The Journey

The journey is more important than the destination.

Several years ago a friend of mine asked me if I would do the Fairlee Triathlon in Vermont. After training for three months, feeling like I was going to drown in the swim, feeling nauseus on the run, I crossed the finished line and was hooked.This led to my triathlon journey.

Please consider supporting my latest effort to raise money for Bretton Woods Adaptive through the Janus Charity Challenge at Ironman Lake Placid this July. Check out the Links I Like section of the blog or explore the BWA Fundraiser links.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Ironman Lake Placid Race Report: Saturday Pre-Race

Saturday turned out to be more relaxing than I expected. The plan for the day is to put my transition and special needs bags together and drop them off along with my bike to the transition area.

The transition bags can be a bit overwhelming. In 2006 I put way more than I needed in them in anticipation of any worst case scenario I could imagine. I did pretty much the same this year, but not quite as bad. Here is this year's breakdown:

Swim to bike transition bag: Helmet, bike shoes, sunglasses, socks, skullcap, electrolytes, gel flask with a mix of Apple Cinnamon and Banana Hammer gel, CO2 cartridge, Hammer Bar and arm warmers.

Bike special needs bag: This bag is available after the 1st 56 mile loop. This contained a 2 spare tubes, CO2 cartridge, Hammer Bar, 24oz bottle with 3 scoops of Hammer Sustained Energy, spare socks.

Bike to run transition bag: Running shoes, dry socks, canister of electrolytes, visor, gel flask with the same mix of Hammer Gel, Hammer Bar.

Run special needs bag: This bag is available after the 1st 13 mile loop. This contained a flask of Hammer Gel, canister of electrolytes, 20 oz bottle with 2 scoops of Hammer HEED, dry socks.

After getting the bags packed and putting the numbers on my bike and helmet I made my way down to the transition area to drop everything off at around 11am. Because of my participation in the Janus Charity Challenge I got a great number, 72, which meant I was pretty well placed in the transition area making my bag a little easier to find. This may seem like a little thing but I had a goal of beating my transition times from 2006 so being able to find my bags out of the other 2,400 wasn't a simple process.

After racking my bike and hanging my transition bags I made my way down to Mirror Lake with the family so my Son could get a swim in. He had a blast and I was able to get off my feet for a while and sit in the shade. My awesome wife had packed sandwiches so we were able to enjoy a picnic lunch next to the lake.

After the swimming and picnic it was back to the hotel for some downtime before having to get back for the 2pm gathering of Janus Charity Challenge racers. If anyone reading ever decides to do an Ironman, I strongly urge you to get involved with this program. Besides raising money for the charity of your choice the people involved are fantastic and I've made some great friends. It was nice to catch up with them before heading back to the room for more downtime.

At about 5:30 I had my traditional pre-race meal of pasta with my wife's homemade pasta sauce. Then, before turning in I layed out my GSTC race uniform & timing chip so I'd be ready to roll the next morning.

I felt ready to go. I did experience a few episodes of panic over the size task I was about to undertake, but I kept trying to turn my thoughts to the gratitude I felt for the opportunity I had to be able to participate. The only left to do was wake up and race....more on race day soon.

Ironman Lake Placid Race Report: Friday pre-race

We arrived in Lake Placid the Friday before race day at about Noon. It was great to be in town again. This was my fifth year being at the race and 2nd year racing. There is something about the Lake Placid community and the energy of Ironman that is magnetic.

The plan for the day was to get registration out of the way and get a 45 minute ride in to loosen up after the 5 1/2 hour drive. We hit registration first and breezed right through - quicker than I expected. So quick that I didn't have time to experience the nervous anticipation I had in 2006 while waiting in line. That "Oh s$*t" feeling of what have I gotten myself into. Instead, I found myself surprisingly calm.

Ironman has their act together. There are four stations to go through during registration, it's all volunteers and is a very smooth process considering there are 2,400 athletes to process.

