Here is some video I shot on a recent ride on NY RT 73’s new paving from the Ski Jump to Cascade Trailhead. This is the first part of the Ironman Lake Placid bike course and WAS one of the worst sections of the course.
Week 15 wrapped up with the end of 3 weeks of building volume. This last week topped out at around 16 hours, with a 4:20 bike ride on Saturday and a 2:40 run on Sunday. Due to my late start on Saturday and dinner plans that evening I wasn’t able to get a brick workout in time. Despite the expected fatigue with that volume I have feeling pretty well. I have resolved the issue of not eating enough on the long bike which has made the Sunday runs much more pleasurable.
My long bike on Saturday covered the 65 miles Dream Come True ride route which is easily followed with the white DCT marks on the roads. One note is that if you don’t see any marks, continue straight since they only seem to mark turns. It is a beautiful ride through the hills and valleys just west of Allentown. I lengthened it up a bit with some extra riding around the area totally about 72 miles total in 4:25 mins. Not too bad for a leisurely ride.
I also transitioned my bike over to my “race” setup for the upcoming Black Bear Half Iron triathlon on June 1st. I washed and lubed up the bike, changed my brake pads over to the SwissStops and put on my carbon race wheels. I also finally got around to putting on my XLab Torpedo Water Bottle Mount between my aerobars. I have had this mount for awhile now sitting in the bag, but was hesitant on putting it on since it didn’t fit real well between my bars. I did have to move my aerobars apart a bit because the length of my bars don’t give a whole lot of room for the bottle. I also could not find anywhere to mount the computer since there was no room on the Torpedo Mount plate and the headbolt they provided was not long enough to mount on my headset cap. I ended up putting the Barfly mount sticking to the outside on my right aerobar. I actually had to angle it down a bit so my arm didn’t keep hitting the lap button. Not an optimal setup, but it does keep me from staring at the Garmin all the time.
I also got a new XLab Mezzo bag to hold all my spare tires and tools underneath my XLab Turbo Wing Mount system. It is pretty nice size to hold stuff and fits nicely out of the way. A much cleaner setup that what I had before. Now with the 3 bottle holders neatly tucked in a more aero position, I am going to take off the frame-mounted cages for races to give a more cleaner profile on the bike.
I realize most of this will do nothing for me on the super-hilly Black Bear bike course, but it is just a prep for Lake Placid which is what is really important.
Looking back at last year, I am a couple hours ahead in volume and TSS this year. That is kind of the plan. I am hoping to top out around 17-18 hours here and then start increasing the intensity a little bit. I am also planning on moving to 2 week builds and 1 week recovery from here on out. This tends to benefit me more with the added intensity and it also works into my schedule better too.
Next week will be a pretty easy week while I rest up for the Black Bear Half on Sunday. This is going to be a pretty demanding race and I will need all the recovery I can get. After that I will be back at it for two weeks starting at about 16+ hours, then a rest week before my training camp weekend in Lake Placid. Things are gonna start to hurt now!
I have the Black Bear Triathlon half iron distance race coming up in a week and half. It is a fairly local race for me, so I thought it might be a good idea to take a run up there and preview the bike course for my LSD ride for the week. I have been up to Beltzville State Park before to do some open water swims but haven’t really checked out all the roads in the area. I heard the race was hilly, but I had no idea how REALLY HILLY it was.
The half iron bike course consists of approximately two 28 mile loops around the area, so with a planned 4 hour ride today I thought I would do at least the two loops and then maybe a little extra to fill in the time. It was a very nice, partly cloudy, with a light breeze of around 7-10mph.
Here is the link to my Training Peaks Workout too…
I arrived in the main parking lot in the later morning, unpacked my bike, geared up, and started on my way out the main entrance. There were a few other cars in the parking lot with bike racks and triathlon related stickers, so it was nice to know there were others out there riding too. There was also another guy in the lot unloading a bike with a Endurance Multisport jersey on, which is a local triathlon club.
The route starts out paralleling Beltzville Lake on Pohopoco Drive, which is a bit of a rollercoaster ride to get started. A series of up-and-downs, some larger than others, that prohibits you from creating any bit of momentum throwing your legs into a tailspin. The last couple rollers before making a left onto Sheller Hill Road are the worst. When I first saw Sheller Hill Road, I thought “that can’t be the first turn”. I was wrong and my Garmin quickly indicated this by flashing a “Off Course” on the screen. As I turned around and now made a right onto the road, the Endurance Multisport rider was turning there too. We exchanged a couple pleasantries and then he filed in behind me.
Sheller Hill Road was gradual at first, but then jutted up to a short, steep little climb. I was then down to the intersection of the first out-and-back section on Smith Road. Smith Rd. was mostly downhill on the way out and then a mostly uphill starting at the lollipop-like turnaround and then back again. There is one steeper hill right before a descent back to Smith Rd. heading back again.
