The results are in.
I made my way up to Lake Placid Friday morning, and arrived to sunshine and cool – but comfortable – temps in the early afternoon. I unloaded all my gear, and set out to get myself acquainted with everything and to find some food. It didn’t take me long to find someplace good to eat, and I ordered up a nice, big, meatball sandwich. I ate all of it. I had to make sure that I would have enough in the tank for what was going to transpire in the morning!
I awoke at 4:45am Saturday morning, with every intent of getting myself ready and out on the road by 6am. It was 36 degrees. I knew it was going to be chilly, but I wasn’t quite prepared to go out in 36-degree temps. I would have to wait.
7:30am approached and I could wait no longer; I wanted to get out there! I wanted to get going! I had some serious miles to get in today! I start getting myself ready – again – pulling out some layers and chomping down on one of my PowerBars, all the while thinking that I should probably also be having another bottle of water while doing so (remember this).
Sometime around 8:30am (slightly before), I finally hit the road, with a starting temperature somewhere around 43 degrees. Or so all means of measurement told me. Five miles in, I was already warming up. The sun was out, and there was a slight breeze. I took off my hat and gloves and shoved them in my already pretty full pockets, and pedaled along some more.
Well, let me tell you, it may have started out cool, but it got HOT. FAST. I ran out of room to stuff my extra layers, so my remaining options were peeling back my sleeves as far as they would allow, which was barely to my elbows. Just past the half-way point on the first loop, I looked down and and could see the sweat pouring – quite literally – out from under my sleeves. And I was starting to feel a little dried up. Remember that water bottle? Yea, here is where I really regretted not drinking it. I knew I was going to be in trouble, but thankfully it is a two-loop course, and I was able to change into my shorts and short-sleeved jersey before heading out for the second loop. BIG difference. It took me some time to get my hydration status back up to normal, but I remained patient. I made a stop in Wilmington on the second lap, just before beginning the final 12-mile uphill climb to the finish. I re-stocked my water, dumped half a bottle over my head, and set out on the final stretch.
The bike course is not as challenging as I had anticipated it would be. I have been training hills religiously and doing my strength training very regularly, but my specialty is also climbing. Do not get me wrong, the course is certainly not easy, but I now know I will be able to keep a faster pace than I had thought – keep a faster pace on the bike, and still come off strong for the run.
I started my run feeling the effects of just having put 112 miles on my legs, so I started easy – EASY. The first mile my legs felt as if they would never be able to turnover faster. That’s ok, I told myself, because they just need to be able to get through 26.2 miles, and it doesn’t have to be fast. I kept my effort level the same, and when my watched beeped to notify me I had run another mile, I glanced down. My pace had increased by 30 seconds. By the time I had finished my run (shorter than I had intended, knowing I had dehydrated early on the bike, I didn’t want to push things on the run and get myself further into a hole that I may or may not be able to recover from before race day), my pace had dropped 90 seconds from the first mile, and two minutes from what I had started at. That was all I needed to know. My legs felt AWESOME. And I finished that run without a doubt in mind that the pace I was running was going to stick – slow down at times, yes – but I knew I would be able to get through that marathon feeling much stronger than I had thought.
I couldn’t have asked for a more successful weekend. I learned some things, did what I needed to do, and – drum roll, please – I left knowing that I am, without a doubt, completely and confidently ready for race day. Ironman Lake Placid, I am ready. Here I come.