First stop is to sign waivers and verify emergency contact information is correct. One different thing I remember signing this time over my last Ironman was a HIPPA form in which you could give Ironman permission to share my medical status should I end up in the medical tent. If you read my last post you'll know that it was a good thing that I checked "yes" on this question.

Next stop is weigh in. I weighed in at 200 pounds even, which is about what I expected. My home scale was at 194 without clothes and I had been taking Liquid Edurance to help with my hydration. A result from this supplement is small weight gains just prior to race day in the form of water weight.

Next stop is getting race day gear. This includes:
  • Swag bag, which is considerably weak considering it's by far the most expensive race to sign up for and they seem to have more sponsors than they know what to do with
  • Swim cap marked with race number
  • Timing chip
  • Race numbers for the helmet, bike and race belt
  • Five gear bags each with a number sticker and instructions on which bag goes with which sticker. The gear bags are for morning dry clothes, swim to bike transition, bike special needs, bike to run transition and run special needs. I remember this being completely overwhelming in 2006 but normal and expected for my return race.
  • Number bracelet which identifies me as a participant and will get me into transition areas, swim start, post race awards, etc.
Last stop is to verify the timing chip which is a quick process and I'm out the door. I ran into a friend from Great Bay Masters during registration who was during the race for the 2nd year in a row. It continually amazes me what an awesome community trialthon is. I've been involved in the sport long enough that it's guaranteed that any race I go to I'll run into someone I know and be able to have a great conversation about the sport we share.

After a quick check-in at the hotel I connected up with my GSTC teammates for a spin. We were out for about 40 minutes and did a short portion of the bike course. I felt very relaxed and strong, especially on the hills we did - I remember hoping race day would bring the same feeling.

The rest of the day was pretty relaxed. After a quick shower I decided to worry about packing my gear bags on Saturday morning and just relaxed for a while until dinner. We were sharing a 2-room suite with some friends and were able to catch up with them before heading over to The Dancing Bear for dinner at the High Peaks Resort, both the hotel and restaurant are highly recommended if you are ever in Lake Placid!

Monday, July 27, 2009


The last 24 hours have been a roller coaster. It's 7am in Lake Placid and as exhausted as I am I've been up since 5:30 after finally getting to bed around midnight.

Lots of people have asked me "what happened" at the race yesterday? I'm not sure that I can fit it all into one post so I'll try to give a short summary now and will put up a full race report in the coming days.

After feeling good most of the dayand having what I thought was a pretty good swim, bike and first 10 miles on the marathon, things took a very quick turn for the worse after that.

Somewhere soon after that I began to get behind in my nutrition and hydration and it very quickly caught to me. Every time I tried to take in some gel I felt like I was going to throw up and unfortunately that was the only nutrition I had with me. I tried to use some of the on-course nutrition but that didn't sit well either. Trying to eat pretzels was a particularly bad idea. I started to gag almost immediately after the first bite.

After running for most of the first 10 miles on the run I started to run and walk as I was able. Slowly that turned to more walking than running. I was hoping that trying to make up for the fluid loss by slowing my pace would catch me up and I could pick up the pace for the 2nd half of the marathon. That never happened - it seemed like my system just stopped absorbing anything at that point.

At about mile 18 or 19, I don't remember exactly, I went from what I perceived as a power walk to just trying to put one foot in front of the other. Things are a little spacey until I get to mile 21 when I see some awesome supporters from the Granite State Triathlon Club. They gave me some words of encouragement and I pushed ahead.

The situation really went downhill after that. I remember going by an ambulance that was located next to an aid station and the EMT's asking if I was OK. They said I was wobbling a bit but I told them I was OK. After another 2o yards or so I stopped and got really wobbly. I think the EMT's were following me because I remember being held up at this point. They told me that they wanted to check me out and walked me back to the ambulance.

One of the last clear things I remember is them setting me down on the bumper of the ambulance. After that, the memories are scattered, except for one. At one point I heard them saying my name and rubbing their knuckles on my chest to get my attention and asked a question: "David, we need your permission to transport you to the medical tent". My eyes welled up with tears as I nodded yes. After that I remember a mix of feeling cold and hot, shivering uncontrollably and trying to hold the tears back. All I wanted to do was close my eyes and go to sleep but the EMT's kept asking me questions and rubbing my chest to keep me awake.

