Lake Placid 70.3 was my 3rd race of what is turning in to a very long season. I may have overstretched myself, but that’s just the way the races fell.
It’s located in the Adirondack mountains, which is an absolutely stunning area. Like Whistler though I would have to enjoy the scenery before and after as during the race it’s head down and push!
As always I had breakfast in the dark before heading down to transition.
All week I had been concerned as the forecast had been 3 degrees and rain. Luckily this didn’t materialise but it was still single fingers and light rain which was not ideal.
I methodically sorted my kit as it was the first race I’ve done where your kit is by the bike rather than in bags. Pump tires, attach nutrition, lay out bike and run kit, including my new arm warmers I had purchased, due to the forecast, and hope I don’t freeze.
Everything went smoothly apart from a shortage of volunteers at body marking but eventually more volunteers and pens arrived. Ironman sort any issues so quickly.
HUUB had replaced the broken wetsuit from Whistler so I was racing in a new wetsuit again. I went for a quick warm up to loosen the shoulders and found the lake was surprisingly warm given the air temperature. Hopefully it wouldn’t be too cold when I got out! If it was freezing there were warming tents but my race plan definitely did not involve a visit.
I lined up at the 30 min swim mark as thats my ambition even though I’m not there yet. 4 people off every 5 seconds until it was my turn. Spirnt in, dive and start strong before dropping in to my rhythm. It was by far my best swim as there was a white line between the buoys I could follow, allowing me to just focus on my stroke and breathing rather than sighting.
I was also lucky in that I swam alone for almost the entire thing. Not being able to draft isn’t great (although I’m rubbish at it) but not being bumped and disturbed is definitely a good thing.
As always it took forever to get to the turn but I was feeling pretty good. My mistake was I thought there were three buoys along the top, there were only two. Ooops. Luckily, I realised quickly and corrected without losing much time and was headed for home.
By the last few 100m’s I was pretty maxed and my right shoulder was hurting but I came out the water in pretty good shape. And it wasn’t freezing!!
It was a bit of a run to T1 and I managed to grab a couple of places. Wetsuit off, arm warmers and helmet on, grab bike and off we go. The swim is now my weakest event but there weren’t too many bikes gone so I figured it can’t have been awful.
The first couple of minutes are to settle and tighten my shoes etc. I was already catching people but plenty to catch so keep at it.
It wasn’t as cold as I had anticipated but there was a serious descent that would be the real test of both the temperature and my cycling ability.
I am not a natural cyclist and knew the descent would challenge me even if it wasn’t particularly technical. It was so fast (I hit 78.5 km/h) and there was a cross wind which scared the life out of me. At one point I thought I had a puncture as the bike was wobbling all over the place but it was just the cross wind. Aero bikes and wheels are super speedy going forwards, they are not so from the side! I was very out of control but managed to hold it together with a gentle brake that hopefully didn’t cost me too much speed.
The course levelled out and began a gradual climb for the second 45km. By this point I was cycling with a couple of other people which is definitely beneficial although hard to keep to the drafting rules. I try my best to remain within the rules but am sure one day I will be on the wrong side.
Unfortunately, I lost my chain on one of the sharper climbs. I got going again quickly but I lost the group I was riding with. This was demoralising as somehow the entire bike was in to a headwind and now I was punching it completely alone.
At no point did I feel completely settled on the bike but was hitting some good numbers. I eventually joined another rider as we approached the last few climbs but he slowly pulled away and I was alone again.
In the last 10km I caught some of the people that had escaped earlier and they were really struggling. Maybe I hadn’t lost out too much and benefitted from not pushing too hard to stay with the group.
On my dismount one of my shoes jumped off the bike. Luckily a volunteer grabbed it and passed it to me which saved me going back for it. A big thank you and on I went!
Rack bike, shoes on, visor on (not glasses as wasn’t going to be sunny) grab goodie bundle and off I went. As I left transition on went my watch and time to start chasing people down as my legs loosen up.
The run started with a steep down hill and then another after a couple of miles. It’s important to make the most of the free speed but it’s really hard work for the legs. The course then took us down a beautiful road along a river and I was feeling great. I love having my strongest event last as I get to do the chasing to the finish rather than being chased!!
