2012 Lake George Triathlon
The following is my personal experience at the 2012 Lake George Triathlon:
Lake George is really a beautiful place and a great venue for triathlon. Although the village where the race takes place is very “touristy,” there are many ways to escape that if you want. As I mentioned though, the touristy side is exhibited by the numerous small motels and hotels and knick knack shops throughout the village.
We stayed at the Super 8 which is a) cheap and b) less than a ½ mile from the start. Convenience & price trumped any luxuries.
Race morning: I was up early (4am) to eat, but the motel kitchen was closed, as was seemingly everything in walking distance. I ended up putting oatmeal in an empty water bottle and filling it with hot water from the bathroom sink. Not the best pre-race meal, but better than nothing or just gels… Note to self: plan for this in the future and pack bananas, bars, etc. just in case…. Or pay more for accommodations…
Transition opened at 5am, but I got there around 5:40am. Sufficiently early enough to avoid a long line for timing chips, but not too early that I was waiting around forever to start. I was in wave 3 which went off late at 7:18am. No race markings needed because they went with the new trend of race tattoos. Kind of a nice feature and easier to remove afterward. Setting up in transition was nice since they had small boxes with grooves cut in to fit your tires instead of the typical “A” frame bike rack bars. I managed to get a spot second from the end of the row which gave me a big space on the side to keep my gear out of the way. There was a newbie two slots down whom I had to instruct with my coaches instinct about how much space he was using up. He had a big milk crate to sit on and took up two spots on the other side(thankfully). He even expressed that he didn’t want to be “that guy”, but in the end he just was… will explain later. I had a little time to kill, so I chilled in a chair under the big eating area tent listening to my ipod and getting mentally ready to go.
Swim: I was in wave 3 (pink caps – my daughter laughed at me at packet pick up the day before…sigh…). The water in the lake was nice and refreshing, not too cold or warm, about 73 degrees. It was a sandy bottom to start in, that gave way to some grass, but that was too deep to touch for the most part, so really no issues at all there. After that it just went dark with the depth. We started in hip deep water, and the newbie was there right behind me and had to talk to calm his nerves. “try not to leave me too far behind…” he said. I just nodded…(cool as a cucumber…) Another newbie decided to help by telling me that my wetsuit strap was hanging down, so I had to explain that it zipped in the opposite direction… I was very nice as always because I understand what nerves can do for first time or new racers. I joked back, “don’t try to grab it for a tow now…” and got a small laugh for my attempted humor…
The gun goes off, and I’m out off the front with the leaders in my AG feeling good and relaxed. Little did I know, that was the last time I’d feel good the rest of the race. Shortly thereafter, I found that I was having trouble keeping a straight line. I kept looking up and feeling off course. I could hear myself yelling at all of you at our open water swims to keep sighting and swim straight! Every time I tried to correct and relax, it seemed like I veered off to the right. I decided to compensate by just focusing on swimming left. That seemed to fix the issue, but not without some effort. Thankfully, I was never really bothered by other swimmers except for 2 or 3 moments of getting by some in the previous wave and having someone draft off me and continually tap my toes(that was kind of annoying, so I sped up to leave him behind). I finally got to the end and noticed a bunch of small fish right before the sandy bottom section, and wondered why they were so calm with all the commotion above them. Amazingly, even though I used a very relaxed kick most of the way, I felt a little cramping toward the end, and when I stood up to run, I felt quite lightheaded. Not usual for me. Finished the swim in approx. 26 minutes but should’ve been 2-4 minutes better.
T1: Running to T1, I was having trouble catching my breath. It was again very odd, but I figured it would calm down once on the bike. Yes, the thought of that guy who died in the NYC IM did go through my head, but only briefly… Got through T1 in about 1:30 because of trying to breathe and take off the wetsuit.
Bike: I had a little difficulty clipping in to the pedals, and once on the bike, I could tell that something was not quite right. I had absolutely no energy to push the pedals. It was like I started to ride after running, not swimming. There is a nice incline getting out of town, and I just tried to keep my legs going even though rider after rider kept passing me. I told myself just keep it together and things will settle down. Once up the incline the course turned onto a bike path for a little stretch. Here I was able to get going finally, but still wasn’t feeling it…. About 10 miles into the ride and mentally not happy, my back began to hurt. I mean, it really hurt, and it stayed that way the entire rest of the ride. I had to sit up straight and let go of the handlebars a number of times to stretch just to feel decent pedaling for maybe 5 minutes… The course had some good hills, but nothing I would say is any more than what we ride each week. There were a lot of shady areas as well. Overall, I would say it was a well-balanced course, although it did seem like they threw in some hills in the last 4 miles when I was just hoping for the ride to end! I finished in 1:19, or a good 10-15 minutes slower than I had expected. Notice the theme here…
T2: Here is where the newbie became “that guy”. When I got to my spot, I found his wetsuit, swim cap, & goggles stuffed in the box where my bike goes. I had to hold onto my bike, grab his gear and toss it to rack my bike. I was annoyed, but felt a little better when I realized that my tire was now crushing his goggles… No more time to waste, as I was slowed down by how I was feeling anyway, so quickly got my running shoes on, grabbed my number belt, and was on my way. T2 – 1:30 again… too slow. Arrrgggh! And here…
Run: The run starts with a long incline just like the bike. This was the road that I came down this morning from the motel, and right now, if I could’ve, I would’ve run right back into the room and back to bed. That was where I was mentally. It was a two loop course which is good for family and spectators. The first loop for me was all about survival. I took a gel with caffeine and some water out of transition, and just tried to keep my feet moving. It wasn’t really too hot, but any shade was always appreciated. If I could’ve puked, I might’ve felt a lot better, but all I could muster were a few small throw up in your mouth moments that did nothing for me except make me rinse my mouth with water as soon as I could. (sorry for the gross detail there…). One girl passed me and said “you’re doing great, keep it up!” I just replied, or I thought I replied since I wasn’t sure if any words came out, “I’d be better if I could puke..”. The second loop I was determined to do something resembling my normal run. I picked up some steam at the end of the first loop on the downhill toward transition and managed a run up the first hill this time as opposed to a shuffle. I kept with water at the aid stations alternating drinking and dousing myself with it. I sufficiently picked up my pace that I averaged about a 9:05 per mile for the 6.2 and finished with an approx.. 56 min split. Again, about 8-10 minutes slower than I would’ve liked. …and it continues to the end…
Total time: 2:45:46, or the worst case scenario I figured at the start. I chalk it up to a lack of good training this summer, especially August. Entirely my fault, and completely avoidable….
Post-race: Donna expressed some concern since I finished later than I expected. Then I made it worse by walking straight to the medical tent to get some ice for my neck and headache and to sit in the shade and sip Gatorade. She did take some pix of me there though, so the concern was short lived… she’s a veteran of my racing now for 14+ years, nothing fazes her too much anymore. Ask her about the first time she saw me race at the LA Marathon… I didn’t cry, my legs were cramping in every muscle, I swear!
Overall, despite my day, Lake George is a worthwhile race to put on the calendar. I will have to come back, if only to make up for my performance this year. I’m not sure if that will be 2013, but I will be back!
Note: the next day, and even today, my muscles are not sore at all. I’ve been carrying around a dull headache though. This leads me to believe that I am fighting something internally because I am usually somewhat sore after races from the hard effort. This time, I struggled because I had no effort to give…. Strange days indeed.
Moral: Don’t go in with high expectations without the training to back it up, but also, don’t ever quit! Not every race is going to be your best, but if you finish, you’ve persevered, and that is a victory in itself!