The next crystal clear memory is seeing my wife at the medical tent. At that point holding back the tears was impossible. I completely released. My time in the medical tent was a similar story of sporadic memories as I was hooked up to IV fluids. But, after four liters of fluids I began to feel coherent again.

After getting back to the hotel room the reality of why I faded so quickly became apparent when I got on the scale. Even after receiving 4 liters of IV fluid I had still dropped 15 pounds from my pre-race weight.

Dealing with my first DNF is an experience I'm still trying to figure out....more on that to come I'm sure.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

T minus 12 hours

It's just after 7 PM on July 25th. The cannon will go off in almost exactly 12 hours and I can hardly believe it!

There aren't many things we do in life in which we focus so intently on a single activity or goal. For the past six months I've put in anywhere from 15 - 25 hours per week training for a single event. Now that it is here it's nearly impossible to explain the range of emotions I've experienced in the last several hours leading up to right now.

Maybe I'll make an attempt to put them into writing during the free time I'll be working to fill once the event is over. For now, the one emotion I'll share is the incredible sense of gratitude I feel, mostly towards my wife and son, but also to the rest of my family, for the support. Triathlon is an inherently selfish sport that isn't possible without the support of those around you and I hope to sufficiently express to them how thankful I am for that. I have no doubt the gratitude I feel for their support will pull me through more than one of several expected low points tomorrow.

When asked by friends and family my reaction to finishing my first Ironman in 2006 the first response that came to me was that it was one of the best and worst days of my life. In one day I experienced an incredible range of emotions, often all within a few minutes of each other while trying to find the strength to push through the emotional and physical pain to reach the finish line.

Knowing that I'll likely have a similar experience tomorrow is difficult to put into words, so, rather than try I'll end it here, put on my "running playlist" on my iPod and work on getting a little bit of sleep before my 12 hours are up.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Experience the Ironman, virtually

My family and will be in Lake Placid this weekend to give me the support I know I'll need through race day. To make it easier for them to follow I've set up a couple of tools which I wanted to share here. Several friends have expressed an interest in following along on race weekend. - This site will have several splits throughout the day in addition to a live video feed of the finish line. Whether you see me cross the line or not, I find it inspiring to watch athletes cross, in particular as the midnight deadline approaches. If (that's a big "if") I meet my finish line goals I hope to be crossing by about 8pm and an 7am start. However, Ironman can be unpredictable so it could also be anywhere from 8pm to midnight. Mostly likely I'll finish somewhere between 8pm and 9pm. - I'm going to try and update my Twitter feed as often as possible with pictures and how the pre and post race activities are going. I'm going to show Amy how to update Twitter as well so there may be a few guest tweets from her on race day.

Live GPS tracking - Thanks to the wonders of GPS, I've rented a GPS tracker that I'll be wearing for at least the bike and run. This is my first experience with the device but as I understand it, visitors to the links below will be able to see live tracking including speed and elevations. Pretty cool! The links are below for this tracking:

From handhelds:

The deadline for donations that will count towards the Janus Charity Challenge is Saturday. I need to report to Janus by 2pm. So, it's not too late to donate! Donate here.

2 days to go!

Nutrition, Triathlon's Fourth Discipline

Triathlon, when it comes to long distance racing, is really not very accurate. It presumes that there are three disciplines that you compete in. While that may be technically true I believe that nutrition is a discipline that is as important to practice and master and the other three.

I've been doing long distance triathlons (1/2 Ironman and Ironman) now for five years and I'm still not 100% comfortable with a nutrition strategy. However, I've done lots of testing and will be testing my latest strategy on Sunday. The intent of this post is to lay out that strategy. Hopefully it helps me think it out again and helps others racing long distance triathlons.

I'll preface the "menu" below with the fact that I'm a huge fan of Hammer Nutrition products. They don't have any junk, offer a full line of products for endurance athletes and most importantly are a great company that offers all the help you need. If you haven't ordered before and you'd like to try them out you can receive a 15% discount on your first order by using this link.

