:07 sec of me coming by on the first loop of the bike. I love Shawn’s enthusiasm!!
I like to call this 1:42 video, “I Need Less Cowbell!” Once again, Shawn displays his tremendous amount of skills by doing wonderful commentary, shooting video and apparently ringing a cowbell for 2 minutes straight!
The glorious bike finish after 6 hrs and 40 minutes! I was so happy to be starting the marathon.
Once again, I had prepared extensively for this MOST IMPORTANT leg of the race. The bike is the portion to calm down, establish a comfortable pace, drink plenty of fluids and ingest between 2500-3000 calories throughout the 6 1/2 hour course. This was my “business” portion of the race. Once again, tidbits of advice surfaced and I thought of a comment that fellow Austin blogger and future Ironman Colleen had written on my blog a few weeks prior. “You’ve planned your race. Now, race your plan!” I knew exactly where I placed my nutrition bottles and I knew exactly how I would position them in the cages when I was complete. I always had one bottle of perpetuum below because I could grab it easily and it was less likely to fall out. My cages on the rear had my 2nd bottle of perpetuum and spare water with nuun. My bento box was filled with extra Nuun tablets, Endurolyte salt tablets, Clif Blocks, one Power Gel (just in case) and a peanut butter bagel. I had enough calories–and then some. Hell, I was a cross between a pharmacy and a deli.
It was time to get down to the business of hydrating and eating. While I didn’t have a beeping watch, I did have my bike computer and I faithfully ingested calories every 15-20 minutes. In addition, I took a bottle of water at every rest stop and dumped some on my head and poured the rest in my aero bottle. I was constantly hydrating. I had to pee from the beginning and told myself that I would stop at a porta-potty if it got really bad. I never took Gatorade on the bike because I knew the sweetness may haunt me later. Once an hour, I would drop a Nuun tablet in my water and I would also take two Endurolyte tablets. When I just couldn’t stomach Perpetuum, I would take 3 margarita flavored Clif Blocs for the sodium and carbs. The would give me a 30-minute reprieve from the liquid calories. (and tease me for a post-race beverage). I was still a little physically and visually bloated as you can tell by some of the cycling photos taken by Richard below. Between the ingested lake water and the salt intake, I could feel myself swelling up a bit.
Some would say that the course itself is really boring. Three loops at just over 37 miles each. Personally, I loved the loop action. The bike was never 112 miles to me. It was simply three loops. Further, the wind was blowing from the east which meant that the first part of the loop (and the only climbing portion) were into the wind. Yes, the gusts of 25+ mph were brutal and watching the dust devils forming and creating tornado-like phenomena in the distance weren’t necessarily awe-inspiring, but the way back into town was a blast. I effortlessly hit over 30mph on some of the downhill. Plus, I never felt alone because people were constantly around–especially the 20+ T3 teammates who always had a word or gesture of encouragement. I didn’t know if people were on their first or third loop. I just knew that they were suffering right along with me. It was also our chance to see just how smokin’ fast the pros really are as they blew past everyone on the uphills. While I was riding my 42-25 gear (nice and easy), I’m sure they were blasting their biggest gears. So cool….and freakin’ unbelievable.
What a boost it was when I would see my friends, family and other support from T3 and Jack and Adams!
Throughout the ride, I stayed within myself. There were never any highs or lows. I kept to my nutrition schedule which kept my mental and physical levels pretty steady. Honestly, I wish there was a time when I was internally saying. “Woo Hoo!! I’m doing an Ironman!!!” There wasn’t. I was just out there riding three loops in some brutal conditions. I was also never really conscious of the time of day either. I just knew we started the race at 7am. Other than that, I couldn’t tell you if it was 10am or 2pm. Did it matter really? My goal from the get-go was to hover somewhere between 16-18 mph. The first loop was in the low 16’s and I was fine with that. Of course, I was being passed by many, but I was also doing my fair share of “on your left” passing as well. It was during these times that valuable advice from TriGreyhound came to mind when he told me, “If there’s ever a time you feel like you’re going too fast, you are!” I used that mental check several times throughout the afternoon.
Thon and Richard killing the two hours in between each bike loop!
Amy Skud on the Mill Ave. bridge with her megaphone ready to go!
The 2nd and 3rd loops got easier for me as the day seemed to melt so many others. I can’t explain it. I do think the wind died down slightly, but I was still averaging about 14 mph on the way out and about 20 mph on the way back. I was happy that my splits seemed to get faster each loop. Yes! My energy level was increasing…My nutrition was on and I had conserved energy on the first loop so that I could pick it up slightly on #2 and #3. Towards the end, I wanted so badly to hit 17mph for an overall average, but I ran out of miles and wasn’t about to ride anymore than 112. Through it all, most of the conversations with myself involved nutrition. Drink more water… eat now…dump water on your jersey…your mouth is dry…drink again. I wasn’t having a ton of fun, but I wasn’t hating it either. I was incredibly focused on the current mission without much thought to what was ahead of me.
Words cannot describe the relief and joy that I experienced from getting off my bike after pedaling for 6 hours and 40 minutes! I remember seeing T3 Karen at the last turnaround on the bike and shouting, “Let the fun begin!” because I just couldn’t wait to get to the marathon portion. The race I had run in my head so many times was in action. I was well within my “perfect race” goal times and the unknown bicycle mechanicals that could potentially paralyze me were now a thing of the past. I wasn’t going to get a flat tire. My chain wasn’t going to break. The wind wasn’t going to knock me over. The only thing that stood between me and an Ironman finish was a little afternoon run of 26.2 miles in the 95 degree heat with no shade.