Celebrating 5 years of Ironman participation

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Recovery Road

I traveled to Lake Placid, NY this weekend for a training weekend with a few of my good friends from the DC Tri Club.  Angela, AJ, Julie and Kimberly all signed up for Ironman Lake Placid this year.  I was psyched to join them in Placid to train.  One of the great things about staying on the East Coast – I get to train with my friends from DC to Boston every month this summer!  I’m really looking forward to cheering the ladies on in the race too – especially as I volunteer at the last water stop on the run course. 

Given my cycling accident last weekend, I took a bit of time to recover this week.  I focused on sleeping and putting bacitracin on my face – and not much else.  I barely felt up to anything until Friday.  But, let me tell you, the minute I pulled off exit 30 on I-87 towards Lake Placid, I was ready to ride and run again.  Woo-hoo!

Recovery Ride Attempt #1

Saturday morning started out great.  We rolled out of the house around 8 am.  The plan was for me to do one loop of the IMLP bike course.  About 56 miles.  We hit the road around 8:45 am.  But by 9:15 am, I was in tears.   

On the first descent on Rt. 73 out of Lake Placid (just before River Road), my bike started to shake uncontrollably.  I felt like I was riding a nervous horse that was ready to throw me at any second.  Angela said the rear wheel was wobbly.  I tried to ride a little further, but my confidence was shaken.  Thankfully, Mom and Dad Strope were in LP for the weekend.  They got the “rescue me” call. 

I took my bike into High Peaks Cyclery for a quick check up.  The guys tightened everything up, changed the tires, and even took the bike for a spin down the block.  Everything checked out ok. 

Recovery Ride – Attempt #2

I decided to try the hilly cycling route again around 11 am – with my parents acting as my sag vehicle.   The first few descents felt alright – not nearly as wobbly.  But, I hit above 30 and a little wind, and felt the wobble again.  My parents waited for me after each descent, then followed me along.  I made it to the top of the big descent into Keene, then lost it again.  With tears flowing and my whole body shaking, I flagged my parents down and said, “I CAN’T DO IT!  I can’t do it!  Take me back to town!”

On the Road Again

I spent the remainder of Saturday afternoon cycling around the IMLP run course and Mirror Lake.  It was flat and easy, and I felt much more confident.  I test rode some tri bikes at Placid Planet on Sunday.  The tri bike geometry allows for more weight on the front part of the bike and makes me feel a lot more steady.  My friend Matt said I looked much stronger riding on the Felt B 16!  And, I  joined Kimberly and AJ for a quick ride along the run course on Monday morning. 

In retrospect, heading out on a 56 mile HILLY ride was probably a bit ambitious for my first ride post-crash.  And, it seems like my bike (a Giant TCR) might have picked up a case of Speed wobble post-crash.  The causes of speed wobble are too numerous to count…but it also seems that the more tense, cold, or shaky a rider is, the more pronounced the wobble will be.  Perfect for me coming off of a crash, right? 

So, here’s my new plan to regain strength and confidence on the bike:

  • Do a few short and easy rides over the next 2 weeks
  • Talk to some coaches and experts
  • Buy a new bike.  I’m looking at the Felt B 16, Felt S32, and Quintaroo Dulce now.  Other suggestions are welcome.  Just looking for something other than a Cervelo – great bikes, but I want something different. 


I Fought Franconia Notch and the Notch Won

This weekend I went up to Franconia Inn with my teammates from Wheelworks Multi Sport.  Franconia, NH is nestled in the White Mountains and is known as a place to train and conquer hills.  Unfortunately, I think they beat me this year.

Saturday morning, we rolled out for a nice and hilly 68 mile ride.  We were only 3 miles away from Franconia Inn, when the winds picked up.   Then, as we biked down through a final pass near Franconia Notch State Park, a gust of wind about 50 mph strong hit us like mack truck.   Natalie fought the wind and fell down on her side.  With the wind so strong, I knew the inevitable was about to happen.  “NATALIE!” I screamed, then hit her and flipped over my handlebars.  With absolutely no control or grace, I took a face dive into the pavement of Rt. 141.

Startled, but alert, my teammates came to my aid.  Beth, with her awesome EMT background, made sure I was alert and stabilized my head and neck.  Unfortunately, I could see the reflection of my very bloody face in her sunglasses, which made me insist, “Take them off!  Take them off!”   Some other folks put blankets and shirts on me until the ambulance came.  A police man arrived first.  Then the ambulance.  Only in NH do the ambulance medics/EMT’s arrive in cycling shorts and hiking boots – on their way back from their respective outdoor adventures.

While I’ve had a few cycling accidents before, this one was by far my most significant one.  Seeing that it resulted in my first backboard, IV, oxygen, ambulance ride and CT scan.  I thought it was worth capturing on film.  Many thanks to Natalie – for putting up with me running her over, accompanying me to the hospital, and being gracious enough to indulge me in the filming.

Aimee came to meet us at the hosptial in Plymouth.  Once I was finally released, we hit up a little ice cream place in town and made it back to the inn in time for the last dinner.   The drive was a little rough – the wind was still so strong that the car shook on the highway and we learned that I had a hard time keeping any food down.  When we got to the dining room at the Inn, everyone cheered for me.  My whole team was so supportive and took such great care of me.  What a great group!  I’m really lucky.

I felt much better this morning.  I even walked around a little trail with Ann before heading home.  Now, I just to make it through this week of explaining what happened and buy a new helmet and sunglasses. I hope I’ll be ready to hit the road in Lake Placid next weekend with my good friends from DC.


Marathon vs. Ironman

What hurts more – a marathon or an Ironman?  You might think, “An Ironman, of course!”  But, the consensus around the table after the Boston Marathon was Marathon!  I thought I was crazy when I felt this way after my Phoenix marathon earlier this year.  But, hearing my buddies from the DC Tri Club (Phil, Kip and Sean) all say they felt worse after the marathon makes me think there is something to this…especially, since these guys are rockstars when it comes to running!

Why would running a marathon leave your legs (and your whole body, really) in more pain than an Ironman?  How could 26.2 miles hurt more than 140.6?  Theories welcome!

Boston Marathon - View from Coolidge Corner

Boston Marathon - View from Coolidge Corner