See my IMLP Pre Race for what my plan was.
Kate and I arrived in the Lake Placid region on Thursday late afternoon for the Sunday Ironman. We were staying in Willmington about 13 miles out of town that was located along the bike course. This was the first time my girlfriend was joining me for this event and I was excited to show her what It’s like. She came with me for the Syracuse 70.3 in June. While that event was great (except the parking nightmare) the 70.3’s don’t have the same vibe at all.
On Friday morning we headed up to Lake Placid to have some breakfast. The parking on Friday morning was a bit hectic and I was honestly nervous on how this was going to work since Syracuse only had one way into town. By Saturday I had a better understanding on how/where to park and race day turned out to be a non-event with parking.
While the food in and around Lake Placid was good overall the service tended to be pretty slow at all of the places we went to. I won’t call out any restaurants but the places we went to weren’t that busy. I spent 10 years in the restaurant business and I have a very good handle on how it still works to this day. So when it takes say 45 minutes to get your dinner I know the two or three reasons why.
We went and got me registered at Ironman Village on Friday about mid-day in Lake Placid. We didn’t hit any lines at all. The last day to check-in is two days before the event. This was my first time waiting until Friday for a Sunday event. When I was in Texas in May I checked in on Wednesday for the Saturday event but when I went back to the village on Thursday the lines were super long. I get the feeling that Lake Placid participants and families show up a few extra days ahead of time. Most of the hotels in Lake Placid require a 4-5 night minimum stay. So I believe that most got into town on Wednesday.
This was my first Ironman event where I was actually weighed at check-in. My weight came in at 172 pounds. This was with cloths on and having just had breakfast. I had weighed about 167 pounds for Texas in May and because we had so much climbing at Lake Placid I was hoping to coming in at about 165 pounds. I was feeling kind of heavy and had a bit of a ‘food baby’ in my belly. I believe I showed up at race day at about 170 pounds.
After check-in Kate and I went to the athlete briefing. If you have been to one or two before you don’t really need to go again. But I wanted her to experience it. Sometimes you get tips on a certain part of the course. I also had a question or two about parking. Word of advice, if you have questions on parking go to the Information booth that is located when you first walk into any Ironman Village. They have maps and can answer your questions.
In the afternoon Kate went for a run while I got my bags and bike ready. The good news about driving to an Ironman event is you can bring as much as you want. The bad news is you feel completely unorganized. In the evening we headed back up to Lake Placid to have dinner with our friends Adam and Monica.
On Saturday Kate and I headed up to the pancake breakfast in the Olympic oval where the village/ finish line is. It was free and the pancakes were delicious. I highly recommend this. After breakfast I went and did a practice swim. This is my first Ironman where there isn’t an official time on when you actually go and swim the day before. Normally at say Texas or Chattanooga you have this two hour window to do a short swim but in Lake Placid you can swim in Mirror Lake anytime. I did my normal short 500 meter swim. I came out of the water a bit dizzy. I had this issue in Syracuse as well so I decided to buy a pair of ear plugs.
They say don’t do anything ‘new’ on race day but putting in ear plugs isn’t going to make my swim any worse. It really made a difference. I will wear ear plugs going forward.
After the practice swim Kate and I decided to drive the bike course. This is the first time I have ever driven a bike course before an Ironman event and I’m glad we did. Most people come up here to ride the course a few times. It’s a two loop course. We would drive the first 40-43 miles of the course because we had driven the last 13 miles or so 2-3 times already going into Lake Placid. Those last 13 miles are where you climb and your average pace becomes a bit realistic.
The first few miles you had a few small climbs and some rollers. On race day I expected to be slow on here as I would be just getting my legs loosened up. The course elevation just drops at about mile 10. It’s known as the Keene decent. Driving it was a bit scary. This is the part of the course you can easily hit 50 mph. I had no interest in doing that on race day. The next 16-17 miles were almost completely flat. This is part of the course if you have a tri-bike where it pays off. I was on a Specialized Tarmac road bike. It’s very light weight and great for climbing. The last 13 miles or so you do a bit of climbing. This is where you get most of your elevation.
After we drove the course we met up with my parents to go and drop off my bike in transition along with my bike and run special needs. This is the first Ironman I went to that you actually hung your own bags and racked your own bike. At every other event someone was with you. Next Kate and I drove the marathon course. It’s a two loop and essentially a few turns and on major out and back section that is 4 miles each way.
After we drove the course Kate and I went for a short run. I always like to run about 3 miles the day before Ironman. It’s the first mile at about 10 minutes pace, the second mile I ran it about 7 minutes, and the third mile I walked it. Next we caught up with Rory and Hannah. We had dinner in Wilmington with my parents along with my aunt.
After dinner we drove up to Lake Placid to look for some Sunday morning parking and caught up with Bridget and Gary. We saw the fire as well that was burning and the smoke was going over Mirror Lake.
