Friday, May 16, 2008

Lake Placid, Virtually Yours

Let me preference the rest of what I'm going to say by saying that there is no substitute for actually riding the IM Lake Placid course. The more times you can fit it in to your training, the better, and better still, attend a camp, like the one my coach Eric holds in June. If you don't get a chance to ride IM Florida's course ahead of the race, well, you probably haven't missed anything. But the Lake Placid course requires experience- the screaming descent towards Keene, the need to hold back for the first 40 miles (or is that 60 ?), the brutality of ride back along the river.

There's also no substitute for camp. I know where what confidence on the bike I have really developed- camp.

And hopefully Eric will have some videos of his own soon...

Because it was raining today, I decided to use the Spinervals Lake Placid Virtual Reality DVD as the basis for my 3.5 to 4 hour ride. Although Eric would rather I was either on the road or doing something else on the trainer, he's pretty good about when I decide to go the Spinervals route.

I've had this plan in my back pocket, sort of the Opera House of my Lake Placid training. I'm probably not going to get up there ahead of the race, which is OK. I've been there. I have the course pretty well in my memory- I learned how to check my fear of being on such a small bike on those downhills. But I still wanted to see the course, feel it. I have some questions about my nutrition.

So I climbed on the bike, started out. This is a great training ride. Maybe it's not quite as precise as riding the course on a compu-trainer, but there I was, my heart rate barely in three digits as I started- and Coach Troy telling me to keep it easy, stay moderated. Truer words have never been spoken. There probably aren't too many IM races where you can completely frak yourself in the first ten miles of the bike. Which are not easy. Before you get to the really big downhills, there are rollers and some climbing and you can fry yourself pretty good, pretty quickly.

The other thing about the course besides the need to really know it, is how unbelievably beautiful it is. I'm from upstate New York, and I mean really upstate, outside Albany. In the summer, LP is stunning. I'm reminded of the rides I used to take when I was in high school and summers in college- on my 3 speed (I once rode it from Albany to Rochester).

The DVD really pushes you to be smart. Keen to Jay- you have to ride this part of the course smart- again, it's about moderation, about intelligence expenditure, staying aerobic, working your nutrition. Get there with at least half a tank of gas and you've got a chance, then the fun begins- one of the harder climbs, more rollers, and finally- that out and back.

Here's where the DVD really either passes or fails. The out and back is hard. People really lose sight of this. It's hard going out. It's harder going back. The DVD completely captures that. I got to the turn-around on the out and back and bam, it hit me. Suddenly, this was getting hard. It really captured the nature of the ride. This was my second time doing the whole DVD and each time I've had trouble convincing myself I was applying myself enough- until this point, when it all comes home.

I was also struggling with the question I always have when drinking gatorade- Cliff Blocks every 30 or every 40 minutes ? Today, it should have been forty, and with the way I was sweating, I should have been using electrolytes as well.

And that last hour ? The best hour of the DVD. you feel like you are climbing up the big hill on the out and back and you certainly feel like you're climbing the cherries and the bears. When you finally turn back towards the town, you are relieved- in a big way.

I started the video up again and rode back down to to Keene, because Eric has told me that is when my race really starts, after I get into Keene a second time. Also, that gave me 3:40 on the bike. Energized (and having fixed the nutrition issue by substituting water for a gatorade after starting to bloat), I hopped on the treadmill and got a good IM pace run in.

The bottom line- I recommend this video to anyone who can't get up (or down or over) to Lake Placid to train. The more you know the course, the better off you are.

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