Saturday, July 28, 2012

Ironman Lake Placid Course Review

No emotion...just a detailed review of Ironman Lake Placid

Location: LP is hard to get to and especially from the West Coast. Keep this in mind when traveling. Sunday race and we planned to travel on Thursday but changed to Wednesday at the last minute.  Due to a 6 hour weather delay in Dulles our trip was 18 hours door to door. San- Dulles- wait 6 hours. Dulles to Burlington + 2 hour drive.  You can fly to Burlington or Albany and the drive is similar in time but from Burlington the scenery is spectacular. You ferry or take a bridge over Lake Champlain (unless you land at midnight and the ferry is not running)  In any case we were pleased it was only Wednesday to allow an extra day for recovery and to catch up on sleep.  The long travel + the time change takes a toll for sure.

The village of Lake Placid is quaint and centers around the Olympic venues and has a great feel.  It is all Ironman, signs on the stores and restaurants and the vibe is great,  We stayed at the Northwoods Inn right in town.  A run down hotel with a 5 night minimum at $295/night- but well that is Ironman.  It was ok but would not stay again due to noisy air conditioner but we had a kitchenette and that was a bonus.  I would consider the following: The Haus (which as some kitchen units), Adirondack Inn or the Crowne Plaza Lake Placid. 

Staying in walking distance just makes the days leading up and race day stress free. It is nice to walk down and swim and bike and then come home and rest a bit and hit the expo etc. vs driving each time.

EXPO- expo and registration are in the old Olympic skating rink- which is now an outdoor grass field. Great set up and the actual registration is in the school a short walk away. 

SWIM: Mirror Lake is not a big lake and with 2500+ athletes it is full. The lake has the famous cable (6 ft underwater) and if you are lucky enough to get a spot on top it makes sighting really easy.   The course is 2 loops with a water start.  They start encouraging athletes to get in 25 min before the start- this is a long time to tread water so consider this before you get in.  Water temp was 74 so wetsuit legal- highly recommend a farmer john wetsuit- as full was VERY hot.  I got in after the pro's went off and made my way to the front to problem, with 10 min to go.  Swim spread out quickly and I was in open water soon.  I expected a fast swim but came out 58 (which is a bit slow for me)  I did end up on the cable but with people on either side I was whacking the buoys every 10 feet or so. 2 loop swim to be prepared to run out and and dive back in.

BIKE: This is a HILLY course!  I ride hills, love hills and did not prepare mentally for how tough this course is.   They are steep hills and the mentally tough part is that you descend first and then climb all the way back into town x 2. And in 2012 the wind picked up heavily so lap 2 which is tough to begin with was even harder with a serious head wind. I found this course more challenging than IM St George because the climbing was in the 2nd 1/2 vs climbing and then descending.  The famous 3 bears are as noted....steep but are packed with people and that helps tremendously!  If and I am not, no way no how,  were to do this race again I would be riding Great Western Loop doubles... 90 miles and 9000 ft of elevation. This is a tough course and I would be less concerned about aero riding and more about long rides on steep hills.  

RUN:  The run is NOT flat either.... you run out of town down hill... again the down first and then the up.  And the up is STEEP.  I was already feeling terrible and the run was a struggle and the hills just made it even tougher.  I would add some up hill transition runs to training and do some steep hill repeats on long runs.  IM St George (old run course) was tougher but this is not for the weary.   The finish is amazing as you run through town packed with people and final run is around the stadum.

Since this was not my day and a tough race overall it makes me less objective.....but if you want a challenge than IMLP is a good one!