Saturday was my biggest training day yet and the main reason I chose to do the Lake Placid camp. I woke up at 5 a.m., had a quick breakfast, got my bike ready and was off by 6:45 for the full Ironman course. I would end up riding just under 110 miles instead of 112 due to where we started and ended, but it was good enough for me. I've ridden 100 a couple times, but on organized centuries which tend to be a bit more leisurely than a training ride. Plus this course is hillier than my usual route so I knew it would be a challenge. I had no doubt I could do it, I just worried how I'd feel and wondered what it would be like to run afterward.
I started earlier than the group and my roommate Philip joined me. We had the course all to ourselves for about 40 miles. It was nice to have his company. Since it was early in the morning and there was minimal traffic, we often got to ride side by side and talk. My plan for the day was conservative and easy. The coaches told us to take it slower than race day - if we were aiming for 6.5 in the race, do the training ride in 7 or more. I focused on keeping my HR down and my legs comfortable by taking the climbs slow and coasting on descents whenever I could.
Philip pulled ahead around Mile 45 so I rode the final stretch of the first loop alone and finished in just over 3.5 hours. I quickly refilled my bottles and gel flask and ate a Luna Bar while I did it. I don't usually eat solids on the bike but was feeling a tiny bit hungry and figured it couldn't hurt. I was stopped for less than 10 minutes and started the second loop.
I find the second time on anything - whether its a loop or the return on an out and back - always goes by more quickly. Before I knew it I was at Mile 80 where our coaches were stationed to offer support if needed. I had skipped it on the first loop but decided to stop quickly. Jorge came to help and asked me if I was ok. I felt really good in general but was a bit loopy. I asked for some extra Gatorade while I had a caffeinated gel and got started again. The gel did the trick, about 10 miles later I felt much more alert and ready to take on the final section of the course.
This would be my fourth time on the back stretch since I also rode it as an out and back the day before. It was becoming incredibly familiar and made it slightly easier knowing just how close I was to the end and exactly what I needed to get through. My only issue at this point was discomfort in the saddle. I was dying to get out of it whenever possible, but this last stretch is all climbing so there weren't a lot of opportunities. I had opted to wear cycling shorts instead of tri shorts for this ride and boy was I glad I did. I clearly need to keep up my quest to find the right saddle. I also dropped my chain again on a steep climb and after general shifting issues, ended up having to do most of the final stretch in the big ring, which made for some tired legs by the end.
I'm still so new to this sport and still excited over each big milestone and this ride was no exception. While on the final stretch I heard a steady beep and thought my HRM was malfunctioning again, but then realized it was my bike computer hitting 100 miles. I remember this happening on my recent century but in that case, I was just about at the end of my journey. While 10 extra miles isn't much, I also had a run to do to make my training complete. I had a feeling of pride for being able to do this, especially after a hiatus from cycling and my ongoing issues with the bike. I had a burst of energy and was able to pick up the pace for a strong finish.
I made my transition super fast - went to the bathroom, changed into tri shorts, put on a hat, my Garmin and running shoes and was off. My legs felt incredibly odd during the first half mile or so. They weren't heavy like I expected, but rather stiff and almost numb. I ran 2.5 miles out and back and we had support around Mile 2. I had no idea how I was doing until I hit the first mile - 7:52. Unbelievable. I had ridden 110 miles and was able to do a sub-8 pace. I backed the pace down to 8:20s and slowed on the final 1.5 miles since they were almost all uphill. Overall it was an excellent run and after three miles or so my legs felt almost normal. This was the first time in my 18 weeks of training that I felt I can do the race. Up until now I've been hoping, but now I know I can. And I have 90 more days to train. I can only hope it will keep getting better.
Distance - 109.23 miles
Time - 7:01:29
Distance - 5 miles
Time - 42:15