Pre-race: With the race starting at 7am my goal will be to eat at around 4am. Breakfast will consist of 3 scoops of Sustained Energy mixed in 24 ounces of water along with 2 serving of Hammer Gel (I like to mix the apple cinnamon and banana). That will be about 500 calories made up of about 120 grams of carbs and 10 grams of protien.

I've also been using a product from Hammer called Liquid Endurance. You can read about the product on their website but I'm using it to help minimize fluid depletion.

Swim: 15 minutes before the swim start I'll have 1 serving of gel (about 90 calories or 23 grams of carbs)

Bike: After going through the first transition and getting on the bike, I'll start to take in 100 calories every 20 minutes. I'm planning on a 6 1/2 to 7 hour bike. The calories for the first 4 hours will be from Sustained Energy which is a mix of complex carbohydrates and some protien. Having some protien mixed in for long distance events helps to prevent your muscles from cannibalizing on themselves when they run out of glycogen for fuel.

For the 5th hour I'm planning on having a Hammer Bar which is about 220 calories and has a mix of carbs, protien and a little fat. This is a new addition for me but after trying an all liquid nutrition strategy during my Ironman in 2006 and feeling hungry, I'm trying to add some fat to help feel more full. Fat can tend to slow the absorption of nutrients during the digestive process which has the potential to slow delivery of fuel to my muscles, but I've tested it in training and I still seemed to feel OK.

For the balance of the bike I'll only take in Hammer Gel. I respond very well to the gel and in anticipation of 5 hours of running I want my stomach to be feeling good by the end of the bike. I tried Sustained Energy during the run in 2006 and the slower absorption of the protien didn't agree with my digestion during the run.

Run: My plan for the run is to try and stick with Hammer Gel. I'll drop my caloric intake to 25o calories per hour and will also be bringing another Hammer Bar with me in case I get that hungry feeling like I did in 2006. It may prompt a little walking with the fat and protien content but the change in flavors and fuller feeling stomach will outweigh the walk and help me to run the balance of the race faster.

I'm planning on relying more on the aid stations this year for water. In past years I've worn a fuel belt with water for the entire run portion of the race. My plan this year is to wear the fuel belt for the first of two loops and then drop the belt in my special needs bag before loop 2. I tend to feel like I have a bloated stomach deep into a long race and I'm hoping that getting rid of an elastic belt around my waist will help make the 2nd loop more comfortable. Once I hit the bike I'll be shooting for taking in 20 - 30 ounces of water per hour, depending on how I'm feeling. The forecast right now is for muggy weather so I'm going to try to shoot for 30 oz.

Two other things I'll have with me on the course.

1. Endurolytes - these are electrolytes and I'll be taking in 2 - 3 per hour to avoid hyponatremia and muscle cramps
2. Tums - Just in case I get any stomach distress, these will hopefully help to provide some temporary relief.

Post Race: While I'll try to each some high quality protien and carbohydrates to try and replenish the 10,000 - 13,000 calories I'm expecting to burn, what I'll likely reach for are potato chips and pizza. For whatever reason this is what I crave post race :-)

That's it! I've tried to keep it relatively simple so that I don't have to do a lot of thinking about while on course. And, most importantly, I've tested everying during training to get as sure as possible that I'll respond well to the plan.

I'm just a regular Hammer customer who really believes in their products. I don't receive any compensation from them. I actually spend quite a bit of money on their products. So, if you decide to give them a try please mention my name or use this link and they will provide you with a 15% discount on your first order and give me a referral credit based on the amount of your first order. Me and my wallet will really appreciate it.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Five Lessons Ironman Triathlon can teach us about owning a business

This is a cross post from the other blog I write for. As you'll see, the content is right in line with this blog.

On July 26th your Direct Capital blogger will be competing in Ironman Lake Placid for the 2nd time. The Ironman triathlon consists of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run and has been called the toughest single day endurance event.

