Placid Weekend – swimming & biking the IM course, volunteering, finish line party and registering for IMLP13

iPhone-086-225x300Oh what a weekend! I dropped a hint on Thursday that I might have something up my sleeve as I headed out on a road trip with some friends over the weekend. Now I can confess that we were headed to Lake Placid… on Ironman weekend. I had a few emails and messages from people asking if this was, in fact, what I was up to. Good guess! 🙂

iPhone-053-300x2256 of us made the ~7 hour drive on Friday and set up camp at Whiteface KOA, just a 10 minute drive outside of downtown Lake Placid. I noticed immediately that the campground was teeming with athletes, and almost every vehicle driving in and out of town was loaded up with bikes. The area was oozing Ironman.

iPhone-082-300x225First on our agenda was a swim at pristine Mirror Lake. It was early evening by the time we got there and the lake and there were hundreds of people swimming or getting ready to do so. The course was fully marked and set-up had begun on the beach. It was very cool to see everything coming together, and wondering what it must feel like for those who were preparing to race in a couple of days.

iPhone-058-300x225We suited up and had a fantastic swim. The water was just about the perfect temperature (comfortably cool) and so clean and fresh (especially compared to Duck Lake *shudder*). I covered one full loop and loved following the famous white cable – no sighting required! In fact, I got so distracted by the line that I swam directly into the large triangular buoys a couple of times. Whoops!

iPhone-059-225x300 iPhone-061-225x300After dinner back at camp, we tucked in as early as possible after the long travel day and knowing that we had an early wake-up call and big workout ahead. We were up and at ’em at 5am to fuel up and prepare for a long ride – 90K (56mi) for half of us and double for the crazies other half. Our campground was located directly along the bike course, so we picked it up about 45 miles into the official route and decided to start our ride from there.

iPhone-063-225x300The route was spectacular. It’s a challenging course, but the scenery is just incredible (when you’re able to take your eyes off the road to enjoy it). Unfortunately the roads are not in very good shape, especially the shoulders, but at least we will have more space when they are closed to traffic.

Untitled1-224x300iPhone-077-300x225It was fun to recognize the hills and landmarks that people have been telling me about for months, and I truly enjoyed every minute of the ride – except the terrifying descent into Keene! I think I need more practice on my downhills than uphills.

iPhone-076-300x225After the ride, a few of us went out for a short brick run while the others carried on with their second loop. After that, we out in some solid pool time and treated ourselves to ice cream.

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Later that night we went back into town to scope out the expo and transition area, which was packed to the brim with bikes.

iPhone-083-300x225We did some shopping and gawked at all of the athletes walking around in head to toe spandex before heading back to camp for dinner and an early bed time. It has been a long day and we had another big one ahead.

Bright and early Sunday morning (IRONMAN DAY!) it was time to get dressed up and head around the corner to Wilmington for our “Wild Wild West” themed aid station duties starting at 7am. We had a couple of hours of prep, then were treated to a nice breakfast while we waited for the athletes to start rolling through our aid station, which was located around the 40 mile mark on the bike course.

iPhone-0951-300x225iPhone-092-225x300From 9am onwards, it was non-stop excitement and chaos as cyclists poured through our station to fill up on water, Perform, gels, chews, bars and bananas. There were dozens of us handing items out at any given time and we formed a long line with the various items spread out all the way through. It’s a lot harder than you might think to successfully hand something off to someone on a bike, especially when they didn’t want to slow down, and items were dropping all over the place.

There were several wipeouts caused my cyclists wobbling as they tried to swap bottles, as other cyclists attempted to weave around them on this narrow out-and-back section. The dropped bottles posed a major hazard and we saw at least one athlete ride over a bottle, which caused him to go down. Thankfully, we didn’t see any major injuries and each of them was able to get up and carry on.

iPhone-101-225x300Things got intense in the second loop. The sun had been pounding down all day and the temperature seemed to be a lot warmer than most anticipated. We were melting just standing out there, and really feeling for everyone who was out racing. More and more people were pouring into our station needing support. Many stopped for long periods of time, needing aid or just some time in the shade and off of their bikes. We did everything we could for people who needed help, from slathering sunscreen on them, feeding them advil from our personal stash, filling up their bottles and nutrition boxes, and even peeling and hand-feeding bananas to some of them! It was a truly humbling and also very rewarding experience.

group-300x224After 6+ hours out there, we eventually had to peel ourselves away. It was an absolute blast being out there (though more exhausting than you might think!) and I hope to have the opportunity to do it again. It was a great feeling to play even a small part in helping someone get through their day.

We had a bit of downtime in the early evening before heading back into town to watch the finish. We staked out a spot where athletes were making their way into the Olympic Oval, and watching their faces when they realized they were finally there was just incredible. Some people seemed to be dead to the world, running completely on autopilot, while others whooped and hollered and high fived the crowd. Some were walking or hobbling, while others seemed to find a final kick to sprint for the finish.

iPhone-107-300x225I had goosebumps just imagining what it must feel like in that moment. After a while, we decided to make our way inside and grab a seat on the bleachers where we stayed until midnight. The place was getting more and more packed and louder by the minute. They aren’t kidding when they call this the “midnight finish line party.”

iPhone-114-300x225iPhone-113-300x225It was an incredibly inspiring experience to be at the finish and get a real taste for what this is all about. It certainly made me more excited about what we were planning to do the following morning.

After getting to bed around 1:30, our alarms were set for 4:30 in order to line up at the race site with hundreds of other volunteers looking for a spot in the 2013 race. We were about 150th in line (there were well over 1000 when we left) and they started taking us inside after about two and a half hours of waiting. There may have been some naps on the sidewalk.

