The Lake George Triathlon Festival consists of an Olympic distance triathlon on Saturday and the Half Ironman distance on Sunday. You can do either one, or if you find yourself dissatisfied with a single day of racing you can do both and complete the ‘King George.’
We had to get up to Lake George on the Friday afternoon before the race. Dougie and I packed up the car and then hit El Paso for some lunch before taking off. One of the more challenging things when planning for back-to-back triathlons is what to bring. You need almost 2 of everything you normally need for a triathlon, which is a lot of stuff. Then throw in the variable of unknown weather and you really have your hands full.
We made it to Lake George in 4 hours and immediately hit race check in. There we met up with fellow Battalion teammates Amy and Dave. Once we had all of our stuff, 2 bibs, 2 timing chips, to swim caps… we went to the hotel to get organized before Abbe and Danika arrived.
Our meal that night took place on the water at Christie’s. Our shrimp scampi was pretty sub par, but it would do the trick.
RACE DAY ONE: OLYMPIC
Let’s just go over the distance for readers not familiar.
SWIM: 1.5k (0.9m)
BIKE: 40k (25m)
RUN: 10k (6.2m)
Doug and I quietly prepared in our hotel room as to not wake the wives. We ate peanut butter sandwiches before headed out. We rode our bikes the 1/2 a mile to transition, which was a great move. It was pretty chilly, 50 degrees, but it was a beautiful morning.
The vibe was pretty awesome and everyone was chatting.
We found Amy, Dave and Sally and just hung out by the water’s edge until showtime. We were Wave 3 as there were 2 waves of competing College athletes ahead of us. That would make for a very fun race in the end, seeing UCon and ‘Cuse jerseys competing and so forth.
Dougie and I found Victor (part of my Seven Samurai, but more on that later) and talked swim strategy. The water was 75 degrees (warmer than the air) and felt great. The gun went off and the wave of guys exploded into the water like a feeding frenzy. I plopped my head down and started my race.
I was very excited to be open water swimming in Lake George. It’s very clear and way cleaner than anything close by to NYC. I had not done much in he way of swim training all season, so I was just out for enjoyment and to hopefully not get my face smashed by another swimmer.
The sun started to rise over the eastern side of the mountains and it made for quite a beautiful swim. I had a little bit of contact but for the most part was able to do my own thing. It’s funny how much random stuff you think about when you are swimming.
Right before the finish you swim over these old train tracks, it’s way cool.
Back on dry land I ran into Doug in T1 as we were rack neighbors. I changed my tri top (Doug helped as it was stuck) and thew on a long sleeve cycling jersey.
It was cold for around 5 miles and then everything clicked in. The first portion of the course is on this bike path through the woods. It is heavily shaded and one car lane wide. It was pretty sick rolling 25MPH through the bends. I found myself imagining that I was on a speeder bike in Return of the Jedi. At one point I did have to yell at 2 guys who were riding side by side for a few minutes not allowing anyone to pass.
We hit a few big hills where I was screaming down the hill at high speed, it was fantastic. The uphills were nothing too challenging in my opinion.
I finished up the bike feeling pretty good, but ready to rock a 10k on foot. In T2 I ate one gel, washed it down with some water and took off.
The crowds were really thick and I saw my Samurai and their cheer squad.
The Seven Samurai are a group of triathletes I have been privately coaching this season. Rachel and Vic were also doing King George, Natalie, LVL and Erin were doing the Half Ironman the following day. They had a few others with them cheering and it was a solid crew.
The course was a double loop and at the top of the hill on mile one we entered the shaded bike path. I had just passed Vic who was looking strong. Then, there was an arrow to head into the woods on a trail! It was awesome, very Last of the Mohicans and there was even a fallen tree you had to jump over. You then emerge like a bat out of hell onto a field. Wow it was fun.
We then entered a school parking lot and I found Abbe and Danika cheering us on. My pace was hovering right around the 7 minute per mile mark.
