a bit while waiting in the line. This would be Megans’ first Ironman.
The other AWA perk was that you get an special swim cap for the race. I thought this would be great for my wife to pick me out from the other swimmers. When they gave it to me it was a black cap and the volunteer said that they prefer you not wear them since they are hard to see in the water. Who the hell came up with that color??!! They gave me a typical bright green one along with it which is what I wore anyway. This AWA thing isn’t turning out to be any big deal so far.
One nice thing was the swag backpack they gave out this year. I really liked it since it was kind of a duffle/slash backpack and very functional. I will probably a lot more use out of this than the other ones I got in previous years. I also like the Seattle Seahawk color scheme too!
I decided to attend the pre-race meeting this time since it was a new race venue for me and with all the heat concerns. They really didn’t say a whole lot about the heat other than they would meet with local emergency officials on Saturday night and determine if any other changes to race would need to be done. They had already announced that we would be starting an hour earlier at 5:45am for age groupers to help get out of the hottest part of the day. Personally, that would not help me much since I would be getting more run time in the hottest part of the day. I would rather be biking during that time.
I had used TriBike Transport to ship my bike to the race along with a gear bag to put my aero helmet, bike shoes, tools & spare parts and my wetsuit. We were staying in CdA for vacation the week after and I didn’t want to be lugging this stuff around. TriBike Transport is a great service and I will be doing a separate post on that with more details soon. They allow you to check your bike in and out as needed in case you want to take it for a spin before the race. This was great cause I didn’t have any way to transport my bike back to our apartment. I also checked my gear bag out and left my bike with them. They also had mechanics there to pump tires and put your pedals back on.
After the meeting I did a short swim in the lake just beyond the beach swimming area. The water was quite refreshing since it was already around 100 degrees out. I was surprised how cool the water had remained despite the heat of the week.
For the rest of Friday and Saturday I pretty much laid low. I did take my bike out for a ride down CdA Drive on Saturday afternoon to make sure everything was working correctly. It also gave me a taste of the heat and I tested out my new cooling sleeves. I was surprised of the cooling effect that the material provided. It felt like I had menthol on your arms. Ride went well and then I checked it into transition for the race. I had bib #462 for this race so I was pretty close to the bike exit in the transition area. I also checked in my bike and run bags with the essentials in them. I left out any nutrition stuff which I would put in before the race.
On Saturday night we cooked at the apartment and I made my traditional pre-race Chickpea Sweet Potato Coconut Curry. It is just packed with good stuff, but I usually cut back on the spice a bit when I make it before any races. After dinner I prepped and packed all of my race nutrition so it was ready to go in the morning. I loaded up two ziplocs full of 4 chopped up Amrita bars each, 5 bottles of Skratch Labs hydration, 1-3hr bottle of UCan SuperStarch, Base Performance Salt, and 2 PB&J sandwiches to put in special needs bags. I didn’t get to bed until around 10PM though, so with a 3am wake-up 5 hours of sleep is not great for the night before an Ironman. I did sleep fairly solidly though.
We got to downton CdA a little before 4am and found a good parking spot on the Coeur d’Alene Ave, just off of 1st Ave. This would give my wife the ability to not be trapped in by the race course and it was very close to the transition area. At 4am I walked down to transition, dropped my special needs bags off, got body-marked, and loaded up my bike and bike & run bags with nutrition. All in about 15-20 minutes. The transition area is nice and compact so you don’t have to hike all over the place like you do in Lake Placid. I even managed a couple Port-O-Can stops in there too. I headed back up to the car and relaxed with my wife for the next 45 minutes or so until it was close to race time.
Denise and I headed back down to transition about 5:20am. We said our goodbyes and I then made my way into the herd on route to the swim start. I also dropped my swim cap along the way and another athlete was nice enough to grab and run it up to me. Thanks dude! The first cannon blast fired as the male pro’s started their swim promptly at 5:30am.
I made my way down to the beach and saw there were a ton of people trying to do a warm-up swim. It was so packed I didn’t know how they could actually swim. I wanted to get in the water though, so I waded in up to my shoulders. There was a bit of an opening at that point so I did a few strokes just to make sure everything was working right and my goggles were not leaking. The cannon went off again as the female pros went splashing into the lake. I had a good perspective on that being just out from them.
I got out of the water and then situated myself at the very front of the 1:16 – 1:30 finish corrale. I figured I would split the difference between my last two IM Swims(~1:17) and my goal time for this race, which was ~1:15.
Eventually the age groupers were started and we steadily moved towards the start archway like a herd of cattle. Before I knew it, I was heading into the water and on my way. I b-lined for the outside lane which was on the right side of the counter-clockwise course. I had a pretty open lane to swim in with minimal traffic. The only bad thing about this location was I had to spot to the left to see the pylons and the sun was coming up in that direction. I seemed to manage ok though by utilizing the kayakers and paddleboarders on my right.
The water was mostly smooth until we got out to about to pylon 6 or 7(of 8). The water got a little more choppy out there and there a few more boats around. There was also the taste/smell of gas out there too. Yuk! From the first left turn until the second where you start to head back was really difficult to see since we were heading right into the sun. It also seemed to be more congested with swimmers here too, since the boats were up close the pylons.
The swim back to shore was fairly smooth, especially after the light chop smoothed out. I stayed on the outside all the way in. When I finally touched sand with my hand, I popped up and made my way down the beach for lap #2. I checked my watch and it read 0:35:40…Sweet! I quickly multiplied that in my head and thought “a possible 1:12 finish?!!”
Now with a boost of confidence with my first lap split, I decided to swim on the inside lane this time to hopefully gain some more time by staying closer to the pylons. I was actually swimming inside the pylons at some points too. This approach actually backfired on me though. The additional traffic in this area actually slowed me down a bit. I do get a bit flustered when there are other people swimming in front of and around me and this happened much more on this lap. I probably would have done better on the outside again and I probably would not have had to go as far out this time too. Oh well, lesson learned.
Eventually I was coming down the home stretch. Not before seeing a big beach chair on the bottom of the lake though. I had to do a double-take under water. The water in Lake CdA is pretty clear and there is always things on the bottom to look at and help pass the time away. It is not quite as clear as Lake Winnipesaukee(Timberman 70.3 in NH) though.
I finally reached the sandy bottom for the last time and exited the water. I looked at my watch and saw 1:14 and some change…not the 1:12 I was thinking but still under my goal of 1:15. Mike O’Reilly called out my name and town at about the same time I was looking at my watch too. As I made my way up the beach, I heard Denise yelling my name. There was a buffer area between us and the spectators so I could not reach her, but gave a wave.
Offical Swim Time: 1:14:57
The 1st transition went rather smoothly. I headed over the wetsuit strippers and got stripped. Then down the nearby row of bags to collect my bike bag and into the tent. Tent was pretty full but I quickly found a couple empty chairs. I got my shoes on, helmet on and my new arm cooling sleeves. I had to pack my wetsuit and everything into the bag myself since most voluteers were pretty busy at this point. Then out of the tent to the sunscreen applicators.
The lady said I had a bad wetsuit burn on my neck it was going to hurt. She said something like “better to have a little burn now and not a sunburn later!” As she padded the suncreen on the back of my neck it instantly started to sting. I let out a long grunt of a yell and it eventually subsided. They lathered me up quite well and even got my bald head so I wouldn’t get racing stripes fromt he vents in my bike helmet. I left my helmet off until after they put the sunscreen on. I then headed down the rows of bikes to the last tree on the right and halfway down the row instantly spotting my black and yellow Quintana Roo. Unracked her and out the archway.
This was one of my fastest Ironman tranistions so far. Partly due to the compact transition area of this venue, but I think I did go quicker than usual.
T1 Time: 0:05:55
The start of the bike weaves through town and eventually heads up Lakeside Ave paralleling Sherman Ave, which is the main street in town. People line the road cheering as you head up the slightly inclined street. It surely gets you fired up to get moving on the bike . You then make a few sharp turns zig-zagging through a few other back streets in town before heading out onto Coeur d’Alene Drive. This first out-and-back 14mile section to Higgens Point is pretty flat and you get into a nice steady cadence with speeds well into the 20’s. You surely don’t want to get too carried away here since it is just the beginning of a long day. There is one smaller climb on this section right after passing Tony’s restuarant, but it is over pretty quickly. The wind was out of the North-Northeast that day, so the way back to town was a bit easier I felt. This wind would also help on the first out section after heading back to town too.
I settled myself into a nice easy pace and immediately started taking on hydration and nutriton. My thought was to try to take in as much as I could early since I may not feel like eating much once the heat kicks in. I had about 4 cut up Amrita Bars and 3 hour bottle of Ucan SuperStarch, plus two bottles of Skratch Labs hydration mix. I also purchased some Base Performance Salt a week before the race due to the iminent heat. I heard about this stuff from Christine Lynch on the ZenTriathlon Podcast, who spoke very highly of it. I had not trained with this stuff so it was a bit of a gamble. I figured it was just salt so it wasn’t that big a deal. I had used salt tabs in previous years without any issues.
The 1st 14 miles went by pretty quickly and I was heading back into town again. I was scanning the streets the whole time for Denise but didn’t see her until I was heading out. She didn’t even see me as she was trying to get her iPhone setup to videotape me. I yelled to her as I passed by and she looked up with a look of surprise on her face. Next it was up the ramp and over the Spokane River bridge in a single file, no passing zone line.
There is a about 2 major and 1 minor climb on this next section. The first one, Cougar Gulch, is the toughest one at about a 6% grade for a mile and half. You hit this one at mile 21 and 77 on the course. I was able to pass a bunch of people here by spinning a high cadence in a easy gear. You surely don’t want to burn yourself up in a big gear here as you have to do this again at mile 77. One guy I passed was nice enough to tell me the back of my tri tank was riding up exposing my lower back to the sun which was cool. I surely didn’t want a trampstamp sunburn!
The next climb was Mica Bay to FIghting Creek which is only a 2% avg grade, but it is 3.3 miles long. Seems a bit worse than that, but that could be since there is another climb right after from Fighting Creek to Sun Up Bay Road which is another 2% for 2.1 miles. So basically you are on a average 2% grade for over 5 miles here. The nice thing is what comes up must come down and you get some pretty good downhill speeds on these descents since the road is in good condition and you have a good amount of room. I stayed in the aerobars for most of them and just let it rip.
There is a smaller uphill section right before the turnaround at 37.5-38, but it isn’t bad in relation to the others. Some say that this back to town section is easier, but on this race day we had a bit of a headwind out of the North-Northeast, so it wasn’t as easy as I expected. The climbs were still pretty decent on the way back, but probably not quite as bad.
I continued to drink and feed often on this first out-and-back. I went through my hydration bottles and started taking water from the aid stations. I finished my 3 hour Ucan Superstarch bottle in less than three hours (hmm?) and ate almost all 4 of my Amrita bars. That is a lot volume to put in ones stomach. One thing too is that the Special Needs station is at the Higgens point turnaround at around mile 66, so you have 10 more miles after the halfway point until you can refuel again.
I passed by Denise again, now ready for me and situated on the median by Northern Idaho College just before the halfway point. I flipped my Garmin to the total bike time screen and saw I was just a few minutes under 3 hours…Sweet! I surely didn’t feel like I overdid it so far and my watts were below my goal watts too. I thought…”Wow! I could go under 6 hours maybe?”
