It is not even two weeks ago since I swam 1.2 miles in Beltzville Lake for the Black Bear Half Iron Triathlon and they are closing it to swimming again due to high bacteria levels. So, what was the level when we swam in it? Or was all those triathletes peeing in the water that caused it? I guess since I was in the second to last wave it doesn’t really matter then.
This is just another reason in addition to the poor road conditions why I am thinking I am not do this race again.
This morning I finally awoke before 5am ready to hit the pool early finally. I ate a Amrita bar and a big glass of water and I was out the door. Ready to get the training day off to a good start. About a mile down the road, I realized that I still had my slippers on. Ahhh! There was no way I was walking into the gym with my bedroom slippers on, so I spun around and went back home to get my shoes on.
Now off again for try number two to the pool. About two-thirds of the way there, I realized I forgot my swim watch(Garmin 910xt). Ahhh!! Not a big deal, I have my Jawbone UP on and I can just keep track of the time with that and just do my workout that I planned.
I get to the pool, change into my swim stuff and make my way into the pool. As the pool deck came into view I noticed a pile of kick boards and other pool “toys” lining the end of the pool. Ahhh!! The pool was totally packed!! WTF??!! Every lane had at least 2 people in it and some actually had 3 in it! Crazy…I have never seen it so full before. I thought I might wait, but there was actually nowhere to sit since the bench was full of towels and bags. I also didn’t have my work clothes, so I could not hang out too long. I decided to bag it for now.
An exercise in futility. One good thing that came out of this, there is no use getting up so early to go swim! 🙂 I guess I will try again at lunch time!
In order to get an early start on my work day, I decided to work from home on Thursday so we could get on the road to Lake Placid by 4pm. Due to some bad storms that day, Denise got out of work early, so we decided to get on the road earlier. It was a windy, raining drive up to Lake Placid for what would be my own little mini training camp for Ironman Lake Placid. My wife had driven the whole way up, so I had some time to catch up on some blog posts that I had not completed. We did have a bit of an issue at the Sloatesburg Rest Stop on I-87 when we pulled out of the enclosed parking garage and my bike clipped the hanging clearance guards, marked with the lowest clearance possible of the parking garage ON THE EXIT of the garage??? Really, why are these located on the exit of the parking garage?? Anyway there was no damage other than the brief panic we felt as we heard my bike clip them.
We stopped in Clifton Park, just north of Albany, at a Vietnamese restaurant for dinner called Saigon Spring. It was pretty empty when we got there, so we were a bit skeptical about it. By the time we left the place was packed and people were waiting for an empty table. Food was really good. I had the Curried Tofu and vegan Summer Rolls which were excellent. Denise had some Seafood Pho(big bowl of noodle soup)
The sky began to clear as we exited Interstate 87 and drove through the Keene Valley. With the dramatic clouds and the sunset it made for a beautiful welcoming into the Adirondacks. We arrived at the house around 9:15pm, unpacked the car and quickly settled in for the evening.
After a good nights sleep, we awoke and headed into to town for some breakfast at the Breakfast club, I broke a bit from my plant-based regimen for some Blueberry/raspberry pancakes. I would eventually pay for this later. We then took a cruise around Mirror Lake to find a Stand Up Paddleboard(SUP) rental place for Denise. The plan was she would rent a SUP and paddle around with me while I swam. She had never done it before, so we weren’t totally sure how that would go. We found a place called Placid Boat Rentals located on the narrow strip of land right between Lake Placid and Mirror Lake. Steve, the owner, was putting out a paddleboard as we drove by so we stopped in. He was very nice and gave us a great deal.
We then sorted out the transaction details, got changed into our lake gear and headed across the street to the portage trail where we embarked. Denise was on the paddleboard and paddling around the lake rather quickly. I snapped a couple pictures with her phone and by the time I was done getting myself together she was halfway across the lake already. So much for my lifeguard.
This little guy was hanging out on the dock while I was getting ready for my swim. He was pretty tame and let me get pretty close to him.
I slipped into the water off the end of the dock. It was pretty chilly. Even with a wetsuit on. We were at the far end of the lake, so I had a bit of a swim just to get to the Ironman swim course. By the time I reached the swim course buoys, Denise was pretty far on the other side of the lake already. I began my swim watching the yellow rope that runs below the course. The water was a bit cloudy this morning so it wasn’t as easy to see as I remembered. I was still sighting above the water as usual since I am just so used to doing that. I settled into my rhythm and cruised down the lake.
The water was pretty chilly. It must have been in the low 60’s(F) . My hands and feet were a bit uncomfortable at this point do to the cold water. I was wishing I could just hold them above the water and let the bright sunlight above warm them up. I pushed on and continued on to the end of the lake. The pancakes began to explode in my digestive system since I am not used to eating that kind of food anymore. I think the “inflation” of my wetsuit provided even more buoyancy than a typical wetsuit provides. Perhaps the USAT may want to outlaw these pancakes along with 5mm DeSoto wetsuits?
Why does Strava shorten my distance and lengthen my time? My Garmin said 1:24 and 2.44 miles when I was done, but Strava says 2.1 miles and 1:29? WTH? Ripping me off!
