As we hit the point in the drive where the street signs turn brown, Luc slept in the passenger seat next to me, Curt was just a few minutes behind me, and all felt really right in my world. There is something about crossing the line into the Adirondacks that brings on that feeling. It’s not the feeling of escape, it’s the feeling of coming home. Lake Placid has felt like home to me, since 2001. Truthfully I have just begun to scratch the surface of what is up here to experience.
I love this town. I love it when it is NOT Ironman week. In fact, that week we stay in the next town over and come in on race day. There are handfuls of triathletes here training, but the local flavor is alive and untouched. Coming here a few times a year settles my soul.
We have been running our training camp here for well over a decade, and this year was by far my favorite. We had 25 athletes join us for three days of swim, bike and run. Our goal for this camp is to give everyone a good taste of the course, to help them understand what drives them on a deep level, and to come away with miles under their belts and people to call friends.
The first evening of camp we gathered on the deck of the houses and started digging deep. We addressed what our fears were for the weekend and we committed to something specific and positive. The first full day of camp it was raining, after a nighttime of thunder and lightening. With a sketchy forecast, we adopted plan B, and Heidi kicked off things with a great mental skills chat. A pause in the rain afterward prompted a return to the original plan of biking and running and an evening swim relay competition. For 90 minutes athletes cycled through a 50-yard swim honing their entry and exit skills, we set out buoys for turn practice and we added a little fun with paddles, bands, and tennis balls. I was amazed by the laughter, the teamwork, and the openness to try something off the beaten path.
Day two was the long bike day. Depending on what races they were training for, athletes opted for a 30-mile ride, 56-mile ride, or 100-mile ride (and there were a few other various distances, this course provides a lot of options). Then a run and a swim to follow! We had our aid station out there and it was awesome to see our athletes at the halfway point. There were so many smiles as many of them were out there accomplishing what they truly didn’t think would ever be possible. Beautiful things happen when people give up doubt, and commit to believing in themselves!
That night one of our athletes, Elliott, made us an amazing dinner. Not only can this guy ride, this guy can COOK, and for 25 people like it ain’t no thing!!!! Thanks again E!!!!!!!
Sunday morning brought a run, a bike and a swim and as we wrapped things up, I felt so incredibly sad that it was already over. In such a short time I got to really know some fantastic people.
The underlying theme throughout the camp was the mental side of what we do. We can do technical pieces all day long like transitions, and while those are important pieces, the space between the ears is what we really got to. Our athletes each shared with the group their ‘why’ and their reason for coming. They shared what went well, what they needed to work on. Heidi, Kurt and I designed our talks to play off of one another (and I don’t think we even relaized it), and it really drew out the personal side of each athlete. It was amazing to hear their stories and their reason for being there. It really helped us to understand them on a deeper level.
Coach Heidi came from Oregon, Coach Kurt came from Connecticut (and some of us from the Roc!). Athletes came from Chicago, Austin, New Jersey, Connecticut….. every year we just find the right people to share this weekend with. We loved the variety, the vulnerability and the personalities of all of them. While it sounds korny to say it, I will say it anyways, it was an incredible honor to share this experience with this group.
As for me….. I made some big progress myself this weekend. Since we arrived a few days before the rest of the group I had the chance to get out and ride on the course a few times. I have been riding this course on my cross bike and wondered why I had never done that before. There are parts of this course that are sketchy and the cross bike allowed me to ride wherever I wanted, road, shoulder, path, anything. It was awesome. One tri guy came by and said “You should try this course on a time trial bike!”. I laughed and thanked him for the tip. If you only knew son….. if you only knew.
Luc and I have been putting in a lot of run miles as he builds for cross country season and I continue to build to my marathon. We totaled our biggest week yet and we both felt good. It’s so special to get to share miles with him. He’s been coming to Placid for all these years, he works our camp and he knows the Ironman lifestyle. It’s second nature to him. This year he seemed to have a deeper appreciation for this, and this place. In fact, we stayed a few days later too to grab some Placid experiences!
In a few days, I will leave here with everything I came here to find. I get so much out of working with athletes, I love that feeling of watching them do what they didn’t realize they could. I love that feeling of running on River Road and seeing the mountains in the distance. I love that feeling of hanging around town and seeing people you know and just meeting new ones.
Lake Placid always knows how to set me straight.
Our camp athletes always know how to inspire the heck out of me.
I can’t thank everyone enough, for spending the weekend with us. Last night at dinner Curt, Luc and I were so amazed at the people we got to spend the weekend with. You people fill us up like nothing else.
In a few days we will cross back over that line as we head home. But that feeling will stay for a long time, it always does.