I cruised out along the lake again to Higgens Point to pickup my special needs bags, which had 3 bottles of Skratch Labs, a big bag of Amrita bars and a fresh tube of Base salt. I think I may have had more than 4 bars in there since I had trouble squeezing it into my bento box. I also had packed a peanut butter & jelly sandwich, which was cut into quarters. I grabbed a quarter of that and stuffed it in my mouth. I am really getting an huge amount of calories in so far here.
Everything was going pretty well despite the heat really kicking up now. That was until about mile 85 of the bike on the South Whitemire Drive climb. I had taken a big lick of Base Salt and a swig of my water bottle with my very hot hydration mix in it. It immediatly turned my stomach. It was imminent that I was going to puke. Do I pull over and do it? I was in the middle of the highway so that was not that easy to do. I was on a hill too, so if I stopped, getting moving again would not be easy. I could not stop it now and it just came out. Once …. ugh… OMG! …and another wave… blah! all that food and drink gone…to the pavement..and again! Three times!
Things kind of went downhill from here. The heat was really kicking up now. The ambient heat coming off the black pavement was like being in a sauna. My stomach was still a bit queasy, so I wasn’t able to replace the lost nutrition right away. I ended up just ditching my heated water bottles and just getting cold water bottles from the aid station. They didn’t have any electrolytes in them so now I was going be depleted there. I was not going to do Gatorade either. I couldn’t bear to do any of Base Salt either. Just a bad situation here.
My pace on the bike slowed from 19-20mph to around 16-17mph now. As I made my way on the last leg back to town, the carnage on the road was everywhere. Bikes were laying on the side of the road and people were just sitting in the shade under trees behind them. People were cramming underneath the tents at the aid stations. Athletes walking their bikes up the big climb. The heat shimmering off the road ahead was causing a mirage above the road. It was all starting to play on my mind.
I finally hit the bridge over the Spokane river and made a sharp right down the ramp and headed for T2. Finally, the bike was done. Surprisingly, I still managed to pull out a decent 6:20 bike split. Only 5 minutes off my PR of 6:15 last year in Lake Placid. Had this been a “normal” weather day in CdA, I probably could have pulled off a new PR bike split. Not to be. I swung into the Bike In chute, dismounted and handed off the QRoo to a volunteer.
Bike Time: 6:20:13
I ran through the racks of bikes and picked up my run bag and then off to the changing tent. A big burly guy was standing outside the entrance with a big bucket of ice cold water. He asked if I wanted to get dumped and I said “Hell Ya!” Aaaaaaaahhhhhh! That was freakin cold, but man did it feel good. There was not very many people in the changing tent. I figured there was a lot of people still out on the road. One guy came in behind me and just laid on the ground. The volunteers came running over to him and then medical staff came over and started asking him questions about where he was and what his name was.
I really took my time getting changed. The volunteers were bringing over ice cold towels over and draping them on my head and neck. It felt so good. I was in no hurry to leave. I ended up changing my race kit tank top. My black Amrita jersey is mostly black and is really hot in the baking sun. I had the wherewithall to stick my white Sleeping Dog Bike Shop tank in my run bag and it was a smart move. I ate something out of my bag and had some water too. I also took a leak which was really dark. Not a good sign. I eventually got done changing after about 15 minutes in transition. A new record long time in transition. I stopped off at the suncreen stand and let them lather me up again and then headed out of T2 running.
T2 Time: 0:15:02
I started off on the run and through the spectator-lined chute heading to the run course. I started taking inventory of my physical ability to run and everything seemed ok. I was running, not very fast, but I was running. I eventually saw Denise about halfway up Lakeview Drive and stopped to chat with her for several minutes. I told her about the conditions on the bike and she couldn’t believe I was doing this. My Dad called her while I was standing there and I answered the phone. I think I suprised him a bit . I told her I was going to go out and see what I could do. We said goodbye and I’ll see ya in a couple hours..hopefully.
It was around 1:30-2:00PM at this point and it was REALLY freakin hot. I continued to mostly run for the first several miles which meandered through some smaller backstreets in town before turning right back onto Coeur d’Alene Drive. Many of the people that lived there were out hosing us down and cheering us on. I didn’t realize it but my socks and sneakers were getting really wet. A sure way to cause some blisters and foot problems. I didn’t care. We passed by a small beach and there was an older Ironman athlete coming out of the lake in his running outfit. I was entertaining that idea and thought maybe on the next loop.
Once out on Coeur d’Alene drive people were actually running in the grass to the right of the path. It was next to the golf course and it had some trees lining it giving some shade. it was like a mad hunt for any shade you could find. That ended shortly when we hit the large condo building. The running trail that parallels CdA Drive and runs along the lake is very exposed with minimal shade. It was so hot. I ran through the first aid station and the stench of the port-a-johns’ was brutal! I took ice and water at every aid station and walked through each one. I filled up my handheld water with ice and water and would just constantly drizzle it over my head, back and arms as I ran.
Walking became more prevalent as I go closer and closer to the turnaround point. I had a pain on my toes of my left foot. I stopped at a bench and took off my shoe to see what was going on. Meanwhile, Denise is seeing me stopped on the athlete tracker and starting to freak out a bit. I apparently didn’t cut the toenail on my “pinky” toe and it was cutting into the side of the toe aside of it and it was bleeding all in my sock. I got some Ruby’s Lube out of my FuelBelt and rubbed it on it to ease the cutting a bit. it helped but I could still feel it. I wished I had some nail clippers!
By the time I reached the turnaround at mile 6.5 I was doing more walking than running. My quads were cramping up whenever I tried to run. I started taking some Coca-Cola and potato chips along with water & ice. Some aid stations had ice in the coke, but others didn’t. I asked why and they said Ironman said they are not allowed to put ice in the coke and gatorade? WTH? Nothing like 106 degree coke! Ugh. What is the purpose of that WTC?
If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. – Harry S Truman
I pretty much walked the entire way back to town. The heat was unbearable and I could barely maintain a trot for more than 10 yards now. Throwing up on the bike had really taken its toll on my now. That was just too much lost hydration and nutrition at a key time in the race. My quads were now starting to cramp just walking up any incline in the path. I started entertaining the idea of dropping out. This was becoming not fun and the thought of having to walk another 13 miles out-and-back again was not something I wanted to do.
I passed my friend Megan from LP Camp near the big condo buidling. She had just started the run and was actually running. Denise was tracking her on MyAthleteLive and had told me that she saw her bike splits really slow down when the heat picked up. This was her first Ironman, so I really hoped she would finish, so I was glad to see her still going.
At this point I am not being at all competitive and it would be just finishing for the sake of saying I finished. I also thought that I could end up doing more damage to myself and screwing up the rest of our vacation or maybe worse. I have finished two of Ironman events already, so just finishing doesn’t really appeal to me now. I wanted a sub 12 hour finish and now that that was out of reach, I was lacking the desire to finish. It just seemed like a waste of another three or more hours. I also didn’t want to Denise to have to stand around worrying for another possible 3 hours.
I walked the 2 miles back through the neighborhood streets again into town. The spectators were still cheering away and but it didn’t help me. I made a right turn and saw Denise sitting on the curb ahead. She had a bit of a stressed look on her face and asked how I was doing. I said that I am thinking of dropping out and I could easily see a sign of relief on her face. That pretty much made my desicision for me. She said that she could hardly bear walking around out here and she didn’t know how I was managing to do this.
There was still another .5 mile to go to the turnaround point down at City Park. The worst thing was I had to walk down Lakeview Drive again which was still lined with spectators cheering. You could also hear people finishing on Sherman Ave. which was a block over. I walked down to the turnaround and just kept going straight through a small opening in the fencing that lined the course. It was a fairly easy decision at this point. But it still sucked.
Run Time: DNF
I found a nice shaded spot under a tree near the transtion area and took relief. I was bummed to not have finished, but also relieved to be out of the heat. Trevor and Heather Wurtele were sitting not too far away and Trevor was looking pretty wiped out from the race, which he finished 3rd overall. I eventually gathered up enough energy to get up and go gather up my bike and transition bags. I found some Ironman staff people and handed them my race chip. I just wanted to get out of there at this point and go get something to eat…and have a cold beer. It really sucks that Ironman does not even give you any food unless you finish. $700 should atleast get you a slice of pizza, regardless of finishing.
I keep thinking back on the day and having some regrets of not finishing, but I quickly remind myself of why I think I made the better decision. If this was my first Ironman, I probably would have pushed through it, but it isn’t and my goals are different now. So, time to re-focus on my remaining races this year and then on to next year.
I also started thinking of Megan who was still out there. We were tracking her on MyAthleteLive and saw she was walking a lot based on her splits. We drove out along the course after getting some food to find her. Her family had stayed at the home they rented and tracked her online and would then meet her for the finish. We figured she could probably use some encouragement. We finally spotted her at mile 19 on the course and she was looking pretty deflated. She said she was considering dropping out, but I told her she was almost to the turnaround and that she can do it. I think it helped her because she seemed a little more uplifted when we left. She was also afraid she would not make the cutoff.
We tracked her the rest of the night and I was happy she finished in a little over 16 hours. Probably not her goal time, but given the situation finishing is a huge accomplishment. I was happy for her and she texted me the next day thanked us for coming out to cheer her on. She said it really helped her finish. If I am not going to finish at least I could help someone else to.
Race Start Time(Age Group): 5:45 AM PDT (8:45 AM EDT)
MyAthleteLive Tracking Info
I decided to rent a GPS tracker from MyAthleteLive.com so Denise can more easily plan her day and also so any family & friends can track my progress throughout the day. You can view the live tracking info through the following ways…
Less than 5 weeks to go until Ironman Coeur d’Alene! Actually, if you are reading this post it is probably less than 3 weeks to go. With all the heavy training volume lately, I cannot find the time to get this post out and I didn’t want to just throw it out there. Anyway…I digress.
This was a bit of an odd week. I was ready for some recovery time after finishing up two solid build weeks, but with Todd Wiley’s Lake Placid Training Camp this weekend I could not afford an entire week of recovery. I did a light swim on Monday, took a total rest day on Tuesday, and then a easy run on Wednesday. It was a good amount of time to recover and be ready for a solid training block over the Memorial day weekend. My HRV Timeline chart below shows my recovery as well with a solid upswing into the mid-80’s by the middle of the week.
On Thursday morning I made the 6 hour drive up to Lake Placid for the start of Todd Wileys‘ Lake Placid Training Camp. Last year I had my own little solo camp, but riding alone up there leaves me a little uneasy. Especially when you get a couple flats and mechanical issues. When you are with a camp you have some extra support plus it is always fun meeting new people with similar interests. We were staying at the Olympic Training Center for the Todd Wiley camp which was really cool. This would be much more fun than staying in some hotel downtown by myself. I had driven past the OTC facility many times but never saw the facility from the inside, so now I could really check it out.
I arrived at the facility, checked in and unloaded my gear into the room. Eventually, my roomate Max came in and introduced himself. He was a really nice, mellow guy which I was very relieved about. It was kind of like the first day of college and meeting your dorm roomate. Everyone eventually met outside in the parking lot around 4PM for a group run after getting settled into their rooms. We then headed out for a nice 5-6 mile run into town, around Mirror Lake and then back again. I ended up running with Dr. named Howie most of the run. He was a super nice guy and quite a character too. The run went really fast since we were chatting the whole time.
