Hey Folks…If you are a follower of this blog you know how much I love Lake Placid, NY. I know some of you do too. So we need your vote to make Lake Placid one of Outside magazine’s Best Outside Town 2015.
Well, week 5 had a bit of a rough start. After returning home from our long weekend in Lake Placid, I had a bit of a struggle getting back on my normal training routine. Fortunately by the weekend, I was back on track with my planned LSD workouts.
On Saturday, I cooked my legs pretty good with the TrainerRoad Echo workout and followed it up with a short brick run on the treadmill. The brick run was cut short when my treadmill just shut off mid stride. Always fun to go crashing into the front panel! I did make up the time treadmill shopping later that day. More on that in another post.
I also contracted a bit of swimmers’ ear the week before. I decided to stay out of the pool a bit which accounts for the two missed swim workouts on Tues & Thursday. The other red workouts were my strength workouts…imagine that? f
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 day finally came and we were off to Newark Airport to begin our trip to Tuscany, Italy. We had a late flight so we made a stop at Pru Thai in Clinton, NJ for dinner on our way. Pru Thai is our favorite Thai restaurant and it was a good way to avoid the rush hour traffic too. We dropped our car off at the ABC Airport Parking and were quickly whisked away to Terminal B at Newark Airport. As we rolled up to the terminal it was starting to sink in that we were finally on our way. Or so we thought.
The SAS ticket counter was rather vacant of travelers, but there were several ticketing agents standing there. Hmmm…that’s strange? The ticket agent swiped our passports and said “do you know your flight was cancelled?” WHAT??!!! Suddenly I felt like I was in a dream and this was not really happening.
There was a lot of back and forth and the eventually all of the agents had come over and were huddling around trying to figure out alternatives for us. There wasn’t any, other than to fly out the next day. One option was to fly a little earlier on Friday morning with another airline that had a connection that was less than an hour. It would get us there 8 hours earlier, but we would risk missing the connection and possibly our luggage. The other, safe option was to leave at 6:55pm EST Friday via SAS with 2 stops and get to Bologna at 5pm on Saturday.
We chose the safer option and they put us up for the night in a hotel in Newark. Yippee!! The girls at the ticket counter were really nice and they told us we could use the airline lounge the next day since the one girl would be working the counter.We headed down to the welcome center at the airport to line up a hotel and shuttle pickup. Our voucher was for the Wyndham Garden hotel, but when I called the number the Hilton Garden answered. They said they would take our voucher and we needed to head to the P4 parking area to meet the shuttle.
We made our way via the AirTran to the P4 Parking area to shuttle pickup. We waited while shuttle after shuttle came and went. None of which said Hilton Garden. There was Hilton, Hilton Newark but no Hilton Garden. There was even a Wyndham Garden! WTH? I asked the driver if that was the same as the Hilton Garden but he said no. Well we waited over an hour and saw the same shuttles come and go. We took the next Wyndham Garden.
We got a room at the Wyndham Garden, no problem, with vouchers for dinner and breakfast. I have no idea to this day where the “Hilton Garden” is or if it even exists. After checking in, I snagged some to-go Corona’s and water at the hotel snack bar and settled in for the night. I started cancelling and sending emails to change our reservations before falling asleep.
We headed down for our free breakfast after a pretty decent nights sleep. We hung out in our room most of the morning until our late checkout at 1PM. I finalized changing our museum arrangements, rental car and cancelling our first nights room. We packed up our stuff had our free lunch at the hotel before heading back to the airport.
When we checked in at the SAS ticket counter and there was some more confusion with the ticket agents again. Now what?? The guy kept asking us what flight we were on and kept reminding him that they were supposed to be all confirmed for the day. He started going down the line asking the other agents something. Eventually he reached the last lady who seemed to know what she was doing. We walked down to her and got the scoop. She said there was two options. We could wait until 11:30pm and do a similar flight as what we were supposed to do yesterday with only one stop in Copenhagen. Or we could just do the two-stop flight that we were planning on doing which left at 6:55pm, but stopped in Oslo and Copenhagen. Either way we still got to Bologna at 5PM. We decided on the two stop flight just so we could get the hell out of the US. We made our way through TSA and headed to the gate.
I spotted the SAS Lounge and we looked through the doors and spotted the girl from the ticket counter the night before. She recognized us right away and we chatted a bit with her. She let us in to the lounge for free which was cool. It was free food and drink, comfy chairs and free WIFI. We enjoyed some nice snacks, wine and beer. They even had an open bar that you could make your own mixed drinks. It was pretty nice!
Before we knew it, it was time to head to the gate. We boarded the plane and settled into our seats. Our seats were at the exit door and bulkhead so we had a ton of leg room to stretch out a bit. SAS has gotten pretty stingy with their food & beverage service these days. They now charge for beer and wine on international flights which they did not the last time we flew with them. Oh well their flight was $400 cheaper(per ticket) than any other airline for the flight.
We taxied down the runway and we were finally off to our Tuscan vacation!
The following documents some of the travel and logistics details of our weekend up in Gilford, NH for Ironman 70.3 Timberman.
Google Maps show the drive from Allentown, PA to to Gilford, NH to be anywhere from 6.5-7.5 hours depending on the traffic and route you choose. The shortest route takes up by New York City then onto I-95 through Hartford, CT. I had taken that route once before and it was a bit too insane for me. We were also leaving on a weeknight after work, so this would be all the more crazy. So, instead we opted to head north on I-87 up to Rhinebeck, NY, have dinner then take the Taconic Parkway to I-90 West.
