Starting Lap Two of the Marathon
Lake Placid is officially done, and I can say that I am officially “back” from my accident of last year. The details are below, but the executive summary is as follows. A 9:56:38 finishing time, for my first effort below 10 hours. A 1:07:48 non-wetsuit swim, a 5:18:36 bike and a 3:22:43 run…all of this combined to give me a 5 minute PR for the course, 5th in the 35-39 Age Group and my fourth trip to Kona. Life is officially good.
We arrived on Tuesday to a quiet — yet hot — Lake Placid. Our place was right in the center of town, yet quiet, and it was awesome. I did the usual light swim/bike/run stuff and then spent Wednesday at Santa’s Workshop with the family. Thursday I rode the descent out of town to test the race set up and felt pretty good. That night was also the Fuelbelt Racing Team dinner, and it was great to see so many new faces including some of the elite men.
Friday saw me sleep a whopping 5 hours, so I got up and went to swim a loop with some EN peeps. I dialed in a 29-minute loop in my wetsuit, and felt good. It was also our Four Keys talk, which had more than 100 folks tuning in for some pre-race info. That was followed by beach time and the Kid’s Fun Run…I went home, packed my T1/T2 bags and hit the Team EN dinner. I knew it was going to be big when one of the guys from the 4Keys talk asked me if I was going to a wedding. Around 100 folks hanging out, meeting for the first time, sharing stories, having a few drinks, introducing their families — these team dinners are just awesome.
By the time I get home I realize I haven’t stopped moving since 7am. I put on my compression socks, get a beer and go into chill mode. I sleep a bit better for Saturday, get up and eat a massive breakfast. Do a short run and then check all my stuff in. Realize my bike is at the other end of the oval from the exit, but it’s all good. I head home, take two naps, watch a kung fu movie and try to sleep.
I wake up more tired than I’d like, but it’s all good. Have my first real cup of coffee in like 6 months, so that wakes me up. Pound breakfast and get my stuff together…Vinu and I head to transition to pump tires and get our stuff ready. We hear Mike Reilly say no wetsuits if you want to get to Kona, so it’s back home to the pad to get skin suits and chill for a bit.
I thankfully had a swimskin donated by a teammate (thanks Cary!) and slapped that on, said goodbye to Maura and Emma (Megs was sleeping!) and then to the swim start.
I got into the water to warm up at like 6:45 and quickly realized the swim skin thing wasn’t going to be “easy”. Every time I stopped to tread water it was really work, and going from vertical to moving forward took a lot of work. I got myself seeded, like 15′ off the end of the pier, about 4-5 folks back and waited.
The Swim: 1:07:47
The gun goes off and I start swimming towards the line. I get their pretty quickly, but I also realize that this mingling of non-wetsuit and wetsuit people is really, really not safe for those without. The entire first loop I take maybe 6 complete, clean strokes without hitting people. The rest of the time I am focused on just keeping my head above water.
Every time I am hit or bumped, my legs go right to the bottom and it’s a struggle to get back up. I am seriously scared for the first half mile, and resign myself to just trying to get back to the beach. I don’t even look at the clock, but I hear it’s 1:33 as I am back in the water again. Excited for a contact free 2nd loop, I am sad to see it’s still crowded. More pummeling, etc. I finally find space in the last half mile, and get some good swimming in.
I exit again without looking at the clock and run hard to transition. Kinda worried that no one else seems to be in a rush. I bust through transition get my bike and mount quickly for a total 4:30 time. I could have gone faster but left my helmet buckled in the bag…oops! Exiting the area I see the clock says 1:22 over the bike mount line and have a minor heart attack…before I realize that’s for the pros who had a 10′ start.
The Bike — 5:18:36
At a 1:12 ride time, I figured I had my slowest possible swim within the framework of my race goals, so I knew the bike had to be really solid. My top goal was a 5:15 bike time, but in light of the non-wetsuit swim and my actual placing with a 1:07 swim I figured sub-5:20 would have to be good enough.
I got out of town pretty quickly and settled in on the bike climb past the ski jumps. Lots of folks pass me and I am sitting on good watts. By the time we get to the top of the descent, I have already passed 200 folks and it’s getting quieter.
I have a very easy descent, no brakes (48+ mph), and then get down to business on the flats. There are people all out in front of me which makes for a fun, quick way to move up the ranks. By the time I get to Ausable Forks things are really thinning out so I figure things are looking good. All this way I have peed three times already, so fluids are good.
I ride the hills of the next 22 miles pretty steadily, really focusing on keeping my watts up over the hills. Lots of spikes there because I don’t want to lose momentum. By the time I get to special needs at half way, I can only see a few guys in front of me…when I stop another 8 pass me so I clearly was leading a small group.
