Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Race Week Blah Post

I wrote this earlier in the week... I'm feeling a bit better but instead of just deleting it I figure I'll post the bit I got now as it is important to me to chronicle the journey and this was just part of the journey. Even if I never did finish writing the entire post.

So here we are. Race Week is finally upon us.

I wish circumstances of this week were different, but I'll cope with whatever comes my way and get to that finish line no matter what. I'm still sick and it's messing with my energy levels. I'm too tired to be nervous, too tired to be excited. I'm just feeling blah about this whole thing. At this point, I dont care if I can't breathe out my nose or if I cough up a lung, I'm showing up to that starting line no matter what and getting it done. I am still hoping to beat this sinus/chest infection by race day.

I'm getting lots of rest but I can feel the body stiffening up at the same time. I'm not worried. I'm too tired to be worried. It is what it is.

I've watched my entire collection of Ironman DVD's and motivation videos to try to stoke that inner fire. It only kind of worked, again my energy levels are blah.

I've wondered for quite some time what my pre-race post would look like. I imagined it to be something more like an inspring reflection on an excellent execution of my training plan. That post will have to wait, my headache has returned and I got the Niagara Falls pouring out my nose.

I am happy where I am at. I wouldn't change a thing from the past 40 weeks. I executed an honest training plan, putting in the highest quality of workouts. My training plan started much further out than most other plans that athletes follow.

Coming from a non-running background I needed the extra training time to build. That meant never missing a workout even though it snowed every frickin' weekend for the longest winter in memory. The frostbite, the slushy rain run, the snow storms, the darkness - all vindicated in the spring when I met even my most lofty of goals at my first running race ever: Around The Bay 30Km road race. That was the day I graduated to being 'a runner'. It took some time for me to understand that I had spent so much time and effort improving my run that it may have even overtaken my swim and bike abilities. That's a huge accomplishment for me, given that I dislike running. I have learned to 'enjoy' running but that doesn't mean that I 'like' it. It's kind of hard to explain. I do it because I have to.

I've come a looooong way in 40 weeks.

I wish I had more to say but can barely keep my eyes open. I am happy to have such a loving supporting wife to make this week bareable. She is trying very hard to keep me happy and get me healthy. I could not do this without her. I owe her everything.

So other than loosening up this week, there is not much left to be said. I will finish this. No matter what.

IMLP Goals and Stalking

I'll have BRIGHT RED Visor and Shoes!
Please look me up. You can find me on http://ironmanlive.com/ under bib #1137. John Proc.

If you're at the race, you can get ahold of me by emailing me, texting me, calling me or don't be afraid to approach me if you see the ugly guy below :)

Email:  jproc@orican.com
Twitter: johnwproc
Text/Cell: 9059791539

Lets meet up!!
We'll be at the Athlete Banquet - Find me! Text me and we'll sit together!


Well it's funny how goals progress over time. Originally I started with 'just wanting to finish'. I looked up the race results of the people who came dead last and started training to ensure I could meet the same pace as those people. I just wanted to finish. 16:59:59 was fine for me.

In time I realized I was capable of more, and after meeting some real life Ironman I set my goal ahead of their time as friendly competition helps motivate me. I reset my goal to 15:00hrs and worked hard to make sure I could do it.

It seemed every few weeks I would subtract an hour off of said goal. My confidence soared, ego grew, head swelled and in no time I was winning the race in my mind. Well not exactly, but I may as well have been in my little world lol. Thats what tuner races are for ;) They help reset those goals back down to reality. I dream big. haha!
Also look for the CANADA flags and shirts :)

So after much consideration I realized that I was actually chasing the same thing all along, I just didn't realize it at the time. My goal was never 16:59:59. My goal was the journey.

It was never about the race. It was about the journey.

I have already met my goal. I have already won.

40 weeks of perfect training.
40 weeks of losing weight, sticking to a plan, getting fit.
40 weeks of meticulous routine, commitment and hard work.
40 weeks of thoughtful balance, co-operation, team-work and quality time with my Wife and Family.

40 Weeks and I am a better person for it. Hard. Strong. Humble.

My journey is near complete, but I have already met the goal I set out on.
Sure anyone can just sign up for an Ironman and show up to the starting line and suffer, but it takes a special commitment to execute a hefty training plan yet balance life at the same time.