I hit the second loop and was super excited to tackle that trail again. I saw the Samurai cheer squad yelling ‘Go Baker!’ again. I also ended up running into Amy and I yelled ‘Battaliiioooooooon!!!’ Go team.
I finished up and then headed over to cheer. I got to see Amy, Rachel and Dougie come through. We all hung around in the field eating and talking about the race. Dougie and I eventually made our way to the beer tent for our 2 free Adirondack Brewery Beers.
Since we had to recover for the race the next day we opted for a really protein heavy lunch. We also went back out into the lake later to shake out the body and just float.
Active recovery, Battalion style
For dinner we opted for the Lake George Beach Club. The food was fantastic but the vibe they were trying to create was pretty lame. They did, however have a fantastic gal singing on the outside deck entertaining us all while the cool night air set in.
RACE DAY TWO: HALF-IRONMAN
Once again, let’s just go over the distance for readers not familiar.
We woke up and repeated the exact routine we had done the morning before… peanut butter sandwiches, etc. I even made the same crappy cup of coffee. My body didn’t seem tired, but my mind did. It knew what lay in store I think.
On the bike ride to the start we thought it might have been a few degrees cooler than Saturday.
After setting up the gear in transition we met up with the group that I coach. We had a few laughs and kept the mood light. 4 of us (Dougie, Rachel, Vic and myself) had the King George double event to tackle. Natalie, Laura and Erin had opted to just do the Half-Ironman portion of the race, a smarter move I think.
I was Wave 1 this time so I headed to the water soon after the meet up. Let’s get this thing going!
The same 1975 recording of the National Anthem played that did the day before, which was pretty uninspiring. Then, showtime. I ran into the water (it was still warm) and plunged in, locking into a calm steady freestyle stroke. I felt good and once again wanted to just enjoy this lovely body of water.
1.2 miles compared to .9 miles didn’t seem like that big a difference mentally., but physically it was. It wouldn’t have been if I had nothing to compare it to the day before, but the extra distance to the turnaround seemed to take forever.
My sighting was way better today and I was hitting all the tangents and keeping a straight line for the most part.
In T1 I had a hell of a time getting my wet suit off. The race uses these huge foam ankle trackers and it was hard to get the suit over it. Then, to make matters worse, as I went to mount my bike the chain was apparently off the big wheel! Sabotage! I quickly remedied the situation (some guy even complimented my bike handling skills, thanks man) and took off.
It was quite cold and the first three miles of the course are straight uphill. It was grueling and seemed to never end. At the apex I started to take off. I saw Laura, who looked fresh and then caught up to Doug. We rode for awhile before he said to me in typical Doug style, “Go do your thing bro, I’ll see you on the run.”
We kept riding up into the mountains and the fog made it seem as though we were riding into a forest fire. It also made for very chilly riding and I was happy to have my long sleeve jersey on. We were riding along the Schroon River, which I kept saying over and over in my head as it is quite fun to say. It got pretty lonely out there and at times I could only see one person in front of me and one behind, both 50 meters out.
It was at this point, mile 20, that I all of a sudden had to pee very bad. This was strange as I had peed like 4 times during the swim.
The top half of the race is to circumnavigate Brandt Lake. It was a gorgeous lake that was much quieter and calmer than Lake George. At this point I was actually feeling pretty exhausted and wanted the race to be done. ‘Just hang on’ is what I kept telling myself. My speed dropped and I tried to take it easy on the hills. I had been taking in plenty of nutrition, I just think the race from the day before was starting to take it’s toll.
As we were rounding the top of the lake, I looked to the right. The sun was glancing across a field of tall grass as a young horse, backlit, stood eating. It was so beautiful. For a second I though, ‘Wow I wish I had a camera.’ Then, as I often do, though, ‘No, this is for the moment.’ It actually gave me a burst of energy.
When we hit the half way mark there was one port-o-potty. I used it and once I was back on the bike felt worlds better. ‘Baker, you always pee on the bike, why not then?’ It was really cold out and my tri shorts were still wet from the swim, that seemed like a very bad time.
