June 15, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Ironman Lake Placid 2022: Part 5

Thursday

We arrived at our home for the next five days and I wanted to pause for a minute. We had been in the car for almost five and a half hours, but it was more than that. I had set a goal for myself 12 months earlier: two Ironman triathlons in 21 days. I almost didn’t complete the first one and now I was about to attempt the second one. This could be epic and this could be a disaster. In 16 years of endurance sports racing, I had never failed to complete a race and I was betting my reputation that my body would respond on race day. My body had been anything but responsive since returning from Ironman United Kingdom 11 days ago. I trained harder this year than I had in any previous year. I had run intervals in winter temperatures so cold it was hard to breathe. I cycled indoors to the point that my last ride was a five-hour ride in my garage. I had done everything I could have to prepare … and now I wanted to capture the moment.

“No one move until dad says that he is happy with the picture,” exclaimed my 17-year-old son, Eric.

(What was that about?)

You get one shot in life to the picture right, so I am “that dad.” The one who is asking for retakes.

(What are you, a wedding photographer?)

Tell me there isn’t at least one family picture in your home where someone’s eyes are closed.

“Hey, what do you notice?” I asked my family as we stood under the log cabin décor of the Crowne Plaza’s hotel car park.

“I’ve spent over five hours in a car. I notice that I can feel the ground,” replied Eric.

“No; I mean yes, but the air…”

“No humidity?” replied my wife, Janet.

“See, this is why countless generations of Jews from New York’s five boroughs would spend their summers in the Catskills.”

“That’s great dad, but can we go to the room now?” Eric pleaded.

I looked at my wife and she replied, “Yes, you are doing that ‘teacher thing’ again.”

Now how many days did I say we were there for?

(Five.)

Right, unpacking five days’ worth of food, luggage plus my triathlon bike is a choreographed set of steps for our family.

(Like an army of ants carrying off my picnic lunch?)

Kinda.

Once the kids were comfortably ensconced in the room and the groceries were refrigerated, it was time to go shopping.

(Shopping? What did you just put in the fridge?)

We’ve found it is easier to buy perishables in the race town.

(Perishables?)

Milk, bananas, a case of water, ice cream…

(Ice cream?)

It was race weekend and I could eat anything I wanted and I wanted ice cream. Besides, I was going to burn it all off.

Friday

The Friday before a race is a busy day. It could simply be a relaxed day … but that’s not how I do things.

It’s wired into my DNA to jam as many things into 24 hours as I can. If I’m sitting still for too long, I start asking myself, “What was I supposed to be doing?”

Mind you, most people on their day off will sleep in, but not me.

6:40 a.m. Message from Ruth: “I’m awake. Poke, poke, poke.”

I just started to laugh. I had been training Ruth for this event since 2019 and this weekend was going to be as much about Ruth as was about me. Since Ruth was traveling alone, Janet, the kids and I adopted Ruth. In exchange, we were informed that Ruth had decided to become our “Shabbos goy.” Ruth did the due diligence in advance by asking all my other Shabbos observant friends what the rules were—but more on that later.

(This was going to be an interesting weekend.)

Ruth made it clear that until we hit the water on Sunday that I was going to be babysitting her. The closer the race got, the more Ruth’s anxiety was going to rise.

(This was going to be an interesting weekend.)

When Ruth and I did half Ironman Maine in 2019, I told her as we waited for the race to start, “Wait right here at this bench. I have to find my friend Shlomo’s daughter. Ruth had my tefillin and I want to daven before the race starts.” I turned around and Ruth wandered off.

(This was going to be a very interesting weekend.)


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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