Lake Placid 2014 Race Report
By Kevin Barton
Prior to racing Lake Placid this year, I was nervous, but also felt good about my training. This is my fourth year racing triathlons and each year has seen an improvement. Leading up to the race, I had no real time expectations; I just wanted to execute my plan. Underneath, I was thinking maybe a 10:15 – 10:30 might be within reach. My end time was a 10:16:49, which was good for 15th in my age group, 76th overall, and five places away from a Kona spot! Given it was my first ironman, I was extremely pleased.
I would first like to thank my family for all their incredible support. My training volume was big and without their unconditional love and support none of this would be possible. Second, I would like to thank my coach Dave Sek. His ability to get me prepared for this race was top notch. Third, I would like to thank my longtime friend Jeff Capobianco and the entire BPC family. I truly love being a part of this team and appreciate all the support
My training started in late December. Overall, my swim and bike training went well and I was confident about these legs going into the race. Early on my run training was also going well. However, in May, as well as a few weeks before the race, my calf issues came back. This was my biggest concern, is my calf going to hold up?
We arrived in Lake Placid on Thursday night and stayed in a Best Western Hotel. Our condo started on Friday and is in about as perfect a location for this race as it gets. On Friday, I registered, got a quick hour workout in, watched the kid’s race, went to the supermarket, etc. Before I looked up it was 7:00 PM and I was exhausted. Saturday was better, fairly low key. I got my bike bags ready (all 6 of them), checked my bike and dropped off my bike, bike bag and run bags.
Race Day, I got up at 4:30 and had my normal race breakfast, coffee, bagel with peanut butter, banana and a boost. Saturday, I slept okay, but not great, which is pretty typical. Race day, I was excited and nervous. It was a bit surreal that the day was finally here. Doug Marshall (whom I was sharing a condo with) and I met up with Jeff and Marc to head down to transition at 5:00, did a final check on the bike, pumped up the tires then drop off the special needs bike and run bags. After waiting at the condo with our teammates, we headed down to the water around 6:15.
For those who don’t know, the Lake Placid swim is a rolling start based on your estimated finishing time. It starts with the under 1 hour corral and goes up in 10 minute segments to around 2 hours. I seeded myself in the back end of the 1 hour corral. Pros went off at 6:20, then the age groupers started around 6:30. I was in the water at just after 6:30. The first loop was crowded. I did not get beat up too much, but I also did not have much room to swim. I came through the first loop at 30:30, which I was pleased with. The first loop is typically faster as swimmers create a whirlpool affect which increases your speed. I found a nice swimmer to draft off during my second lap. On the way back on the second loop, I was held up a bit catching the slower swimmers still on their first loop. This is about the same point in which I looked up noticed the monsoon rains that would stay with me until about mile 30 of the bike. Overall time, 1:02:59, right where I thought I would be.
All went relatively well in T1. Ran to T1, which is about a third of a mile, found my bag quickly, put my helmet and shoes on and headed off. I left my sunglasses in the bag as I typically cannot see with them in the rain. The volunteers at Lake Placid are amazing. As I run by, they hand me my bike and pack up my swim gear for me.
The bike is a two loop, fifty-six mile course. On my bike, I remembered all the things Dave and Jeff have preached to us – patience. My goal was to hold my power number of 220 watts, while also making sure my HR data was in check. The first few miles there is a big climb out of town. All during training and camp, Jeff and Dave preached to us that you will see riders hammer the hills, especially the early ones. Let them go, they would say, as you will see them again on the run when their legs fall apart. So, on the hill out of town, I just sat on my power number and watched several riders stand up passing me, just as they said would happen. Next was the 5 mile descent. Lake Placid just spent a good amount of time and money paving this segment. Normally this would be good and safer. Unfortunately, fresh pavement and monsoon rains are not a good combination. As such, I took this section more conservatively that I normally would. In addition, given the rains, thunder and lightning that would be with me for about an hour and a half, I was freezing. The third section is the flats. Nothing to eventful here, just stayed on my power and checked to see if my HR was in line. The last segment is the climb back to town, which starts around mile 32 and goes to mile 56, climbing over a 1000 feet. During this section, I stayed consistent without spiking my HR or power numbers. First lap I was around 2:42, an HR of 138 bpm and 20.7 MPH. Overall, I was very pleased, good speed, good power, low HR and my hydration and nutrition seemed to be in check. Around the end of the first loop Marc caught me on the last hill and started pulling away on the second climb out of town. It was fun seeing him on the course all day. The second loop had finally dried out and I was able to descend normally. Since Marc was in front of me, I thought, it would be kind of fun to try and catch him. I hit the second descent a bit harder and reached a top speed over 53 MPH. At the end of the descent, I pulled alongside Marc smiled and said a quick hello. The remainder of the bike was fairly steady, stayed on my power and followed the plan. Second lap was a bit slower at 2:45. However, my power was pretty much the same. The winds on the second loop kicked up a bit, especially on the climb back to town. Overall, I was 5:27, 20.4 MPH with an average HR of 141. I was very pleased all around with this leg, not only the time but how I felt during and after.
Only thing eventful here to report is that I grabbed the wrong transition bag. I did not notice this until I was in the tent trying to open it and wondered why it was tied. When a volunteer cut the bag, I notice my swim stuff and went *&^^%%$$. The volunteer seriously had a razor in his pocked to cut the bag immediately….did I mention how good the volunteers are? I went back, grabbed the right bag, put my stuff on and headed out for the run.
The run is a two loop out and back. The first few miles are downhill, followed by some flats, then a big climb back to town. My goal on the run was to run 7:52 – 8:00 minute pace. This was by far the hardest, but also the most fun. It was great to see all our teammates on the course cheering each other on. The first few miles, I kept a steady pace at my target and used this portion to get my legs back. As I turned left onto Riverside Drive, I was holding between a 7:55 – 8:00 minute pace, and felt ok. Legs were working, no cramps, and all in all, not too bad. As I started to reach the end of the turn around, I saw Marc again and wished him well. On the back end of the turnaround I saw Jeff not far behind me. He ultimately would catch me around mile 10. Coming back into town after the turn on Riverside was the best part for me, as I got to see all my teammates. As I took the right hand turn back to town, I stayed steady up the hills, then continued to get back to my run pace around 7:55 on the flats. One loop down, 1:45, for an 8:00 per mile pace and an HR in check at 153, very pleased. The second half of the marathon is really where the Ironman becomes a true test of endurance. I again used the downhill to get my legs in order, then tried to stay consistent on the flats. From miles 13 – 20, my pace was still consistent. I had slowed to about an 8:12, as I was starting to feel my legs tire at this point; however, HR was still in check and through 20 miles of the run I was on an 8:05 pace with an average HR of 153. The last 6 miles of the Ironman marathon for me was truly about willpower and how much pain I was willing to endure. At that point, my legs hurt a lot, but were still working. I was very concerned they might cramp. As such, I was taking a significant amount of salt and Gu’s and basically grabbing anything I could get my hands on at the aid stations. Miles 20 – 24, my pace slowed again to around an 8:30, but at least I was not falling apart. The last and final hill is a beast, extremely steep and difficult. This is where I finally broke down and walked for the first and only time. After finishing the steepest part of the hill (about 0.25 miles), I started running again and remained so until I finished the race.
Coming into the finishing shoot was such a great moment. I looked to my right, gave my family high fives, and then proceeded to the finish, extremely excited for a solid 10:16!