Before joining Direct Capital, I started and owned a couple of businesses which gave me a first hand understanding of the challenges involved with such a venture. Much like the Ironman, you need to have great endurance to handle the ups and downs of owning your own business. Having spent many hours on the road training, my mind has many times reflected on the similarities between these two situations. I decided to put “pen to paper” and share with you five lessons I learned while training for Ironman that are just as applicable to the business owner.

1. Have a goal

For a lot of people their goal is their “why”. It’s why you take on the risks and challenges you do. It’s why you get up every morning. Whether your business is struggling in our current economy, or you’ve found a way to thrive, what is it that drives you to push forward? Signing up for the Ironman (or probably any type of endurance event) crystallized this effect for me. With a full work week in addition to a family at home, finding time to train for an event like this is challenging, but not impossible. It means getting up at 4 AM most mornings to fit my training in so I can be at the office by 8 AM. I can almost guarantee that if I didn’t have the goal of finishing the Ironman, I wouldn’t have been up at 4 AM.

If you haven’t already done so, develop your business goals. Once they are defined, it is inevitable that they will help get you out of bed on those tough mornings.

2. Be passionate about what you do

I’m passionate about triathlons. Some combination of characteristics drew me into the sport. There is something about the business you built that you are passionate about. Identify what that is. Is it the industry? Your customers? Your products? What your products do for your customers? Once you have developed a goal, identify what inspired you in the first place and why you are passionate about it. Being passionate about a clear goal is an unstoppable combination.

3. Be Disciplined

I remember when completing a 5k road race seemed like a huge challenge to me. My perspective has changed and I believe that virtually anyone can complete an Ironman. Whether you are old, young, able-bodied or disabled, everyone that chooses to attempt the event can find out the basic principles of what it takes to finish the race. Once you know the principles then all it takes is the discipline to execute. The secrets to becoming a successful business owner are not all that secret. Once you have your idea, the principles of sales, marketing, financial management, etc. are well documented. Just like training for Ironman, what makes the difference is the discipline to follow the plan. Attention for our time is constantly being pulled in several directions. Discipline is what keeps us moving in the right direction.

4. Have flexibility

Even though I’m pretty strict about my triathlon training plan, there have been several occasions in which the pool was closed, the weather kept me from a bike ride or a family obligation took priority. Just because I had to miss a workout or shorten a training session, the goal of finishing the Ironman never changed. I made adjustments and kept moving forward. If you are currently a business owner, you probably already understand that adjustments are virtually always required even with the most well thought out plans. Business owners need the discipline just mentioned to keep focused on the end goal and the flexibility to adjust to the roadblocks and challenges that inevitably will get in the way.

5. Build a team around you

My idea of endurance sports before the triathlon was 5k road races, meaning, when I signed up for Ironman, I didn’t have any idea how I was going to do it but knew I needed help. So, I went out and got a coach. There are several examples of people who excel, or are the best in their field, and still have coaches and teams supporting their efforts. Even if you are a 1-person business you may already have a team around you in the form of an accountant, attorney, etc.

Our Finance Managers are part of their clients’ teams. Before recommending one of our financing, capital and credit products, or setting up a vendor financing program for a customer we first have a conversation about their business and base our advice on what will serve them best.

What business lessons have you learned from your latest athletic endeavor?

Monday, July 20, 2009

What it takes to do an Ironman

With over six months of training under my belt I thought it would be interesting to look at the aggregate of my training over that time period. I'm a little obsessive about keeping track of my training so putting the numbers together was pretty easy. Here are my numbers since I started my "official" training on a sub zero 10 mile run on New Year's Day.

  • 148 hours
  • 2660 miles
  • 140,600 calories burned
  • 98 hours
  • 625 miles
  • 98,000 calories burned
Thanks to the input of @IronmanJourney (check out his Ironman training blog), I'll put these hours into some frame of reference. I finished my first Ironman in 13 hours and 55 minutes. My goal for this race is to finish in under 13 hours. Aggressive, but looking at my previous times, its possible as long as weather conditions cooperate.

