Saturday, July 26, 2008

Ironman Lake Placid- Part IV

The run. Never easy in the ironman.

I came in off the bike. There was someone to take it right away as soon as I dismounted, which was nice. I kept my helmet with me and tried to run, but I couldn't. Still, I was upright. That's better than Florida, where my right knee buckled and I collapsed as my bike was wheeled out from under me. Also, my right ankle, which usually aches for the first five minutes after I get off the bike, didn't. But I couldn't. I stumbled to the porta-potty, peed, and then headed for my bags, which I once again self serviced to save time.

In the tent, I was quick, even though I was changing from the cycling jersey, which chafes my neck when I run, to the Elite singlet. I wanted to give Dave some props out there. I shoved a clif block in each pocket and started running. But I was hurting. See the picture below.

I told myself that with the conditions of my calves, I should focus on running the first half of the marathon and then re-evaluate my condition. Finishing was never a question, and I'd come out onto the run course at around 7 hours, so I knew I was still in contention to qualify and even crack the top ten in my age group based on historical data- but only if I could run. And I didn't think I could.

The beauty of the Lake Placid course is that downhill start to the run- much of the first four miles is either downhill or slants down. However, when both your calves are in danger of a race-ending cramp, downhill is bad. You have to baby the downhills. Still, I started out really well. That short-stride ironman run is really well-suited to cramp-ready legs. I started passing people and set a nice solid pace. When I passed the fairgrounds and went into the steep downhill on the bridge, I really backed off.

I have to admit that as much as I love the Lake Placid race, I hate the 'out-and-back' at at the bottom of the hill and my biggest regret is not running the marathon course this June (or ever), outside the race. It's just 2.5 miles or so each way, but it just goes on and on and on. And it's not flat. Sometimes it's downhill, sometimes it's up hill, and either way, you get the opposite later.

I think what makes the section daunting is that it is comparatively flat to the rest of the run course. Coming onto it off the downhill is kind of a, well, a downer. I remember taking my first banana part in this section. I was hoping the potassium would help fend off cramps. I also took some electrolytes, although many of the 'pills' had turned to power.. I climbed the biggest hill in this section, a hump really, still running well- I did stop to use the porta-potty at some point.

Then it happened. That damn out and back. So far out. Finally I made it to that damn far-off cone, but I was already beat up mentally. I felt like I was struggling to maintain my pace and as each mile ticked off, I was calculating where I want to be at the half-marathon point- somewhere around 8:45. I was not really keeping track of how fast each mile was, that gets in your head.

I finally made it back to the Ironman inspiration station. I got the generic 1232- alan macdougall- 'You're a winner' message. I saw Margit going out shortly after that- she looked like she was running well and I guess I looked better than I had, so we slapped hands and then I worked as best I could to the end of the out and back.

I took it really easy up that long hill, then worked harder on flatter section. I started feeling better as I went by the fairgrounds, and basically just ran solid to that great big uphill into town. I did not walk the uphill. As I turned the corner at the Mobil station I heard Eric and someone else and felt like I was doing OK. I finally climbed up onto the second out and back and I was hurting. The turn-around on this second out and back is also WAY out there, at the same place the bikes come out onto the road. Any out and back gets magnified in distance at a time like this. I saw Steve and Chuck and just pushed to get there.

And then I turned at the cone and suddenly I was running downhill again and I felt better. I soon saw the first woman mountain bike and the race winner for the women coming up the out-and-back as I was going down. I found another gear. I did not want to be lapped by the winning woman.

Before I knew it, I had indeed run half the marathon, and I was even on pace. But there was another 13+ miles left....

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