Reaching Sheller Hill Rd again you stay right and then soon make a right onto Penn Forest Rd. You then head downhill for a good stretch, but the road is fairly beat up so you need to stay alert. It eventually levels out right as you pass a nice mountain lake(Wild Creek Reservoir) which seems to be a false flat area. Again the road is pretty beat up still. You eventually reach a new bridge right before it starts descending uphill again. I am not sure how far up the course goes before it turns around. I went half way up the first loop and all the way up the second time. It is a pretty steady climb. Then you turn around and head back again. The ascent up was to Sheller Rd again was not as bad as I thought, but it is another climb in easy gears nonetheless.
Next, is back down to Pohopoco Drive for another roller coaster ride. One big uphill and then make a right on what I think is Lakeside Dr. After a sharp left you come to a fork at Lovitt Rd. When I first saw this road and the steep climb I thought we could NOT go that way, but again I was wrong. This is yet another short steep section. There is a nice long quiet descent through the woods after though.
The course usually turns right onto Owl Creek Rd, which I did, but the road is marked closed and the bridge is blocked off further down the road. It is actually a nice little stretch that you can gain some speed and I was able to slip past some barriers and the large pile of dirt on the bridge to get through. Not sure what they will do for the race though.
There is one pretty steep climb after the bridge. I found myself saying “you’ve got to be kidding me” when I made the turn. The really were not bashful with this bike course. The rest is mostly flat or downhill to the park entrance before doing it all over again.
I heard this was hilly, but holy crap it was brutal. Granted I was doing a long, slow distance ride, it still kicked my ass. Last year I did Rev3 Quassy and I though that was a hilly course, but after checking my logs this course has almost 1000 more feet of climb over the same distance. It is 1000 less than the FULL Lake Placid Ironman bike course of 112 miles.
This is definitely not a course to go out like gangbusters. You could really cook your legs in a hurry and have a rough half marathon to run afterwards. The only solace is that the run does not appear to be quite as hilly. I ran part of the course for a brick run and it wasn’t too bad, but it was on dirt road and trails. I think this would be a good race to ride a road bike instead of a tri bike. There is a ton of shifting to do! Unfortunately, my old Cannondale road bike is NOT race ready. Oh well it is my B training race, so it will be a test of my fitness.
The final build week of the season has been completed…and I have survived! The week started out with some easy training volume with my coach cutting me back to only one-a-days. This gave me some much needed recovery time but also brought about the crappy feeling that comes with a few days of easier training. I knew that after the heavy volume of the previous weekend and the intense heat that accompanied it, I needed that going into this final weekend. Monday to Wednesday consisted of a swim, run, swim respectively. As you can see from my Heart Rate Variability below, that after my long bike on Saturday my HRV continued to decline until about Thursday. (NOTE:The training hours below are matched up with the next mornings’ HRV reading.) It did start to rebound a bit after getting back to regular training volumes again.
On Thursday, the 4th of July Holiday, we went to a Bike-N-BBQ that friends of ours were hosting. The event consisted of a several group bike rides of varying abilities and distances in the morning followed by a cookout thereafter. I chose to ride the ~53 mile “A” ride and Denise was going to do the 30 mile C ride, which worked out perfectly. My coach had eliminated my Tuesday bike ride this week in anticipation of this special ride. It was a good thing too. The “A” ride was filled with some pretty advanced riders and the pace was very fast especially considering the hilliness of it. We even did a ride over Blue Mountain which I think is a category 3 climb.
Riding my tri bike proved to be an additional challenge for me in keeping up with these guys and their more responsive road bikes. Nonetheless I kept them in eye-shot and maintained as much of a steady pace as I can. I seemed to catch up with them on some of the climbs which surprised me. I thought that tri bikes are not usually good on climbs. The first half of the ride was also a bit of a struggle as my legs were feeling extremely fatigued and stiff. They did start to come back to normal about halfway through and I finished the ride hanging a bit closer to the pack.
We finished up with a average speed of around 18MPH, which is pretty good considering the ~3600 feet of climbing we did. I think that ride was perfect addition to my training. I don’t typically ride with others and it was kind of good to have that extra motivation to push the speed up a bit. After the ride we chilled out and enjoyed nice cookout and a few beers. Everyone at the bbq was really nice and we enjoyed a nice time chatting with everyone. The temps that day were also pretty hot, but thankfully they had some canopy tents that everyone congregated under which made it much more tolerable. It was a nice day out to relax and chill out a bit as this intense training finally to wind to a finish. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures of the event. Hmmm…WTH? So unlike me.
The Last Big Weekend…
I decided to take off on Friday to make a 4-day weekend out of the holiday. On Friday I met with Kenrick Smith from TheBruisedBanana to help him out with some web stuff. After that, I headed over to Dutch Springs for my LSD Swim. I got there around 2PM and it was cooking out(VERY HOT!). You have to wear a wetsuit there, so I had no choice but to put it on. The top couple feet of water was pretty warm that day, but every so often you would catch a cool spot. There were many people kayaking that day and it was a bit more challenging sighting and not running into someone. It did take some of the monotony of it. I ended up cutting my swim to only the prescribed 1:05 that my coach had scheduled since it was pretty warm out. If it was warmer I probably would have done the 2.4 miles again. Oh well, save that for July 28th!