We also had decided to split the drive up and stay over night in Lee, MA where we found a nice little place to stay for ~$85 called the Sunset Inn. The place was nothing fancy, but it was clean and not far off the highway. The other benefit is that it is only a short drive to Kripalu Yoga Center, which is a favorite of my wifes’. Since we were close, we were able to head there for a very healthy buffet breakfast which was only $10 each.
We then headed East on I-90 towards Worcester, MA which is pronounced like “woo-sta!” We also continued to shout the name multiple times as we flanked the city via some connecting bypasses. Eventually we ended up on I-93 which took us past Concord, NH where we picked up Route 3 taking us into our final destination of Gilford, NH.
When I signed up for Timberman, I originally booked a room in Concord, NH due to the price and availability and lack thereof in and around Gilford. After Denise decided she was going to volunteer for the race and would have to be there earlier, I decided to seek out something closer. This was a wise decision! Staying in Concord would have made this weekend suck! It would have been too long of a drive and it was worth paying a little more to be closer.
I happened to find the Fireside Inn with vacancy only a few days before leaving for the race. I had changed hotels in Concord twice before that and eventually cancelled them both. I don’t think the Fireside ever showed up on Hotels.com or it was just lower in the list because of the price was a little higher. I ended up paying $200/night there and it was so worth it. It was only 3 mile bike ride from the race site at Ellacoya State Park which you could get to by a light traveled road which happened to be the run course. It also provided beautiful views of Lake Winnipesaukee the entire way, which were even more spectacular at 5:30am when the sun was coming up. The bike and run course also went right by the hotel too so if you just wanted to stay there and watch the event you could see 2 of the 3 disciplines right there.
The hotel was also very clean and had plenty of room. Some people in the review complained about the older TV’s but that was not really an issue for us. The rooms had a nice big refrigerator and microwave so you can make some things for your early morning pre-race breakfast. There is also a market/deli, liquor store and Pub right across the street too. A short drive will also get you into Laconia, NH which has basically everything you need.
The staff at the hotel are also very friendly and helpful. They give you whoopie pies at check-in and make popcorn in the afternoons whose smell would drift down the hallway luring you in for some. They have and indoor and outdoor pool, nice weight room and access to a local beach on the lake which is $5/person. They also have full suites which offer a full kitchen if you need that. All the rooms also have little balconies or patios which I liked.
The only negative I could think of was that the hotel was right in the flight path of the local airport, so there was a few planes landing and taking off from time-to-time. The one day I kept getting blasts of jet fuel fumes coming in the screen door, but closing the door and putting A/C on solved that.
My wife and I like to eat pretty healthy and avoid the chain or franchise restaurants at all costs. I am a plant-based vegan 95% of the time and my wife is more on the “paleo” side. Finding good places for us to eat is usually a bit of a challenge, especially when you are in more off-the-beaten-path places. My wife Denise is a pretty good researcher when it comes to finding places to eat and she did a pretty good job routing them out in and around Lake Winnipesaukee too. So here are our favorites around Gilford…
Tavern 27 is located a little bit north of Laconia nestled between the links of the Mystic Meadows Golf Course. It is a family run, farm-to-table American-style “tapas” restaurant which are little larger portioned than your typical Spanish tapas. There are a long list of different dishes to choose from, but our favorite was the Chickpea Fries. My wife was also a fan of the Egg Cups and I though there little pizzas were really good too. The place is very small and it seems they are always busy. The owner told me he has been booked up for several days and has had to turn away many walk-ins. We had lunch there on our first day, but were able to get in for dinner on Sunday night. I would highly advise calling here well in advance unless maybe in the off-season.
The Local Eatery
The Local Eatery was another favorite of ours. Also a farm-to-table restaurant and located in the old train station in Laconia. It is a small place but we were able to get reservations on a Friday and Saturday night here during Timberman weekend. Denise enjoyed their local burger so much she had it two night in a row. I had the Chana Masala on Friday night and the house made gnocchi on Saturday. The Chana Masala was a very generous portion while the gnocchi was a bit small. The gnocchi was a little more filling than it looked though and it also left me some room to have the Vanilla Crème Brulee for desert, which I think was the best I have ever had. I also had the hummus plate on Friday which was very good as well. Definitely a place to check out when in the area. They also have outdoor seating.
Kitchen Cravings is a little breakfast and lunch restaurant just a short drive or bike ride away from the Fireside Inn. It is basically at the other end of the airport runway. Their menu is extensive to say the least. They have tons of options and have no issues with substitutions. My wife was in heaven since she is the queen of substitutions. It isn’t very big inside so if there is something going on like Timberman, be prepared to wait.
Ellacoya Barn & Grille
The Ellacoya Barn & Grille is a little pub just up the street from the Timberman race venue at Ellacoya State Park. We walked here after the race to get some lunch. Not necessarily the healthiest of the bunch here, but the food was good and it is convenient to the race. I particularly like their Bruschetta and they have a bunch of good beers on tap. I ordered a pizza after the race which I thought was a personal size since it was only $10, but it was huge! I did end up eating 5 out of the 8 slices though.
We had a really nice weekend in Gilford, NH and I think much of that is due to the logistics of where we stayed in relation to the event venue. Staying in Concord would have made this a much less enjoyable weekend. We had an easy 3 mile bike ride to/from the event which allowed us to not be trapped or have to deal with vehicle traffic. We were able to easily get in and out via the bike course or the run course.
Well how things change. I was planning on taking next year off from a full Ironman, but Denise and I got talking about it at dinner. All she had to say was “I wouldn’t mind going to Coeur d’Alene next year.” And I was on the computer registering before she could say another word.
I don’t know. Life just doesn’t seem the same without an Ironman in the future. And I am not getting any younger, so I might as well do it while I can!
I thought this blog my die a bit over the next year, but I think we got a whole bunch of new adventure comind down the pike.