Coaches' Tips: Lake Placid 2010

Having raced the course 5 times, with a PR of 10:01, and conducted 6 camps in Lake Placid, Patrick knows IMUSA inside and out. These are his tips for you:

Is there really a cable under the water for the swim?
Absolutely. Experience across hundreds of athletes has shown that IMUSA will most likely be your fastest possible IM swim. With everyone in a ridiculously calm lake, little stands in your way. The couse is a bit narrow, however, meaning the out/back is longer than you might expect, and the no-holds-barred swim turns are expected.

What is the hardest part of the bike course?
While the entire bike is by no means easy, athletes can take some comfort in knowing that the course is consistent. You are generally doing one thing at a time for a relatively long time, either climbing, descending, or riding the flats. Without a doubt the key to nailing the bike is properly riding the hills of the section that runs from Jay to Wilmington. On the first lap this is approximately Mile 26 to Mile 32. This section is often under-estimated–or overlooked–by competitors. Everyone knows about the climb out of town, the long descent to Keene, the out and back, and of course the climb back into Lake Placid from Wilmington…but they forget this critical section from Upper Jay to Wilmington. Did you know there are three distinct climbs on this section, with the first one lasting anywhere from 6-10 minutes…ouch! This section is hard because most athletes don’t pay attention to it, ride too hard and pay for it dearly later in the day.

What Can My Family Do on Race Day?
Lake Placid is a great place to spectate, especially if the weather holds. Next to the swim start, athletes pass by twice on the bike and four times on the run. We recommend that families commit to either a full day of spectating with short trips into town for food – OR — take the first half of the day while the race is out on the bike (after the swim, of course) to do a hike / picnic / break / etc, then commit to being down on the course from 1pm on until your finish. Whichever they decide, help them out during race week by pointing out all the possibilities and available amenities.

What is the Temperature Like on Race Day?
Temps for Lake Placid are highly variable, as it’s nestled in the mountains. Past years have seen lots of rain and colder temps, so it’s best to pack everything just in case. In general the first hour of your day on the bike will be cool, then warming up as your race progresses. Athletes should put some warmer clothing into their special needs bags on the run just in case.

What’s Your Top Swim Tip?
The swim start will be tough simply because it’s so crowded. And with the cable underwater, everyone has an easy target with no real «secret» advantage to lining up on an angle, etc. If you are looking for a solid time, get into the mix and seed yourself about 2′ faster than your expected time. If you want to avoid the scrum as much as possible, just hang to the back by the beach and give everyone else a head start.

What’s the Biggest Mistake I Could Make?
The two biggest mistakes we see on the Lake Placid course are both related to overconfidence. On the bike, folks will simply hammer the first few climbs out of town en route to the descent, spending the first 30- to 45′ of their race riding too hot…and they are done. It’s too tempting to simplify the course as consisting of (1) a descent (2) flats (3) and out and back and, (4) the climb to town. On the run, athletes leaving Transition and running downhill through the hyped crowds often thinking they are putting time into the bank. There is no such bank for the IM run and your deposit will not only not be honored, it will cost you heavily in the last few miles of your marathon.

How can I nail the IMUSA Bike?
The Lake Placid course rewards patience and discipline. We recommend that athletes keep it in their “easy” gear through mile 40, or the end of the Out and Back. With your focus then on a great 72-mile ride, you can do your best to stay smooth and consistent up the rolling hills into town. Making the last hour of your ride back into town the strongest of your day.

How can I nail the IMUSA Run?
Run very easy for the first 6 miles, especially downhill. Fight the urge your legs have to fly and focus instead on nutrition and conserving energy. Once you make the turn on River Road, you have a net uphill return to town, including two very steep hills. Focus on running a solid middle 20k/13.1 miles, then you can sort out the rest once you have under 10k to go.

Additional Resources

IMUSA Overview Podcast!
Additional guidance from Patrick

Race 101
Learn how to race Ironman! Give us 8 lessons and we’ll save you years of wasted races and registration fees!

Four Keys Pre-Race Talk
Patrick McCrann will be on hand to coach the nearly 30 TeamEN athletes racing IMUSA and to deliver his Four Keys of Race ExecutionPre-Race Talk to the public.  Meet Friday, 9:45am, at the K-Swiss booth and we’ll walk to the swim start on the grassy knoll by the footbridge for the actual talk. All talk attendees will receive a free copy of the Four Keys DVD, a $37 value!

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