Summer is so much fun. And I’d argue that one of the best ways to enjoy summer is to go camping with friends.
Remember how I volunteered at the NYC Ironman last year and loved it? I definitely wanted to volunteer again, and with no NYC event this year, the Lake Placid Ironman was the nearest alternative. Plus, Lake Placid is located right in the center of the beautiful Adirondack mountains. A wonderful place to camp. Thank goodness Ironman Joel planned ahead and booked us awesome campsites for the event weekend about 40 minutes from Lake Placid at Lincoln Pond. (Campsites 34 & 35 R, for the record.)
Our campsites were considered “rural” in that they were a drive from the main campgrounds with showers and ice and firewood. But we had two outhouses, our own exclusive lake beach, and lots of privacy.
We cooked over the fire, slept in tents (Travis and I are still using our tiny two-person tent that we bought in Oregon), went for runs, swam in the lake, and basically just relaxed for four days.
Travis and I decided sort of at the last minute to bring Crusher along. I am so glad we did! He was less of a hassle than I was expecting and it was so much fun to see him swimming in the lake in his doggy life vest. He hated the vest, but he would voluntarily swim into the lake when he was wearing it. He also liked riding on the inflatable rafts. He was a crack up and he loved being wild and free for the whole weekend.
The Ironman race was on Sunday. Our more hardcore friends woke up early to go see the swim start, but I was worried about trying to keep Crusher in the car all day, so Travis and I got a later start. I was pumped that we ran into the bike course when we went out to find breakfast in the super-cute town of Keene. We stumbled upon the excellent ADK Cafe and got to sit on their porch eating pancakes as the cyclists zoomed by. We got to see nearly all of the racers, from the pros with their crazy alien helmets, to the more average racers (as average as Ironmen can be) at the back of the pack. It was exciting!
Our Ironman volunteer shift didn’t start until 8 pm, so we spent the day exploring the region a bit, searching out free internet, and hiking one of the many mountain trails. In the evening we went into Lake Placid to spectate the run portion of the race. The Ironmen run a full marathon as the final portion of the event, and the Lake Placid marathon is not easy. We joined the crowds at the top of a particularly steep, long hill near the finish (and middle, since they run a 13 mile course twice) and cheered on the runners.
By the time our volunteer shift time came, Crusher was exhausted. He was totally fine hanging out in the car while Travis and I joined our friends at mile 24 of the marathon course. We manned the final aid station during the final hours of the race. We handed out water, CocaCola, chicken stock, pretzels, fruit, Gu, and electrolyte drink. Most of the athletes were very tired, but nice and responsive. The chicken stock and Coke were the most popular items. I had maybe too much fun cheering and calling out our items to the athletes. As it got later, the runners sort of trickled off. It was heartbreaking to know that a few of the last runners would not make it to the finish in time for the 12 am cut off. One woman collapsed near us and had to be taken away by medical staff. It was all very dramatic and inspiring.
I really want to do an Ironman some day. Volunteering at the event entitles you to priority sign up for the next year’s Ironman. Our friends Joel, Jon, Louis, and Yvonne all signed up for the 2014 event. I was tempted, but I don’t think 2014 is my year… I DO plan to be there to cheer and volunteer again!
Monday was the best camping day! We slept in a bit, I had a great trail run early in the day, we hung out for hours in the water, laughed too much, wrestled an inflatable shark, drank from “floozies” (a trademarked floating koozie invention), roasted little smokies and lots of fruit, discussed lumens, and took many panoramic photos of the sunset. It was a good time.
Crusher was totally exhausted by the time we departed on Tuesday. He slept for almost the entire drive back to the city. The weather and the sky were so beautiful while we were driving that I started daydreaming about buying a “summer home” in the Adirondacks… and a car to get us there… and triathlon bikes so that I can train for my Ironman…
If you live in the NYC area, I highly recommend getting out of the city to camp in the Adirondacks. It is easy! We rented a car from the Enterprise Rent-a-Car near our place in Park Slope (it is cheaper than ZipCar for longer trips) and you can reserve your campsite easily through ReserveAmerica.com. Lincoln Pond was a wonderful location, but I am sure that any of the campgrounds in the region would be great. Bring a tent, sleeping bags, pillows, firewood, water, hotdogs, S’more makings, bug spray, and sunscreen… and plan to have a great time!