Last weekend I was up in Lake Placid cheering on a bunch of friends who were racing IMLP. Everyone I know had a great day so congrats are in order. It was a great weekend and got me thinking about a lot of things. First, some back story.
I know Mel, the IMLP security volunteer captain. I think she is a saint and has been doing this thankless job for years. I had helped out in past Ironman races and the week before the race Mel and I showed up for the same group ride with TNT. Most people sign up to be ironman volunteers well in advance because they are looking for the golden ticket or fast track to register to race for the following year. In contrast, I am a pure volunteer as I have no desire to cash in that golden ticket and ever sign up for IMLP. I have volunteered with Mel in the past so I knew what I'd be in for and I am thankful for when people volunteer in the races that I do race. I mentioned to her that my daughter wanted to come up and we might be able to help out. Mel told me the logistics and I told her I'd let her know either way.
My daughter and I left home on Thursday night as we had college tours scheduled for Friday. After work, I put the bikes on the back of the car and we drove 5 hours to get to Hanover, NH. We got there late, unpacked the car, and slept in at the local Comfort Inn. The next day after the tour, we put Lake Placid in the GPS and confirmed that the route was mostly 2 lane back roads. Off we went.
In the middle of Vermont near Killington, an engine light went on. Our car is 9 months old with just about 15k miles on it. This should not happen. The warning messages were to keep the car under 4000rpm and find a dealer ASAP. One of the challenges of being in the middle of nowhere is the lack of internet. We ultimately found an Audi dealer in Rutland, VT about 20 minutes ahead and pulled in there about 4:45PM. They said they could take a look.
The said the computer was erroring on the lane warning system. This system is designed so that when the driver starts weaving out of the lane like if sleepy, an alarm should sound. They conjectured that the bike rack was confusing it, reset the code, recommended to ignore it should it happen again but ultimately mention it to our home dealer. An hour later and no charge we were back on the road.
Of course it alarmed again about 20 minutes later. We ignored it but we couldn't ignore that we were getting hungry. Unfortunately, the little podunk towns that were were passing through had no restaurants. When a town is proud of a population of 266 the likelihood of a good place to eat, besides a campground, is slim. We surmised that the closest point of civilization was Placid itself so we short cutted over to the Tail o' the Pup for some serious barbecue.
Tail o' the Pup has been there since perhaps the beginning of civilization. It is a stop on the side of the road with good food, a band playing and picnic tables to eat on. We ordered and my daughter stepped away to go to the ladies room and I didn't realize that this removed the counterweight to me sitting on the other side of the table. When I picked up my beer and leaned back to take a sip, the table went over! I found myself on my back, the table on me, but most of the beer saved. Thankfully we didn't have our dinner served yet. They helped me up and mentioned that this happened all the time. I had road rash on my elbow from dinner! Oh, goody.
There is a new Hampton Inn in Lake Placid where I made a reservation. It was only open two weeks but they didn't require the typical 5 day minimum. It was expensive but had a great location on the run and bike course and overlooked the swim start. We were meeting some of the boys for a shake down ride at 730 so called it an early night.
We did the casual ride with them. Their nerves were sharpening so we told them ass down/feet up and headed back to our hotel. One of the iconic parts of the IMLP bike course are the 3 bears. The bears are small stinger hills near the end of the loop. My daughter wanted to ride the bears (she never had before) so we extended our ride by biking the run course and then short cutting up and over the bears. She liked that someone marked the road with "mama bear," "baby bear" and "papa bear" and commented that the bears themselves weren't that bad and she had ridden worse hills herself. I explained the magic word of context of these coming about 108 miles in. As an endurance athlete herself, she got it.
We went to the volunteer meeting and Mel asked us to help out at Swim Security starting at 530AM. This is what I wanted as it would get us to places where the general public couldn't go (like right next to the water). We were keeping people out of the way of the races. I caught some coming down the chute but missed many too. We ran around all day. We were out at the bears, we were in town, we were at some of the hills on the run. This spectating thing is tiring. We went to the finish line and saw some of my friends finish. The last of my friends went by the 24 mile mark walking about 10:15. They were hurting but we knew that they would finish. We left to join my wife and other daughter who were at a resort about a 3 hour drive away. We got there a little after 2AM.
My coach wasn't at Placid this year but I offered to be his eyes and ears for some of his athletes. We were talking a lot (when the really poor cell phone coverage permitted it). During one of the talks he asked if this was helping inspire me to get back at it. I didn't answer then.
The weather turned cold near the end of the race so I put on my IMFL finisher jacket. Lots of people I know and train with were saying that they are scheduling racing IMLP in 2015. This course is completely the wrong race for me and luckily I know it. No signing up for 2014 for me.
What did get me thinking was that along the run course someone put up a bunch of small signs. They said things like "You vs. last year" or "You vs. Statistics" and thinks like that. One of them said "You vs. next year" and that did impact me. My mantra when I raced IMFL was "You vs. You." I kept saying that all through the end of my training. I realized that I could start with my coach but if I didn't follow his plan and advice, I would just be throwing money away and getting more frustrated.
I also realized that I am in no shape to attempt an ironman in 2014. I need to lose too much weight for that to be even possible. I'm still seeing doctors to make sure there is nothing physically wrong with me but am going to start training with the goal of getting my body composition under control (Note that Lake Placid on Iron Weekend is NOT the place to go if you have body composition concerns - everyone there that weekend does). This is all "Me vs. Me" I don't need an Ironman to validate myself - I've done that already. But I do want to put myself into a position to choose to do it or not. I don't have that choice now but do what it takes to have that choice in the futures.