The last month has been a bit of a blur with a bit of racing, travel, lounging and living it up in my final month on the east coast. Ironman Lake Placid, my big race of the summer has come and gone. Unfortunately it did not go as quickly as I anticipated but then again every Ironman is a long endeavor. After the Tour De Montana I was primed and ready to jump back into life on the east coast and I tested my feet in the mountain running scene. In hindsight racing the US mountain running championships one week prior to Ironman Lake Placid was a dumb idea. Sometimes I do dumb things and I figure what does not kill me will make me stronger. Post US mountain running championships in North Conway I hoped somebody would put me out of my misery. My legs felt as if someone had attempted to pull my muscles off of the bone. The 3 loop down/up course was brutal and left me hobbling for nearly a week which led me right to the start of Ironman Lake Placid.
Lake Placid, New York is a special place for many reasons but the area & terrain provide an excellent venue for Ironman. After hosting two Olympic games, Lake Placid, knows how to host a big event. Unfortunately I was not really feeling up to the event after getting knocked down by a cold a few days before the race. I’m a pretty stubborn person but after 2 sleepless coughing nights I was questioning my ability to race. I attempted to remain positive but come race morning I think I hit the peak of my cold and my head felt like it was in the clouds. I ran through all of my pre-race routines; eat 3 hours prior, lots of 53×11 coffee, Hammer Gel 15 minutes before the start of the race. The air temperature was cool and it looked like the clouds could open up at any moment as we entered the waters of Mirror Lake. The lake is beautiful and a perfect venue for swimming especially because it has underwater cables running the length of the entire swim. As someone belted out the star-spangled banner I attempted to hold in my coughs.
The cannon sounded and we were off although I felt like I was still standing on shore. My lungs were filled with junk and my head felt like a balloon making it difficult to get a full breath. I was a little nervous because even more than normal I felt like a guppie amongst great white sharks as the other professional triathletes quickly sped away. Eventually I exited the swim in 1:05; not the time I was looking for but I kept plugging away. I kept my thoughts positive, knowing that Ironman is a long day and I could come around. Once on the bike I felt pretty decent and and after about 15 minutes those clouds did open up. I actually felt pretty decent on the bike until the last few miles and my head started to get cloudy once again. When I hit T2 it had been about 5 hours and 10 minutes and I had moved my way through a few of the professionals. My progress was quickly halted after about 5 miles on the run when my head really became troublesome. I had a pounding headache and the rest of the run was a true race of attrition. Once again my stubbornness would not let me quit even though I had long bouts of walking. Eventually I made it to the finish line in 10 hours. I was disappointed, exhausted, and felt like crap. I sat down with my head between my legs and attempted to wrap my head around what had just happened. Ironman is a crazy journey and I felt like all my hard work had been wiped away and I was left treading water like a novice, cycling on a tricycle and running backwards. In my post race Ironman stupor it took me awhile to accept that I had a bad race because of the cold not because I could not perform anymore. The race was a big mental blow and it took me quite awhile to get back into the swing of training. I took a week to recover and get healthy. Eventually the cough left my lungs and I started to ease back into training. One and half weeks after Ironman Lake Placid there was a 5k in Manchester, New Hampshire. The Cigna 5k draws over 6,000 runners and some very fast elite level runners always dominate the race. The winner posted a time of 14:03 and I crossed the line in 16:30. Running that quickly was a huge shock to the system but it kind of turned my competitive nature back on and I felt ready to train and race a few more times on the east coast. The 5k was on Thursday and I raced Xterra Stoaked on Sunday.
I had not raced an Xterra race since 2009 so I was excited to have the opportunity to test the waters once again. New Hampshire has some very technical mountain bike trails and I was happen to discover that the course had a fair bit of climbing mixed in with a few sections of technical trails. I had a good swim exiting the water in the top 10 and as the course headed upward I found myself passing the majority of the athletes. By the top of the climb I was in first or second place and after the technical section I went through the first lap in third place completely out of control. The start of the second lap preceded a very steep downhill with a sharp left at the bottom. I knew the descent was steep but I had no idea that it was very wet and slippery. I engaged my brakes a little late and came down sideways nearly taking out a line of spectators at the bottom. I barely made the turn and left for the second lap with the applause of the crowd at my back. I figured they must have been happy I spared their lives and I continued my charge. I entered T2 in second place and headed out on the run. I felt fairly good although a little more lactic acid had entered my legs then I had anticipated. I pushed through the pain and caught first place at the start of the second loop of the two loop run. I crossed the line in first place and was happy with the day. The race left a craving for more Xterrra racing so I really want to jump in a few more of these this year. I had one more week of training before Timberman 70.3.
Timberman 70.3 was a race I had heard about for several years and few Montana athletes had raced it in the past. The race stared in 2000 and Ironman bought it a few years ago. I loaded up my VW Vanagon for a weekend of camping and racing. I was feeling good and the race venue was beautiful. I had a decent swim exiting the water in just over 30 minutes, I still should be 2-3 minutes faster. I hit the bike and felt prepared for a challenging course of New Hampshire hills. I pushed the pace and passed a few athletes but then I found myself in no mans land. The last 10 miles of the course was mentally challenging and I found myself starting to fade a little. I hit the run and started out at a brisk pace. Unfortunately my brisk pace was not enough and I finished 11th about 2 minutes out of 10th place. I was happy with the result and it was a fun weekend of racing.
My final race of my east coast campaign was at Old Orchard Beach in Maine with the Rev 3 series. I really do not enjoy doing back to back races but every race on the east coast is relatively close, another benefit was that it was an olympic distance, or at least I thought that was a benefit. I cruised Crusher up to the race after cheering on Bri and another MT Alpha rider and friend; Katie, at The White Mountains Gran Fondo. The race venue for Old Orchard is great if you have kids, otherwise it is a bit of a cluster because of the carnival and pier. Parking can be difficult and after the pro meeting and packet pickup I found a good place to park the van and camp. The race itself was fun, although my result probably does not make it look that fun. Racing olympic distance triathlons is no joke and the youngsters have some serious speed. I really did not set myself up for a good race especially after the frigid ocean swim. I was unprepared for the swim and at times I felt like I was swimming off the the horizon with the currents turning me around a bit. Once on the bike I began to charge and attempt to make up ground. I had a decent bike although the legs were not yet 100% from Timberman. I cranked out a decent run and logged the last race of my East Coast season. The real race began after Rev3 because I still had to park and then start the 2600 mile cross country drive. Lets hope the drive has a few less adventures then it did earlier this summer….