Saturday consisted of another 6 hour bike ride with a 30 min brick run to follow. It was forecasted to by dangerously hot and humid on Saturday with Heat Index of over 100 degrees F. I thought it would be good to get out bright and early and try to get most of the work done before the worst part of the day. I mapped out a course to follow the 65 mile Dream Come True(DCT) ride course on my Garmin the night before, but when I went to start out my ride the Garmin locked up on me trying to load it. Arggh! I lost about 34 minutes(9.4mi) of my ride on the unit due to this issue. The ride course never loaded so I was left having to navigate the route by the leftover markings on the road. Unfortunately I did hit a few roads that have recently been oil and chipped(PENNDOT Sucks! Do they ever pave anything anymore?) and had to figure my way out. I think I did ok though. Ride was really nice and there was one long stretch from Kempton to Werleys Corners that was mostly flat, decent paving and a tailwind the whole way. Ahhh! Although the end of that was punctuated with a nice cat 4 climb up Werley’s Corners hill.
Towards the end of the DCT route I swung through the Rodale Institute Farm and made a pitstop at the store. They had some nice cold coconut water and New Zealand Spring water in the coolers. This tasted like liquid gold at this point as the temperature had really started to rise at this point. I filled up my water bottles from their tap and got back on my way. I still had a couple more hours to go so I headed out to Fleetwood on my typical routes and made my way back home from there to fill up the 6 hours. My black cycling shorts had started turning white at this point due to the rapid evaporation of my salty sweat on this hot day. The one nice thing about riding bike on a hot day though is that you always atleast have a 15-20 mile per hour breeze blowing.
When I got home I quickly changed into my running gear and headed around town to complete my 30 minute brick run. The first mile or two was tolerable, but the last mile was just brutal. The heat had finally caught up to me and I had trouble finishing the last 10 minutes as I made a loop through Lock Ridge Park. I was totally wiped out by the end and I just stood there hunched over for a minute trying to regain my composure a bit. The run this time had taken me to my limit. What would my long run be like tomorrow? Ugh!
headed over to the Lehigh Parkway for my last 3:15 run. I got started a little before 7am and it was already hot at this time. The run had gone pretty much ok through most of the first 2-6 mile loops of the parkway. As I got towards the end of the 2nd loop, my foot had begun to expand and my toes were now jamming in the end of my fairly new Altra 3-Sum running shoes. The website I purchased them from recommended that I get size 11’s based on the size 10.5 I had for my New Balance. Apparently I should I have gone a half size more because now my toes were jamming in the end of them. Also just as I was finishing up that 2nd loop I also bumped into a fellow co-worker who has finished Ironman Lake Placid a couple times and is also competing again this year. This and a fresh change of running shoes gave me a little motivation that I needed to get moving again on the 3rd loop.
The extra motivation got me down to about the 2nd mile and then the hit started to sink in again. Now I was stopping at every water fountain and soak my hat and fill up my empty water bottles to pour over myself. I was really struggling now. So much so that I began cycling through running for 4 minutes and walking 1 minute. This helped and it got me through to finish the 3rd loop and completing the 3:15 that I needed. When I got back to the car I was so wiped out and unfolded my camp chair in the parking lot and just sat in the shade for 20 minutes until I began to regain some composure and stop sweating.
When I had got up that morning I weighed 170 lbs. When I got home from running, after drinking a Nalgene bottle and a bike water bottle full of water, I weight 164lbs! Yikes…that is a lot of liquid lost. I also went through 8-8oz Fuel Belt bottles and had a Amrita bar and a Clif Bar. Where did it all go???
Well, that is that. The hard work is now done and there is not much I can do now to change anything for Lake Placid, except for doing something stupid and injuring myself. The 3 weeks of taper begins and now it is time to let the body recover and get ready for Ironman Lake Placid 2013!! Hard to believe it is only 3 weeks away. It has been a long 5 years and now it is show time!
Thanks for reading!!!
I awoke to my Jawbone Up vibrating away at around 7:15am. A quick Heart Rate variability check revealed a 74 and to “continue training as usual”. Gitty-up! Next was to fuel up with a banana, raspberry, spinach, and beet smoothie. A much more normal, at least to me, alternative than pancakes. Beets are supposed to give you the ability to carry more oxygen in your blood similar to what blood doping does. Even if it is a placebo effect I will take it. They taste good too.
I had hopes of getting out the door by 8am, but as usual I tend to poke around in the morning and it takes me awhile to get going. Eventually I got all my nutrition stuff ready to go, oiled up my chain and pumped up my tires. I was on the road a little before 10AM. With a forecasted 6 hour ride I would get done around 4PM. It looked to be a nice day, so I might as well use it all up. It was also a bit cool in the early morning, so I didn’t feel like dragging arm warmers and all that crap along too. The only bad thing was the wind was supposed to pick up as the day went on, but I am pretty used to that with all the windy days I encountered this year.