The original shedule had a short 15 mile bike ride listed on the first day, but that got nixed since we got out later than planned. We then headed to the cafeteria at the Olympic Training Center(OTC) for some dinner. I was a bit apprehensive about eating in a cafeteria all weekend and whether they would have much for me to eat. I was pleasantly surprised. The OTC cafeteria food was awesome! They usually had several different options for each meal with at least a couple of them being veg-friendly. Another nice benefit of the cafeteria was that we didn’t have to deal with eating in town on a holiday weekend. This can be a bit of a challenge especially with a large group.
On Thursday night the group got together for some discussion with Todd about the plan for the weekend and some general training information. We also got a a bunch of swag including a t-shirt, a towel, and some sun/cooling sleeves. I was pretty psyched about the sun sleeves since I had wanted to try them but didn’t want to fork out the money for a pair. I also just happened to check the weather on my phone during our session and it was apparently snowing outside. That should make for an interesting ride tomorrow!
On Friday, we were up for breakfast by 7AM after a good nights sleep and out for group ride by 8:30am. It was a bit cool and very overcast as we waited to depart. It started raining as soon as we left the OTC making for a cold, damp start. We headed down Route 73 to River Rd and then down 86 to Wilimington and back again. The ride down to Wilmington is mostly downhill so I took it easy crusing the whole way. The skies eventually opened up and the sun came out. My plan was to give a hard push back up the notch to Lake Placid. It was a good hard ride, I turned around at Cobble Mountain right after the three bears climbs and then swung back down to River Rd. and then back to the OTC.
We then headed out for a half hour brick run immediately after we returned from our ride. I joined up briefly with Derek Fitzgerald, the only heart transplant and cancer survivor to complete an Ironman, and we ran across the street up Bear Cub Rd. past the entrance to Henry’s Woods. I went a little further up the road since I had never been up the before and was curious where it ended up. It was a gradual climb most of the way out.
We had a afternoon session with Fernando Paredes from Fusion Fitness & Performance on his strength training principles after lunch. I had attended Fernando’s workshop back in January so this was more of a refresher for me. The session was mostly just a overview of his methods and we didn’t get into any actual strength training. Fernando did a couple demonstrations with some of the campers which were pretty amazing. The one guy had really tight hamstrings and Fernando was able to have him touch his toes after just rubbing his jaw on both sides. That was pretty wild.
On Friday night we had a classroom discussion on triathlon rules and safety with Ken Modica. Ken is a USAT official who officiates many of the races in my area. It was a good review of the rules and some of the changes that have been made. I kind of lost attention though after everyone started their “airing of grievances” and bringing up their individual occurences of being unjustly penalized for things. I would have liked to have seen a little more discussion on overall race strategy and nutrition in the camp, especially for the folks who are doing Ironman for the first time. Troy Jacobson did this in his camp, which I attended in 2012, and I found it really helpful. The coaches here were very accessible though and I know my roomate had sat down with Todd individually to discuss some of these topics.
Saturday was our long bike ride for the weekend, so I was off early for a good nights sleep Friday night. We topped off our tanks with a good breakfast and then we headed out for our long ride. Some of the campers were only doing one loop of the IMLP Course, and then the rest were doing two loops. Both groups were skipping out on the out-and-backs to Ausable Forks and Haselton Road. I was considering doing one or two of them just to tack on a few miles.
I started out with a group led by Nancy Smith, an elite age grouper and multiple Kona qualifier. Nancy has an unbelieveably smooth cadence which never seems to change despite the terrain. She also had a very similar pace to me so I always seemed to be following her. She did tend to drop me a little on climbs, but then I would catch up on the downhills. My extra weight comes in handy sometimes! Thanks gravity! Also in our pack was my roomate Max and Jeff. We would stop every once in a while and catch up a bit.
It was a pretty brisk morning on Saturday, but I dressed appropriately with jacket, leg warmers and full finger gloves and it wasn’t too bad. It had gotten a little warmer towards the end of the first loop, so I swung back to the OTC for quick wardrobe change. The first loop went well and I was still feeling pretty fresh. The wind had picked up a bit on the second loop but it was mostly a tailwind from Lake Placid all the way to Upper Jay. There never seems to be a tailwind from Upper Jay back to Lake Placid which is basically all uphill.
I started to feel it a little in my quads as I made my way up to Wilmingtion. I had heard someone yelling my name as I rolled into Wilmington and eventually saw Todd parked across the street and my roomate Max taking on some hydration. I swung across an refilled my bottles and food. It was good timing because I was out of hydration and starting to feel it. After sucking down a bottle of Skratch Labs and eating an Amrita Bar I was ready to tackle the climb back to Lake Placid. I even hit the little out-and-back on Haselton Road just to get a couple more miles in. I like this little stretch too since it is pretty mellow with minimal traffic. It is kind of a break in itself.
I made the push back up 86 to Lake Placid, this time being a little more challenging than the first loop. The stronger headwind made things just a little tougher too. There is a short but steep stretch around the gorge area where the road gets very narrow with no shoulder and a stone wall guarding you from a rocky cliff into the Ausable River. I got behind another cyclist who was going relatively slow, but I was not able to pass him do to the car traffic and lack of a shoulder. As we reached the top of the climb, but not quite passed the stone wall he decided to stop! WTF!! I yelled “NO! Keep going!” He obviously didn’t even realize I was behind him. He managed to gather some more strength and pedal up to the turnout a few feet away. I patted him on the back and laughed as I went by. He smiled but was too exhausted to say any words.
I finished up the ride back into town after completing the Three Bears climbs for the second time that day. My legs were pretty tired by the time I got back and I only had food on my mind at this point. Fortunately the OTC cafeteria is open all day long for snacks and things and I headed right there.
Fernando had a strength training session in the afternoon, but I could muster up the motivation to attend. I was ready to just chill a bit. The plan for the afternoon was to go into town for a short swim in Mirror Lake. I ended bagging the swim since it was still pretty cool air temperature and very windy. I knew the water was cool which I can deal with, but the thought of getting out of the water not being able to get warm changed my mind. I knew Sunday was supposed to be a warmer day, so I will save my swim for then.
I ended up going to Lake Placid Pub & Brewery to get some dinner and have a couple beers. I ended up meeting up with some tri-friends from home, John, Ashley and Johns’ daughter Laura at the Pub. They were staying with some other friends, Brian and Mandy, from back home who have a house in LP and invited me to come over for dinner. I felt a little funny going over to have dinner at someones house that I never met, but they said it was cool. Brian and Mandy were really nice people and so accomodating. They are both REALLY GOOD athletes and Brian was into photography too so there was no shortage of conversation. I had such a great time with all of them and we had a ton of laughs too. It was like I had known them forever. Oh also they had rice and beans with side of kale for dinner so it was the perfect meal for me. I did cheat a little and had a organic chicken sausage too. 🙂
Sunday all the LP campers met up after breakfast at the front gate to the OTC. Todd debriefed us on the plan for the run since some folks were running different distances than others. I was planning to get at least 18 miles in but was hoping for 20. I would assess it as I went depending on how I felt. We then got together for group photo before set off on our run.
I realized that I forgot to put sunscreen on as we started down the road, so I headed back to the dorms to put some on. The zipper in my running shorts got jammed and I could not get my ID card out. I could not get the zipper unjammed for the life of me and I didn’t want to break the it on my favorite running shorts. So I had to go without. Fortunately it was fairly cloudy as the day went on so not really an issue.
I fell pretty far behind everyone with the zipper drama, so I was basically on my own for most of the day. I did catch up to a few people in the camp and saw the rest coming back on River Road. Todd was waiting at the turnaround on River Rd. with water and gatorade for us. He also said he would wait for me at the Ski Jumps, on the other end of River Rd. to restock me with water before I head into town. On the way back I stopped at the house we typically stay at on River Road to say Hi to our friends Dan & Wendy for a few minutes. I chatted with Dan for a bit and then continued on. I stepped up the pace a bit since I knew Todd was waiting for me.
The cooler air temps this day really made a huge difference in my run. I felt so good the whole time as opposed to the prior weeks run back home in hot & humid temps(see image above). My previous long runs were much slower and the courses were also much less difficult in terms of terrain. I can only hope for temps in the 60’s in Coeur d’Alene!
I made my way up into town, headed around the back of Mirror Lake and turned around at the Lake Placid Marina right before coming back into town near Saranac Ave. I was at around 16 miles when I got back to the OTC, so I decided to head up Bear Cub Rd, where I had done the brick run on Friday to get 20 in. I ended up finishing with only 19.3 but I didn’t feel like to doing filler runs just to get 20 in. Close enough! I was quite happy with the run at that point, so no point in continuing.
After some lunch, we headed into town to get a swim in at Mirror Lake. My friend John had told me to let him know when we would be swimming and he was going to meet me with his kayak. It was pretty nice having my own support crew. I stashed a water bottle on Johns’ boat and he took some pictures and video of me while I swam too.
The water was really cold! I was a little fearful of cramping up after just running 20 miles a couple hours before. My hands, feet and face were numb. I started out with a pretty good pace just to get some heat pumping. My plan was to swim 20 minutes out and then back again. By around 15 minutes I was starting to have enough. My toes were involuntarily curling up from the cold. I stopped at around 17 minutes, took a drink of water and chatted with John a bit and then headed back. Unfortunately, I forgot to stop my watch to get an accurate pace.
The wind really started to kick up on the way back and the waves were smashing into my right side. I took a mouthful of water and started choking a bit just like I did at Devilman a few weeks before. I eventually calmed down and restored my breathing again. I then started breathing only to the left for the rest of the swim back. I finished up with a mile swim, which was plenty considering how cold it was. It had to be at or below 50 degrees. When I reached the beach the rest of the people in the camp were already done swimming and they had started after me. Todd even said it was crazy cold and he bailed early too.
Sunday night I was pretty tired and just settled in early. I had a good dinner and then got a good nights sleep. We had planned to do a short bike ride early in the morning and then checkout by 9:30am. The forecast was for rain and I planned on skipping that if that was the case and get on the road early to avoid all the Memorial Day traffic.
I was the first one from our camp in the cafeteria in the morning, but Derek Fitzgerald had come in later and joined me. It worked out nice to get to chat with him one-on-one for a bit. He was telling me about his upcoming Tour de Cure ride across America which is starting on June 9th. He has a pretty amazing story which I would highly recommend you check out.
I then packed up after breakfast, said goodbye to my roomate Max and everyone I saw from the camp. I got to meet a lot of new triathletes from the are area while getting in some solid training. It was a really great experience and I would highly recommend it. Staying at the Olympic Training Center was very cool.
The ride home started out ok, but traffic got very heavy as I got past Lake George. Fortunately no major delays though. I stopped in New Paltz at the Taco Shack for a quick bean burrito along the way. It was crazy busy everywhere else.
Ok, back home with only two more build weeks to go! Thanks for reading!
The last time I raced the New Jersey Devilman Half Lite, it was a cold dreary morning. I vividly remember the “ice cream headache” I had gotten when I plunged my head into the cold, dark water of Cedar Lake. I ended up with a decent result, but I remember thinking I would not be in any hurry to go back there again.
Well, turn the clocks ahead two years and now with a cold swim in Lake Coeur d’Alene ahead of me, I returned. This time armed with a new neoprene swim cap I was ready to tackle the 60 degree(F) black waters of Cedar Lake. I also figure an increased FTP and a couple Ironmans’ under belt, I could have a potential podium depending on who shows up that day. Hey, I did cut 30 minutes off my 70.3 PR last year.