About 5 miles in the lead guy came back past me and was absolutely flying. I counted people as they came past but lost count/interest as as it got harder I needed to focus more on me. I figured I was about 40th but it was getting harder to catch people which was frustrating. (You never know exactly anyway as we all have different start times)
On the way back up the river I couldn’t help but notice that it looked like an exceptional trout river. I kept looking for fish in the pools as a distraction, while keeping a close eye on my pace, but couldnt see any. (Afterwards I found out it is awesome trout river and wish I had stayed for days fishing post race. I need to improve combining my passions of fishing and triathlon on future adventures!)
The run took us past the Olympic Ski jumps before climbing the two big hills back to town. The first was fine and I was determined to catch the guy in front who I felt I was slowly gaining on. The second hill was brutal, steep and draining with two miles left. It took everything out of my legs but I had a great chance of running sub 1hr 30 so I kept pushing as hard as I could.
The hill broke a couple of people so I was still moving nicely up the field. There was one short out and back before the finish. I was still chasing the guy in front but slowly came to the realisation I wasn’t going to get him. However, with 1500m to go he passed someone else and now I had a new target! I was closing in and with 400m to go I saw he was in my age group. I wanted that World’s spot, so gave it everything with a sprint finish and flew past him.
As I came round the final corner I saw and heard the Dunleavy support team cheering to give me one last push all the way down the finish chute.
I was home in 4:47 (a new PB) 24th/1830, 23rd male, 9th in 25-29 age group. Swim 32:40 (PB), Bike 2:39, Run 1:29:44 (PB and sub 1 30 which was one of my goals this year!!). Special note: I had the quickest combined T1 & T2 in the whole race as at least I’m doing something right.
After a brief chat at the finish with Michael and Joanne I had some food, one of the best post race spreads, and I finally got to sit in a warming tent :)!!
They were letting some people check out 1 by 1 as the race was still going on. I escaped and returned home for a shower, a rest and more food! Post race I get to eat whatever I want!! 🙂
Later I headed back in to town for the prize giving as I’m still chasing a 2020 70.3 World Championships slot. I wasn’t that hopeful having come ninth as there would probably be 3 slots in my age group. I had to try though having missed out by one place and 17s in Whistler (stupid broken wetsuit)!
I asked the guy next to me how his race went and he answered “Pretty well, (pause) I won”. Lovely guy and he had only decided to do the race the week before as a warm up for the Ironman World Champs in October where he hopes to do well. He was in my age group and beat me by half an hour so I clearly still have a long way to go. He didn’t take a slot but unfortunately it only rolled down to 6th so I missed out again. I have one more chance, Arizona 70.3 in October, so back to training and let’s give it everything!
In summary what an awesome, but seriously challenging race. I can confirm I wont be doing the Ironman here which is double the same course as I can’t imagine doing those run hills twice!! My main take away is I can push harder on the run as I shouldn’t have been able to sprint as hard as I did if I had fully emptied the tank. Something to work on :)!
It was such a pleasure to be supported by and staying with the Dunleavy’s. It was so relaxing as it felt like I was racing from home, with home comforts, rather than the usual, rather average, random hotel.
Lake Placid is a special spot. I hope I managed to get a glimpse of most of what it has to offer. I would love to come back, I’m just not sure whether it would be for an Ironman, fishing, the scenery or skiing! When you can say that about somewhere it’s must be pretty awesome place!
I was so happy with 24th overall, as that’s crazy out of more than 1800. But I was slightly disappointed with 9th in my age group. I now relaise 25-29 is a brutal age group. I was feeling down about 9th and it highlighted how far I still have to go for Kona, which is the big dream. It was tiredness, as after a couple of rest days I refocussed and am now super excited about my last race in Arizona. (Although I do still have a very long way to go to Kona)
Once Arizona is done I will take a break and review how awesome and this season has been and how far I have progressed. Then I get to put together a list of exciting challenges for next season. The shocking news – they wont all be triathlons…..