I headed out River Rd and jumped on Rt 73 at the ski jumps. The stretch from there to Keene is the worst part of the whole race course. The road is so mangled, especially on the shoulders, that you must be on high alert the whole time. With traffic along side of you too creates an even more tension. There was a traffic light at the Cascade Lakes where they are doing some road construction. It actually was pretty nice if you let all the cars go, then follow behind them and let it fly. You can pretty much guarantee no cars from there to about half way down Cascade mountain descent since it is a pretty long light. The descent down to Keene is a bit scary at times due to the poor road conditions and the high speeds.
One down into Keene I can breathe a big sigh of relief. From here to the town of Jay it is big shoulders and fairly flat terrain. It is cruising mode and I just love this stretch. The out-and-back section to Ausable Forks is also fairly flat as well, but I hate out-and-backs so this section isn’t as fun for me. Once I got back to Jay, I made the turn towards Wilmington, it is climbing time! The stretch to Wilmington is about 5 miles of mostly climbing. It is pretty consistent grade so you can get in a rhythm and just spin away. It isn’t too bad.
The stretch from Wilmington back to Lake Placid is kind of a false flat push. It is very deceiving. Once you get past the narrow canyon section it isn’t too bad. The wind had started to pick up a bit by this time and it always seems to just get funneled through this river valley and amplified. When I reached the last uphill section before Lake Placid, known as the “three bears”, my legs were feeling a bit tired and my mind was starting to struggle with the fact that I had to do another loop. I cruised through town and then stopped back at the house to refill water bottles. After that I was ready for another round.
I was now at around 60 miles with all the back-and-forth to the house on River Road, so I decided to chop off the Ausable Forks section…Yay!! I only wanted to do 100 miles so without that it would give me another 40 miles. They key parts for me are to do the hilly sections anyway. Once back out on the second loop, my legs were feeling good again. In fact, my legs were feeling better as I went. The only thing that really bothered me was my ass. Six plus hours in the saddle is a bit rough on the derrière.
Now on my third loop of this course in two days. Going over this road that many times you start to become intimately familiar with every pothole, beer can, bolt and other rusty metal artifact along the road. It was almost to the point where you start naming these things. What else do you do for this long on a bike? I wondering if they will still be there in a month and half? Ok..back to reality again. There was a Mountain Bike festival in Wilmington this weekend, so there were a lot of fat tire aficionados out and about. Roadies and Mountain bikers…could get a little tense.
The winds had picked up to a pretty heavy gust. I could not figure out which way the wind was coming from though. When I went by the North Pole hotel and campground there were two flags next to each other and each one was stretched out in directions pointing towards each other? Huh? I did a double-take..how could that be? Oh it be! The wind does some crazy things heading through this valley. Eventually I made it back to River Road and headed back to the house.
I ended up with 103 miles in around 6:25. I am pretty happy with that since I was not trying to crush it. I really wanted to see how the legs felt and if I needed to go slower. I felt pretty good and I even headed out for a short 20 minute brick run just to really see what the legs were like to run on. They really felt great. If I didn’t have a long run tomorrow and Denise didn’t want to go out for dinner I would have kept going. Ha…oh well.
We got cleaned up and headed over to Alegria Garden Café some dinner. I had vegetable spring rolls and vegetable pot-pie and Denise had a Rabbit-Oatmeal Confit appetizer and Salmon on Quinoa for dinner. Everything was very good. They also have homemade bread which was out of this world. The place was not real busy, which surprised me a bit. It is quite good, so I am not sure why they don’t get more people.
After dinner, we headed home and it didn’t take me too long to start the head bobbing. I called it a day and crawled into bed for a good nights sleep. Tomorrow should be interesting with a 2:45 run on what I expected to be some stiff legs in the morning. We would then have to pack up on my return and head out for the long drive home.
My eyes peeled open around 4:15am. 15 minutes before my alarm went off. I was happy to have gotten a full nights sleep and feeling pretty fresh. I rolled out of bed and started preparing my pre-race breakfast in the little microwave in our hotel room. Granola with coconut milk, a banana and a cup of Tazo “Awake” black tea. I tried to be quiet and not disturb my wife, but everything seemed so loud. Eventually she awoke.
I had everything prepared the night before, so it was pretty easy to get ready. Just had to eat and get dressed. I did need to make two trips to the car since I had accumulated a bunch of gear from the car. I was happy to see other triathletes vehicles still in the parking lot when I got out there, confirming I was not totally late. We were out of the room by 5:30. The transition area at Rev3 Quassy closed at 6:30am and a half hour drive there gave me a full 30 minutes to get my transition area prepped. There wasn’t much to do really since my bike was already there and I body marked myself already. We had made good time getting there until we made the turn onto the last road into Quassy which backed up 1 mile from the park. Fortunately it moved pretty quickly and we were there in no time. Some people got out of there cars and started walking to the race entrance and their cars actually passed them. By the time we got to the entrance they were re-directing everyone to the overflow lot across the street. Denise dropped me off and I made my way into transition.