Looking at last years results for my age group in this race, something under a 3:25 could get me a spot on a box of wood at the end of the day. My previous time was a 3:44 and looking at those times I could possibly shave off about 15-20 minutes altogether if I had a really good day. So I set out to do that.
I had booked a stay overnight at the Fairfield Inn in Millville, NJ as we did last time. It is a nice hotel and stashed out of the way in what appears to be a shopping mall that never came about. There are usually a lot of people staying there that are doing the race. We were not in a big hurry to get down to Millville this time, since there is not much to see except for strip malls and big box stores. From what I found there aren’t many restaurants with any healthy food either. Everything is chain restaurant junk food. I think they have every fast food place imaginable. Sorry Quakertown, but I think they have you beat. The best option is probably the Kawa Thai Sushi restaurant.
So, we left later in the day and stopped in Manayunk at the Couch Tomato restaurant on Main St. It was really good. I had a Pistachio Pesto flat bread pizza that had baby arugula and a lemon aioli on it. It was quite tasty. Also, Arugula has a ton of Nitric Oxide in it, for a little cardiovascular boost.
We arrived at the hotel around 8pm and checked in. After settling in, I did my last minute race preparations, watched a little TV and then I was quickly off to dream land. I had a great nights sleep too. Last time I did this race I was so wound up I hardly slept at all. I surely do not get as anxious about races like I used to.
I recently read the book “Headspace for the Perfect Race: Create a Winning Athlete Mindset” by Carrie Barrett which had a tip about how to script out your entire pre-race morning plan in order to take some stress off of yourself. So, I created a script detailing everything I had to do, including brushing my teeth and going to the bathroom, and how long it would take. Despite the constant ridicule of my anality by my wife, this took a huge amount of stress off of my morning. It was great. And my wife later admitted that she found it kind of helpful too since she could plan her morning “duties” without conflicting with me. It seems a bit extreme but I would really recommend it if you stress out on race mornings.
The breakfast at the Fairfield does not open until 6:30am, so if you are going to stick around for that you will be a little late to the race. They do have microwaves and fridges in the rooms which is great. I packed a frozen jar of my usual green smoothie this time and it was the perfect pre-race meal. My morning went smoothly and we were off to the race venue on time and with no stress. It was a gorgeous morning too. There were strutting gobblers(a male Wild Turkey) everywhere we looked on the way to the race.
I did not make the Saturday packet pickup so I had to get my race packet and get all my stickers on first thing. Piranha racing now has race tattoos for body marking so that takes a little more time on the part of the volunteers. Race number tattoos are better when you have mandatory day before packet pickup with more time to put them on.
I headed into transition and setup pretty quickly. Piranha also has marked tranistion spots which is SOOOO Awesome! It just makes things so much more organized and people aren’t cramming you into a little space like usual. Transition closes(7:30am) an hour before my wave start(8:30am), so after I set that up I have a whole hour to relax. I made one last port-a-john run and then I was good to go.
I ran into my Ironman blogger friend Shanna and her friend Amy while trying to locate my wife. I caught up a bit with them and then resumed my search for the wife. Turns out she migrated down to the lake with our friends Kim and Kiersten. Our friend Kim was also doing the race, so I met up with her shot the breeze until race start. Kim is preparing for her first Ironman at Lake Placid this year, so I have been trying to help her through the process. Nothing like the mystery of your first Ironman. Exciting!
We were both testing out our new neoprene race caps….Pretty hot huh?! 🙂
Before I knew it it was 8:30am and my wave was being called to the chilly 60 degree water of Cedar Lake. It wasn’t too bad after the initial rush of water into my wetsuit. My hands and feet could feel the coolness, but it wasn’t too bad. There were a bunch of guys in my wave and it was rather crowded in the small start area. It was only a minute or two before the announcer was yelling “GO!”
The swim start was brutal from the starting line to the first buoy. I mean it was arms, legs and bodies everywhere. I must have had two guys swim over top of me and I think I swam over a couple myself. If an Ironman mass start is worse than that I could not imagine it. About 2/3 of the way to the first buoy I got a mouthful of the scum water and starting choking on it . It was one of those chokes where you keep choking every time you breathe. I started breast-stroking until I could regain my composure again. I was talking myself back to calmness again and I was back on track by the time I reached the first buoy.
I quickly moved to the outside of the swim channel where there was open water after making the first turn. This allowed me to get back on my rhythm again. I then settled into a really nice stroke and just cruised through the swim. I checked my watch once after the first loop and I saw around 11 minutes. That is not too bad considering my choking incident. Now that the field had spread out I could really gain some speed. I really enjoyed the swim here this time. Before I knew it I was done both loops and heading for the aluminum stairway.
I checked my watch exiting the water and it read ~22 mins. So for a 0.8 mile swim that is around 1:36/100y pace which is really good for me. Also, my Garmin said my average stroke rate was around 70 strokes/min which is a little higher than what I have been typically doing in the pool. I have been really focusing this season on increasing my stroke rate to gain some more speed.
Unfortunately, the Devilman folks place the T1 timing mat at the entry into the tranistion area which is about a 1/4 mile away from the swim exit. This annoys me because it does not give an accurate representation of the swim. A quarter mile jog will really through off your swim metrics. I thought about it while jogging over there and hit the lap button on my Garmin halfway to the transition mat just so I could get more accurate swim stats.
Denise and Kiersten were standing right at the end of the exit plank as I ran by and gave them a thumbs up. I then heard Shanna a little further down the line and did the same. Considering the amount of fans at the race I had a good percentage of fan support! 🙂
Transition went well. I skipped the socks for the bike and put them next to my run shoes. I purchased some spray on sunscreen this year, so I gave my shoulders and arms and good spray since they typically get baked on these races. I don’t usually wear tank-style shirts so my upper arms arm prime sun meat. The spray worked well.
The T1 exit contains the timing mat for the bike start and then there is a tenth of a mile jog with your bike to the mount area. Again, more transition time is added to your bike time. This kind of bugs me, can you tell?
This bike course is flat and fast. There was minimal winds this morning too, except for a very light breeze out of the North. This gave a little tailwind on the way out to the turnaround. Riding out at 20+ MPH you could hardly tell, but coming back was a little more noticeable.
I had peformed an race analysis for this event using Best Bike Splits web site. The site recommended that I maintain an average of about 213 watts over the course. I performed this using my last FTP test, which was done late last season. Probably not real accurate for my current level, but I never got around to doing one lately. So I ended up staying a little bit below that in the low 200’s. Regardless I was keeping a good clip and I was feeling really strong most of the way.
There was a lot of drafting going on in this race. There was one guy I was behind for a while that was going at my pace, but I tried to keep him about 4-10 bike lengths ahead of me. One guy came up beside me and told me stay behind him and he stay behind me. “Huh?!” I never had anyone do that before. I ended passing the guy ahead of me after he got too close and we hopscotched each other a few more times for the whole race. Eventually everyone spaced out and on the second loop I was one my own most of the time. I prefer that.
The 10 miles heading back was definitely a little more taxing on the legs. The North breeze was more of a headwind and it picked up as the morning progressed. I finished the first loop in about 43 minutes, which was a little faster than I had planned. I passed Denise and Kiersten at the turnaround and they were not even looking.
I finished a bottle of Skratch Labs hydration and nibbled on my chunks of Amrita bars the entire bike. I was starting to feel a bit full on the 2nd loop, so I cut back on the eating a bit. This isn’t an Ironman smorgasboard!
On the last 10 miles I was starting to question whether I went too hard on the bike. It is such a fast course that it is easy to get carried away. But, my legs were starting to feel a little crampy and taxed. Hmmm?
I finished the bike in around 1:51 at about 22.2 mph average speed. This was about 13 minutes faster than my previous attempt and over 2 mph faster. The average speed was probably a bit more than that due to the jog to/from transition to the bike mount/dismount area. If you compare the actual ride stats to the Best Bike Split(BBS) race calculation, you can see that the projected time on BBS was 6 minutes slower and the power was 7-10 watts higher. A little off I’d say.
Would I have been better off at maybe around 1:55-6 and perhaps not feel as crampy in the legs? Most-likely.
My second transition was pretty much business as usual. I took another spray of sunscreen on my shoulders and a shot in my face. I did close my eyes. It ended up burning a little so I had to use my towel to get if off my eyelids. I also had two Fuelbelt bottles, one filled with Skratch Labs hydration and another with some Perpetuem mix. I decided hydration was the more important of the two and I felt I was well fueled with my Amrita Bars, so I took the Skratch Labs hydration with me.
I made my way across some ball fields and a driveway comprised of very loose sand onto the run course. My legs, particularly my quads, were feeling a little crampy from the start. It was like an octopus had its tentacles wrapped around my legs and it was squeezing. A sure sign I had pushed a little too hard on the bike. I stopped for a second while heading through the school parking lot to do a quick quad stretch, but when I did that I could also feel my hamstrings cramp up. So I pushed on. I have had this feeling before in the beginning of the run and I knew if I just pressed on, it would eventually go away.
I started out running about a 8:20/mi pace except for the 1st mile where I stopped to stretch. My plan was to run sub-8, so I was figuring the crampiness would wear off and I could pick it up a bit.
The majority of the out-and-back course runs across roads through very wide open farm fields except for the first mile that turns through some homes. The sun was starting to cook and there is no shade for relief. Fortunately, on the way out there was a slight headwind that helped to limit the heat. I dumped a cup of water over my head at each water stop to cool me down a bit.
I had my run shoes loosely tied in transition in order allow me to slip in them quickly. I knew I had to tighten them eventually, but I was putting it off as much as possible. At around mile 3-4, my laces decided for me that I finally had to tie them and came loose.
Now that my laces were snug I could really kick it in now right. My legs were just not there yet. I had a few people pass me, but fortunately they were all younger age groups. I hadn’t seen many in my age group all day. Only 1 or maybe two on the bike too. EIther I was really doing well, or I was way behind.
I finally reached the turnaround point at 4.4 miles. Now there was a tailwind and it was really feeling hot. I saw a K-17 team Jersey coming towards which turned out to be Ashley Stumpp who is from my area and also did Ironman Lake Placid last year. I gave her a shout of encouragement and may have startled her a bit. She looked to be “in the zone!”
My run pace continued to decline during the second half. My crampy legs were still there, but were tolerable. The reprecussions of the heat and going a little too fast on the bike were taking their toll now. My pace slowed into the high 8’s now. I felt I was still keep a steady pace, but my watch indicated otherwise. Not my plan.
I passed a younger guy in the last mile, who asked if I knew Todd Hydock. He said “He wears that stuff too.” Presumably referring to my Amrita tri jersey. I said I didn’t and he commented “that is probably why you are so fast!” I laughed and said “I am surely not fast!” Then after I was about 10 feet past him he picked up speed, past me and then slowed down in front of me. WTF?!
I then passed him again on the turn to the main road before turning into the school. I picked up my pace a bit so I would not have to deal with him again. I made the turn into the school, rounded the school and headed down the loose sand driveway to the ball fields to the finish line. My wife Denise and our friend Kiersten were there cheering as I past them. The younger guy I had previously passed twice, decided to make a last blast to the finish. Denise and Kiersten yelled to catch him and I just made a wave him by gesture. He wasn’t in my age group so I didn’t really care at that point.
A couple observations on the run…
As you can see from the run stats below, my heart rate continued to steadily increase over the run and was maxed out on the 2nd half. My HR was highest when my pace was actually slowing down. Surely a sign that the heat was effecting me. I haven’t really had to deal with much heat this season so far.