With 400hrs of training under my belt, there is only 17hrs to reach the end.

No matter what happens in the next 17hrs, there is nothing that can take away from me what the last 400hrs have done to make me the person I am today. Ironman has become a lifestyle for me, not an end game.

So having said that, what would I like to see on Sunday? Lots of factors, lots of guess work but here is what I have in mind in order of weight:

1) Dream Goal - I will reveal this after the race.
2) Run Entire Marathon minus aid stations
3) Finish ahead of friends
4) Give. It. Everything. I. Have.
5) Finish under 16:59:59

I don't care where I place. I go to IMLP knowing that I will be amongst some of the super-fit athletes of the world, I have no dellusions as to where I stand in the rankings. :) I do however have a few key people that I have used as friendly motivators throughout my training. I would like to finish ahead of them, this makes it fun for me. Also I would like to finish the whole marathon running. This is important to me, I would rather go an extra 45 minutes slower on the bike if it means being able to shuffle the entire marathon. This is very important to me, if I can execute the race in such a fashion that I ran the majority of the run then I know I have done something right. I just want to do it right. If I cannot run the whole thing, then I will go at a pace of my time and chosing that gets me across the line after having commited every last ounce of energy and willpower to get me there. Knowing I gave everything I have - means everything. Lastly, I just want to finish. Nothing will stop me from finishing. I will go the distance. No. Matter. What.

Good luck to everyone!

Who have I forgotten below? I am trying to make contact list to keep in touch and follow you on race day! Bib, name, blog, name, bike, twitter

#918 Jon (SWiCycloRun) Leonard Campbell - Blue P2 Cervelo @vrljc
#137 Jill Agresta(Simply Tri) – Pink Quinta Roo  @JPow21
#312 Mandy Farrar(Caratunk Girl) – Hot Kestrel @caratunkgirl
#1529 Rodney(Road to Ironman) – Red White P2 @rbuike
#2213 Bryan Payne(Training Payne) @tri_bry
#2106 Simon Cross(TriTwins)  @tritwins
#? Emily(Sweat once a day) @emilysweats
#? DRog (DR Tri’ing for Iron)

Friday, July 15, 2011

RR: Wife's First Half-Iron

PETERBOROUGH HALF-IRON (70.3)  Spectator Report!
Mrs.Lord of the Chainrings (Fran's) first Half-Iron EVAR!

Husband-Wife High-Five!
Sorry but you can't be 'Tough' and
use a snuggy at the same time.
The morning started off like the others, and that is not a good thing. The alarm goes off, I wake up and quickly throw my clothes on, brush teeth etc. and sure enough everyone else is STILL in bed. If there is one thing that makes me absolutely cringe with anger it is when people slow me down in the mornings.

When I get up, I am on a mission! I already have my clothes laid out, vehicle packed and an efficient plan on how to get myself out the door as quickly as possible. This includes a checklist of the things I need to get from the fridge/etc that couldnt be packed the night before. This gives me the chance to sleep in to the last possible minute, which I value.

So anyways, this is not MY race day so  I didn't get upset. OK, well I did get grumpy but I didn't say anything. If she wants to risk being late for her first Half-Iron that is her decision, I didn't bother nagging her to go faster or get ready. I waited not-so-patiently for everyone to get ready. It was pretty obvious that I wasn't happy that she is taking risks with gettting to the starting line but whatever.

OK, get over it. :)

Her ride home...
I'll admit - I'm pretty darn nervous. I want this for her. This is my wife's first Half-Ironman. This is HUGE for her. It was a big deal when I did mine, but for Fran to step up and take on something this BIG is a testament to her stubborn toughness. Triathlon is contagious. She seen me do my first Half-Iron last year at Muskoka and sure enough she caught the bug and wanted to try this out too. This is totally her race though. I coached her when asked, but for the most part her Training Plan and it's execution has been all her doing. If there is one thing I learned after getting married it is that - you cannot teach the wife ANYTHING. Seriously, if I try to help/guide/instruct/motivate her she will quickly lash out with the 'Dont tell me what to do', 'Stop trying to control me', ' I am already doing it right', 'I already tried that'. Yup. Teaching her anything is futile. We learned this while trying to follow self-guided Ballroom dancing videos ages ago. It just does not work. It's worth paying a coach/instructor as she simply will not listen to me. :)  So the same applies to triathlon too. I let her figure things out on her own and put my input in when asked, but ultimately she has completely done this on her own. Even down to planning the race, well except the directions. Never. Give. The Wife. A. Map.  A man invented the GPS to save marraiges.
Pre Race Strategizing
Sabrina's first Tri! Fran's First Half-Iron!
That's my Son still waking up...

