Things are getting real around here, as preparations for Ironman Lake Placid are beginning to take shape.
We still have 10-11 weeks to go, but the long rides are long and the long runs…. well they are long too. This time around I find myself more in love with the process of preparation more than I ever have been. It’s more testament to the fact that taking a step back is sometimes what is necessary in sport. I am not sure I have ever enjoyed a 5 hour ride on the trainer in fact!
Zwift wasn’t around for any of my other Ironmans, but computrainer was. I expect the transition to be the same. I just get so much more quality and constant work in on that thing. I don’t get hit by cars and I still have the benefit of riding with friends. It’s amazing.
With several trips up to Placid coming up, I will be rolling on the roads soon enough.
This Ironman has a very different feel. With all the hubaloo that went on with Ironman Texas, the times, the drafting, etc., Lake Placid still feels special. Protected almost. This is the 20th anniversary of this race, and one of the big reasons I am racing it.
No one comes to Placid for a huge PR. The bike course isn’t ‘fast’. You can definitely go for the fast split, but your run split will equal what you ride. The weather in Lake Placid can sway finishing times up to an hour either way. Just look at some of the past results. In 2007 the wind was coming UP the descent. We had to pedal HARD down it! It made for an amazing tailwind the last 11 miles though, which are the ones that make or break you.
I chuckle though when athletes get talking about Ironman PR’s and things like that. Each race, each venue, is so different. Some Ironman races are actually shorter than others. I don’t do races that have heavy drafting anymore, because I walk away frustrated. One of the many reasons I have never accepted my Kona spot is because of that. Why pay 10K to travel halfway across the world to sit in a pace line all day? I can do that at home, and have a new kitchen. Or I can pick a course where I don’t have to worry about that game.
Ironman Lake Placid is a tricky race, mastering the game is a big part of executing this one. It’s a race where the air is cool in the morning and it gets sneaky hot in the afternoon. False flats on the bike have you wondering if your tire is rubbing or if you have a flat yourself. It’s not hilly as in obvious climbs, but sneaky climbs that are seemingly laced together in such a way that if you get greedy, you will pay on the marathon. Wherever you are on this course, all you have to do is look up for inspiration. The mountains, they will carry you.
Ironman has changed drastically over the past 20 years. Our friend Graham Fraser started this event in 1999, with Ironman North America. Now WTC runs all the Ironman branded races, and WTC is run by an overseas entertainment company. If we expect it to be like the good old days, we are mistaken. I don’t live in the past, I work toward the future. I think there are some ways things have improved.
But I am not here for the Ironman brand. I don’t have an M dot tattooed on my body for a reason (Did you know by the way that the M Dot is the second most popular branded tattoo people get now? Do you know who is first? Harley Davidson.).
I am here for what it means to me.
When you and I are out on that marathon and we high five and exchange words of encouragement, or a big scream… that’s why I am here. I know you have, and you know I have been through some epic shit in our lives. This is our way of healing, and of moving forward. Getting to this starting line involves an incredible amount of work. The days aren’t what you see on instagram. I can’t tell you how many days I have spent sitting on a roadside curb, drinking a coke mid long ride. Wondering what the hell I am doing here in the first place. I can’t tell you how many times I have reached out and grabbed a training partner’s arm just to say “Oh my God. We are doing this.”
So many amazing moments happen without words.
We are getting through hard days. The hard days in training are the easy ones.
Sport is a metaphor for life. We stick together, we put one foot in front of the other, and we move on. You want to find out what you are made of and who you are? Sure you will do it by mile 20 of the Ironman marathon, but it happens well before that. It happens on a Sunday morning when you are at mile 18 of your long run. When you are alone, and debating whether you should lay in that grass over there and call for a ride home. When no one is around. No one is cheering, and the finish line of the Olympic oval is weeks away, you are in GI distress because you played your nutrition wrong, the sun is blazing and you really just want to stop.
But you keep going.
That is where it happens. That is when you learn who you truly are. That’s when you are peeled like an orange and you give up or go on. When no one is watching.
That’s what I love. What do you do in those moments? What propels you forward? What is it and where does that come from within you? That’s what captures me every damn time. That’s what ignites me. That’s what inspires me.
That is why I am out there. Every damn day.
The final weeks are upon us, and with those final weeks the sun has come out. Spring has arrived. Soon we have open water swims and long rides in Placid to bring us together.
The beautiful thing about all of this? To the outsider it looks like we are just obsessed with a lot of swimming, biking and running. And we are. Let’s be honest. However it’s a lot more than that. It doesn’t make us special, it just makes us…… us. We are in this journey together.