I always thought that the new Garmin Run Stats that come with their new HR monitor were a bit of a novelty. I happened to glance at these from my race and noticed a few things. My run cadence started dropping in the 2nd half of the run. My vertical oscillation, vertical movement while running, was higher on the 2nd half and my ground contact time decreased. So I was apparently spending more time in the air than on the ground. That is most-likely not a good thing since my pace slowed and my HR was increasing. Perhaps something I should keep in mind when my run starts to faulter a bit.
Run Time: 1:16:46
Finish Time: 3:36:32
I crossed the finish line and headed right towards the race tent to get some shade. I was totally wiped out. I started feeling like I was on the verge of puking. Not sure if that was from just racing hard or something leftover from last weeks stomach bug, or maybe both. Denise and Kiersten came over and we started chatting a bit. Things starting to spin as I was talking to them. I decided I better sit down for a bit and eventually everything calmed down. I did end up getting a chill and some major goosebumps. Definitely some affects from the heat.
I think I left everything I had on the race course. Now I was wondering where I might have placed. I ventured over to the timing table to see. I finished 44th overall which was easy to figure out. Age group results were a little more difficult to figure out since the screen kept scrolling. I finally figured out that I was 5th in my age group. Technically, I was 6th, but the one guy in my AG was in the top 3 overall.
While I didn’t get a podium spot, I am still pretty happy about my result. Overall I gained 8-9 minutes over my previous attempt which is a decent improvement for a shorter race like this. Placement-wise I moved up 21 places in the overall standings from 65th in 2013 and 5 places in my age group(11th in 2013). I really did pushed my limits and now have a very good understanding of where those limits are right now.
That’s my only race before my “A” race at Ironman Coeur d’Alene, so it is back to hard training again. The biggest takeaway from this race is that I really need to concentrate on a mellow bike leg at IMCDA. I am talking 0.70-0.75 level intensity. I want to have a really good marathon leg and trying to push the bike under 6 hours would not be wise. I need to shoot for a 6:00-6:15 bike leg in order to have a great run.
I now definitely have a different perspective on the NJ Devilman race as what I had previously. I would defintitely consider doing it again. I learned a few things and feel like it was a good pre-cursor for IMCDA.
I mixed things up a bit for week #4 by heading up to Lake Placid for a bit cross-training in the snow. I try to get up there for a week in the Winter every year for some skate-skiing at Mt. Van Hoevenburg. We have a week planned in Sedona, Arizona next month so it wasn’t looking good for skate-skiing this year. We decided that we needed our Lake Placid Winter fix, so we arranged a long weekend up there which was perfect.
I tried to get in as much biking and swimming in the early part of the week as I could. Thursday ended up being a rest/travel day. I got a small case of swimmers’ ear too, so it worked out that I would not be swimming for a few days. The rest day would also help since skate-skiing can be pretty exhausting .
We made up to Lake Placid in time to have dinner at the ADK Cafe in Keene, NY which is one of our favorites. On Friday, I was able to get our ski’s waxed in the morning so we were able to get in a good hour and a half in the afternoon. Conditions were great at Van Hoevenburg too. There was a really solid base and everything was open too. Temperatures were perfect as well running in the high 20’s to low 30’s on Saturday. On Saturday, we did our town shopping spree and lunch and then headed to ski later. Denise ended up pulling her back out though while putting her boot on. 🙁 She was in some severe pain too. I had to run her home, but then was able to go back again and get a good hour in anyway.
On Friday night we had a nice dinner at Milano North in town and Saturday Cafe Rustica. Both of them are two of our favorites. The ladies at Cafe Rustica were also very accomodating of Denise’s back issues. I was a little disappointed to find out that my all time favorite, The Cowboy had closed up. Also Pan Dolce seems to be closed as well.
Sunday was a different story though. We got about an inch or two of new snow and it got cold! Like 7 degrees in the mid afternoon. Brrr! This also changed the snow conditions too and the purple wax that I had on my skiis was no longer gliding like it was the past two days. Now I was getting a major workout whether I like it or not. To add to this I also headed out on one of the harder trails, Porter Mountain Loop. I was sucking some major wind on this one. It was brutal, but I got in another 1:30 of skiing. So all-in-all it was some workouts on the ski trails. It is nice to break up the running, biking and swimming during the Winter.
Sunday night we had a real nice dinner at the Interlaken Inn Pub with the couple we stay with in Lake Placid. Food was amazing, but we had to rush through it since we were going to the Banff Mountain Film Festival immediately afterwards. There were some really good films this year and it is always a packed house in Lake Placid. I threw together this playlist of some of the ones they showed there…
One thing to note this week was my Heart Rate Variability(HRV). I hadn’t had any alcohol since New Years and over the weekend I had a few glasses of wine on two of the four nights in Lake Placid. It is pretty interesting how my HRV dropped severly on both mornings after that. They were also not consecutive days, so my HRV went up on the night between and down again the following. My training was about the same on all the days too, so I don’t think that had anything to do with it. I slept good all the nights as well.
We headed home early on Monday due to the impending winter storm, Juno which was headed our way. It turned out to be a non-event, so all that rushing home was for nothing. Oh well. It was a great weekend in the Adirondacks and it was nice to change things up a bit too. Well next week it is back to some usual training again.
The last time I had rode the MS City-to-Shore 150 ride was before back in the early 2000’s with my wife. It was a perfect 1st day down to the shore, but the ride back on Sunday was brutal. Torrential rain, 25MPH headwinds, and cold temperatures made for a miserable day. We have not been back since. This year a bunch of people from work had decided to form a group and do it, so I thought it would be a nice way to round out the season. I hate raising money, but $300 seemed to be a reasonable amount so I signed up.
I was a little worried I wouldn’t have enough fitness carried over from Timberman 70.3 to do 180 miles in 2 days. Denise and I would be returning from a week in Italy the weekend before and I wasn’t going to be doing much training over there. But, it was just a charity race so I wasn’t too concerned.
I reserved a room at the Fairfield Inn not too far from the PATCO Train Station start line in Cherry Hill, NJ so I wouldn’t have to get up so early on day 1. I was supposed to meet the others from our work group at a nearby school parking lot the morning of the first day. Unfortunately, we ran into the masses of cyclists starting out on the ride and could not get to the school. I ended up pulling my bike off the roof in the street and heading out from there.
It was well past the time we were supposed to meet at the school, so I decided to head to the starting line and maybe catch up with them there. What a mistake! Riding against the flow was crazy. I got close to start, but decided to turn around and start riding. By now the main crowd was gone and it was only a few scattered riders left. Once I got into my pace I eventually caught up with the main flow of riders but I never caught up or saw anyone in our group. At one point the century riders make a right and do an extra 25 mile loop which brings you back to where you left off and then you continue on. I was pushing pretty hard and even skipped some rest stops to try and catch up with two other guys from work, Chuck and Keith. They our the faster ones in the work group and who I sometimes ride with after work. I never did see them though.
Later on in the ride I caught up to one of my coworkers, Dianna and her husband. I asked if she had seen Chuck or Keith and she said they were behind me. Huh??! So apparently in my mad rush to catch them, I ended up passing them. Ugh! So at that point I said the heck with it and just pushed on. Might as well get a good workout in now.
I started cranking it and was passing people in droves. I would catch on to a pace group and then end up passing them. The one group I did that there were a couple guys in Merck jerseys. One guy came with me as I passed the group and we started talking a little while later. I had my work bike jersey on and he asked if I lived near there, which I replied yes. He said that he lived right around the corner and I asked if he knew this guy Steve who I was friends with on Strava, but never met in person. He was like “Brian?” It was him! No flippin’ way! How crazy that I run into him among 4000+ cyclists stretched out from Cherry Hill to Ocean City, NJ? So we ended up talking the remaining 20-25 miles to the finish and our pace declined a bit from there.
I left Steve at the finish and grabbed something to eat before meeting up with Denise who had driven down to Ocean City. We made our way to nights’ accommodations at Luray Manor a few blocks from the finish area. It wasn’t the fanciest place, but it was cheap and only a couple blocks away. They also have a nice big porch to hang out on. I showered up, had a couple beers and then we headed to the boardwalk. I snagged a slice of pizza at some shop, and then we found Shrivers Gelateria. Oh it was really good. Best we have had here since Italy.
After some people watching on the boardwalk we hung out on the porch for a bit and then headed over to 701 Mosaic for dinner. It is a tiny place, but the food is really good. Denise had found the place on the web and had made a reservation beforehand. Definitely worth a stop. We had a nice walk on the boardwalk after dinner and then headed back to Shrivers for some more gelato! Got to fuel up for another 80 miles tomorrow.
I finally caught up with the work gang at the MS Ride breakfast the next morning. We all headed out together, but eventually split up as our different paces spread us out. They were going a bit slower than my normal pace, so I just kind of rode aside them to slow me down and give me a little more headwind. They eventually caught on and said why don’t I just lead, so I did. I was trying to maintain a pace everyone could handle, but some folks kept getting dropped. We waited for them at eat rest stop, but would drop them again. After a while they just go, so we did. It ended being Keith, Chuck, Bill and I. Bill eventually dropped off too, so it was just the three of us.
Chuck would start yelling at me everytime I would approach 22mph. Sometimes it was on a downhill and I would say I am coasting. It was pretty funny. Chuck and Keith are pretty entertaining because they just banter back-and-forth all the time. They kept me entertained the whole way. After the last rest stop, we had just gotten up to cruising speed when out of nowhere came this crazy squirrel running from the left side of the road and directly at me. I just barely caught a glimpse of him out of my left eye before he latched on to my left foot. I was at about a 85 rpm cadence with a crazy squirrel on dug in to my foot. I was afraid he was going to bite me or even crawl up my leg. I quickly unclipped my foot from the pedal and with everything I had just flung the animal off my foot like I was slingin’ mud. The squirrel went splat on the road and ran around in a daze from what I could see. I am still going about 15 mph at this point. I heard Keith say “don’t fling him at me!” Everyone was swerving to avoid it. I don’t know what happened to that thing but we were laughing our asses off the whole way back. I wish they had a GoPro for that.
I drug Chuck and Keith all 80 miles at around 18mph average speed to the finish line. It had got a little hot towards the end and I was started to feel the 180 miles on me. They let me cruise through finish line first. I felt pretty good considering I hadn’t trained for the thing. I was amazed how my fitness had held up for that.
Keith and Chuck got me this shirt for pulling them the whole way. Pretty funny!
I was not sure how I would feel come race day at Timberman 70.3, having just completed Ironman Lake Placid only 3 weeks prior. I hadn’t trained much in between, but the little I had done I felt really good. Would it last? I had no pressure to perform well given my recent events, so I could just relax and enjoy the day. If I felt good, great, otherwise just enjoy the day and scenery.
I had a great nights sleep. I didn’t have any of the pre-race nerves that I typically do. My sleep schedule was on track since we had to get up early the day before to volunteer for the sprint race. I had a couple bowls of chia cereal with hemp milk to start the metabolic process along with a couple cups of coffee too. I had all my gear ready to go the night before so it was pretty easy morning. Just dress, eat and go.
Denise dropped my off at the entrance to Ellacoya State Park and then drove back to the hotel. I made my way to transition, getting body-marked along the way. Everything flowed pretty well. My transition spot, #701, was the 2nd row in from the Bike Out arch, not counting the pro racks. I quickly set everything up and just hung out watching everyone else while sucking on my Skratch Labs bottle and chomping on a Amrita Bar. Even got to watch Andy Potts get ready too.