I got to my spot and quickly set everything up. I put socks in bike shoes this time, which I don’t normally do, but I thought it may be a good idea with the heat. I also opted for the standard bike helmet as opposed to the aero helmet, to keep a little cooler. The aero helmet will not provide that much benefit on a hilly course like this. I also put my sunscreen pump bottle there too so I could lather up a bit. I carried my wetsuit and swim stuff out of transition with me since I had over an hour until my wave, the last wave of the day. No sense getting heated up that early. I headed over to the Quassy ticket booth to wait for Denise and chowed down one of my PB&J Rice cakes(from Skratch Labs Feed Zone Portables cook book. Yum!). I tried texting Denise but the cell waves were quite congested and the message never got through. I resent as a text message and waited. By now the toilet was a calling so I jumped in line for the Port-O-John. They were well stocked and lines were not too long, so I was in there pretty quickly. Much better than the Lehigh Valley Half Marathon and Steelman Tri last year.
I still had not received any response from Denise after emptying out my digestive system, so I went back to waiting. Eventually I got a text back from her and spotted her immediately. She didn’t see me, so I had a little fun texting her while walking right behind her. LOL. We headed over to the beach area and watched the pros and initial age group waves take off. They had a area designated for swim warm-up, so people were swimming away while other waves were going out. Pretty nice. I decided to suit up and head in for a warm-up swim. Water was really nice temp, which they said was around 72 deg F. I was feeling pretty good in the warm-up and the lake was really nice for swimming.
Before I knew it they were calling my wave, so I headed over to the starting coral. We then proceeded over the timing sensor into the coral. I lined up right in the middle of the pack on the right, inner buoy side. I have no idea why I lined up here cause I am usually a back, outside kinda guy avoiding the craziness. Today I for some reason chose to get “in the mix”. Perhaps I am feeling a bit guilty about missing out on the mass swim start at Lake Placid due to the recent swim start changes. The countdown started and then we were off. It was a little hectic getting started but things eventually settled out. As I was spotting the buoys I also glanced for some open water too. I did end up getting a little drafting in with some other swimmers which may have helped my time a bit.
Everything was good until I made the first turn, then it was straight on sun right in the eyes trying to spot the buoys. I could not see anything straight ahead of me except swimmers immediately ahead of me. I thought I could follow them but that is not always a good idea. I remembered that they said that the paddleboarders would be on the inside and kayakers on the outside, so I just kept them at a certain distance a side of me and knew I was good. I got into a nice rhythm and was feeling amazingly good. I really focused on my swim technique and started kicking more than usual. I also really worked on my body rotation to get a little extra torque.
Before I knew it I was at the last turn towards shore. At this time I started getting a gas fume smell or taste from the boats. It was really foul. I also was getting blasted from the sun again, but this time on the left side. I focused on closing my eyes when I breathed to the left side and also took double breaths on the right side. I was starting to see all kinds of psychedelic trails now from the sun glare. Pretty wild. Next I was grabbing sand in my hand and was up and out of the water. I spotted my wife right away and headed over her way while I started unzipping my wetsuit. I forgot to hit the lap button on my watch until in transition and it was reading 34 mins and change…holy crap! That would be my fastest 1.2 mile swim ever. Officially it was 32:45.
Transition was pretty uneventful. I managed to get my socks on without issue and ditching my wetsuit went well too. I made my clackety-clack walk to the other side of transition to head out on the bike. Denise was standing at the turn so I ambled over towards her to have a quick chat as I mounted the bike. She told me to “enjoy those hills!” as I left. “Thanks!” I replied. The course started out with a slight downgrade and I took full advantage of it. I wanted to get my heart rate down since it is always red-lining coming out of T1. We made the first right turn and then it was steady upgrade from there. The course was always either up or down, there was nothing flat for any length of time. My plan, with help from my coach, was to spin easy up the hills and bomb the downhills. I think I did that pretty well. I really tried to let it fly on the downhills keeping in a tuck position and trying not to hit the brakes. I only did so a couple times when I wasn’t sure what was around the next bend. Knowing the course more would have really helped there I think.
The course was very hilly to say the least, but I really liked it. I was enjoying just spinning past people going up those hills. Many people were laboring to breath and I felt like I had mammoth lungs or something. Nutrtion-wise I just kept nibbling away at my Cha Cha Cha Chia Chunks of Energy the whole ride. They are packed with nutrition and don’t give you that rot gut like all the over-processed crap does. I also drank my Hammer Perpetuem too, but I am not sold on that as a single nutrition source. Makes me feel very full. I also was drinking my Skratch Labs hydration drinks and water very consistently. I really feel like I did everything right on the bike. I was hoping to be around 3 hours, but with a course much tougher than Ironman 70.3 Muskoka, 3:11 is not too bad. I did slow down a bit towards the end just to give my legs some reprieve before the run started.