So we got to the race with a reasonable enough time to get registered and setup but no time for a warm-up. I think that was her plan though, she doesnt normally do warm-up of any kind. Our two youngest boys went with her to registration while I went and helped a friend of ours setup for the sprint triathlon. It was her first triathlon ever and she was at the event alone so I made sure to help guide her through what needs to be done and looked over her transition. She did her homework ahead of time, and was doing just fine.

Fran has done enough tri's now that she knows what she is doing. She had her transition setup in no time and then we walked through the transition motions together. She seemed pretty confident and calm. I could hardly tell she was nervous until we started heading over to the beach. I lost her in the crowds at the beach and with 2 minutes until race starts she was still out in the water warming up!! Uh oh, I made that mistake at my first tri this year and I was worried for her. Rushing to get back to the start line because you didn't start your warm up in time! That sucks. Luckily for her though the disabled-athlete wave started first so that bought her some extra time. She didn't look concerned so maybe she knew this. Either way I think I was more nervous than she was.
So 60 seconds until start and I'm an emotional wreck. I want this for her. I want my wife to finish. She deserves this. I want her to be happy. So why am I so nervous? Her IT Band. I think her swim will be fine, her bike will be fine but the run I dont know what will happen. She's tough, she can do this but will her injury screw everything up? There is cause for concern as this race is more strict than an official Ironman sanctioned event. Namely the cut-offs are much shorter. I'm guessing they dont have enough competitors or couldn't get the permits to close the road for that long, either way this is going to be a close one. She's tough though and no matter what her injury does - she will grind through it. She's like that, she will get the job done no matter what the cost.

Mass Start
So she took my advice and went wide and to the right. Looking good she has clear water in front of her and a perfect line to the first buoy. It didn't take long to lose her in the sea of condom heads.
Her cap was a unique colour though so it made it easy to pick her out of the swimmers coming in on the first lap. A 2 loop course was fun to cheer people on - especially the blind athletes. Yup, blind athletes, tethered together to an able bodies swimmer that guided them through the course. I think there were 7 of them in total. Amazing.

Fran come out of the water strong, good pace for her and didn't look winded or worried. I shouted at her to shake her arms out and she actually listened! :)
Her second lap was hard to watch, I didn't know where she was. By the time she exited she was exactly where she wanted to be. A great swim, she did it!!

Notice the hair dryer and curling on on the ground
She took her time in T1. She did her hair and makeup and ironed her clothes before putting them on. Or at least she had time to. I waited what felt like forever but eventually she came out. I am guessing she was applying sunscreen or something, but she made it out eventually.


Now I'm getting worried. We've been on the sidelines for ages and she is well past her predicted time. Even with a flat tire it shouldn't take this long. We waited and waited and now I'm counting down the minutes to the cut-off. Fran is good on the bike, but not strong on hills. She is comfortable on the hills but not quick. This course is known for A LOT of hills, but they are rollers. Unfortunately this wasn't the case for her, and for alot of people this day. She wasn't strong enough to 'roll' the hills so every single one of them was a grind. That sucks, namely because she has a bad husband. Yup, I thought for sure she could roll them so I didn't pay much attention to her gearing. 39-23 is waaay too steep for a non-climber. Great for training, not-so-great for racing. She got beat down by those hills - she looked tired coming in but she made it!!

I didn't watch, I ran ahead to get in position with our cheer squad!

