Jul 28, 2009

Ironman USA weekend

What a great weekend, I was able to hang out with my two older kids and watch a great race on Sunday...

We arrived on Friday night, but pretty late and crashed in the back yard in the tent my brother set up for us. His place is pretty small and there isn't much room, but the view and location are worth it.
On Saturday morning, we headed down to the town of Lake Placid on our bikes which was a bit of an adventure with a 9 and 11 year old. It's got a pretty steep downhill and some steep uphills and about 5 miles in total to get all the way to the Olympic oval. On the first downhill, my 9 year old looked back at me and went into a high speed wobble which raised my heart rate a bit. Fortunately she recovered quickly before I had a chance to try something stupid to catch her.
We went into the Oval where they have the expo set up to look around. It's kind of fun to walk around and look at the merchandise and all the crazy bikes as people are walking them into transition. We ran into my buddy Dave who was racing and a bit frantic at the moment with some bike issues. His wife and daughters were also there, and they know my kids so we hung around with them for a while as they got their faces painted, one of my daughters got the IM logo and the other got a butterfly... go figure :)
The girls had some questions about the race and what it was like for me 2 years ago when I competed and I showed them the transition area and where you entered and exited.

They both got to try on some aero helmets and play with some other cool stuff as you can see.

After hanging around for a bit, we were ready for the ride back out of town and up the hill to my brother's place. It was fun to ride with the kids, they were really excited to be out in town and you could tell a lot of people thought it was pretty cool to see kids riding. The vibe over the weekend is very much a biker and runner friendly atmosphere and there were calls of encouragement for my kids from lots of folks going past.
As we got close to the last big hill out of town, I told my brother to go ahead and grab the truck to pick up the kids. It was a bit easier for them, and then fun for me as I loaded up the kids and then took off after my uncle who had continued up the hill. I caught him, gave him a sneer and a challenged and promptly dropped as I accelerated past! He's going to need to work on his climbing before next year!
That afternoon, we met my sister-in-law at the Addirondak Loj where she works and went for a hike up Mount Jo.

The view was great and it was a perfect day for a hike... after a short stay, we headed back down and then had a nice dinner at my brother's place and watched the Mount Ventoux stage of the Tour de France.
Fun day all around!
Race Day - Sunday
We were scheduled to work the first bike aid station which was conveniently a 1/2 mile up the road from my brother's house. Our theme was funny hats, my uncle has the umbrella hat and my brother is the hombre...
Most of my day was spent running back and forth getting water and Gatorade to the folks handing them out to the bikers. My daughters were doing the same thing, and I think they really enjoyed their day.
Bikers came pretty fast and furious on the first lap as we were only 10 miles into the course and they hadn't spread out all that much by the time they reached us. It was hectic, but pretty smooth in general...
The second loop was where things got a bit more interesting. First, the leader went through and it was over 11 minutes until the second place competitor was seen. As we found out later, Mark Twelsiek was in the process of dominating the race. I didn't get a chance to catch the leading woman, as things quickly go busier. The second wave of bikes was definitely more spread out and we started to see some pretty tired riders. We also started holding some bikes as a people began getting off to use the toilet. I think this was the part my daughter enjoyed the most, holding the bike for the racers and then helping them with whatever fluids or foods that they needed before they started back up.
We also had a bit of excitement as an ambulance pulled up to the front section of our station. Since I was further down the road, I didn't really know what happened, but it turned out that a racer had experience some heat exhaustion and was in pretty rough shape. Fortunately it turned out fine for him health wise, but his race was over as he was pulled from the course. Slowly, the stream of riders slowed and we saw more and more of the folks that were struggling. It's a bit inspiring, but also tough to watch as I had to assume that some of these riders were not going to make the cutoff.
All told, a very good experience, we wrapped things up around 2:30 or so and then cleaned up and headed back to the house. We decided to chill for a bit, eat some dinner and then plan to head downtown again to watch some of the run.
We rode our bikes down again, a bit more controlled this time and slowly rolled through the run course. At this point it was about 7 PM and a lot of people had finished, but there were still a ton of competitors out on the course. I had expected Dave to be finished at this point, but it turns out he had a bit of a meltdown so we actually got to watch him finish. I also ran into my friend Sean's wife and she mentioned that he was also just about to finish and I was able to high five him on the way past. We hung out for a bit and watched a bunch of people finish up and then headed back up the hill out of town.
This time we decided to try the whole hill and it was fun to see the dynamics of my daughters working up the hill. The younger one is much more of a competitor and really pushed the whole time even though she was on a single speed bike. My oldest is much more laid back and she shifted way down and just moseyed along. A fun bike ride until my pedal fell off! I had switched out my clipless pedals with flats so that I could ride with my running shoes. They were old pedals though, and for some reason they weren't holding into the cranks. On the bright side, I did get to do a brick as I ended up running the last 1/4 mile trying to keep up with my daughters. A very good day indeed!
Monday morning I packed up while my uncle and brother waited in line to register for next years race... and then the long drive home. I'm looking forward to my next visit to the area again already!


David Criswell 4:38 PM  

David, nice read. It good to read a report from a spectator's perspective, particularly one who was at an aid station. I wish I had know about the hat, I would have tried to say hello!

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