T2 went pretty smoothly as well. I was starting to feel some sunburn on my shoulders so I layered on another coating of sunscreen. Fuel belt, run bib belt and shoes and off on the run. My plan was to head out on a steady pace for the first couple miles until the legs acclimate. Today it took about 3 miles for that happen, which ironically was right as the hills started up. We basically headed out the same way as we did on the bike, but eventually made a different turn. I got into a steady run around 8:00-8:30 pace. I thought I would be able to pick things up a bit, but little did I know how tough this run would be. The worst part was the hill from around mile 3.5 to 5. It was unforgiving to say the least. Just up and up and up again. Not only that it was dirt road which made it worse. I have not seen that many people walking since I was volunteered on the run course at Lake Placid last year. It really made it tougher to keep running when you see people that look much more fit than yourself walking.
I did end up walking the aid stations after that big hill. It sucked the life out of me. Walking the aid stations also gave me a chance to get all the hydration I could in and put some ice in my hat. It is amazing how much help that is to get you going again. My legs were really feeling it and I was battling in my head to keep on running. I kept thinking to myself how this is good practice for LP in controlling the mind. If I can do it here I can do it in LP. There was one guy, who was running near me and we kept passing each other. We would then push the other one when one was walking. It made such a huge difference to have that support. We ended up finishing right next to each other and he definitely helped me get there and I hope I did the same for him.
Eventually some relief came with a bit of downhills, but they were never real long as there was always a little up interspersed every so often. The worst part was at around mile 9.5 the course went right by the finish before heading out for another 4 miles. How cruel!! The only good thing was the encouragement from some spectators and seeing my wife. But then it was out away from the finish and the hills started up again. The last one was really steep too and it was all I could do to keep from walking. Eventually I caved in to the grade. At the last aid station I grabbed a cup of Coke(the only time I will drink Coke) and some water for a last blast of energy to get me home. As I neared the finish, I could feel the feet picking up again and then all the pain is quickly forgotten. Sort of.
As I entered the finishing chute, I spotted my wife with iPhone camera in hand. I headed over for a high five and then high fived the announcer guy too as I made my way to the finish line. The clock said around 6:47 and I thought “oh crap, I am over 6 hours!” figuring my wave left at 7:45, but realized we were probably late so I had no idea. My watch was saying 5:57 so was a bit disappointed at first. I never saw my official finish time until we were part way home and realized I had a new half-iron distance PR of 5:54, which really made me happy. Also, 2:05 run on a hilly course like that is not too bad for me.
Crossing the finish line I was draped with a icy cold Gatorade towel over my shoulders which was the best thing I ever. It felt so refreshing. I was pretty spent. That was a tough course no doubt. I was also given a finishers ribbon that would have made a rapper jealous. I usually hang those things on my night stand light, but this thing will surely pull the light off. I met up with Denise and we headed over so I could get some food. As we walked over, I spotted a couple people wallowing in what looked like cow troughs. Oh man…Ice bath!!! The water looked disgusting and actually had a oil slick of sunscreen on the top, but I didn’t care. One dude sitting in one said it is gross but feels amazing! I hopped on it and it really did feel good. A girl next me had her friends filling up a cup for her with a pitcher of beer and my wife caught me staring at it. Denise then quietly snuck away to get me one while I chatted with the guy next to me. When she realized they only had Miller Lite she nixed that idea.
After the ice bath, I headed over to the food. They had lots of pasta that looked so good. They even had veggie burgers which I was pretty psyched about. Thankfully the lady behind me asked about them cause they were not readily visible. While standing in line I realized that they had Corona bottled beer so I ended up getting one and it tasted some good. We then headed over to transition, packed up my stuff and made our way home.
This was a true test of my fitness for Lake Placid. Although it was brutally tough, I come away with some confidence for Lake Placid and new 70.3 PR. The other notable thing was that this was my 1-year anniversary of switching to a whole foods, plant-based diet and I am feeling better than ever. The run at Lake Placid is twice the distance, but the hills I feel are more manageable. I still have a lot more training to go, so I know that will only add to the fitness that I already have. Thanks Rev3 Quassy and bring on Ironman Lake Placid!
I’m On No Sleep, No Sleep!. You Don’t know What It’s Like In There…
Race morning did not get off to a good start. I hardly slept a wink the whole night and was tossing and turning trying not to look at the clock. I am not sure what if it was the large chai tea I had after dinner or just the excitement of the race. Maybe both. Regardless it was not a good way to start a race day. On top of that I had a pretty lame hotel breakfast of a bagel w/ almond butter and a Clif Bar. I had brought oatmeal, but forgot to bring a bowl to make it in. Duh!
I got dressed and packed up my gear, but didn’t give myself ample time for bib pickup and transition setup at the race. I really don’t know what I was thinking here. I should have gotten up earlier since I could not sleep anyway. On our twenty minute drive to the event we got behind some guy with and Endurance Multisport sticker that was going slower than shit. We had a line of cars behind us too. We feared passing him since we would probably ended up missing the turn and he obviously knew where he was going since he had obviously picked up his bib already.
We got there and I quickly proceeded to registration and got my bib, chip and swag(t-shirt). By the time I got to transition, I only had 10 minutes until transition closed. The thing that sucks was I had a whole hour to wait until I actually started racing. I just don’t get that! I managed to setup my transition spot and threw on my wetsuit pretty quickly and then it was down to the water to listen to the pre-race meeting, national anthemn and then watch the other waves start out.
