Training in Lake Placid... during Ironweek... I was excited and more than a little nervous...
This time last year, I was unable to do any training myself, as I was plagued by injuries... this year was a whole different experience. I got my own little taste of what it would be like to train and race on that course.
I was scheduled to swim 1 loop of the swim course, ride 1 loop of the bike course and run part of the run course. I had my nutrition plan in place and was all set for the adventures to come.
We arrived Thursday afternoon with back spasms from the drive from Toronto... oh goody... That was the day I was scheduled to swim. We checked into our rooms at the dorm and then went over to Mirror Lake - Eric had a short bike ride and I had my swim to do. It was about 5pm by the time we reached the beach.
One thing I learned while at the lake... just talk out loud and drop the name of your next race and someone, somewhere... has done it already or is signed up as well - and conversation begins :) I met some great people who did Timberman 70.3 last year and got lots of feedback on the course. I was so happy to meet people who've done it before! That's the problem with having to drive for 10 hours to get to your 'big race' of the season... you really don't know what to expect... I've been scouring blog reports for months, trying to glean some details. This was valuable information!
I got into the lake, briefly remembering that last year, I swam about 200m filled with panic and dread that I was, indeed, going to drown before I hauled my a$$ out of Mirror Lake.
From a distance (ie the beach) it did look like kind of a long way to swim... once I got into the water, it seemed like much farther! The submerged cable did wonders for my self-confidence... I had a road map for where I was supposed to go - oh joy! I learned that once again, if I can see where I am going, I'm fine... but force me to sight frequently to stay on course or fog up my goggles so that I can't see and it's a whole new ball game...
Mirror Lake is the nicest lake I have ever swum in. The water temperature was perfect - a little cool so that you don't overheat, but fresh, and tasted good in the mouth. It was a great swim! Took me about 56 minutes which isn't fast by any means but I didn't panic. I took a couple of breaks and composed myself a bit here and there but for the most part - it was a lovely swim!
With that done, I was feeling better, more limber, and ready to tackle my single loop of the bike course the following morning, bright and early.
How can I put this simply for the folks who've never been to Lake Placid...? ALL ROADS APPEAR TO GO UPHILL. Seriously, I'm not kidding. I started my ride, in cool weather, overcast and drizzling and stopped and got off my bike twice in 15 minutes because I was certain that my front - and then my back - wheel, must have been rubbing... there could be no other reason for me going so slow... or so I thought! Even when you are on your bike and the road ahead looks flat... IT IS NOT. It is a cruel, optical illusion of Mother Nature.
I bumbled along in my own way, dreading and muttering out loud the entire time I rode the 9km descent into Keene in the rain. It was cold and my hands went completely numb so that I couldn't even feel the brake levers I was trying to 'feather'... whenever I thought I had finished the nerve-wracking descent and it was over, I'd see another one of those signs that shows the truck taking a nosedive down a big steep hill... ugh...
After that, I started to enjoy myself - the scenery was fabulous! I rode along the highway with the river at my right side and just found myself filled with gratitude that I was able to experience all of this under my own pedal power. It was a very powerful experience.
The short version was that I ate and drank nearly everything in sight and talked to myself a LOt... but was not able to finish the entire loop due to muscle fatigue. Sadly, I called it at about 75km... my back spasms were back with a vengeance and I was really reluctant to push it too far and suffer a setback for my training. I called Eric to come and get me... and when he picked me up, he drove along beside me as I did my run off the bike...
I ran the following day... again - all roads seemingly go UPHILL... but at least it's pretty :)
What did I learn from this experience? First and foremost, I have a huge amount of respect for those that race that IM course - it is TOUGH! It also reminded me that patience is a virtue and I cannot and will not rush my own journey to a full iron-distance race. I had dabbled with the idea of training for a full iron-distance for 2012... after that reality check, however, I'm thinking maybe 2013-2014...maybe...
Secondly, I am stronger than I thought! I wonder how far I can ride on that course in a year from now when we return again in 2011 to cheer on our friends...?
;) Life is GOOD