Monday, June 09, 2008

Lake Placid- Karma Where There is None

Editor's note: I don't actually believe in karma, but every so often, it rears its ugly head anyway.

I drove up to Lake Placid Saturday. It was the last full day of the Eric Hodska Camp and the plan was for me to do a loop of the swim course, two loops of the bike course and a short run on Sunday after the camp's last Sunday morning run.

After what seemed like a good start to trip, things went ever so slightly sour when I stopped in Glens Falls for a bathroom break, hopped back in the car and was greeted with the 'maintenance rec'q' light on. It stayed on for the next hour and a half, which, since I didn't know the reason for it, was ever-so-slightly stressful.

I hopped in the lake around 10:00 Sunday morning and swam- and swam- and swam. There are a long line of buoys out there marking the course. However, during the majority of the year where there isn't an ironman going on there is no demarkation for the turn-around. I knew I'd gone too far when I could see the bottom of the lake was about a foot from my hand. I turned around and swam back, but it was a long swim- seemed like about 1.5 miles and for my first open water swim since September- I was worried out there by myself, as my hands started to get cold enough that they weren't working right. Of course, my numb hands caught the water better than my warm hands, so next time- ice bath !

Transition was probably about 15 minutes long, sad considering we were at the Adirondack Inn, which is across the road from the lake.

I headed out, determined to go easy. I did. I grannied down the big hills and felt bad about it. Sort of. Open road, really- really- windy.

There's no getting that back, but it wasn't a race, so who cares ? I survived the downhill- twice as it turned out.

I had a good ride from Keene to Upper Jay and from Jay to Wilmington. When I was almost in Wilmington, I saw a boy on the opposite side of the road selling lemonade. He called out, probably thinking I was as likely a customer as he was going to get. I yelled back that I 'couldn't stop', but the truth is, I see kids selling lemonade and I never stop. I had nine dollars, I had an empty water bottle. I could have stopped.

I went on. I knew I wasn't having a great ride, but my goal had been to have an OK ride and that was all. Not go race pace. I went out and back on the out and back. Then I turned and headed in. I was psyched. I was thinking about attacking the downhill more on the second loop and about being patient on the way back in to LP.

I was not thinking that an elderly woman in a station wagon was going to pull out of the Adirondack Gift Shop, backing out into the road. I had to swerve across the yellow line to avoid her, and as I swung back over the double yellow and the white line, I went too far right. I heard my back tire slashed and stopped immediately. The tubular tire was wrecked. I took out the iphone, walked backwards and got a signal- called for a new wheel and started walking.

I tried to run, but my right knee hurt when I did, so I started walking. I walked two or three hundred yards and slipped the headphones on and then I heard this song. It made me- emotional. It had already been a long day. I'd had a long swim, I'd not taken the big downhills the way I wanted. It was 90 degrees out, I was alone. And I wasn't sure my car would get me back home.

I walked over the 45/101 mark on the road and it hit me. I was feeling sorry for myself. It had only lasted thirty seconds, maybe a minute. You don't get through the ironman feeling sorry for yourself. That just isn't an emotion that's acceptable. So I started running. In my bike shoes. Uphill. I ran past McDougalls and the Hungry Trout. Then I got my wheel- thanks Margit for picking up the call and providing rapid service. But I'd kept my heart rate up, I'd kept moving forward. Maybe 45 had become 46.

Sure, it was 8:30, maybe 9:00 minute mile pace. But I was angry, and on race day, I'd rather be angry than self-pitying.

As I mounted the bike and started off- still uphill, I wondered. If I'd just stopped for the lemonade, how would things have been different ?

Karma may not be real, but it sure is weird.

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