The Big Chill
It was freaking cold and windy! The temp was around 43-45 deg F and the wind around 10MPH. I kept my sweatshirt on over my wetsuit and it was still chilly. Denise was anticipating me getting in the water so she could put my sweatshirt on over her DOWN jacket. We hung out waiting for my start for what seemed to be forever. I was a bit anxious to find out whether the water would be colder or warmer than what it was outside. As the previous waves started, the lifeguards were busy returning the many folks abandoning the race before the first turn buoy. Not sure if it was the cold or the muddy water at the start from everyone kicking it up. I did hear one girl say her wetsuit was too big for her and it was taking on too much water. She had never used it before…rookie mistake there.
Finally my wave(purple caps for men >40) was called. We were after the yellow caps and the pink caps. I made my way to the narrow aluminum ramp that took us into the water. It was not too bad really. The bottom of the lake was that really soft murky mud that just seems to hover over the bottom. That usually freaks me out, but it was actually kind of warm so I let my cold feet wallow in it with pleasure. I got into my spot a couple rows back from front and slightly to the right and before I knew it the race director was yelling “Go!” from the shore line. Yes, nothing fancy here like a start gun or cannon. He didn’t even have a bullhorn. The start was pretty typical craziness with feet, legs and bodies hitting you from every direction. The water was so thick with mud you could not see anything. It was total darkness in the water. Didn’t really bother me too much, but I could see how a newer triathlete could lose it. My face had started feeling a bit numb from either the coldness of the water or the cold air when breathing, not sure which. I did get used to it. The madness continued to the first turn and then slowly mellowed out until the second lap.
I kept burping the entire swim which was very annoying. Almost felt close to puking a couple times. Not sure what caused that: the bagel(which I don’t normally eat) or the caffeine-infused Clif Bar I ate. As I made my way onto the 2nd lap, I could see Denise standing on the shoreline and I gave her a quick wave with my right hand. I thought that was funny that I was waving during the swim. I settled into a nice rhythm during the second lap and before I knew it I was exiting the water onto the aluminum ramp. There were a few of us exiting at the same time and one guy in a yellow cap took the underwater railing right to the family jewels…Ouch! I looked at my watch and it read 23 minutes…nice! That caught Denise off-guard too since I told her 25-30 and she missed me again coming out of the water. I yelled to her as I went past and surprised the crap out of her.
The run to transition was pretty long and it tacked about 2 minutes onto my swim time. T1 went pretty quickly as I opted for no socks and wearing my bike shoes to the bike mount(as opposed to clipping them in and running barefeet). Another long run to the mount area and I quickly jumped on my bike and away. I was fearing the coldness on the bike with only a tri tank/singlet top and no socks but it wasn’t too bad. My toes were numb at this point so, the socks would not have made much difference anyway.
“Did You See The Size Of That Chicken??”
I settled into a ~20 MPH pace on the bike which was feeling pretty good considering the stiff crosswinds. I found out later that the wind was around 10MPH at the start and increased to around 15MPH during the bike leg. Sometimes there were gusts that had to be worse. The course was 2 ~20 mile out-and-back sections. The 10 miles out was the worst wind-wise, but neither way was a cake walk. The course was extremely flat and if it wasn’t for the wind it could have been a mid-20 MPH average pace. I kept playing cat-and-mouse with one girl on the bike that was in severe need of a bike fitting. Her seat was way too high and her hips kept rocking up and down. It was amazing she could maintain that speed with such an aweful-looking pedal stroke. I would try to pass her and get far enough ahead of her that she would not pass me again, but eventually she would and then she seemed to slow down right after she passed me. I even took some time to ease up behind her just so I would not have to pass her again. Eventually she disappeared. Not sure if she got ahead of me or behind though.
The first loop of the bike course was pretty good. I was averaging about 200 watts on the bike and my legs were feeling pretty good at that point. The wind seemed to have increased towards the end of the first loop and the out portion of the second loop was tough. I could feel it in my legs and was wondering if I was going too hard. I was still pulling 200 watts but my speed had decreased a bit. I held it steady and figured I would easy spin when I got a few miles from the bike finish. There was a water bottle exchange at the turnaround and the girl out there handed me a water bottle that was still sealed. So I am trying to remove the cap and plastic from the bottle while I am riding. Kind of a pain.
On what I believe was the second loop, I was approaching a long dog-leg turn in the course where a police officer was blocking traffic from the side street. I had a slight tailwind so I was cruising around 22MPH when all-of-a-sudden came a cackling black mass 2-3 feet in front of my face. It was a freaking turkey! I never even saw it coming and it quickly put up out of the aerobars, which I needed. two hours in the aero position gets a little rough on the butt and lower back. The turkey came from the side of the road near the cop, so I am sure the officer had a bit of a laugh over that. So not only did the wind slow me down, but that turkey set me back another few seconds too. So much for the time I gained with my carbon fiber wheels and aero helmet.