We got back to the hotel about 9 PM and went to bed. I woke up at 3:15 to start my day…We left the hotel about 4:40 AM. Before I left I had 2 Ensure pluses and some oatmeal along with 2 cups of coffee.
We got to transition a little bit after 5 AM. Parking was a non-issue on the side of the road. I filled up my tires, put my bottles on my bike and we dropped off our Special needs bags. This is the first time I had to walk to two different spots to drop off my special needs bags. This is also the first time I had very little walk between bike/run transition and the start of the swim. In Texas and Louisville you walk almost a mile. In Chattanooga you are bussed upriver.
By about 5:30/5:40 we were down by the lake just hanging out with my family and friends. For me this is the time that I’m fairly quiet and usually a bit relaxed. I’m just going over in my head on what I need to do that day. Mostly nutrition, etc.
The swim started about 6:30. I headed down the swim area maybe about 6:20/6:25. Just after the national anthem. I lined up at the 1:21-1:30 swim time. I had a new wetsuit on and thought I would swim about a 1:25-1:30. It was very crowded in here and I’m glad I didn’t line up any sooner. At Texas it wasn’t near as crowded and you felt you had room to breath. I got into the water at about 6:44. The Lake Placid is a two loop swim and you basically follow an under water cable the whole time. They had buoys that were numbered 1-8 on each side. My first lap I settled in and felt I was swimming pretty good. For the first time ever I actually tried to draft in the swim. My first loop was about 41 minutes. I knew I wasn’t going to do a 1:22 but thought I had a chance at about 1:25. When I got to the second turn around buoy. I could feel my stomach bother me a bit. So I needed to slow down a bit. I ended up finishing the swim in 1:27. I was very pleased overall and took my time getting to transition. It’s about a 300 yard walk/jog on the streets that they carpeted. The ear plugs I used saved me. I was never dizzy at all.
I changed fairly quick but had a bit of a stomach issue so I ended up in transition for a total of 15 minutes. Not a big deal but something I wasn’t surprised about considering how I felt in the last 800 meters of the swim.
I took my time in the beginning. It always takes me about 15-20 minutes to loosen up. I knew by then I would be close to the Keene decent and not have to peddle much. I entered the 6 mileish of down hills with a lot of caution. On the very steep section I don’t think I was more than 30 mph while on other downhill sections where it wasn’t that bad I was able to get up to about 35 mph.
Once we took a left onto 9N your at about mile 15 and you can finally settle in an actually ride your bike. You’re loose and you aren’t going downhill. It was flat for the most part for the next 25 miles. There were a few climbs but an elite athlete probably did this stretch in about an hour or so. I was cruising. Miles 11-35 I averaged 21.7 mph on a road bike. I am sure a lot of people were averaging about 24-26 mph. On sections of Route 9N I was doing 25-30 on the flats a lone. My legs felt strong.
Once we took a left onto 86 at about mile 43ish we had a climb back into town. The bottom part of the hills I thought were the worse part overall. My goal was to limit my losses. This is the first Ironman that I decided to really push it where I could. On some stretches of 86 it leveled out and you could go 20+ mph.
The last three climbs are known as the three bears. The Mama bear, Baby bear, and Papa bear. The Mama bear was sneaky hard. I held my own. If you get enough momentum coming off of it, which I did, Baby bear is easy. I entered Papa bear with a chip on my shoulder. It reminded me of Buck Hill back home that I have ridden over 200 times but not as steep and I knew I could attack it. I was out of my saddle the whole time and just peddling my ass off. I know I was averaging well over 350 watts on that climb. So many fans are on that hills cheering you on. I passed everyone in site. I think mostly because they were sitting on their tri-bike but also saving themselves for the second loop.
The difference between say Lake Placid with 7K feet of bike climbing and Louisville with 5K feet of climbing is Lake Placid your climbs are only about 15+ miles per lap. It’s steep hills but you can settle in, grind it out, and limit your losses. With Louisville it’s constant up and down. You don’t get the rhythm that you get in Lake Placid. Even though my bike time is slower in Lake Placid than Louisville I would take Lake Placid’s climbing every day of the week.
On about the second loop of the course you get your bike special needs. My friend Catherine from IMCHOO took my bike and I inhaled some liquids. I had some Campbell Soup and most of an Ensure. I was disappointed that we had no bathrooms here. Every other bike special needs stop had them in the other four Ironmen that I have done. I had to stop another time about 2 miles up the road to use the bathroom. I was still feeling strong overall. I saw my family, girlfriend, and friends.
At about mile 60-65 I could tell something wasn’t right. I was a bit nauseous. My stomach was okay but it felt full. I didn’t want to eat any longer. Even my liquid intake was slowing down a bit but I still thought I was drinking enough. I was just getting sick of everything I had been eating. My pre-race plan was to give myself plenty of options out there which I did.