This was a spectator friendly course if you felt like working at it. It was a single loop with an out and back near the start/finish so we ran from spot to spot to cheer Fran on a total of 6 times! We are always the loudest bunch at the races with our clappers and cowbells and Big-Blue inflatable High Five hand! This time we added Chalk to our arsenal and drew inspirational messages on the race course ala' TdF style. :)  I love cheering people on!
So Fran looked GREAT coming out of T2. She looked strong, her form looked good and her pace was perfect! Around the 5km mark would be the last time we see her and as she passed by I did the math. Assuming she holds this pace she will make the cut-off no problem. However given her IT Band issues it's probably going to be a close one. It all depends on how much she has to walk. Her bike took a big chunk out of her allotted time for the 'run' which we expected to be a walk. She had less than 3hrs to do the half marathon. That means, she didn't have much time for walking.
I waited for a bit and then decided I couldn't just stand here and do nothing. I started walking along the run course. I made it almost 5km out from the finish and waited for her to come. I was in a position that if it came down to being 'minutes' from the cutoff that I could smack her ass and drill instructor her way to beat the clock. Only if necessary though. The volunteers at the station were great - they even offered to drive me along the course to find Fran but as much I would have loved that, I didn't want to interrupt Fran's race. She is doing this on her own, she doesn't need me shadowing her. I am only in place 5km from the finish incase it comes down to the wire and she needs some 'help' making the cutoff. Otherwise she's on her own. After what felt like an eternity she came over the top of a hill with a big group of people. I seen her smile as she approached the feed station, I don't think she expected to see me at the part of the course. I didn't run up and hug her or anything, I wanted her to stay 'in the zone' as much as possible. She was moving pretty good actually, so I just read off the pace she needs to do and the landmarks up ahead where she could walk but ultimately she is within 10 minutes of the cut-off so as long as she only walks the last 2 uphills she will make it! I smacked her ass and sent her on her way.
I let her run ahead 200 feet so I could hang back and not risk disqualifying her by 'pacing her'. I just jogged on my own off to the side. By this time many people on bicycles were pacing their loved ones to help get them to the finish, I was surprised to see that but equally as surprised that the race officials weren't around DQ'ing people. I'm glad they weren't it is not like these people are going to win or anything! It was alot of fun, I met alot of people while waiting for Fran.
Fran finished strong and ran the final 3km's down to the finish chute. I didn't want to miss her crossing the line and there was no clear path to the exit of the finishers chute so I just cut across the 'stage' as people were getting there awards. I held the big blue hand up to my face as I cut across while they were taking photos. I wonder if they got me in a photo lol :)

So now I'm married to a Half-Iron Babe! How cool is that? Yeh I'm lucky, between raising 3 kids and putting up with me - this chick deserves a medal!

You can read her race report here: Mrs Lord of the Chainrings
More man than I'll ever be....

My youngest

5am. comes with sleepy cheers

Forced Taper

Well I wasn't kidding when I said I thought I was on the verge of illness. I could telll I was more tired than usual and sure enough I picked up a sinus/chest infection. I've been ill for a few days now but I'm staying positive as I can see the illness progress through its stages. It always starts with a sore throat, then the sniffles, then a cough and finally its over. I'm at the cough stage now, so the end is near! Just enough time to make the trip to Lake Placid healthy and rested!
Me Training Hard
Actually I'm not overly worried about missing training during this forced 'taper' period. I have been ill once before during the training program and I came back 100 times stronger than ever. The rest will do me good and I'll feel superhuman out on that race course. Well that's my theory anyways. :)

So obviously on the training front I've done absolutely nothing. I lay on the couch and sleep between watching episodes of ST:Voyager. I managed to kill off a couple seasons, I only have a few episodes left. :)
I've been so drained of energy I couldn't bother sitting in front of the computer - at all! I didn't even check my email. So obviosuly I didn't bother with my blog either.

It's coming into the final stretch. I am hoping I can get in a healthy short bike and run this weekend. I still need to test my new cassette out and I would like to loosen up the muscles a bit after laying in front of the couch for so long.

I'll still take tomorrow off of course. I want to make sure I have this illness completely beat before subjecting myself to exercise.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Athlete #1137

15 Days. Bib #1137

Is it too soon to be having anxiety attacks? Just reading the Athlete's Guide is enough to make it all too real! I can't believe they wait to publish the guide until the last minute like this, I would expect better from such an event. Not much changed from the previous year, but still!

