June 23, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Ironman Lake Placid 2021: Part 5

Now, where was I?

(You were at Ironman Lake Placid and you had just completed the swim.)

Ah yes, thank you.

8:03 a.m. (+1:20:41 minutes since race start)

I was happy to see that the rain had stopped by the time I emerged from the lake.

My legs said to run to the bike. My brain said walk, you might slip on the wet grass.

(So, you ran.)

I ran.

(Did you slip?)

Surprisingly not. I guess spending hours balancing on two rubber tires has improved my balance.

On the way to my bike, I found a rock the size of a bean bag, so I sat on it.

(Didn’t you have to get to the bike as fast as you could?)

I had to peel off the wetsuit and the field of wet grass for the transition was a recipe for a disaster. I could see myself falling and breaking my fingers as I stood on one leg trying to peel myself out of the wetsuit.

After I had removed the black neoprene wetsuit, I continued my run to the bikes.

I ignored the frenetic activity all around me as others were arriving at their bikes. I am easily distracted.

(I’m shocked.)

I have ADD.

(Shocked, again.)

I have to force myself to focus on the task at hand or I will spend all day talking to others.

I dressed and then walked the bike out to the start line.

There are too many people trying to pass through a narrow exit point for you to safely start riding your bike as soon as you lift it off the bike rack.

(So, they pause the clock while you change?)

No, that clock starts when you cross the start mat at the swim and it stops when you cross the finish line.

(That’s not fair.)

Everyone has the same restrictions. This is fair…and it has really turned triathlon into a four-part sport. The “transition” from swim to bike is an art form. A good transition or “t1” should take less than 10 minutes.

(How long did yours take?)

Ten minutes, 55 seconds. Pulling cotton tzitzit over a wet torso costs time.

I clipped in my bike shoes at the start line.

(Don’t you usually leave your shoes “clipped in” to your bike and just slide your feet into the shoes as you pedal?)

Yes, but I also, usually don’t walk across wet fields to start the bike ride.

(So, your socks would get wet. Your feet were already wet from the swim.)

I didn’t want to slip on the wet grass. Remember people, safety first.

8:14 a.m. (+1:31:36 since race start)

The ride through the town of Lake Placid was quick. The first mile sloped downward.

(So you “gunned it”?)

No, the roads were wet and there were technical turns to navigate.

Ever crash a bike?

(No.)

It hurts, you want to avoid doing that. Plus, the time you lose crashing is greater than the time you spend riding your brakes.

Once I was on my way out of town, I had to remind myself that the first three miles of the 112 miles of Ironman Lake Placid were deceptively easy.

If you hadn’t previewed the other 109 miles of the course you would have concluded that,

“This isn’t so bad. I will be done in record time.”

At mile three, reality set in when I started my first climb.

When I first did this event in 2016, this climb ground my pace down to a near standstill.

(Would a standstill cause you to pitch over like a tranquilized pigeon?)

Ok, maybe I was being a tad bit hyperbolic.

So, the climb at mile three took my pace to a place I call, “below finish time.”

(Finish time?)

If you exit the water in under 90 minutes, you have to average 13.5 mph or better to make the 5:30 p.m. cut-off.

(Why?)

The thinking is that if you can’t bike 112 miles in that time there is no way that you can run a marathon in 6.5 hours.

You have to finish this race in 17 hours, but more about that later.

Having competed on this exact course in 2016, 2017 & 2019, I knew to silence the voice in my head that said, “peddle faster.”

There were two “out and backs” on the course. Think of an “out and back” as the race director’s way of adding a few feet to a looped bike course so it measured exactly 56 miles.

The first of the “out and backs” had us rolling past the Olympic Village from the 1980’s Winter Olympics. With its distinctive 1980’s architecture, it looked like something out of a period piece like “Red Dawn” or the “The Terminator.” It didn’t help that the sky was gray and the ground was wet.

Those conditions just made this area look all the more bleak. I almost expected to see old Soviet tanks surrounded by overgrown vegetation. We looped through the parking lot and were spit out back onto the main road.

Now it was time for the main attraction on the Ironman Lake Placid bike course…the descent into Keene. I have spoken about the dangers of cycling during wet conditions and downhills. It was time to embrace those dangers.


David Roher is a USAT certified triathlon and marathon coach. He is a multi-Ironman finisher and veteran special education teacher. He is on Instagram @David Roher140.6. He can be reached at [email protected]

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