Saturday, August 09, 2008

Vacation revisited

I figured since we've been home from vacation for almost 2 weeks, it's time to reminisce.

We headed out to Lake Placid, NY (the town, not the actual lake) for Chris' Ironman competition. We opted to drive since we had an Outback full of stuff. It was my brillant idea to take the Subaru, since it has better gas mileage than the Element. I also thought it would be a more comfortable ride. Turns out the gas mileage was better - an average of approx. 28 mpg, but I think riding in any car for 18 hours is not very comfortable, so that was a toss up.

We left on a Tuesday evening and decided to drive straight through. I-90, here we come! I drove from our late evening departure time until about 11:30pm. Feeling sand in one's eyes I believe is a clue to relinquish one's driving duties. Chris took over until about 5am, where we stopped in extreme Western NY in a McDonald's parking lot to doze. We hit the road again around 7am. It was quite exciting to depart I-90, thinking "Wow, not too far to go!" Let me tell you, the journey through the rest of New York on 2 lane highway roads was not that quick! A lesson learned, if it's close to lunch time, but you're not really hungry, stop and get something to go to eat later, you never know if you'll find anything when you are really, really hungry. We should know this after 10 years of road tripping, but it never fails, we end up with hungry headaches and stomach aches because we did not heed our own advice.

Upon arriving in tourist central in the Adirondacks, we did find somewhere to eat. It was like a beacon on the highway. We had arrived... Tail O'The Pup!

It looked a church festival on the side of the road. Giant white tents with red picnic tables filled the roadside lot. I had a salad (mediocre) and clam chowder (pretty decent). Chris had a fried fish sandwich (pretty good) and we shared sweet potato fries (super yum!). It was a great introduction to the Adirondacks.

From there, we headed the last 8 miles into the town of Lake Placid, home of the 1932 and 1980 Olympics - remember the Miracle on Ice? That magic happened here. It's true, I saw the rink. Lake Placid is basically a town of 5,000 with a 2 lane downtown filled to gills with restaurants and gift shops toting "Original Adironack" wares, woodsy sort of stuff. With IM in town, the town swelled to twice the size. People were everywhere, traffic was horrible. So, we visited downtown for meals at odd times to beat the rush, and explored the shops at dusk early in the week to avoid the weekend madness. The downtown is set right on Mirror Lake, a non-motorized lake which was absolutely calm and beautiful.

We stayed about 2 miles from downtown at a Courtyard by Marriott. They do have a trolley service from one end of town to the other, so we were able to hop on at our hotel to visit the town and not deal with the hassle of parking, which was limited. Our hotel was also convenient in the fact that the IM bike and run course went right past the front door, so during the downpour of the day, I didn't have to stand in the rain all day (see previous post). Yeah for me - only had to contend with 3 changes of clothes that day.

After exploring downtown Lake Placid, that really only left the Olympic sites to check out. On our way out to drive the bike course, which was super duper hilly, we stopped at the Olympic Ski Jumps, just outside of town. It was pretty cool. They have a practice jump set up that can be used in the summer. We saw kids climbing the stairs, skiing down a wet ramp and landing in a pool. Evidently, the impact in the pool is far greater than landing on snow, so I guess that provides some overpreparation! The jumps are still used for competition throughout the winter. We rode the gondola to the top of the hill, then took the elevator to the top of the jump. It was quite a spectacular view! Then, the gondola ride down.

We continued onto the bike course, by car, and it proved to go up and up and up with only a few downhills. Chris vows not to return to this course, doing it once was enough! There were some three-tiered climbs, just when you think you are to the top, you got a few more tiers of climbing to go! No thanks.

Besides the rain, race day went off without a hitch. Up and adam by 4am, out the door at 5. I drove Chris to the transition area and then took the car back. As of 6am, the roads would be cosed until midnight. So, I headed back by foot to the start. The transition area was set up on the Olympic Speedskating Oval, pretty cool. I staked out my spot for the swim start and waited. Soon, the rain drops fell. The cannon sounded and the rain kept falling. The rain fell until mid-run, where it let up for 2 hours, but started again and continued into the night.

Chris finished in a personal best at 12hours 25 minutes. He knocked out the swim in 1:01 and was able to kick it in the run, something that was always a challenge in the past. So, something worked this time around! He was not dead to the world or craving an IV upon finishing, like last year. In fact, he was up until past midnight, watching the finishers on the computer - talking to me while I was trying to sleep!

IM Lake Placid sold out on site on Monday. Usually, there are spots available on-line. This was a first in IM history. I'm happy to say, we won't be going back next year. Tick Lake Placid off the Ironman list.

I'm going to take advantage of the lovely weather now. So more about the second leg of our trip in New England later. Pictures to come.

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