I hate the waiting. If I had it my way I would start the race right this very moment in the clothes I'm wearing on whatever bike I could get my hands on. I hate the waiting.
I wouldn't call it impatience, more like Intolerant. I don't like being anxious over something, I don't enjoy the feeling of anxiety so when I'm under stress like this I DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. Unfortunately in this case, they probably won't up the start date for me so I will just have to endure. There is no sense trying to ignore it so Instead I am embracing the feeling and engulfing myself in the moment. I'm watching alot of Ironman videos and preparing myself mentally for the task at hand. The more ready I feel, the more comfortable I will become. I could also use a shot of confidence booster. I'm still licking my wounds after the shock of the pre-ride. It wasn't supposed to be hard - going into it I was going to crush that bike course, but now I'm just looking to survive. Oh there is no doubt I will finish, at any cost, I'm not worried about that. Instead I am slowly coming to accept that there can not be any pre-conceived notions of my finishing time. I have to remove this pressure to 'do well' and concenrate on 'just doing'. Somehow along my journey I lost my 'Just Finishing' goal and replaced it with silly Time Expectations. For my first Ironman I want to enjoy the experience and ignore the numbers. All that matters is under 17hrs. Let's just finish this one.
My First Half-Iron 2010
The Welland Half-Iron race was so enjoyable because I had 'already finished' one  before and had a boat-load of confidence going into it. I didn't feel nervous or scared of the distance. I went there to do my best and try for a good finishing time. In the absence of Half-Iron virginity, I could concentrate on pure performance.

I think I'll reserve those time goals and added pressures for my Second Full-Ironman in Mt Tremblant 2012. In the meantime, the pressure of the virginity is enough to bare as is. No friendly competition with buddies, no clocks to watch. Just me and the voices in my head matter on this one. No Pressures.

On the training front I've dialed it right-the-phuck-back. 4 weekends of racing/heavy training has taken it's toll and my body is telling me to tone it down. I'm on the verge of illness, this week I have been so mentally and physically drained that I couldn't even muster up a blog post. I tried to write but I had a hard time concentrating. Rest. Lots of rest. I have a nagging thought in the back of my mind that says that I have executed a near perfect 30++ weeks of training but have faultered a bit in the final 3 weeks. The addition of races put a wrench in my program, even something as short as a Standard distance Triathlon puts a big dent in the energy reserves. These races have made for some killer speed work though. My body tells me game over. I'm sliding into an absolute taper mode starting immediately, well actually as of earlier this week. I only have a couple weeks to repair injuries and get back my strength. I wouldn't call me over-trained just quite yet but I'm only one long ride away from crashing and burning. I guess that is what the final month of Ironman training is supposed to feel like. Brutal.

IMLP Pre Ride Weekend

Oh wow, where do I begin? Hmmm well I made it to Lake Placid and back alive. It feels like I have been gone for a month, and a great 'month' it has been!!

I was going to give you a play by play description of the bike course but I've decided that it would be long and boring and pointless because I've read enough of these course descriptions and compared it to my actual experience of doing the loop and I can tell you one thing is for sure:

They all lied.

I've been humbled by this experience. I thought we took it really really easy on the first loop. By the end of it I was feeling fairly fatigued and wondered if I even wanted to do the second loop. Whatever, we went out for the second loop anyways. That's what we were there for. By 2/3 of the way through the second loop I was on the side of the road curled up Fetal position, rocking back and forth, sucking on my thumb while crying for mommy. Damn - that is one deceiving course.

I don't know why I was so tired. There is no obviously large climbs that you can look and point at with a big 'AHA! Its YOUR FAULT!'. Instead it's a series of false flats, gradual hills and stealthy climbs that suck the will to live out of your legs. I felt robbed of all my energy. I can't imagine doing a Marathon after a couple loops of that course.

Yup, I'm kinda scared actually lol.

I've recall getting a TON of advice all saying 'go easy on the first loop'. They were not kidding. Actually I would take what I would call 'easy' and then back off another 25% on the throttle and then MAYBE you are in the zone you should be in. I was able to keep my heartrate really low on the whole thing, but it's the power output my legs are maintaining. I wish I had a power meter.

