Friday, August 03, 2007

Ironman USA Spectator Race Report - Friday/Saturday

Ever since I finished my first Ironman at Lake Placid, Aimee and I have been excited about returning. Returning to this magical place in order to enjoy the scenery, do things we didn’t get a chance to do last year and cheer our friends to the finish line. We were also fortunate enough to get our dream volunteer job as wetsuit peelers. We wanted to volunteer early so we could then be on the course to cheer for not only our friends but all of the athletes.

We drove up to Lake Placid on Friday with a misty rain obscuring our view of the mountains all the way from Watertown. The drive was uneventful but I enjoy the time we spend together confined to the car. We both had workouts to do in the morning and were hoping for good weather. I wanted to ride the road up Whiteface Mountain and Aimee had 10 miles to run. We grabbed dinner at Caffe Rustica since we had to drive through town on our way to Jay.

We would be staying at the Book and Blanket Bed & Breakfast for the weekend. Only $75/night and not to far from Lake Placid, the lodging was very nice. Aimee’s mom stayed there last year and really liked it. The other guests at the B&B consisted of an athlete and her parents. Deborah Powell was competing in her second IM having completed IM Canada the prior year. Deb was on a 40 person team called Race 4 Kids. They each raised money to Pediatric Oncology Group of Ontario. We chatted briefly before heading to bed.

I needed to get up early for my ride up Whiteface Mountain as this would be an “illegal” ride. The Veterans Memorial highway that goes up the mountain has a toll booth that controls the final four miles to the top. The booth doesn’t open until 8:00AM so I needed to be there before that. I left Jay around 6:15 to make the 6 mile ride to the starting area and climb to the toll booth. I had plenty of time since it didn’t take me long to get there. As I started the 8 mile climb another rider headed up the road as well. I noticed it was a female as I approached her from behind and said hi. Nancy and I chatted for a while and she had started before her husband Rick of Zone3Sports. I had to stop and fix my rear derailleur since it was not shifting into my largest cassette, something that I would need for such a steep and long climb.

I had put the FlashPoint 60s on my road bike and the 11-23 cassette wasn’t properly lined up so I couldn’t get into the 23. A quick turn of the low limit screw and I was all set. I would be in the 23 the entire ride. I continued on with my ride behind Nancy and Rick not sure if and when I would catch either of them. I rode the first 4 miles in 23 minutes. No guard at the booth so I slipped under the gate and kept going.

The more I climbed the more beautiful the scenery was. Another rider passed me going up and two riders zipped by me going down. So I wasn’t the only person riding the mountain that morning. I alternated between standing and sitting during the climb. I was happy how my legs felt when standing, it was almost like running and my legs felt strong. My best estimate was that I was averaging 7 MPH. After the final hairpin turn and 1 mile from the top I joined Nancy for the rest of the ride up. Rick came down to join us and re-ride the final mile, Nancy says he likes climbing on the bike.

Once we made the top Rick and Nancy descended while I took some pictures of the area. Lake Placid was covered with low clouds. I was above the clouds.

Very cool. I put my wind vest on and pulled up my arm warmers because the temperatures in the shade were still cool and the descent would be fast. After I stopped one more time for pictures it was a straight shot down the mountain. However the road was not in the best of conditions so I didn’t open it up like on the Keene descent. I held things back between 25 – 30 MPH as I maneuvered bumpy patches of road while looking out for potholes and possible animal crossings. My computer had a max speed of 45 MPH when I was done. At the bottom I caught up with Rick and Nancy and chatted about some of Rick’s athletes that were competing.

I made my way back to Jay to grab some breakfast. Before I had much of a chance to put my bike away Aimee said she lost an ear ring during her run. I grabbed a scone from the breakfast table and started to ride my bike out on the road she ran on. I turned around because I was riding too fast on the bike to see anything. I put on my running shoes and ran the 3.5 miles to Upper Jay to see if I could spot it. I felt good the entire 7 miles but came up empty handed. Bonus was the impromptu brick workout totaling 3.5 hours.

We finally ate breakfast, showered and headed into Lake Placid to meet the swim captain. On the way into town we stopped at Mt. Van Hoevenberg for a ride on the 1980 Olympic bobsled run. We did the 1 mile portion of the track in 42 seconds. It is quite a rush zooming down the concrete run banking on the turns a full 90 degrees.

We continued our way to town so we could meet the swim captain. Brandon is a veteran IM volunteer. He had some great advice for peeling off wetsuits. I stopped by the ART tent to say hi to Barry Horpestad. He fine tuned me before IM USA ’06. I sent him a picture via e-mail and he was apologetic about not responding. I was just happy he got the message and it was great to see him again.

We walked around the athlete village and Aimee bought a cycling skirt.


I was getting turned off by all the people around and didn’t need to buy anything. When Aimee was done we got a bite to eat from the hotdog vendor and people watched along Main Street. People were dropping off their bikes in transition or returning from making purchases. We made our way to the shopping area of town and popped in and out of different stores making random purchases.

During the entire time in town we only saw one person from the Cleveland area. Mark had to pick up his wetsuit after getting a quick repair and he was heading back to the hotel. It was good to know that everyone was staying out of town and resting for their big day.

Aimee and I finally left town and headed for dinner. We made a quick stop at the store to buy some water and ice. In the parking lot we found this truck decorated. Those crazy Canadians.

We needed to make a return trip to Tail ‘o the Pup for a lobster clam bake. Sitting outside we enjoyed the music and fresh air. The food was great we finished dinner with a milk shake.

During dinner a woman walking by and wished me good luck for the race, she must have seen my Ironman hat I was wearing. Instead of trying to explain that I wasn’t racing I simply said “Thank-you” on behalf of all the athletes who would be competing. Right before we left two women walked in that looked very familiar. I was pretty sure I knew who they were and had to make sure. I walked up and ask if her name was Jen…….sure was. Jen and Bethany were vital in my success and overall IM experience in ’06. I had pictures that I wanted to send but didn’t have her e-mail address. They were hoping to see me this weekend and ask about the pictures. I got Jen’s e-mail address and have been corresponding ever since…..she has her pictures now…..a year later. It was still fantastic to see her and Bethany.

Aimee and I finally made out back to the B&B. We still needed to make signs for our friends and hang the Cleveland Tri Club banner along the bike route.

Aimee went to bed while I chatted with Deb about some details regarding the bike course. She hadn’t seen the exit from transition to the main road out of town and I warned her about the steep downhill section and to take it easy. I made it to bed since we would need to get up around 4:00AM.

Friday and Saturday were busy days and we weren’t even to race day yet. However, we were very excited about the race and watching our friends on the course.


TriSaraTops said...

Looks like so much fun!

I like what those Canadian girls wrote! Very cool.

Lana said...

Those are some seriously cool pictures!!! What fun!

Kim said...

ohhh i got goosebumps!