As simplistic as these numbers are, I do believe it truly is what it takes to do an Ironman. I tried to capture some of the personal characteristics we develop through training on another blog I write for. Take it from someone who used to think that a 5k road race was a challenge, as long as you have a plan and put in the time, virtually anyone can do an Ironman.

A reminder, help to raise money for Bretton Woods Adaptive! Only a few more days to make your tax deductible donation.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Dear Friends

The following is a letter sent to friends and family asking for their support in raising money for Bretton Woods Adaptive.

Dear Friends,

Almost one year ago I received the gift of an entry to Ironman Lake Placid taking place on July 26th. For the past six months I've been training for the race and also trying to pay that gift forward. I'm writing to ask for your help in doing so by joining me in raising money for Bretton Woods Adaptive (BWA). If I am one of the top fundraisers at the race in Lake Placid, the Bretton Woods program could receive up to an extra $10,000. Your donation, no matter the amount, could very possibly put BWA in the position to secure extra funds for their worthy organization.

The BWA Sports Program is a year-round program offering recreational opportunities to people of all ages regardless of disability. My Dad, who is a polio survivor with very limited use of his legs, began skiing (among other outdoor activities) only a decade ago. For most of his life he did not realize that there were opportunities like this available to him. He has thrown himself into ensuring that others do not have to wait as long as he did to enjoy the thrill of the outdoors by helping to develop and enhance the BWA Sports Program.

I've heard countless stories of how this organization has made a huge impact on the people it serves and experienced some firsthand also. If you'd like to read about a couple of them, I've written about them in my blog. Please consider reading about BWA and if you are inspired by the work they are doing then make a donation and/or spread the word by forwarding this e-mail before race day, July 26th. Whether it's $10 or $100, every bit helps!

Donate here or follow BWA on Facebook here.

Read more about Bretton Woods Adaptive here.

Follow our updates on race weekend here.

Track progress on race day here.

Thank you so much for the support and helping to spread the word!!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The day I got to help Martin

On a beautiful day last fall I was fortunate enough to be part of a hike up Mt. Willard in Crawford Notch, NH. This was not a normal hike. From the trail head to the top was only about 1 1/2 miles with an elevation gain of about 800 feet. What made it such an incredible hike is being part of a team that took Martin to the top.

Martin used to be an avid outdoorsman doing everything from hiking, to fishing and hunting. Martin was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, in 2002 and now is confined to a wheelchair with no use of his muscles with the exception of his eyes and a great smile. He can't speak, eat or breath on his own. Fortunately he has an incredible support system of family and friends to help him. I was grateful to be part of that support system that day in helping him realize a goal of his, to do a climb in the White Mountains through Bretton Woods Adaptive (BWA).

It will be difficult to express how the day went in words. It is an experience that would be so much richer if you could be there. I was able to get a few photos which will help paint the picture.

We met at the trailhead right next to train depot by AMC's Crawford House. We got there around 9:30 AM. Martin and his family arrived at about 10AM and after almost 2 hours of preparation we started up the trail.

While watching Martin get prepped for this excursion, I found myself trying to imagine what life for his family must be like on a daily basis if we needed 2 hours to prepare for a 3 mile hike. We needed to transfer Martin from his full time wheelchair to a rig that would help us help him get up the mountain. Besides the ventilator, spare batteries for the ventilator, oxygen tank, suction gear (Martin can't swallow so periodically the nurse would suction out his mouth) and medications, the family also brought a small lift that assisted in transferring him from one chair to the other.

We used a specially designed "wheelchair" that looked more like a wheelbarrow. It was actually a metal device with four handles that allowed Martin to lay in a relaxed sitting position in which we could secure his mostly limp body for the climb up the mountain.

There were six of us that rotated through four positions on the chair - one on each side for stability plus one of the front and back. It was a definite challenge carrying Martin's limp body plus the wheelchair up the mountain but the expression you could see in Martin's eyes and smile were worth the effort and then some.

