Well, it’s official. I jinxed myself. Tuesday I thought about how well rested I felt and what a good night sleep I had gotten. Now, I sit here typing at 1 am (Wed) after having tossed and turned in bed for the past two hours. I finally figured I might as well use the time…. aka blog update… lucky you!
So this week is obviously not an intense training week as I am tapering, but rather what I would call an annoying training week. The workouts for Monday and Tuesday haven’t been horribly long, but consist of all three components. To swim, bike, and run all in one day requires a lot of stuff, a lot of planning, and a lot of coordination. And then, it kind of feels like a waste because its nearly over immediately. I get it though. The purpose is to keep everything moving without overexerting yourself. It is amazing though how hard it is for me to do less when my body is now used to so much more. Nonetheless, Monday and Tuesday’s workouts are complete and i’m looking forward to just a 30 minute open water swim this afternoon (Wed).
The other big challenge that the week has presented is preparation for the trip. It is unreal how much planning and coordination it requires to swim, bike, and run a cumulative 140.6 miles in one day. The crazy checklist maker that lies deep within my soul has come out full bore this week. I have an index card for anything and everything I could possibly need for race day: What to wear race morning, what to bring race morning, swim to bike bag, bike special needs bag, bike to run bag, run special needs bag, post race items, what to pack in my bike bento box, what to pack in my spi belt… I have lists that interconnect to other lists! But, I will say I feel much more prepared after spending the time to put this together. It also helped me make my shopping list (yes, another list) for what I still needed to get as I need multiples of so many things for each of these bags. I headed to Wegmans and Target tonight after my workout to pick up most of the items. I still have a couple to get at the running store before I leave. I could probably wait into the expo, but I don’t want to risk not being able to find something that I need. Ah and to think, I still need to pack stuff for all of the other days I will be in Lake Placid! That task also will be completed Wednesday. Lots to do still, but again, good progress!
So I thought maybe a more detailed walk through of the course would be a good blog post so you can better understand what Sunday will entail and the venue. So straight from the IMLP website:
IRONMAN Lake Placid is the longest-running American event aside from the IRONMAN World Championship Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. Located in the beautiful Adirondack mountains, it’s an accessible event for every athlete’s bucket list.
Having hosted two Olympic Games (1932 and 1980), this charming town knows how to deliver a world-class athletic event. It’s also the home of one of the most challenging IRONMAN courses with its famous Adirondack climbs. Athletes begin with a two-loop swim in clear Mirror Lake, with the famous sight line lining the bottom of the lake. Transitioning in the Olympic Speed Skating Oval to the bike, the rolling mountain views provide a scenic backdrop. Two loops of 56 miles bring competitors back to the Oval once again, where they begin their 26.2-mile run through the town and around the lake.
Lake Placid has the amenities of a large city and the convenience of a small town, offering high-end restaurants, shopping and world-class accommodations. It boasts equal parts history, uniqueness, and on-course personality. (Originally from: http://www.ironman.com/triathlon/events/americas/ironman/lake-placid.aspx#ixzz2Zw7Jcmg3)
So as it stated, the first part of the day is the swim. It is a two lap course (1.2 miles for each lap, 2.4 miles total). The swim is in Mirror Lake and absolutely gorgeous. The water is very calm and should be wetsuit legal with some cooler nights expected this week. New this year is a rolling start rather than prior years which had a mass start. This change is new this year to try and make the swim safer (which I am totally ok with it). So, starting at 6:30 am it will be almost like the start of a running race with self seeded athletes entering the water through a timing mat in a continuous stream. All athletes are expected to be in the water by 7am. There is a 2:20 minute cutoff for the swim. Also unique to this course is an underwater line that connects all of the buoys which simplifies sighting (love this!). After the first loop, athletes will get out of the water through the swim exit, run across the beach, and re-enter the water for lap two. Personally, I like this approach. I know that I can swim a 1.2 mile open water loop. Mentally I just need to remind myself that it’s the same thing, i’m just doing it twice. People claim it’s a fast swim with a whirlpool like effect created by the clockwise swimming of all of the athletes. I’m excited to experience it for myself. What’s my time expectation? I think somewhere between 1:35 and 1:40. This leaves me a good buffer from the cutoff.