Back out on loop two and it was second verse same as the first. Another great descent, albeit a bit windier. Really no one out here, so I focused on keeping the watts up and staying stoopid aero. The wind had picked up to Ausable Forks, reducing the fun factor of the flats, but I kept pushing. Just before I got to AF, I saw a group of 15 guys head back out — that’s the group I want for the run!!! I am pumped and get to work. In the back of my head I think I haven’t peed in a few hours, but I push it away.
By the time I get to town I have passed almost every one of that group and feel pretty good. I took my shoes off a bit early for T2, but still rode the bike in just fine.
Here is the full bike data for all you geeks out there:
Entire workout (218 watts):
Duration: 5:20:09 (5:20:23)
Work: 4190 kJ
TSS: 271.2 (intensity factor 0.714)
Norm Power: 232
My goal TSS was between 270 and 280, so I nailed that. I wanted a VI of 1.04, but couldn’t maintain the effort and remain as relaxed as I needed to be. Otherwise it looks just like my race sim file! My peak hour was the second hour on the bike as I played catch up to the 10 hour folks; this was done at .743 IF. I slowed a bit in lap two, but my effort was pretty consistent: Lap 1 Intensity Factor was .719, my IF for lap two was .71. Even though my overall watts trailed off a bit, I was able to ride harder for the final climb, beating my lap one time up the slopes by 30 seconds.
After getting changed I can finally go pee in the trough…but it kinda hurts. It doesn’t occur to me that this is bad, I just get to work by running out. This will come back to me shortly.
The Run — 3:22:43
My goal was a 3:15 run based on my fitness. It’s certainly faster than Endurance Nation protocols say I can run, but I know this course and have had solid fitness. My plan is to take the run out at 7:05s and fade to 7:40s over the course of the day. When M tells me it’s 73 degrees, I dial that back by about 10 seconds.
I ran a too fast first mile while I waited for the satellites to find my Garmin, but once it was on I was good. I focused on finding folks and passed close to 30 folks in the first five miles. The return trip to town was a bit slower, but I took it easy on this hills.
The biggest bummer was the hot, hot drinks and sponges on the course. A few aid stations even didn’t have ice, and it make the not-so-easy to drink Perform even less so. Lots of burping for me after every aid station.
At special needs I knew I needed more salt as the sun was relentless (Even though it was only 77 degrees), so I got a bunch in and felt instantly better. At the second turn around in town, my first 12 miles was at 7:14 pace (includes climbs into town), so that meant 7:44s on the way back out. I was fine with that.
Out on the second loop, things began to slow down a bit. I was able to stay on target until Mile 19, when my tummy started to fight back. I took 7 walking breaks during mile 19 to try and get my tummy right. When it finally came around at the base of the ski jump hill, my left leg totally cramped up — calf, quad, adductor, oh my! I power walked the next 4.5 minute at 13:30 pace and ate ice. By the time I got to the top again I could run but only in the upper 8s. I somehow made it up to the top of the climbs and willed myself to finish when I saw a bunch of doodes hunting me down.
The second loop ending up being 8:09/mile average pace, largely due to those two major walking periods and some residual fatigue from the rest of my day. This means I left about five minutes of time out there putting me around a potential 3:18 run time which I would’ve loved to have seen.
No matter, though, as I hear on my way in that I have 7 minutes to go sub-10…and I am pumped. Around the oval, past a screaming M and Megan (and a sleeping Emma!) I cross the line in 9:56:XX right into the arms of the volunteers.
Mission Accomplished (& The Aftermath)
I quickly realize something ain’t right and they take me into the tent. A quick trip to the scale reveals I lost 10 pounds over the day. I earn 2 IVs, some ice, and 4 sodas. 90 minutes later I feel great and am home cheering for Team EN folks on the road. I am told I am fifth in my AG and I am psyched. I rallied that night to go to the pub and hang with EN peeps…so many folks had solid days it was great to hear all the stories. Kudos to you all!
The next day I get to claim a Kona slot and then stand on the podium next to some amazing athletes. Very humbling and truly the pinnacle of my triathlon experience. Hard to believe that a year ago to the day, I was taking some of my first outdoor rides having gotten the clearance from the hip doctor. Those days in the wheelchair seem so far away right now, but they continue to define me as a person and as an athlete. I don’t recall who said it, but it’s true — We all fall down, it’s just how we get back up that really matters.
Looking back on the day, there are a couple of things I would have done differently:
#1 — Hydration Plan for the Bike. I think if you plan on going full tilt all day, you can’t “make up” for any fueling issues. While I had a food plan, I didn’t have a water plan and I got plain lazy out there on the bike. I paid for that on the run dearly, and will be sure to have that dialed in for next time.
#2 — Steadier Early Run Pacing. A look back at my early miles shows a 7:14 avg pace for 12 miles but very little actually around 7:14. I will need to be more precise with my pacing if I am going to be able to run to my potential.
#3 — Swum Inside the Lines. Not that there was less contact, but I have a tendency to drift right. Not good on a counter-clockwise swim and I lost some time there.
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