I decided to head over to the porta-potty line. More for something to do than to really go the bathroom. The line was really long, but I had over an hour to kill so what the heck. It actually moved pretty fast, but when I got there I realized I didn’t have to go anyway. The worst thing was the guy before me WREAKED!! I was literally dry-heaving in there and had to pinch my nose to get control again. Nasty!
I saw my wife Denise walking across from the volunteer tent as I left the shithouse area. She had rode her bike back to the event so that we could easily get out of there later. We did not want to get our car stuck there or have to take the shuttle bus. This would prove to be a wise move. We chatted for a bit before Denise headed over to the beach to get in her kayak for the swim start. Our post-race plan was to make the short walk over to the Ellacoya Barn & Grille after the race for some lunch while the biking part finished. Denise instructed me that I could not dilly-dally after the race and that we had to get to lunch as soon as possible. It could be crowded and that we might throw off our appetite for dinner. Food is a priority in our house! So maybe I did have a little pressure?
I headed back to transition and put my wetsuit on. It was just starting to rain a bit, so I covered up my bike and run shoes with a plastic bag. The ran started coming down pretty heavy so I stood under a nearby tree that overhung into the transition area. Not sure why I needed to stay dry since I was in my wetsuit ready for the swim at this point? The announcer guy directed us all down the beach to the race start as transition was closing. The rain subsided.
I made my way over to the start line along with the mass exodus of others. I headed into the swim warm-up area and swam out a bit, treaded water for a little while and then headed back to shore. I didn’t want to get out the water since it felt a bit warmer than the air temperature. Eventually I headed into my wave as it neared start time.
I had told Denise to stay on the outside of the swim lane since I typically swim wide instead of getting beat up on the inside line. I had my Tyr USA-colored goggles on so I figured there would not be too many of those so she could identify me. As I stood in line I noticed a guy with the same goggles and same “john” style Xterra wetsuit! I told him the deal and we started talking a bit. Turns out he actually knew a guy that I played hockey with who he used to work with. Small world. He was doing his first 70.3 so he was a bit nervous about it.
We were only the 3rd or 4th wave to start, so we were lining up waist high in the water pretty quickly. I was in the 2nd row on the outside which is probably a little eager for me. I stayed there anyway. We were given the start signal and off we went. I did a get a little beat up in the beginning, but eventually settled in to a rhythm in some more open water. I tried to speed up my pace a bit to try to get ahead of some slower swimmers. I was swimming in the middle of the lane most of the way out to the first turn.
I rounded the first turn buoy without much issue. Usually turns get a little crazy with everyone trying to cut the corner, but this wasn’t too bad. I was trying to check out all the kayakers as I breathed bilaterally the whole way. I saw one female kayaker that I thought was my wife and did a double breath, but it wasn’t her. I somehow drifted to the inner part of the swim lane and eventually got inside the buoys. I corrected myself and finally got on track again just inside buoy #2. Just as I did I noticed Denise on the outside of the lane far away from me. She was also pointed back towards the first turn but I tried to give a wave to her as I took my recovery stroke. She didn’t see me though. Bummer.
I made my way to turn 2 and then headed towards the shore. The water started getting very waving here and it felt like I was in the ocean. I started kicking a bit more here to get some blood in my legs and pickup the pace a bit. I hadn’t looked at my Garmin the whole time so I really had no idea how I was doing. It did vibrate a couple times but I wasn’t sure if that was for a certain time or distance. I always change those settings in the pool, so I never know when it going off.
I started to see the lake bottom come into focus in the very clear water of Lake Winnipesaukee now. I saw a few guys standing up already, but I swam right past them as I kept going until my hand touched the bottom. I exited the water, smiled for the camera guy sitting there and headed to transition. He apparently missed the smile shot.
This was definitely one of my better swims. it was smooth and steady the whole way. I didn’t have too many other swimmers cutting in front of me, but when they did I adjusted and didn’t freak out about it. I felt my stroke cadence was good. I averaged 33 strokes/min which is a stroke higher than averaged at Lake Placid and Black Bear this year. Swim cadence is something I really want to increase next season to improve a swim time a bit.
I included the Garmin Connect version of swim so you can see my actual course deviations. Strava seems to straighten things out.
Swim Time: 00:36:25 (1:43/100yds)
I made the long jog circumnavigating the outer chute to the transition area entrance. I was surprised to see wetsuit strippers lined up as I approached. I spotted a younger kid that was available and pointed to him that I was coming and to get ready. With my wetsuit peeled down to my waist, I walked right up to him and fell backwards on the ground and he quickly pulled the rest off using the slack top. I was off to my bike.
I easily found my bike due to the Notre Dame(Go Irish! – new good luck item for all races) towel and the close proximity to the bike exit. I quickly slipped my bike shoes on, sans socks. Donned my speed hat( as Denise referes to my aero helmet ) and shades and was out the gate. Easy peezy!
T1 Time: 0:02:29
I headed to the far side of the mounting area and hopped on my bike. I was on my way down the long, banner-lined driveway out of Ellacoya State Park. Spectators lined the fencing, cheering away. There is a slight incline once you hit the road out of the park and I had set my gearing to a nice spinnable gear start off. A guy heading out at the same time did not do so and I quickly spun past him as he struggled with a harder gear. Once I crested the incline it was mostly downhill cruise for the next couple miles. We passed the Fireside Inn and made a left at the light. A few sharp turns and then we started some more difficult climbing.
Mile three to six was another climb. This one a little higher but more gradual. I got into my spinning mode and just kept a consistent cadence. I was being very conscious not to burn any matches this early in the race. It could be a little tough to do since you are usually feeling good at this early point in the race. The tendency would be to just rip right up these, but you have to remember that your are going to have to hit them again at the end since it is an out-and-back course.
We peaked out and then quickly descended again before hitting a bit flatter section. We made a couple fairly sharp left turns, which took a few guys by surprise and almost missed them. Then we onto the steeper climb of the course which is listed as a category 4 and referred to as the “Marsh Hill Monster” on Strava. Once we crested the “Monster” it was a pretty long, fast descent down a really gnarly road. There were some major cracks, potholes and sections of uneven patching of previous potholes. With the speed you were going it was an all hands on deck, white-knuckle ride. I reached around 35-40 MPH in this section. I had heard after the race that Andy Potts had flatted and crashed, breaking a finger in the process. I would not be surprised if that happened here. It was bad.
From the long descent, it was a pretty steady, slightly downhill cruise on to the mid-way turnaround point. The road was in nice condition and had wide shoulders. It was eventually apparent why the road became so wide when we passed by the New Hampshire Motor Speedway near Louden, NH. I really did feel like I was driving a race car too since I was just cruising along at a nice ~25 MPH most of the way. Git-R-Done!! This is where you can really get some good speed by just settling into your natural cadence with a big gear. I was mostly cruising along at around 200-220 watts.
We made a right turn onto some smaller local roads before turning back on the main road(RT 106). It was back to cruising again despite a slight uphill grade now for most of the way. I didn’t utilize any of the aid stations other than grabbing a half a banana towards the end. It was a last minute decision as I was going by and thought “hmmm…that looks yummy!” I had everything on board I needed. 3 bottles of Skratch Labs for hydration and a mix of honey/maple Stroopwafels, Amrita Bars, and Chunks of Energy for nutrition. I just grabbed a small piece of whatever I got my hand on every 10 minutes when my Garmin 10 minute reminder chirped. It was kind of fun since I never knew what was I was going to get. The Stroopwafels are the big prize!
There were a handful of riders who I would continue hopscotching the entire way. I love the people that just sit in the left side of the lane going at a mediocre pace with no one on their right. I usually make a point yelling “ON YOUR LEFT!” extra loud for them. There was the French-Canadian fellow who blatantly sped up as I passed him and would not let me pass him. Really? Read the rules lately? Perhaps they don’t publish them French? Then, there was the 3-person drafting pace line that flew by consisting of two women and a dude. One of the women was decked out in a orange kit with a big Wattie Ink “W” logo on it. Perhaps she was trying to generate some advertising? Sorry Wattie…no tattoo for you! Ok…I am done bitching now!
When I reached the hilly section the course diverted off of the gnarly road onto some nicer back roads through more wooded areas. It was NOT less hilly at all, just less traffic and a nicer road surface. I spun my way through the hilly section and back to the final few miles and my legs were still feeling good. I was really just trying to keep a steady cadence and power output the whole time. No spikes if I can help it. Before I knew I was cruising back into the Ellacoya State Park entrance way. I didn’t check my Garmin until the end and saw it was going to be well under 3 hours. Sweet!! A PR half-iron bike split for sure. But would I still have legs to hammer the run too?
Bike Time: 2:46:57 (20.13 mph)
I quickly dismounted my bike and made the short jog to my transition area. I ditched the bike shoes and put socks on and slipped my running shoes on. I exchanged my helmet for a run hat and my Smith “running” sunglasses. My running sunglasses don’t seem to catch as my sweat drips as my biking ones, but the running ones let a lot of air in on the bike and make eyes itch. I decided to skip the Fuelbelt and just take a couple Amrita bars in my jersey pockets. I was going to take a FuelBelt bottle of Skratch along in my hand, but I dropped it in the shuffle. Oh well. I took a few extra seconds to squirt some sunscreen on my face and arms. I had gotten burnt a bit the past couple races so I need to take care of that.
I was off for the run, but wasn’t totally sure where the exit was. I finally realized it was over near where we came in for the swim. Fortunately a volunteer was directing traffic over that way. I had been looking for Denise since I came into the park on the bike, but hadn’t seen any sign of her yet. Hmmm?
T2 Time: 0:02:19
I headed out the run start archway and spotted Denise along the side. She yelled something like “You are kicking ass!” while she tried to snap my picture with her phone. I always give her a time that I will be at a certain point and then tell her plus or minus 15 minutes. Well, I was at the minus 15 minutes part of that range for once. Giddy-up!!!
My legs were feeling pretty good out of the gate. I was running 8-8:20/mi pace for the first 4 miles and half of that was uphill. I hoped I could keep it up. I just concentrated on a steady leg turnover the whole time similar to how I did with my cadence on the bike. I pictured my feet being like a locomotive wheel and then long metal arm just turning over-and-over.
I continued a sub-9 pace for the rest of the first lap, despite a pretty long steep hill around mile 5. I passed Denise again and told her be ready for an “early lunch!” She seemed pretty psyched about my performance. I headed into the turnaround point and volunteer was directing us. There was a maze of cones which was very confusing. She told me to head down the grass to my left. As I headed there I saw the finish arch. Then a sign saying “To the Finish”. WTH?? This is not right! I turned around and started heading back towards the lady. An Ironman guy came down towards me and signaled me to keep going the way I was going. I was getting pissed off now since I was having the incredible day and now it was getting F-ed up because of this stupid maze of a run route.
So it turns out the run goes practically right up to the finish line and then turns off to he right and heads back out the entranceway of Ellacoya State Park. I was a bit wound up over the screw up there, so I told myself to put it behind me and move on. Which I did. I came up to Denise again who had moved a little further up there road now. She was kind of squatting with the iPhone pointing towards the lake on our right. She told me to “hold up a sec!” so she could get a picture of my running by with the lake in the background. LOL…Ok you want a pose? I will give you a pose!