It just took a few minutes to sign our lives away register and I enjoyed chatting nervously with others lining up while we waited. Just a few quick questions, cha-ching on the credit card and I was in!

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Ironman Lake Placid, July 28, 2013: here I come!



53 thoughts on “Placid Weekend – swimming & biking the IM course, volunteering, finish line party and registering for IMLP13

  1. I’m so excited for you!!!! Wonder if I can convince a group to head up from here to volunteer next year since I know of quite a few racing there next year… Hmmm…

    That’s me – no dreams of DOING an Ironman (or any triathlon really), but apparently I dream of volunteering at one.

    Can’t wait to follow your journey!

  2. I love love loved reading this!! I also registered for Lake Placid, my first Ironman on Monday, but I didn’t get to volunteer as I couldn’t get out of town this weekend. I can’t wait to read more this year about your training.

  3. Fricking awesome!!! I am so excited for you and cannot wait to read about this new journey. Ironman is on my bucket list, but not for a few more years (once the toddler grows up and I have time to put in the training needed to compete).

  4. OMG MARLENE!!! aahhhhH! that is crazy! congrats. congrats! im sooo excited for you. cant wait to follow your training.

    ps. u r crazy! hehehehhe

  5. Thank you so much for volunteering for us!!! It was a great experience from the inside and I’m sure you gonna love it even more next year! It is amazing to feel the buzz growing everyday more and more.

    It was great to see all the volunteers having fun and trying to push us as much as they can. It would have been a difficult day without all of you and YOU GUYS ROCK !!!!

    Enjoy the training, it’s all about the journey. Race day is just the icing on the cake or like a graduation day 🙂 One of the best advice I received was: “Ironman is like a BIG training day with a bike valet parking and a special catering service”. Enjoy the ride!

    Alex D. – a.k.a. @Playmobil31 – a.k.a Ironman Lake Placid 2012 Finisher 😉

    • That is a great way of looking at it. I’ll remember that. 🙂

      Congrats again… looked like it was a tough day out there. I LOVED volunteering and plan to do it again ASAP.

  6. This is awesome M, I am so excited for you.
    Tempted to come down.
    You guys will have an excellent time…so jealous..haha!!

  7. That’s so exciting, congrats for the registration for 2013. You’ll do great I’m sure. Too bad it’s so far, would have loved to come and watch! I’m sure it’ll be very exciting!

  8. OMG OMG!!!! I Got goosebumps just reading this! I SOOO want to be there. Brian and I have been talking about going for such a long time – I bet if he could run more than 5 miles at a time, he would do an ironman. I am so excited and happy for you!!

    • Hope you can make it. Lake Placid is just incredible. I recommend the KOA campground – they have great little cabins too!

  9. This was so cool to read! Sounds like an amazing weekend! I’ve only ever been to Lake Placid in the winter (hockey tournament) and it was beautiful then, I can only imagine what it’s like this time of year! Good luck next year!!

  10. Long time reader, first time commenter, and very new triathlete here :blush: I’m very, very excited for your journey and find myself curiously jealous. Thanks for sharing your training!

    • Yes! Volunteers and athletes from the current year get first dibs, then people get to line up in person after those are done, and finally spots open up online if there are any left.

  11. This is SO COOL! Obviously being outside of the tri/IM world I would never have any idea that people do this in order to grab a spot, but I think it’s brilliant. They probably have no issues recruiting volunteers each year 😉

    What an amazing weekend, and you guys definitely got the most out of your trip (loving those mountain views)!

    • Exactly! It’s genius, really. I think volunteering ahead of time is a great way to check things out and get excited, too. I will always try to do that if possible… if there’s another down the road, that is! 😉

  12. WooHoo! I am thrilled and not one bit surprised you went to volunteer/sign up! No time like the present. How totally cool. So excited for you. It’s on THing 2’s birthday so extra good luck!

  13. Awesome! So excited for you and so glad you are doing this one. This was my one and only, waaay back in ’99. I love the course, love the town/spectators and everything else that goes with it. You’re gonna love it!

    • So happy to hear that! Seems everyone loves it. The whole experience was just mind-blowing and I’m sure it will be even moreso next year. 😀

  14. Sounds like an awesome weekend! I look forward to following your journey over the next year. You are so inspiring! Doing an IM someday is on my bucket list.

  15. Sounds amazing. You and your friends are event heroes for volunteering. Huge events like this can’t survive without people like you. Not at all surprised that you’ve signed up for next year. You’re unstoppable.

  16. Very excited for you…there is NOTHING like an IM finish line. I had total goosebumps when were at AZ last year.
    My friend raced IMLP this year. She trained on more hills than you can imagine. I know they liked where they stayed as well if you are looking into accommodations.

    • Congrats to your friend!! I will be seeking out the hills for sure.

      Thanks, we found a place to stay in Saranac Lake, just about 8 miles out. We are bringing Miles so that made it trickier finding somewhere, and always wanted to stay 5 nights so I was hoping not to spend $300+ per night.

  17. eeek!! so happy you did it! you’re going to love the year ahead of you.

    i got the goosebumps reading this. can’t believe i’m going to experience it in 3 months. but i didn’t like the part about wipeouts. you need to leave that part out in future posts.

  18. That volunteer gig looks like too much fun!! and the IRONMAN register? Brings tears to my eyes for some reason. So proud of you, Marlene and all that you continue to accomplish. Way to get after your dreams in the biggest way!! Sorry, I’ve been MIA, hoping to get back on the ‘blog-reading’ train (at least)— the ‘writing’ (we’ll see). (hugs)!!

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