By mile about 90 or so I was just feeling like crap. My legs were fine. I just had no energy. It was getting hotter but near as hot as Texas. I did my best to work through it. I am not exactly sure what went wrong but I think I need to switch up my liquids at the 1/2 point. I love Hammer Perpetuem but I think I may have watered it down a bit to much. This is because I mix it in a bottle and transfer it into a plastic water bottle. For my next IM I plan to just buy some cheap bottles and put in a bit more concentrate. That would help. I also want to use some of my own Gatorade. I prefer grape or fruit punch. So I will have some of that at the 1/2 way point.
I saw my girlfriend, family, and friends at the end of the bike ride. I told them how I sucked out there and I needed to fix it. They were so encouraging and rooting me on. I really got so much more energy from it. I was doubting myself but they brought me back to life. I went into transition and changed fairly quickly. I came out of transition walking bit. I saw my crew again and once I got around the corner I started to jog again.
The run course is two loops. It’s an overall down hill for the first 6 miles and the last 6 miles coming back it’s a net uphill. Most Ironman marathons are boring with multiple loops and for first timers this becomes so mental. At mile 2.2ish you make a left onto Riverside Road and stay on this road until 6 and change then turn around and run back.
I have done enough of these where I could do a combination of running and walking. I wasn’t going to averaging 9-10 minute miles but I was strong enough to fight through it and keep moving. I refuse to walk the marathon course. I am smart enough to walk the water stops and to walk the steep hills.
At mile 8 I got sick for the first time. I think I realized at this point I was dehydrated. I was able to start running again. I felt great after being sick.
At about mile 12 I saw Adam while I was climbing a hill and we chatted for a few minutes. I then ran into my girlfriend, friends and my family. I was still in rough shape from the run. At the Special needs bag I picked up some food and Gatorade. After the out and back and I was on mile 13 I saw my family, girlfriend, and friends again. Once I went by them I started to feel a bit better. I decided to run about 9/9:30 minute miles. My legs as I mentioned were feeling good. I think the chips and Gatorade perked me up a bit. From miles 14-22 I ran almost the whole way averaging sub 10. I even ran through about two water stops.
I got sick again at mile 23. From there I jogged it out until the finish. I was still very excited crossing the finish line. I know I didn’t have the best day but I was still able to fight my way through.
I saw my family, girlfriend, and friends at the finish. I couldn’t thank them enough for all of their support.
Overall Lake Placid Course:
This being my 5th Ironman (4th different course) and my parents have been to everyone this has to be the best one for spectators. The swim is the only full I have done you can see the whole course, The bike is two loops where you actually come back into town, and the run you do two laps. Most marathons you can see someone probably once or twice.
This was my favorite swim and bike course that I have ever done. The marathon is my second favorite. I prefer the Texas marathon because it’s three loops.
I think Ironman (WTC really) should consider making the Lake Placid run course three loops. Why? Because the last two miles of each loop are full of so many people. In Texas you are running along the canal for a while and I love this but the last mile of each loop in Texas (except the .2 for the finish) isn’t that busy with people. It’s a boring out and back.
If Lake Placid does three loops you cut down on the distance of Riverside Rd. Yes you have to climb a few more hills but you get that true thrill of all of your family and friends for each loop. You also can have a few less aid stations.
Things I would do different:
- Use real biking water bottles and put in a little bit more of the Hammer Perpetuem.
- At the bike special needs station I want to try to have my stuff as cold as possible. Maybe try ice or an ice block.
- I want to have some Gatorade at the bike and run special needs. I want to use my flavors (grape and fruit punch).
- I plan to run with a bottle as well. Mostly because I’m getting sick of on-course nutrition.
- I want to have PB&J on the bike at the special needs area. My family, girlfriend, and friends said this was something most people were doing and it’s something I want to try.
- I plan to bring a few Snickers bars as well to mix it up.
- I had the urge to have some watermelon. I think this is something I would like to bring on the run.
I still need to learn from my nutrition. I thought I had it in better shape for this time around but I failed overall. My legs weren’t that sore. I had enough training to do a sub 6:30 on the bike. I did a 3:10 on the first loop and I had the legs to do a 3:20 on the second loop.
I am on the fence about getting a coach. But leaning towards yes. I have reasons for and against. I know getting a coach holds me accountable. I have a few in mind. I know I need to get a full nutrition analysis done and I know it’s not cheap. So I think I will work on finding a nutritionist.
I also plan to work on getting my tri-bike on the road again next year. Over the course of the last few days/weeks I have come to realize I know what the problem is. I need to raise the stem so the handle bars aren’t so low so I can climb out of the saddle if I want to. The stack is also so high that I want to lower that once a new stem is in place.
I have plans to run the Hartford Marathon in October. I am hoping to BQ this year and my training started last weekend with long runs.
I need to get back to the rider I once was. As I mentioned in my pre-race I have really started to fall in love with the bike again. I know my QVV friends will be more than happy to help me out. Trust me I need it. I want to improve on my power numbers and my time on the bike for Ironman.
2016 IM Events:
2017 IM Events:
Maybe Florida or Cozumel. Arizona is tempting as well.