When I found out that some teammates were racing Ironman lake placid this year, I decided to try my best to make it up for the big day. Ever since my first trip there in 2012, I have felt a deep connection to Lake Placid. I’ve always loved the mountains, fresh water, and cooler temperatures so it’s no surprise that the Adirondacks call to me. On top of that, every July for the last 18 years, it is the home of one of the most inspiring endurance events that I’ve ever seen. So, of course, some teammates and I dusted off the cobwebs on our bikes and made the 5 hour car trip up north.
We pulled into our “clean enough” motel just after dusk. As soon as I unhinged the car door, I was flooded by the smell of clean upstate NY air. I remember that smell from childhood visits to my grandma’s house. It smelled crisp and clear, like the color green. After we got our bikes settled in, we ventured to Mirror Lake for some dinner, which we enjoyed on a patio overlooking the glass-like surface.
On Saturday, we ventured out on our bikes. Having not ridden mine in 364 days (since ironman last year), I was worried I might forget or topple over whilst trying to unclip. Turns out, it is just like riding a bike. In no time I was cruising along in aero. Originally we thought about venturing out for a 56 mile loop, but to my relief, my riding partners thought better of it. My legs were shaking and tired after 10 miles. It is amazing how the body adjusts to stress (or lack thereof). I felt a little bad for losing all of that fitness, but more excited to be in the midst of my favorite race in my favorite town with some good company. After a bike, a run, a volunteer meeting, some shopping in the oval, and a swim, we were ready to relax at the Brewery. Soon the big day would be upon us. Each of us tried to imagine how we’d feel if we were racing. Nervous. Excited. But more nervous.
We were up at 3:30am to be in position in time for the early bird racers to arrive in transition to check on their precious bikes and get ready for the long day ahead. Our job was to write, in our neatest lettering, their race numbers on arms, thighs and calves. I learned that older skin is harder to write on, and that very lean people present an added challenge. Soon the job was done and the athletes had all made their way to the start. Perched on top of a hill behind the boathouse, we waited with nervous excitement, our bodies moving anxiously, for the start gun to fire. I had to keep telling myself that I was not about to plunge into cold, dark water and fight to move forward for and hour and a half. Oh, but I sort of wanted to. https://youtu.be/qjxxYoL7nSU
The gun fired. there was a collective jump amongst spectators. And then I was overcome with emotion. My eyes welled up. I felt the feelings I felt last year, but without a goal to harness them in search of, I just stood there trying to keep it all in.
After a much needed coffee, we stalked our teammates on the course and met them here and there with cheers as loud as we could muster. All in all, it was a perfect day. Great weather. Our teammates crushed their races. And I left feeling very inspired.