Aug. 9, 2009

Ironman USA Preparation

So "Lake Placid", aka Ironman USA, has come and gone. I had a great time, but didn't get the result I wanted. I've been thinking about that, and I guess it's time to "put pen to paper." Here's the lead up.

On the Tuesday evening before the race I drove to my parent's place in Cobourg for a short visit and the obligatory computer consultation. On Wednesday I continued on to Lake Placid. My bike was stuffed in the trunk of my Mazda 3, and in the glovebox I had a new component: a nine-speed 12-27 cassette. This is the gears that turn the rear wheel, and 12-27 refers to the number of teeth on the smallest and largest gear rings. A 12-27 is optimised for hilly terrain. I hadn't been able to get it installed before leaving Toronto, so I was a bit hesitant about racing with it. You never know how new or different equipment will behave! New shirts can rub in unexpected places, different shoe models can cause blisters, new gears can be misaligned... In the end a confident housemate installed it for me and I got two good rides around Lake Placid before race day. The only concern I had was a bit of stickiness when shifting and a worry that my chain might now be a bit too long in some gears.

My friend Paula had arranged a rented townhouse. I found it easily, thank you Garmin. We were nice and close to the race venue. Being the last to join I got the last available bed, a fold-out in the basement. It was perfect though. Paula and her husband Johnny were also in the basement, Ed and Elaine were upstairs, and so was Roger. I have to say we had a great time together. I didn't know Ed or Elaine before and only knew Roger a bit, but we all had the same attitude, same sense of humour, and perhaps most importantly the same sleep habits. Three new friends and two old friendships strengthened.

Mirror Lake swim courseEach day we went for an easy "taper" workout, riding, swimming or running. Most mornings were started with a swim on the race course, with hundreds of other athletes doing the same thing. I did a one loop Thursday morning swim in about 29 minutes so I felt totally ready for that leg of the race. On Friday I tested some different brands of wetsuits on two shorter swims. My second swim was particularly short as I spent most of it reassuring a nervous swimmer and keeping her company as we swam a few hundred metres together. A lot of triathletes have a tough time with open-water swimming. Can't see the bottom, there are weeds that will grab you, etc. I think she got past the worst of it that morning.

I biked on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, but only ran on Friday. My achilles tendons were feeling a bit tight and I wanted to give them a rest from running. On Wednesday we rode the run course together, adding the last series of hills of the bike course. On Thursday I did a break-in ride for my new gears on the bike course heading out of town and up the first big climb. Everything worked fine, and when I rode the run course route again on Friday with my new gearing I knew I would have no problem with the hills.

Pre-race Athlete's DinnerFriday night was the Athlete's Dinner. Image a tent so big that it can hold and feed 3,000 people. Now imagine rain coming down in biblical quantities... We stayed dry, but looking out at the downpour my friends who had raced last year in the rain looked a bit glum.

From that point on it was time to relax and try to stay off my feet. The race Expo was tempting though, I bought a few bits of clothing but managed to talk myself out of buying a new Cervelo P2C. Through out my stay I kept running into friends and team mates all over town. I couldn't go a hundred feet without bumping into someone! My favourite new "friends" were the Active Release Technique therapists in the massage tent. I got a treatment each day, and I think it helped my heels and shoulders a lot.

Transition Area bagsOn Saturday afternoon we all took our bikes and bags down to the transition area to drop them off. While waiting for the others to get back to the car I spoke to vendor who was testing a product called "Trakkers". It was a GPS/cellular device that gives continuous location and speed information to people who want to follow your race through a web site. It sounded better that the four or five updates available through the official timing system, so we all signed up for the beta test (and to get free hats).

So there I was on the night before the race: well rested, confident, "feeling the love".

Listening to: Galvanize by The Chemical Brothers from Push the Button.

No comments:

Post a Comment