Denise finally caught up with me by the time I reached the other end of the lake near the usual starting point for the Ironman. We chatted a bit and then started making our way towards the other end of the lake. Denise tried to take some pictures of me with her phone, but the breeze blew her back towards shore as soon as she stopped paddling. I was in full gear at this point and my hands and feet were no longer cold. Maybe they were numb at this point. I took a look around when I reached halfway down the lake and she was still down the other end. I continued on.
I reached the other end of the lake and started swimming back to meet up with Denise who had made some progress now. We then made our way back towards the put-in dock, but Denise kept on paddling around. I glanced at my watch and saw I was ~2 miles now, so I thought I might as well go for the full 2.4 miles now. I then swam around the quiet cove part of the lake trying to catch her on SUP. I ended up with 2.44 miles in around 1:24. My goal for Ironman was around 1:20, so I think I can definitely hit that.
We headed over to The Good Bite Kitchen on Main St. for some lunch. I was starving, so I had some Kale and spicy Seitan Sausage soup, a Pinto bean Hand Pie, and then an Arugula stromboli. We enjoyed our lunch on the little 2-person bar on the outside of the narrow eatery. We entertained ourselves while we ate watching the food purveyor delivery man who was dropping F-bombs every other word with whoever he was speaking to on his Bluetooth earbud. Interesting character. After lunch we stopped down at EMS for some shopping for a little bit.
We headed back to the house and I geared up for a bike ride. I did a single, basic loop of the Ironman course without the out-and-back to Ausable Forks and Haselton Road. I also turned in at River Road and avoided the section into town. The ride ended up being around 38 miles which was perfect to get the legs ready for tomorrows’ long ride.
This canoe was floating down the Ausable River near the town of Jay as I was riding by. Seemed like a fairly decent canoe and there was no one to be found around it. It also had a branch laying across it.
I worked up quite an appetite with the days activities, so we headed over to the Cowboy for some dinner. They have a killer veggie burger and sweet potato fries. The only thing I hate about the burger is it falls apart so easily and I usually end up eating the bun and burger separately. Denise had a customized version of the Green Curry entrée which the waitress had given sufficient attitude about her substitution making. Regardless it was all very good.
We got back to the house and after watching a little tube, it was time to hit the rack. Tomorrow was going to be a big day.
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 ChiaChunks 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.
Nothing like an post-race ice bath! Ahhh!
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!
My stomach sank when I opened an email from a fellow triathlete/co-worker the other day. It indicated the “SwimSmart” changes to the swim start of Ironman Lake Placid and a few other mass swim start events. In the back of my mind I always wondered if this would happen, but I never thought it would occur this year. The year of my first attempt at IMLP.
My initial reaction was one of disappointment. When I signed up for IMLP, I accepted the challenge of the “washing machine” swim start as a part of the event that I needed to conquer. This event is my “Mt. Everest” and with a challenge like this you accept these difficult parts of that challenge. Now that that part has been removed, will this event still have the same meaning?
Last July when I stood on the banks of Mirror Lake at 7AM listening to U2’s “Beautiful Day” and watching ~1800 pink and green caps bobbing in the water, I had such strong emotion well up inside me. I could feel the anticipation of me being amongst that group the following year. It would be difficult, but I would get through it and settle in for nice long swim in Mirror Lake. Will that start still hold the same meaning? I had texted my wife the day I found out about the change. She was also a bit depressed about it too. That swim start had also held a similar feeling for her as well.
Now that I have had a few days to mull this over in my mind during some long swim, bike and runs, I realize I need to accept this change and look at what positive things it will bring to the event. First and foremost is the safety factor. There have been numerous deaths lately in the swims of triathlons. This is one way to limit that anxiety for the competitors which should hopefully take some of the stress off. As someone who has dealt with anxiety and panic disorder in the past, I can understand that. Why I don’t have that during a swim start I have no idea. I can now look forward to a fairly more enjoyable 2.4 mile swim in Mirror Lake without as much possibility of being kicked, punched and swum over. It definitely takes a pretty big weight off my shoulders for starting the event, so now I can just concentrate on the race and covering those distances.
Another positive is that I could possibly “swim the rope.” There is a yellow rope that runs about 4-6″ under water along the entire swim course in Mirror Lake. I had swam this course last year during the Troy Jacobsen camp and had my fastest open water swim ever. Seeing the cable underwater allows you to not have to look up to sight buoys and swim as straight as possible. I knew I would never have a chance at getting close to this during the actual IMLP swim before, but now this could be possible given the more gradual water entry. So I may be gaining a few more minutes on the swim by this change.
More time to celebrate! The event is now starting before 7AM, so that should mean I could get done a few minutes earlier. I really want to finish before dark and this throws some more time in that basket of making that happen. I really don’t want to be running down River Rd. in the dark with a glow stick on if I can help it. While walking back from volunteering last year that really had a negative affect on me and I know that would just really suck the life out of me.
…And there will always be the wetsuit strippers!!
I know the World Triathlon Corporation has the best of intentions with this change and I had a feeling it would happen sooner or later. Change is never easy and those that have already done the race may have a tough time with this. Although, if you have already survived the “Washing Machine”, then maybe it is an easier change to accept. I know for someone who was prepared for it, it is not a real easy change to accept at first. Given the positives though, I am now starting to accept it. They just better be blasting “Beautiful Day” by U2 when I start! Even if it means repeating the song over-and-over!