Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Lesson Learned From A Sunday In Hell

Ironman Lake Placid 2008 has come and gone and with a single exception, each athlete I was looking after either met or exceeded our expectations. As they say, we learn more from our failures than from our successes. The single exception was the result of torrential downpours throughout the day, an extremely lean and fit athlete, and the lack of a rain jacket that I overlooked instructing the athlete to wear.

In my wildest imagination, I never considered that it would rain all day and night from the middle of the swim until 10:00 PM. What I opened the athletes up for was a case of hypothermia...the opposite of what I feared throughout the preparatory phase for this mid-Summer Epic. This low single-digit body fat possessing athlete was forced to stop as a result of his core temperature dropping much too low. The human body (as Dr. Bob Otto would emphasize while discussing this incident) is better prepared to deal with excessive heat than cold. A simple rain jacket (or even a garbage bag) would likely have provided enough insulation to have allowed this athlete to have his breakthrough performance all of his fitness markers indicated he would have. From now on, even in the middle of Summer, every athlete will have a light waterproof jacket handy.

On the brighter side, the other seven athletes had great experiences. For the three first timers, smiles were the order of this "Biblically shitty weather" day. Excellent fitness and the proper amount of fear was the perfect recipe for an experience that each later described to me as phenomenal and nearly unbelievably rewarding. Of the other four, despite the horrific conditions, PR setting or equalling performances were the order of the day. The fastest finisher I looked after ran the 7th fastest marathon split of the day for females including the pro field, had a huge bike PR, and would have, no doubt, gone 20 minutes faster on the bike had the rain not scared her to death on the descents to Keene.

As a sidenote, the first training camp of what I believe will be many has been decided upon. I can think of no better location than my adopted second home of Boulder, Colorado. For the invited athletes, this will be the perfect boost to fitness for their fall Ironman race. With IM Kona, Florida and Arizona coming up, there is a great deal to be gained from this camp at this time of year. We are determined to make this first foray into Ironman training camps unparalleled. From the accommodations, to the support, to the guest coaches & speakers, to the dining, this camp will be second to none. This Rocky mountain altitude trip will include both American and Canadian athletes capable of staying with a fast moving group of cyclists. In the Winter camp, likely next February, there will two groups, be a second, slightly slower group on rides.