I arrived at Lake Placid Ironman Training Camp early Friday morning to settle in and get ready for the afternoon 13 mile kickoff run. The group for the most part came to camp with their game faces on and the run was our first chance to shake off the long drive to Upstate NY. My biggest fear was that being the geezer in the group I’d be followed in by the sag wagon or worst yet the Coroner’s Cadillac.
Overall Lake Placid is known as a hilly, difficult course and the intent of the Training Camp for me was to learn the course which will help with planning my race day strategy. So, for example: if I have to pick a spot to curl up an die it should be a nice place like a scenic overlook. The run went OK but I finished in among the last 3rd of the pack which added to my growing sense of “What the hell am I doing here??”.
Knowing I now have a 112 mile bike the following morning, I spent the night looking for a way to reconcile that I have this momentous event ahead of me that I have invested significant time, money and effort on and this camp is supposed to be my test to ensure I’m ready both physically and mentally. I can’t start out with a defeated mind on day 1 of the camp…that is not a great vote of confidence.
Stay on Plan.
Day 2 started out early and I knew the road would be long and hilly. I suspected that it would take me between 6.5 and 7.5 hours depending on the weather, flats, mechanicals, hydration, nutrition and most of all managing my demons. The hills were not as bad as I remember (last summer I rode some of the course which scared the hell out of me). The downhills had me clocked at 40+ miles per hour with my brakes on. I just missed being taken out by a torpedo water bottle careening towards me from a rider up ahead. Those are things you just need to watch out for along with cavernous trenches in the pavement, rocks, glass, falling bikers etc… Overall day two was better and I came away from the hills knowing that I had the right fitness to match the demand, if I respected the course and held to my plan (No chasing no racing). This will help with the overall game plan for the race . Day 3 was swim day. The forecast called for heavy rain, possible lightning, cold and overcast. Most of the athletes had it in their mind that the swim session would be cancelled and some just plainly opted out. Those of us that showed swam in the downpour which if you think about it really has little or no effect on the swim…maybe some visibility or psychological impact but minimal from my standpoint. Of those that showed for the swim half did one loop and went in the other half did both loops… I figured I paid for the camp and I wanted to get as much out of it as I could…and I’m glad I did the second lap definitely helped build confidence for what kind of energy I’d have out of the swim on race day.
Plus Mirror Lake is absolutely a wonderful swim venue. Nestled between the mountains in a picture postcard setting I felt privileged to have the opportunity to swim the lake and thankful to have the fitness and support to do it.
So what are the takeaway’s from Camp Lake Placid? As I drove home I cycled down into a deep state of self doubt which was fueled by a growing fear and dread. I began to feel that “This was not fun anymore, I’m not up for the task, everybody is younger and more fit than me ..whah whah whah “. As I drove home by way of Self Pity Lane my head began to get wrapped tighter and tighter. How am I going to explain to Sue my coach that the end result of my training camp experience a sense of defeat and self doubt?? What’s worse if I have my weekly conference with her in 20 minutes and I haven’t a clue how to explain why I feel this way.
Operation Wrapped to tight… This is one of those moments when if you have right coach that can manage your unique set of quirks and foibles…you can survive the journey through Self Pity Lane… Coach Sue listened to my recap of the weekends camp. She patiently let me roll around in my own pool of “I’m not good enough” Goo then like a reconstructive surgeon she stripped off the bandages, healed to self inflicted wounds and implanted new information, perspective and mind maps.
The driver for all of my angst was fear, she knew it and I knew it. Just when I thought I’m not going to understand or get past the fear, Coach Sue offered a personalized re-crafted version of a quote from the movie Doon. She explained that
“Fear is your mind-killer. When you give into fear it is like a little-death inside of you. Face the fear then let it to pass over and through you. And when it has gone past …..you will turn your inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only you will remain.”
These are the nuggets I chew on when the dark demons visit on long swims, runs and rides. The remaining ride home was a much more enjoyable ride. I did feel I’d learned a lot about the Lake Placid course. Where the hills once scared the crap out of me …I now feel a respect but not a fear of those many mountainous climbs and descents. That fear has passed through me… My one remaining fear is still the run.. I will face that fear and Coach Sue has already begun to re-frame my concept of that event and reprogram the way I’ll look at and approach it on game day.
I am a Happy Tri Camper!