Here is a quick course recap for those that asked for it:
Out of T2 you'll hit a short steep desecent heading out of town, immediately followed by several short steep uphills to get to North Elba. I plan on granny gearing the whole darn section, my legs will thank me later. Betweeen North Elba and Keene is a monster sized downhill. I started from a gentle roll at the top, didn't pedal once and held 70km/h for almost the entire thing. Plenty of sweeping corners so pay attention - the scariest part was the road is washboard rough. A few cracks here and there but the pavement has gone 'wavey' like endless speed bumps. This will cause you to lose control on any sudden movements so be careful. The pavement is worse on the right hand side, so with everyone hugging the yellow line I don't expect any passing to be safe. I rode the brakes the first lap, rode the aero bars the second lap. Scary stuff.
The left hand turn at Keene all the way to Jay is a fun flat. This is the only section of the course where you will be able to pedal and maintain a decent pace and HR. This is also the section that if you push too hard, you will have nothing left for the relentless climbs later.

The out-and-back at jay is a steady easy climb out, and a fun fast descent on the way back. Dont hammer the return trip, you'll find out why when you make the right hand turn at Jay onto 86! As soon as you make the turn you go vertical - probably the steepest hill in the course. Granny gear for sure, and it's a big one. Rest assured, once at the top it gets flat again. The out-and-back on Hassleton is short is flat, kind of a silly spot for such a short one but whatever.
Turning left in Wilmington onto 86 is where the real race begins. It starts off with some rollers but then you hit a couple steep grany gear climbs again. By the second big climb you will know whether or not you pushed too hard on the beginning of the course. You are nowhere near finished yet and everything from here on in is an endless uphill. This is about the time you cross in front of Whiteface Mountain. You will get a short chance for a rest on small rollers along the river before the long climbs back to Lake Placid. We've all heard the 'three bears' names for the hills but to be honest - I dont know what they are talking about. The hills are hardly worthy of names, with maybe the exception of the last one because it does get slightly steeper at the top and because of its placement at the end of a long series of climbing. Again, hardly worth naming them as they are not steep but only long. Due to the vast length of these climbs, I just granny geared these too. I have to check but I think I only have 39-23 gearing and was begging for a 27 on the back for the entire ride. I consider myself a strong climber, but here on this course I left my balls in my wife's purse and have decided to wuss out and go with a 27 12-25 cassette. I just stole the cassette off my road bike. Anytime I was in my granny gear, which was often, I was STILL grinding the pedals a fair bit. I need an extra gear to take the strain off my legs.

Lap 1 Beat Down
It also doesn't help that I am still not recovered from 3 weekends in a row of racing and last weekend's half-Iron. I started this ride with already weak legs. It was also a blazing 30+ Celsius with the sun beating down on us. This definitely contributed to my beat down.

Anyways, after the ride we tried to get a brick in. My hip wouldn't let me do it - it's still sore from last weekend's race so I bailed on the short brick run. Steve also bailed as he was having GI issues from thte tap water he drank from the little store / tourist park just before the last major climbs. The tap water was bad, I had a sip and also had trouble. Stick to bottled water!!!
Other things to note - I was honked at, buzzed and yelled at more time during this ride than all my riding of my entire training plan combined. The people of Lake Placid are borderline lunatic. Extremely aggressive driving throughout, it was beyond words. I'll admit there were 100's if not 1000's of riders out this weekend so perhaps it was annoying to drive around but still - unacceptable.

As far as the weekend is concerned, it was an awesome trip! I was a little apprehensive heading to Lake Placid with a bunch of strangers but it turned out that they were all really great guys and we had a blast!
It was a tight squeeze to get my bike on the rack, but luckily Mike is an expert at this stuff and had brought rags and duct tape to protect the frames from rubbing. He took great care!

We drove up in style! Steve has a Hummer H3 which is a big vehicle but I'm not sure where all the space went!? Very little leg room and minimal trunk room, so I'm guessing the majority of the vehicle is all motor? Who cares - it was a fun drive. We crossed over at the very first border crossing. We didn't have a map or anything, this was all done seat-of-the-pants style. Very rare for me to do something like that, nevermind with strangers. I always have a plan and backup plan. We wanted to get over the border as soon as possible because Mike's passport had expired. If he doesn't get across then he could just ride to some friend's place but in the meantime we were all kind of stressed on whether he would be able to join us. The border guard immediately called him out on the expired passport but was interested in hearing about our Ironman stuff.
I had a small tense moment when the border guard said he had done the 'Rangers Challenge' and Steve said he didn't know what that was. The guard immediately barked at him "DON'T YOU WATCH TV!?".  I think he took offence to the fact that we didn't really know what this event was, but I think I've seen it before - its some kind of hardcore Military challenge. Regardless I tried to sound excited and interested that the border guard was just 'oh so cool' as he explained he lugged a 1 Ton backpack around for 1000's of miles or something like that. In the end, he approved of our hardcoreness and let us all into the country, including Mike! W00t! With the border stress behind us, it was party time!

