I’m back to continue the telling of my journey through Ironman Lake Placid. We left off having been pulled out of the swim due to lightning. I was talking to some friends this weekend and as it turns out the National Weather Service was posting warnings across the tv and radio indicating that anyone at the Lake Placid Ironman should seek shelter. Wowzer. I had no idea.
Gear bags a plenty!
Any how, I made my way down Mirror Lake drive and headed into transition. I grabbed my bike bag off the rack amidst everyone else doing the same thing. Thankfully I had packed everything inside of an additional garbage bag to try to keep it dry from the rain. Once I had grabbed everything I ran into the transition tent. It was a mob scene. Because they pulled everyone from the swim the tents were over crowded with drenched people trying to change their clothes prior to heading out on the bike. I made a decision to run to the far end of the tent near the exit in hopes that there would be more space. I was right. Everyone was stopping at the entrance to the tent and the exit was fairly empty. It just so happens that a good friend of mine happened to be manning that area and she was my special helper as I made my transition from swim to bike.
My signature pink shorts!
Due to the fact that it was pouring out and I was heading out on my bike, I made some changes to my plan for what I was going to wear on the bike leg of the race. In the days leading up to the race I had taken a lot of flack for how my race kits never match. I’m almost always wearing pink bike shorts and some top that in truth… doesn’t match. Those pink shorts are so comfortable but I listened to my friends who suggested I switch to black and the ability to have matching race pictures and I made a last-minute purchase to accommodate this switch. However, on race day in the changing tent, I decided to go with my stand by pink shorts. For one, they’re comfortable and for two they’re visible. Everyone knows it is me when they see those pink shorts. The second change I made was not to change the top that I had swum in. Originally I was going to change to a different tri top for the bike that would be dry prior to starting a 112 mile bike, but again, it was pouring so why bother. I got dressed to the best of my ability in 6 inches of standing water, loaded fuel and an extra tube into my back pockets on my kit and headed out into the storm.
A volunteer bike handler brought me my bike from amongst the many racks. As I was nearing the transition exit, I heard a familiar voice say “Hey Fisker! Great job!” It was my IMLP housemate and friend Eric. Yeah, a familiar face on this rainy morning. We chatted a bit about the swim and the weather and waited our turn to exit transition safely. The bike out is on a step hill with a sharp turn at Placid, so it really pays to take your time and wait to exit. Nothing is going to be gained by crashing in the first hundred feet. We made our way down that hill and slowly started heading out-of-town. I can tell you that I have never ridden my bike with that many people in my life. We came out on to the course in droves so between the rain and the crowding, the first climb out-of-town was slow going. It was ok though. There was a lot of banter about not having needed sunscreen and the like. After the first climb out-of-town there is a major descent coming through the Cascade Lake area all the way down into Keene. This descent is interesting to ride in good weather let alone in pouring rain with hundreds of other riders. Many people were taking it very easy and riding their brakes the whole way down the mountain. With my race wheels I never feel comfortable doing this as I feel like I’m just burning through the brakes, etc. So, I rode cautiously but passed a lot of people on that first loop down the hill.
After we got to the bottom and made the left out on the flats towards Jay at some point the rain finally stopped. I was flying on this section. In hind sight, maybe too much. I know better than expend all of my energy on the first loop, but I was comfortable and cruising. I kept up a decent pace all the way to the turn around in Jay. Once I actually turn and headed back to make the turn up the big hill to Wilmington, something happened. All of the sudden my back wheel locked up and I was fishtailing down the road as it went from going 18 mph to not moving. Somehow I was able to quickly unclip from my pedals and get off my bike without a crash landing. I thought I might have a flat but upon looking I discovered that my rear water bottle cage had snapped off and wedged itself on my back wheel. I worked to yank it off and then I had to get my tire repair kit off from the water bottle cage and reattach it to my bike. I emptied as much of my bottles into my aero bottle and the one bottle cage I still had as I could and left the broken cage and two bottles on the side of the road. There was no other option as it was busted and not able to be reattached. This whole ordeal was annoying but didn’t cost me too much time. I got back on my bike and got ready to start the climbs up to Wilmington and back into Placid. Fortunately, nothing overly exciting happened during this stretch.
At about 3.5 hours I made it back into town and to the bike special needs area. I refilled my fuel, applied some sunscreen as the sun had finally made its debut for the day, read an inspiring note from Laurie and headed back out for loop number two and the final 56 miles separating me from the run. The section through town before hitting the second lap is amazing. The streets are lined with people cheering and you feel like a celebrity. I mentioned to those around me that it would be fantastic if it were like that for the entire loop rather than just a mile or so. Oh well. The second loop of the bike was relatively uneventful through the decent into Keene and the flats out to Jay. The second climb up through Wilmington was rough, but I knew it would be. I passed my parents staying at their campground for the second time and I knew that I was well ahead of the bike cut off and in fantastic shape to hit my goals. As we were climbing the last 6 miles of the course (my least favorite section) the skies opened up again. We were again in a headwind with lightning, thunder and pouring rain. Yippie I thought, but it was nothing that I couldn’t handle at this point. I kept moving and eventually was making my last few climbs up into town. I was so ecstatic to have completed the 112 mile bike and especially with some of the fantastic weather conditions that we encountered. My second loop was definitely longer than the first, but that was my mistake as I think I should have backed off a bit on the first loop to save a little more for the second. Live and learn… well, I knew better but I think race day got a hold of me.
My official bike time was 7:31:19 which I will take considering how slowly we got out-of-town on the first loop and then everything else that transpired with my bike, the additional storm, etc. I was just happy to be done with 2/3 of the race as I pulled into transition. There were highs and there were lows, but the biggest high was that it was done!
I’ll be back with the last bit of my race report as I give you a look at the IMLP Run.