The lady running behind me started cracking up immediately. I didn’t think the picture would turn out with the bright background and it didn’t out of the camera. I managed to adjust a bit in Lightroom so it was at least usable. I probably lost a few precious seconds there, but it was worth the laugh and the photo too. Oh yeah, and I totally forgot about that little issue at the run turnaround.
My pace slowed down a little on the second loop. I could see that it was on my Garmin, but I didn’t feel like I was going slower. There first two miles after the turnaround were the toughest. They were mostly uphill, especially mile 12 which was the big one. I kept running the whole time and didn’t walk at all. I slowed a bit at the aid stations just to get liquid down. I had 2 cups of Coke at the last 2 aid stations that had it, which helped me power up the hills.
Once I crested the big hill it was go time. One more mile downhill into the finish line. I looked at my Garmin and saw something around 5:15 and some change. I was pumped! My fastest Half Iron distance was a 5:54 at Quassy and this was way under that. I turned it up for the final stretch and was back to a 8:27 pace for the last mile. I cruised down the finish chute passing one more guy right before crossing the finish line. I raised my arm and stopped my watch…5:24!!! 30 minutes faster than my previous Half-iron PR!!
Run Time: 1:56:31 (8:53/mi)
Finish Time: 5:24:41
It was an Epic day for sure! Pretty much everything was executed perfectly. When the whole run turn issue happened I dealt with it and moved on. Looking at my splits it really didn’t affect things much. My fitness, my nutrition and my head were all working together for the perfect day. I definitely owe some thanks to Tawnee Prazak and Lucho Wagoneer over at Endurance Planet for giving me the confidence to not overtrain in those 3 weeks in between Lake Placid and this race. I know I would have trained a bit more than I did had they not advised me. Also coming off a Ironman, makes a half seem so short. Not a total breeze though, but you can go after it a little more with the confidence to lay it out there a bit.
When I found Denise at finish line she yelled “What the F$#% was that??!!!” I said “that was a perfectly executed race, now lets go to lunch!” We walked around a bit and headed over to the Athlete’s food area. They had some pretty good stuff too. Pasta salads and some chicken for the meat eating folks. They even had some homemade ice cream which I gave to Denise. She said it was pretty good. Then we walked up to Ellacoya Barn & Grille for my traditional post-race Pizza & Beer! And it wasn’t even crowded yet! I guess we beat the rush?
Well that is pretty much the end of my triathlon season for 2014. It was surely a great season and ending on high note like that really tops it off. I still have a trip to Italy and the MS City to Shore ride(click to donate!) coming up so plenty more to do this year. Then all focus will be directed to Ironman Coeur d’Alenems for 2015. Stay tuned for another wild ride! Thanks so much for reading and sharing the journey with me! Hope you have learned some things from all my mistakes along the way too.
3:50AM finally came around after waking every half hour since about 1AM. Despite broken sleep I felt pretty well rested and was more than ready get this race started. I had actually felt that way all weekend since arriving in Lake Placid on Thursday afternoon. The time was finally here.
I started the already prepared coffee maker with exactly two cups of coffee. Just enough to rev the engine a bit, but not enough to go into high anxiety mode. Next, the VitaMix was load up with frozen fruit, kale, avocado, seeds, nuts and a can of coconut water. My daily smoothie concoction that starts my days on a high note. I had prepared all my water bottles and nutrition for the race the night before and staged everything in the refrigerator. Special needs bags were loaded up and it was time to head to town.
While I had only done Ironman Lake Placid once the year before, the drill seemed all to routine for me. Perhaps I had run through it in my head so many times it almost seemed real. This year I had much less anxiety than the year before, since I had a better idea of what to expect. Little did I know what challenges the Adirondacks and Mother Nature were preparing to dish out for me this year.
The forecast had said 40-50% chance of scattered thunderstorms all day, but many times they never really happen. We headed out River Road and onto RT 86 into town. Denise dropped me off at the barricades on Main St. by the Sunoco and I walked up the street that I would be running on later that day to transition. I located my bike in the racks and loaded it up with nutrition and bottles of Skratch hydration, went to get body marked, then dropped off my special needs bags up the street. The run special needs bag area is such a long walk from transiton, but I did run into Shanna & Amy and then John & Ashley along with way to wish them good luck for the day. I then changed into my race gear and stashed my morning clothes bag in transition along with my other bags.
I met up with Denise at the Mobil station and then we walked up to the swim start. It was getting close to race start so I put on the wetsuit, said my goodbyes to Denise and made my way into the swim start line. The canon had gone off for the pro men and woman at this point. It was pretty crowded and the line did not move very quickly. I kept pushing my way through the crowd and eventually found my way to the 1:11-1:20 finish time wave area. Ok, here we go!
The start of the swim has been so anti-climatic ever since they started the new Safe Swim Start. They used to play some really powerful tunes, like Beautiful Day by U2, and Mike Reilly would get everyone fired up. Now the music is really lame and he doesn’t say much at all except something like “Go ahead!”. I don’t understand why it can’t still be a more exciting.
Anyway, we eventually roll into the water after a few minutes and I am on my way. I stay to the outer left side in the more open water as I usually do to get started. Occasionally some feckless meanderer comes zigzagging out into my path but for the most part I have open water to swim in for the first loop. The buoys tick away from 1 to 7 and before I knew it I am making the turn to head back to the beach again. I took the first turn wide too to avoid the congestion that usually happens when turning in a swim course. I kept a nice steady pace the first lap and averaged a 1:47/100y for the first 1.2 mile loop. So far so good!
I exit the water and head through the archways to start my next 1.2 miles. While traversing the sandy beach, I hear Mr. Mike Reilly announce “Brian Schwind from Alburtis, PA” over the loud speaker! I raised my arms in acknowledgment of it. I didn’t think he could pronounce my name since he barely muttered it last year when I crossed the finish line. My wife Denise actually heard it too and she was down the street along the corral to transition. She said that he only said about 20 names tops during the whole swim. I guess I came out at a good time.
My 2nd loop went along pretty well until about a third of the way when the skies opened up with torrential rains. It was raining so hard that my mouth was getting water in it when I tried to take a breath. I made the turn to head back and started getting a cramp in my left calf. I stopped swimming a bit to stretch it out and probably lost some time there. I did get going again and eventually found myself swimming along the yellow rope that runs below. That didn’t last too long because it soon got congested with other swimmers and angled back out to the outer lane again to avoid being trampled.
I exited the water at around 1:17 which was a couple seconds slower than I did last year. I apparently lost a bit of time on that 2nd loop with the calf cramp and meandering a bit too much. All in all not a horrible swim. At least I am consistent. My plan from the beginning of the season was just to maintain my swim performance, which I guess I can say I did.
Official Time(1-1.2 mi loop): 0:37:39 (1:47/100yd)
My Watch Time(2.4 miles): 1:17:56 (1:51/100yd)
I unzipped and pulled my suit halfway down while finding a available wetsuit stripper. I then fell backwards on the ground while the volunteer violently ripped my wetsuit off my legs. I was up and jogging down the finish corral scanning the people along the side looking for my wife. I eventually spotted her down the street, closer to the transition oval. I multitasked a kiss for the wife while high fiving the in-laws and was quickly on my way into transition. The rain was dumping and the thunder was a banging at this point. I entered the gate to the oval and counted my way to the 3rd row of bags in transition and grabbed my bike gear bag. The changing tent was very full and very wet. It was like a little pond under a roof.
I found an empty chair, got my bike stuff on and stashed my swim gear in the bag. A loud blast of thunder ripped and everyone in the tent gave a group “Wow!” I had to switch the lenses in my sunglasses to the light rose colored ones due to the weather. When I did that I forgot to transfer the nose cushion piece along with it. I handed my bag to a volunteer and headed back out into the storm. There was lightning coming down in several directions, all followed by loud blasts of thunder. A volunteer had my bike ready at the end of the aisle and I signaled to him it was mine and I am coming. I headed out of transition and saddled up in the mounting area.
T1 Time(My Watch time): *8:49
*Ironman did not count T1 time in official results due to lightning
I carefully navigated the 180 and 90 degree steep downhill turns out of the transition speed
skating oval. My bike has carbon race wheels that require special brake pads that won’t damage the carbon rims. They work pretty well when it is dry, but are almost useless when they are wet. I had to squeeze them very tightly just to keep from gaining too much speed. Stopping with them requires a very long distance and is pretty much not happening in an emergency situation. I made it safely down the corkscrew turns to the street below where I spotted Denise and my In-Laws standing under umbrellas. I have them a big “Hey!” and then turned my focus back to the steep downhill street ahead. I had put my sunglasses in my jersey since I thought I might not need them until later. The rain was coming down so hard it was hard to see to navigate the cracks and undulations of the street. I was on the brakes full tilt down to the lower street where it finally leveled out to make a sharp left turn at the hay bales.
The rain continued in torrents as I made my way out of Lake Placid on Route 73 towards the ski jumps. Lightning would flash and very defined bolts would slice through the sky in what seemed like a few hundred yards away. Large ear-pounding thunder followed a few seconds after. I questioned my safety for a brief second, but the task at hand seemed to trump that at the time. Probably not logical thinking, but in an Ironman you are willing to push through things without blinking an eye.
As I spun my way up the ascending terrain towards Cascade Mountain and contemplated the long descent into Keene that followed. I had minimal brakes and 7 mile long twisting descent to navigate. Would I be able to keep my speed down enough to navigate the turns? What if I really needed to come to a complete stop? The thoughts rushed through my head. I hoped the rain would stop before then.
I hit a couple small downhill sections and found that it was impossible to see with heavy rain and the higher speeds. I pulled my un-cushioned sunglasses from the front of my jersey and put them on. The jagged plastic of the lens dug in to the skin on my nose, but at least I could see where I was going now. Things are always better through rose-colored lenses right? Not necessarily.
I eventually reached the Cascade Lakes and begun the long descent down to Keene. It was still pouring rain. I gripped the brakes with a clenching fist that made my knuckles turn white. I was still reaching speeds into the high 20/low 30 mph range. Fortunately they had recently paved the road and at least I didn’t need to negotiate the nasty cracks and potholes that previously marred the route down the mountain. Still, a few other riders still flew past me going down the speedy descent. Crazy!!
I had heard several others say later on that they were actually shaking as they rode that early part of the first bike loop from being cold. I am fortunate enough to have a nice little extra layer of “insulation” on me this year being about 5-7 pounds heavier this year compared to last. I really hadn’t planned on that, but hey sure came in handy because being cold was not really something I had to deal with today. Although my toes did become a bit numb out there. I am like a human heat pump otherwise.
Well, I made it safely down into Keene without issue. I was disappointed about the time I had lost having to ride the brakes down the mountain, but I was also relieved to have that behind me for now. I made the winding turn onto Route 9N in Keene and could now settle into a nice rhythm on the flat sectionto Ausable Forks. Ahhh!! It was still raining but I now I could just cruise. My legs were feeling good and I just spun at my comfortable cadence and settled in at around 21-22 MPH average speed. I continued to pop Armita Bar pieces and Chunks for Energy into my mouth and washed them down with copious amounts of Skratch Labs Hydration mix to keep the fuel tanks full. I also had a small bottle of Ucan Superstarch as well for a little extra long-term energy source.