OK wait, going back to the whole 'seat-of-the-pants' planning. Where the heck were we?! We had to take some convoluted backroads to get to Lake Placid. At times we were driving down alleys and driveways of hillbilly central. It was hilarious. It felt good just going with the flow and not sticking to a map or itenerary. With hardly any radio reception, a dead iPod and every CD in the truck scratched we resorted to the ONLY working CD in the truck - Steves Wedding CD. Lots of singing, lots of dancing, lots of sobbing - ok maybe it was just Steve but regardless it made the trip 'interesting' haha! We vowed to buy a CD something, ANYTHING, for the return trip while in town.

We setup camp in the dark, cracked a beer and hit the sleeping bags. Originally we were all going to bring our own tent but we were only allowed one tent per site. That means sharing a tent with 3 strangers! Actually the tent was quite roomy, and nobody spooned me in the middle of the night - or at least none that I remember, so I think it went well. I slept good.

That morning was our big ride. Other than the notable difficulty of the course, I also need to fix my rear bottle cages. I launched my bottles once on the big downhill so I have to rig up some kind of strap or get new bottle holders. The bumps were so bone jarring that even my flat kit slipped off the bike a couple times and its strap in tightly with two velcro straps. I ordered a new pouch for it with beefier straps. I already swapped out the cassette to give me an extra gear with a 25 tooth. I don't want to go 27 tooth, that's just too wussy for my liking. I'm not running compact cranks either so I'm a 39 up front. I may be begging for a smaller gear come race day but I would rather put a tripple ring up front before going 27 on the back.

After the ride we used the free shuttle bus to get to town. We almost got mowed down by the bus too, the driver was just like the other maniacs out on the roads that day. Aggressive, bitchy and dangerous. Poor service was the theme of the night. It took many many places before we found something that would get us a beer in under 30 minutes! I'm glad we held out because the food at this place was wonderful. I grabbed a semi-healthy fruit/cheese platter, and balanced it with a side of hot wings and beer. Well I tried to be somewhat healthy haha! Good food, good friends. We did the touristy thing along the strip checking out the tourist traps.

The next morning we packed up and put in a solid 20km-ish run along the race course. We cut the final outa and back along the lake since we already seen it as part of the bike course. I was surprised at how flat the course is, there is nothing to worry about. There is only 2 major hills and they are both right in town for everybody to see you walking so if your plan is to dog it on the uphills, everybody will know it! :) I'm looking forward to the run, very scenice and on well groomed roads. Although its all dark ashphalt so I can see it being a really hot run if the sun is blazing. Luckily we had overcast.
My hip has been bothering me. Inflamed, big time but is slowly getting better. Now it only bothers me on the uphills which is a big improvement. I am certain I'll be fine by race day. Not worried, yet.

A great lunch at the brewery marked the end of the fun. We did pop in to see the Olympic arena, it even had the game score on the clock. I wanted to get a gift for the wife but it didn't seem right getting something that said 'lake placid' on it when she wasn't there with me. I figured I'll wait to get it until she comes down for the race in a few weeks. I missed her, it's rare we are apart. I hate going away places without her, it's not the same if she's not there to share the experience with. I just want her there with me.

The drive home was more direct. We drove straight to Canada, which was quick but the remainder of the drive not so much. I'm guessing we were on the road for 12hrs. It was painfully long due to long-weekend cottage traffic. It was all worth it though. I'm so glad I got to see the course and have a new found respect for those climbs. I have a much better understanding of how I need to pace myself, it was nothing like how I expected. Nothing could have prepared me more for this than having seen it myself.

Dont Spoon me Bro'!

Roads slammed pouches and bottles
and cages around. We stopped the most for me.


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