The sun began shining in the door around 5:30AM waking me up a half hour before the alarm would go off. I tried as hard as I could to get back to sleep for another few minutes but the anxiety in my gut would not allow me to do so. Today was the day that we would be riding the entire 112 mile Ironman Lake Placid bike course, and for me would be a good indicator as to what I would have store for me next July. On top of this we had done 3/4ths of a half-ironman distance the day before, so I questioned how much my legs would have left. It would be a long day in the saddle.
I chowed down some bars and a banana with some water and got my stuff together. I packed my bento box full of corn chips and goji energy bars and filled up my water bottles. I decided to head over to the bagel shop in town at 7AM for some extra carbs before starting out. The bagel shop was closed when I got there and Coach Troy was also there waiting for it to open. We shot the breeze for few minutes until the shop opened up. People started lining up while we were talking. I headed back to the room, finished up my bagel, and made my way to meet up with the group.
Everyone topped off the air in the tires and Troy debriefed us on the ride particulars. We made our way out the parking lot and out of town. I somehow managed to get right behind Troy in second position in line. It was cool to see what his gear selection was and to match it. After two miles passed, he turned around and said “only 110 miles to go!” Funny guy. Everyone stuck together for the first half of the first loop and then we all went our separate ways at the intersection in Jay. The rest of the of the first loop went pretty smoothly even though I was alone the whole time. The climb from Jay to Wilmington was also not too bad either. I shifted down to a nice spinning gear and just settled into a nice rhythm. The ride from Wilmington back to Lake Placid was ok too and I even picked up a couple of drafters too.
As I made my way back to Lake Placid I noticed some really heavy storm clouds forming over the Keene Valley. I was hoping I would not run into them. I ran through town and headed back out for my second loop. The first loop took me 3:25 minutes, which is not too bad considering the hills. But Coach Troy told us to try and even or negative split(complete faster) the second loop if we could. I was thinking I would be happy to complete the second loop let alone do it faster. I did the climb up to Cascade Mountain and then it was bombing back down into Keene again.
This time the descent was a little trickier since it had rained a bit here and the roads were somewhat moist. I decided that I was going to use the brakes this time and not take any chances. The road is pretty gnarly too and I didn’t want to wreck while being on my own. I still ended up passing people on the way down so I was not totally putzing. I reached Keene and started the nice ride up the valley, only this time the sky let loose. It started down-pouring with raindrops the size of golfballs. I stopped for a few minutes, but it didn’t let up too much. I pushed on and it just kept coming. The road had little rivers running down it. It actually felt good and cooled me off a bit. The rain eventually slowed by the time I got to Jay. The whole time up to Jay I was thinking I would skip the out-and-back to Ausable Forks, but when I got there I pushed myself to do it.
It is amazing all the negative thoughts that go through your head on a ride this long. I was constantly fighting myself to stay positive. Can’t imagine what it will be like on race day. I returned back to Jay and made the turn up the hill to Wilmington. On the climb I saw a bright flash from the corner of my eye, then a big rumble of thunder. Great! I didn’t have anywhere to really go and I thought that hopefully the rubber tires would ground like in a car. Not sure if that is true or not. Hopefully the carbon-fiber lightning rod between my legs(my bike that is) would not attract the lightning. A minute later another flash and a boom. I passed a place that sold little log cabin dog houses and I considered climbing in one, but I don’t think that would buy me anything. Then I would end up getting stuck in there or something. The thunder and lightning stopped as I continued up the hill. About a mile later I was climbing up the next climb near the Haselton Lumber sign and a large black mass came speeding across the road about fifty yards ahead of me. At first glance it didn’t fully register and then I said to myself “A BEAR!” That was pretty cool. When I reached the area where it crossed I looked around, but it was long gone from what I could see.
As I progressed towards Haselton Road in Wilmington I had thoughts of skipping the 2-mile out-and-back, but just before I reached it, I remembered that my times would not line up evenly if I didn’t do it. It is pretty easy anyway, so I pushed on. The haul back up to Lake Placid was tough. Not only were my legs tired, but there was a stiff headwind now. I just kept my head down and kept pushing. I know my speed was slow at this point, but I was almost there. Every rise in the road seemed taller than ever, but I somehow found some more power to keep going. At this point everything becomes more of a mental game than a physical one. I eventually reached the “three bears” set of hills right before Lake Placid. They seemed ominous this time. Then making the right turn at the top presented another uphill to the Northwoods school. Ugghhh. I crested the last hill at Northwoods school and I knew it was all downhill from here…You did it, I thought. What a relief.
Now could I still run a marathon at this point? Well let’s see if I could just do 3 miles. I got back to the room. stuffed down some grub and water, put my running shoes on and headed back out the hotel for a run around the lake. Troy was packing his bike in the car in the parking lot as I headed out and asked how I was feeling. I said “good”. He stated that I looked strong coming in on the bike, which provided me the perfect motivation to get me around the lake. I have to say I felt really good running. Much better than I felt at Ironman Miami 70.3 last October. No crampy feeling in my quads, which I think is do to the increase in my salt and electrolyte intake. A lesson learned there.
Done Deal! Full Ironman Lake Placid Bike Course completed in 7:09 with an average speed 0f 15.6mph. Given the over 6000 feet of climbing elevation, that isn’t too bad for the first time. I would hope that would be a little less for the actual race. The other positive about this ride was that I completed it while keeping my heart rate in or below Zone 2 for 88% of the ride. This is what I will need to do come raceday. The bike sets up the run. If you blow your legs out on the bike you will be toast on the run.
I have to admit I had some doubts about completing this, but I stayed positive and kept to my plan and managed to complete the course. This really pushes my confidence level for IMLP . After a quick jump in the lake to cool off, I headed to our 5PM lecture and we discussed the ride and Coach Troy gave us some great tips on nutrition. We then headed out for the camp dinner at the Northwoods Inn. It was very good and they even had pasta with veggies so I am still sticking to my plant based diet. Oh yeah and I am feeling spectacular on it too! Tomorrow will be another swim and doing half of the IMLP Marathon course and back home .
The full ride can be viewed here on Strava…