While traversing the uphill section on Route 86 from Jay to Wilmington, I could finally see some breaks in the clouds ahead. Relief! But, along with that I could also feel the wind picking up a bit. I averaged around 16 MPH for the 30 miles uphill section from Jay back to Lake Placid using about 200 watts of normalized power. I felt good the whole time and it seemed to tick by pretty quickly. I ran into John Newman, who I identified from his Amrita tri kit and the name “John” listed on his run belt. John and his wife, Tara, had been communicating a bit with me over the past month or so over social media. John was telling me about how he was shaking so much from being cold down the descent into Keene. He had lost so much time because he was on the brakes the whole time. I said me too, but was on the brakes more out of fear than the cold. Eventually he proceeded ahead of me and I never saw him again until later on the run.
I reached the “Three Bears” section where folks were lining the road in a Tour de France fashion cheering everyone up the hill. I was focused on searching out my wife who stationed herself out here last year, but saw no sign of her. Hmmm? I made the right turn by Cobble Mountain and continued towards Mirror Lake Drive. On the last little kick uphill by the school I spotted my wifes’ bright pink shirt from a couple hundred yards away. I started waving but she just seemed to be staring at me. Eventually she realized it was me and I gave her shit for not knowing who I was. Loop #1 complete.
I quickly stopped for my special needs bag and retooled with nutrition and hydration. Best of all was the peanut butter & honey sandwich on white Italian bread that awaited me. Yum! Time to strap on the old feedbag! The first bite always gets stuck in my throat, so I have to wash it down with a big swig of liquid. After that it is just heaven!
The rain had finally ceased and it was looking like a nice day, albeit the wind continued to pickup. I knew I needed to make up some time on this lap if I still wanted to hit my goal of sub-12 hours. I tried to stay consistent without totally blowing my legs out. I still felt good so I figured I was ok. I hit the bit descent again, this time staying in the aero position and not touching the brakes. I was flying baby!! I found out later I was hitting speeds in excess of 45 MPH. On the flats from Keene to Ausable Forks and back to Jay I again was in cruise mode ranging from 20-22 MPH most of the way again.
The uphill section from Jay to Lake Placid on the second loop went pretty smoothly but a bit slower. I averaged around 15 MPH this time with a normalized power of 189 watts. I still felt pretty good but the legs must have been getting a little more tired. I was relieved to roll onto Mirror Lake Drive with crowds cheering away knowing that I had survived a pretty epic Ironman bike leg unscathed. Looking at my Garmin I noticed I was also about to complete a PR bike split that was around 10 minutes below last years time. Apparently the shaved legs worked as they said they would.
Bike Time(112 miles): 6:15:12 (17.91mph avg speed)
I quickly dismounted my bike and handed it to a volunteer to be forgotten about until after the race. I tried running on the concrete of the speed skating oval with my bike cleats, but it was very difficult. I saw another athlete take their shoes off, which I quickly followed suit. A guy from the med tent yelled out to take our helmets off to cool off. The sun had come out on the 2nd loop and the wetness on the ground made for some sweltering humidity now. I grabbed my run bag and made my way to the change tent. I quickly found a empty chair and a volunteer came over to assist me. He laid out all my stuff on the ground while I put my shoes on so I could quickly get changed. It was a big help. Volunteers ROCK!! I had hoped to find another pair of sunglass lenses with a nose piece but no such luck. I ditched the glasses and just put my run hat on. The volunteer also checked my back for sunburn and said the back of my neck was getting red. I put a pack of sunscreen in my jersey and a Bodyglide stick in the other pocket. I stopped at the sunscreen girls to lather me up good which they did, and then I was off on the run.
T2 Time: 7:08
I headed through the arch that marked the beginning of the run. I heard several people calling my name, but this is typical since it is listed on the front of my race bib. One person that stuck out of the crowd was lady standing under an umbrella on the other side of the street. It looked like Kim, who I had met at a friends New Years Party this past year, but I wasn’t totally sure. I looked for her husband to confirm that it was her, but did not see him so I continued on. Turns out it was her after all. Her daughter, Lauren, was racing also and had a great day finishing 2nd in her 18-24 age group on her first Ironman.
I continued on down Main Street and was feeling really good. Usually the first couple miles of a run after biking 112 miles is a little rough. My legs were feeling ready to run, but I was also going downhill. The real test would be once I hit some inclines.
I ran into my wife Denise and her parents just down the street in front of the sushi place. I gave hugs to everyone forgetting that I had just been lathered up with copious amounts of sunscreen. Sorry! I tried to quickly tell them how crazy the bike ride was while running backwards so not to lose any more precious time. Then I was down the hill towards Lisa G’s for my first loop.
The little rise in the road just past Lisa G’s and Liquids & Solids is always a little bit of a wake-up call since it is the first real incline on the run course after the bike. This is when reality tends to strike. Ok my legs don’t feel quite as good as I first thought. Hmm? I kept pushing on though.
I continued to maintain around a 9:00/mile pace for the first 2.5 miles until I hit the small little rise about a .25 mile past the ski jumps on River Road. The sun was beaming and it was getting hot and steamy. My quadricep muscles were starting hurt already and the negative thoughts started to well up in my head. “How am I going to make it 23 more miles?” I continued to press on walking through the aid stations to get ice and water. I took the cold wet sponges and stuffed them in my jersey. One of them went down my back which I was never able to get out. I tried to eat one of my Amrita Bars, but my stomach was feeling so full I ended up tossing half of it.
My pace was now creeping up into the 10:00/mile range with the small shifts of walking. I ran by the house we stay at and was a little bummed when I didn’t see anyone there. This was such a helpful push last year when they were all sitting out watching. Unfortunately they had to work and run errands all day so they were not able to be there today. Just before the turnaround on River Road, around 4.5 miles, I passed my coach Scott who was coming back the other way. It is always nice to see someone you know to take your mind off the pain at hand. I was also kind of psyched that I wasn’t that far behind him. Surely I didn’t that I would catch up to him, but maybe I wasn’t doing as bad as I though I was.
I finally made the turn on River Road and started back to town. I was really starting to struggle physically and mentally. My legs and feet were screaming. I was now taking walking breaks more than just at the aid stations. My pace was now drifting up in the 10-11:00/mi range, especially given the hills on the route back to town. I reached Denise and her parents and indicated I was struggling a bit. My Father-in-law told me later it was readily apparent I was having a rough time. I walked up the hill on to Main St. but started to get back to somewhat of a trot again after the Lake Placid Pub & Brewery. Perhaps the thought of a cold beer had energized me.
I freshened up my Fuel Belt with some new bottles of Skratch Labs hydration from my special needs bag. My pace picked up a bit with a little help from the downhill from the Lake Placid Pub to Lisa G’s. I ran past the dreaded fork where you are either going out for another 13 miles or you are finishing. I made the left and pushed on. I was determined not to let the mental aspect of having to do another loop get to me. I just focused on staying running even if it was slow, just keep the feet moving. It seemed to help and eventually the miles ticked off.
I had passed my coach, Scott again as well as Shanna and Amy and my friend John from work several times. My enthusiasm to cheer them on diminished more and more with each passing. The last time I passed them I was only able to muster up a thumbs up since speaking would have used far too much energy.
I began dosing the Coca-cola on the second loop. I would pour it over a cup full of ice, let it cool for a few seconds and then drink it down. It tasted so freaking good! I don’t drink soda typically, but this was just what I needed. It definitely changed my mental frame of mind too. I even broke my vegan ways and had a couple cups of the chicken soup. Sorry chickens! I never had that before in a race, but it was pretty good too. These things definitely helped me get through this last half marathon.
I eventually reached the bottom of the hill at Lisa G’s again. There were several slightly intoxicated characters dressed in animal costumes high fiving all the runners as they went by. It was definitely a good boost of energy. I started walking on the bottom of the hill, but soon got back to running again. I said to myself you have to run this last hill up to the brew pub. There were numerous fans cheering and calling my name which gave an added boost. Little kids were holding out their hands for high fives which I always try to do back. I don’t want to be that triathlete that takes himself too seriously that cannot acknowledge the people cheering us all on.
Eventually I ran into Denise and her parents who I imagine were glad to finally see me running after how I looked last time. I kept on running from that point as I could taste the finish line now. I rounded the bend on River Road and picked it up a little for the last mile. I hit that fork in the road where you are either going back out for another 13.1 miles or going to the finish line. I made a big pointing gesture to the volunteer guiding everyone there that I was coming in for landing. The spectators nearby starting cheering a little louder and you could not have wiped that smile off my face for anything.
I entered the speed skating oval and rounded for home. A few more high fives to a few kids along the way and then Mike Reilly said “Brian Schwind” and then a long pause. Ugh! Apparently he got distracted. He may have said “you are an Ironman” but it was after such long delay it was almost pointless at that point. I believe he fouled it up for me last year too. Whatever…I was happy to hit the finish line whithout issue. I know I am an Ironman Mike, you don’t need to tell me I guess.
Run Time(26.2 miles): 4:52:55 (11:10/mi pace)
I was met after the race by Denise and my In-laws along with Dan & Wendy and their two boys Charlie & Emmett who we stay with in Lake Placid. It was fun seeing them all and chatting for awhile. I chilled out and had some pizza at the finish line and then collected my bags to get changed.
I had given Denise my Yellow card to pick up my bike in transition while I got changed. I was surprised not to see her when I had finished getting dressed. After some time she showed up with a disgusted look on her face. Apparently the volunteers could not find my bike. They looked around and then pow-powed with supervisor lady. They then told her maybe someone else picked it up. She told them she is the only one with the card and I was getting changed. Then they very non-cholantly told her to come back later that maybe someone else took my bike and they may bring it back later. What??!! Eventually they went and looked again in slot 2242(I was 2422) and there it was. What a run around!
We took the bike to the car and then headed over to the Dancing Bears for my post-race pizza and Lake Placid IPA. On the way my manager, Steve, from work texted me “Great job 11:52”. I was like “huh?” My watch says 12:42 , what is he talking about. Unfortunately the cell lines are so busy in Lake Placid at this time I could not get my results on the Irontrac iOS app to see. Hmmm…
Well, I had a goal this year to do a sub-12 hour Ironman. Given the official results for Ironman Lake Placid 2014 I finished in 11:52:54, so according to the official results I did accomplish this. BUT, this does not count the 2nd 1.2 mile loop of the swim or my T1 time. I tried to locate what the actual time was for my 2nd loop according to Ironman, but was unable to find anything. According to my Garmin watch, I actually finished in 12:42 which is about 4 seconds slower than last year. I know in my head I didn’t hit that goal, but it was a more challenging day than it was last year. Any Ironman finish though is a success in my book. So I will take it with a big smile on my face. Nothing wrong with back-to-back sub-13 hour Ironman Lake Placid finishes right? Atleast I am consisent!
Another positive was that I PR’d the bike leg by 10 minutes after having a first loop that I was on the brakes for a 7 mile descent. I think if the weather was nicer I may have been closer to 6 hours. I did burn some extra energy on the 2nd loop which I think led to a less than spectacular run. The run was 10 minutes slower than last year, but I did feel like I was able to overcome some major fatigue and developed a little more mental toughness too.
It was a fun day overall and the challenges with weather sure make for some good stories. I will be sure not never to forget that race amongst them all. If was easy everyone would do it right?
Official Ironman Finish Time: *11:52:54
My Unofficial time with full swim: 12:42 and change
* 2nd loop of swim and T1 time not included due to lightning.
Well my season is fortunately not over yet. I am trying to ride out my fitness this year and am finishing my triathlon season with a race at Timberman 70.3 in New Hampshire in 3 weeks. Last year I was wishing I had something else to do after Ironman, so I decided to give it try this year. I should not have to do much training and still be able to do well at this race. Stay tuned!