“I can’t feel my toes! I don’t have any toes!”
I cruised into T2 and had a pretty good transition. I had a little trouble with my socks since I still could not feel my toes. Heading out of transition I made way across several baseball fields and then through very sand driveway gate. The sand was the really dry deep stuff that just kind of sucks you in, making you feel like you are going no where. I tried to avoid it as best I could, but it still sucked my momentum. Then we looped around the school and out the road. My wife was standing out by the driveway so we exchanged some quick comments as a breezed by. Then it was out some flat country roads on route to the ocean.
The run route wound through a quiet little neighborhood and then out some long flat roads flanked on both sides by some very low standing crops. No relief from the wind at all. And now the sun came out to heat us up a bit during the run. I did manage to get a little tailwind on the first half of the run which helped, although the way back I felt the business end of it. There was one small section of woods along the way the provided a little respite from the wind and sun, but it was less than a 1/4 mile and did not last long.
I managed to keep a 8:10min/mi pace on the way out and had aspirations of going under 8 on the way back. That actually ended up going the other way with the headwind. There was one guy a bit ahead of me in my age group which I could see stopping and stretching every so often. I was slowly gaining on him and had hoped I could pass him at some point. One guy came up to me and I stayed with him for a while and we chatted a bit. Slowly he crept away from me and the other guy in my age group must have collected himself since I never got close enough to pass. I tried to pick up the pace a bit in small intervals, but just could not maintain it for a long enough time.
When I hit the 1 mile-to-go aid station, I felt a bit of spark in my step as I knew I was almost there. The biggest thing in my head was being able to take a nap on the drive back home. I looked at my overall time on my Garmin for the first time and it read ~3:36(hrs). I was a bit surprised since my goal time was around 4:00(hrs). I had no idea how I was doing since this was the first I had looked at my overall time all day. I knew from the previous season that under 4 hours would put me in the top 10 of my age group, so I was pretty psyched about that. This helped my pick up the pace a little more now.
I made the turn into the school driveway and as I approached the school I ran up on another guy with the same age group number on his calf. I decided to run just behind him and wait until I got closer to the finish before I made the pass. If I went too early I might peter out and he could then overtake me again. As I ran with him I could tell he was running on fumes and as soon as we made the last turn around the school I went for it. I hit the soft sand again and I could hear someone coming up on me. Fortunately it was someone else in another age group. I hit the finish line at 3:44:12.
Are We There Yet?
I had totally forgotten about being sick the past few days and as soon as I stopped after crossing the finish line I started coughing! Ha…first time all day. I walked around with Denise for a bit to keep the blood from pooling in my legs. I checked out the food and the only thing I could eat was some veggie hoagie thing which looked lame with the hoagie roll. We decided to hit the Thai restaurant near our hotel instead. I also bumped into a guy that did the Troy Jacobson Lake Placid camp with me last year, so I chatted with him a bit. I then collected my stuff from transition and we made our way home. We stopped off at Whole Foods in Plymouth Meeting too and stocked up with some frozen, organic berries and other healthy things.
Overall, I think it was a good race in the fact that it showed my overall early-season fitness is good. I still have a long way to Lake Placid, but I think I am on the right track here. One more half-iron distance race at Rev3 Quassy to go and then it is all Ironman training from there on out. My training plan for next week is not skipping a beat either with a 13 hour week to follow. Fortunately I am feeling good post-race and I am recovering very quickly too. I will attribute that to the plant-based diet.
Until next time, thanks for reading!
Adirondack Daily Enterprise is reporting that NYDOT will be starting road repairs to the heavily damaged Route 73 between Lake Placid and Keene are set to being on May 1st. Hopefully those repairs will be completed by July 28th for Ironman Lake Placid. This should make a HUGE difference to the bike leg of race since this section of road is especially gnarly. The long downhill section from Cascade Lakes to Keene are especially dangerous with large cracks that can suck up a bike tire while doing 45+ MPH down this long downhill grade.
Well although I was looking forward to a bit of a break from training, recovery weeks never seem to be as fashionable as I think they will be. The good thing about them is only 2 early morning swims, no two-a-day workouts, and a day off. The bad thing is the workouts I do, I tend to feel like crap. Legs feel tired and just don’t have any pep in my step. That usually ends though when the long LSD work comes during the weekend and I feel like I am doing something again.
The other nice thing was I did have some time to work on my new wheels and even clean up my existing wheels. They were pretty messy. Looking forward to getting them out for a few rides I hope. Although it did snow today, so I have no idea when Spring is going to rear its sunny head. I did manage to get out on both bike rides last week which I guess is a step in the right direction. Saturday was a bit of slog though with some nasty wind gusts. Felt like I wasn’t even moving at times.
Events are creeping up fast too. The LV Half-Marathon is about a month away and the first tri of the season, the NJ Devilman, is the week after. Devilman may be the first open water swim of the season since Dutch Springs doesn’t open until after that I think.
Well not much else here. Starting on another 10+ hour training week again.