I'm not going to try and describe the experience because I don't think words can do it justice. I've included a slideshow at the beginning of this post with photos from the day. Please help to support more efforts like these by donating to Bretton Woods Adaptive.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The ride I'll never forget. A 120-mile ride report.

I've had a few "epic" rides during my cycling and triathlon days but last Saturday's July 4th ride topped them all.

It was the peak bike weekend for my Ironman training which meant a 120 mile ride "in the mountains" per my training plan. Being in NH the White Mountains were the natural choice, plus there is a century ride already mapped out. All I had to do was find another 20 miles to do.

So, the route was taken care of. Now to actually ride it.

I used Map My Tri to plot the route. A great feature of the site, besides being free, is the elevation information. It told me the ride had about 5,300 feet of climbing. A little short of the 6,000 I'll face in Lake Placid but it's the closest thing to mountain climbing I can find and not make a weekend trip of it.

The route included
  • Bear Notch - approximately a 3 mile climb
  • Crawford Notch - long gradual 15 mile climb that gets steeper the longer into the climb you get and concludes with a 1 mile section at 13% grade
  • Franconia Notch - a comparatively easy 5 mile climb and then a long downhill into the town of Lincoln.
  • The Kanc - a very challenging 11 mile climb that includes a few switchbacks and no respite to the steep grade. But, the reward is a very fast 20 mile descent into Conway.
I did the ride with my buddy and Ironman training partner, Paul, and was happy to be able to experience the ride with a good friend. It made for a different and better experience.

As hard a ride as it was, it wasn't what really made the ride "epic". Here's why:

  • The ride started in the sun, probably around 60 degrees and little to no wind.
  • As we began to climb Crawford Notch we go through our first of two July 4th parades and it also begins to sprinkle. The further up we go, the harder it rains.
  • After the Crawford Notch peak, its a nice flat ride past Bretton Woods and the Mount Washington Hotel. Normally there would be beautiful views except we were focused on staying up right as the hail started to come down! That's right, it hailed!
  • After the hail it "just" downpoured for a while. We stopped at Fabian's country store across from Bretton Woods to refill our water bottles, which we definitely needed. However, being soaked to the bone, not moving and creating internal heat and then starting back up we were shivering and absolutely freezing in our tri-shorts and tri-tops.
  • After making the turn on Route 3 towards Franconia Notch the rain slowly came to a stop and held off during our descent through the Notch into Lincoln. As an aside, having the sun made this a gorgeous ride. I've never cycled through this notch, only driven, and being able to bike by Cannon Mountain and the site of the Old Man in the Mountain was a special thing.
  • As we roll into Lincoln towards our last big climb (the Kanc) we go through our 2nd July 4th parade and then see the clouds, hear the thunder and see the lightning. I'll ride in some pretty tough conditions, but one thing I don't mess around with is lightning so we played it safe and pulled under a store awning and watched the skies open up for about 30 minutes. It was some of the hardest rain I've ever seen. Thankfully it was warmer than up near Bretton Woods and we weren't quite as cold from not moving.
  • At this point we've been riding for about 5 hours and still have 35 miles to go including 15 of it uphill. We are anxious to get going again. After 30 minutes the thunder and lightning appears to have stopped (even though its still raining pretty hard) so we head out. Even though my legs are spinning I'm absolutely freezing. I think the storm brought in some colder air. Paul and I said to eachother we'd actually like to start climbing just to get our heart rates up and warm up.
  • After about 5 minutes, we hear thunder again and have to pull under an awning for about 15 more minutes :-( Finally we said screw it and started the last 15 mile climb even though it was still pouring.
  • While it felt good to climb and begin to warm up, after being on the road for 85 miles, going uphill at that grade was a physical and mental challenge but we made it to the top.
  • The problem with making it to the top is now we had to go down, fast, and though the rain had slowed the roads were still very wet. I tried not to think about the thin tires on wet roads hydroplaning at 35 MPH but it was not easy.
  • As we traveled down the mountain, the sun came out, roads dried up and by the time we got back to the car it was beautiful.
How did we celebrate finishing our epic ride? We went for a short run :-) Afterall, Ironman is only a few weeks away!