The second half of the lake run was super fun. The road got tight and windy, one wrong move and you were in the soup! The temperatures were starting to rise as well, the fog gone.
By now I was leap-frogging with 2-3 individuals. As we were around mile 40 the gal in front of me veered left and hit the brakes. A giant Great Dane, smiling and happy, was running right at us. It wanted to play. I followed suit and just as he came up beside me to lick me I took off. Up ahead, the unaffected owner saying, “Molly, hey c’mon back okay?” Onward.
I was actually feeling pretty good and peppy now and held a steady pace. I knew we would soon go back down the uphill from the beginning. Before that though, the gods set upon us one last mother of an uphill. I was feeling social, and asked a guy I was passing, “Hey, do you think this is the last uphill?” “I fuckin’ hope so.” he yelled. Yes, I hope so too.
And it was. As we crossed over the apex a glorious thing of beauty showed itself, the three mile downhill. I screamed down it, trying to conserve energy by not grinding it out. It also seemed as though the wind was working against us.
T2 never looked so good. I racked my bike and decided, without a cloud in the sky, I should lather up with some sunblock. As I was doing so one of the USAT Refs came over and hung out, noting that what I was doing was a good idea.
Taking off onto the course I felt a bit sluggish as compared to the day before. I know myself, and I know that mile 1 of a triathlon is going to be the warm up. I was disappointed when we didn’t turn down into the woodsy trail from yesterday and kept on the bike path. At least it was shaded.
I was passing people steadily and then Vic came from the other direction and gave me a high five. Nice. Next I saw Abbe and Danika in full on cheer squad. As I passed them for the first quick out-n-back I passed Erin who yelled to me, “Sorry Baker, I didn’t take it easy on the bike.” I wanted her to take it easy on the bike.
Within a few miles I had caught up to her and noted that I thought she was 7th woman overall! Keep it up I told her. She cracked me up because after I left one of the bigger aid stations she asked if there were snacks. Yes, there are snacks.
I saw Dougie right around here and I yelled “Battaliooooon!” He looked good and was smiling.
I was pretty fired up now and running sub7. I was not stopping at water stations to walk, I was not holding back. As we hit mile 7 we entered a new section of the course. I took it, because some dumb young kids who volunteered weren’t paying attention, and then I saw a mile 12 marker and freaked out. I sped up and asked this guy running what the deal was. He notified me that we run this loop twice. Then, the mile 8 marker passed and I felt dumb.
On the second loop I saw Natalie who seemed to be having a great time like the rest of us. My watch had malfunctioned (because I hit the transition button twice) so I didn’t know pace or time, I was just moving as fast as I could go.
The last loop was pretty fast, and I always realize that I am meant to run long distance when I experience this in a race. It was like miles 7-13 were easier than the first few.
I saw Abbe at the finish and she helped me put some pep in my step for the end.
My time of 5:29:58 was not a race PR, but I finished with a PR (1:29:58) for my Half-Ironman run split.
After she found me we both hit the water station (she had just done a 20 mile training run). I found Victor and then watched Erin finish. She came in 6th overall in fact! Soon we saw Dougie, who did way better than expected. Laura and Natalie crushed it and Rachel had a broken chain, throwing her time way off. Better to happen now than in Ironman though.
While eating they started putting more results up, King George being one of them, and Abbe went up to look. She looked back at me and held up five fingers, smiling at me. I had come n 5th and was super excited by it!
For those confused, they add up the Olympic Distance and the Half-Ironman distance times to get the King George results.
We took some awards photos before Dougie and I headed out to meet the gals for food. We spent the day celebrating our double triathlon accomplishment.
Thanks Lake George and Adirondack Race Management!
Big ups to the group I coach. You were sportsmanlike, you showed a high level of endurance during tough times and looked great while there was a lot of carnage on the course. I am proud to have coached and taken you to where you are now. You are all Warrior Status, keep your heads high.
This was very challenging more mentally than physically. I am happy to have done it, because I live for the endurance challenges.