So after the swim I head to transition and will get my swim to bike transition bag. I will take off my wetsuit and plan to change my clothes into dry biking clothes. I’m choosing to spend a few extra minutes to be comfortable. After all, it is a long day and i’m really racing to finish, not for a time. I want to enjoy the experience 🙂 I will then throw on my bike helmet and bike shoes and then head out for a ride through the Adirondacks.
The bike course is also two loops (56 miles each, 112 miles total). The course is known for some challenging hills later in the course and not only do you get them once, but you get to then do it again. The biggest thing I have been warned here is not to go out hard on the first loop or you will hate your life come the hills on the second loop. It’s easy to hammer on some of the sections but holding back will make for a better overall time. Coming out of transition their is a notable climb past the Olympic ski jumps. After that you head for Keene which is a few miles of downhill riding. Apparently you can hit speeds of 40+ mph. A little scary but also can be fun too! After Keene there is some flat and rolling sections where you can tuck into the aero position and just go. But before you know it starts the climb back into Lake Placid with it’s infinite climbs known as the cherry’s and the bears. First comes mama bear, then baby bear, then poppa bear (this is actually the background photo to my blog)! But, once you make it through there you are at the end of lap one and get access to your bike special needs bag. This is full of any special nutrition, refills, or any other items you may want access to that you packed. Just after this is also when I hope to see my support crew! It’s then off to repeat the course for another lap! As far as bike cutoffs go: The first bike cut-off is at the start of the second loop of the bike course at 1:30 p.m. (at Bike Out). Any rider who has not reached the start of the second loop of the bike by 1:30 p.m. will not be permitted to continue. The bike course will close at 5:30 p.m. Athletes arriving at the bike dismount line after 5:30 p.m. will not be permitted to continue. So how long do I think the bike will take me? I’m guessing between seven and seven and a half hours. Again, plenty of buffer here for the unexpected.
After completing two laps it’s back to transition to get ready for the run. I will gladly hand my bike off to a volunteer that will rack it for me. I then get my bike to run bag. I will ditch my biking clothes in exchange for running shorts and a tank top and throw on my running sneakers. Again, i’m spending a few more minutes here to be comfortable in running clothes for the 26.2 miles that lies ahead.
The run is again a two lap course (13.1 miles each loop, 26.2 miles total, yes, a full marathon!). The run isn’t exactly flat but has a pretty good hill in it (that you get to experience twice). The good news is that it’s later in the first loop so you get your legs back first after the bike, but the bad news is that means you hit it again late in the second loop when you are absolutely exhausted. My plan is to walk the hills if I need to and save some energy. There are also aid stations about every mile and I will walk through them as needed as well. Similar to the bike, after the first loop of the run I will have access to my run special needs bag to restock any nutrition I may need or any other special supplies. I have been told over and over how great the support is throughout the entire course and can’t wait to experience it for myself. The nice thing about the looped course is how many times I will get to see my support crew and I know seeing them will give me that little extra boost I will need. Run cutoffs: The first lap of the run course must be completed by 9 p.m. (at Town Hall Outbound). The run course will officially close at midnight.
However, my total time needs to be less than 17 hours to be considered an official Ironman finisher (the exact clock time will differ depending on the time you entered the water). I’m estimating the run will take me somewhere between five and six hours. All of these times added together still leaves me about a two hour buffer. I’m hoping to cross that finish line somewhere between 9 and 10:00pm. God willing.
So there you have it, that is what Ironman Lake Placid will consist of. I keep getting the question this week of “Are you nervous?” The answer: Surprisingly not as bad as I thought. Currently the quantity of excited feelings trumps the quantity of nervous feelings. However, i’m sure in the days ahead it will be a bit of an emotional roller coaster! One that I cannot wait to experience! So close!! Hopefully I fall asleep soon…..