Thursday, June 16, 2011

Ironman Texas 2011 Race Report - Bike

Leaving Transition.  I really wish I'd learn
howto put my helmet on straight.
Great swim, near crisis averted with me being an idiot and packing my ONLY pair of socks with my run bag, and I'm off for 112 miles on the bike through the forests and pastures of Texas.  I've ridden the course north of 105 many, many times and love it. 

Had no idea what to expect for the southern half of the course, but I figured it couldn't be too bad.  I got off and rolling at a comfortable cadence - heart rate was in the 150's and my focus for the first third of the ride was to find a good cadence, settle into it, and get those calories in.  The course had a few hills in the beginning, but nothing too bad.  I was pedalling right along when all of a sudden I got stopped by a traffic "worker" as we were crossing FM 1488 because traffic had been waiting "20 minutes".  We were all "WTH?  there's a RACE going on".  The worker said, not to worry, they'll make sure the time spent waiting was credited to our race time.  (yeah, sure, because they had someone there documenting EVERYONE's bib numbers).  I was towards the front, and as we sat there waiting, the crowd kept pushing forward, getting more crowded and angry. 
The vibe was (understandably) not good.  Finally after ~3.5 minutes, they let us cross FM1488 and we were on our way.  It was really crazy for the first few minutes with the crowding and cranky people.  Lots of people were unhappy.  Very understandable, but being upset doesn't fix anything.  The day before the race, Will's cousin Jeff (who did IMAZ in 2009) had some great words of advice:  own your space.  Own your physical space.  Own your mental space.  Do not let ANYONE affect your space.  I didn't realize it, but it was great advice.  I resolved to "own my space" which meant that I was going to have a GREAT and FUN bike ride.  That really was the theme of the whole ride.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE the bike course. 

I love this picture!
When we got into the National Forest segment (my favorite part), I just made sure that I took the whole experience in.  I was racing an Ironman.  This bike course, when I lived in Houston, used to kick my ass.  Now I live in Colorado and the bike course felt like a really fun training ride. 
Racers and pretty forest

My favorite part of the course is north of 105, when you get into the National Forest.  The prettiest section is FM1791.  Its a fairly narrow road, but you're surrounded by tall pine trees and the air smells so good and everything is so green.  Really, the section of FM149 north of 105 through to Richards is all forest. Love. It.  It was in this section I made it a point to ENJOY the ride.  This I love riding here and this was probably the last time I would ever ride here again.  I just soaked up every minute of the ride.  Loving how easy these hills were now, loving the beautiful green forests and pine scented air.  Loving the
                                                                    Ironman environment I was racing in.

My awesome sign that Scott made for me :)  Its
now hanging in my cubicle at work
Will and I made a plan for him to meet me at the corner of FM1791 and Taliaferro Road.  The key was for him to not have to cross the course (traffic lines) and have an easy in/out by foot to find me.  I turned the corner and looked in the crowd of people.  No Will.  Rode on a few hundred feet and there he was!  I pulled off to the side of the road to stop for a few kisses.  Even though I was only 40 miles into the bike, I was so happy to see him.  I gave him an estimate of each aid station time, based on my expected pace, and I was WAY ahead of pace.  He had only arrived to his waiting spot 15 minutes earlier. 

We chatted for a bit, he showed the sign our friends made for me, I kissed him some more.  A woman racer zoomed past and said "hey - no kissing", but in a nice sort of way.  After probably a few too many minutes, we said goodbye and I was on my way.  I'm glad he came out to find me - definitely made the ride that much better.  
Much needed Will sighting :)

I stopped to use the bathroom at mile 50, which is pretty good for me.  I normally have to stop somewhere after 2-3 hours (30-45 miles).  The volunteers were great - I even had a bike handler when I got to the bathroom line!  While waiting in line, I decided to have some Honey Stinger waffle.  It was all crumbly from being in my back pocket, so I made the decision just to eat the whole thing, rather than eating half now and saving half for later.  Boy was that a mistake - that whole waffle sent me into sugar overload.  For the next 30 minutes, I was dizzy and buzzin from too much sugar.  I stayed calm, though, and stuck to the plan.  Drink fluids, keep my cadence, keep my cool and the sugar will absorb with effort and time and I'll feel better.  I did feel better after 30 minutes, but I sure won't be eating a whole one of those anytime soon!  During the sugar episode, I passed by special needs, and decided that I didn't "need" anything and kept going.  I was doing well hydration and nutriton wise, so there was no need to stop.

The rest of the ride was fairly uneventful.  I kept passing/getting passes by a guy who had a whole stack of saltines in his back jersey pocket.  Finally I just started calling him cracker.  I'd pass him on the uphills, he'd pass me on the flats. 

For the hills, I just focused on keeping my HR and cadence steady.  Now was not the time for power moves by staying in my big ring and burning my legs up.  I think there were maybe ~3 times where I went into my small ring, and only for about 2 minutes a pop.  Normally I'd stay in my big ring and fight, but I really didn't think the effort was worth it.  Bravado sure, but at the time, it was more about keeping my legs fresh.

I got stopped for traffic once more going south at 105, although it wasn't as long of a stop as the first time.  The whole northern part of the course was a big parking lot with the traffic delays.  Some people were pretty pissed (I'm suprised they weren't throwing stuff at us), but some people were actually really cool and cheered us on as they were stuck waiting.  We had a bad patch of fresh rocky chip seal - and to make it worse, there was a line of traffic, so we were crammed on the shoulder with heat and exhaust bouncing off the cars.  It was only for a mile or so - not awful. 

I stopped at mile 90 for another bathroom break.  I really didn't "need" the break for the bathroom - I needed it to get up and stretch and re-set my muscles after 6 hours of riding.  Legs were fine, saddle area was fine, forearms where they rest on my aeropads started hurting somewhere around mile 50, feet started hurting around maybe mile 80.  Arms were bearable - no numbness, just sore, probably because for all my training rides I had on no fewer than 3 layers to stay warm.  That extra padding on my arms apparently made a difference in my comfort level.  Nothing that the occasional reach out to my shifters (while still staying areo) didn't fix.  My feet were swelling from the heat and were getting hotspots where my cleats were.  My left big toe was also hurting, something which I experience during the Katy Flatlands Century Ride last July and which gave me my first black toenail.  The pain was tolerable as long as I shifted my weight occasionally and even more occasionally unclipped my foot to stretch.  Also at mile 90 the sun decided to come out and it got HOT.  I dumped a bunch of cold water on my cool wings (special fabric sleeves that help cool you), and continued to dump water on them at each subsequent aid station.

We passed mile marker 100 and I pumped my fist in the air and patted my bike's aerobar.  This was the longest I've ever ridden and I knew that I WAS going to finish the bike.  I felt great.  A bit warm, but otherwise great. I was even passing people! 

The last 12 miles were on completely unfamiliar roads. You could tell you were close to The Woodlands but you never got a clear sense of how far away you actually were to transition.  We turned on Woodlands Parkway and it just seemed that you had to ride forever.  Around every curve, I was hoping to see the familiar transition area but the course just kept going! 

FINALLY the crowds got thicker. I saw people running (holy crap - they looked HOT on the run course).  And then I saw the flags and transition.  I was done - I'd completed my Ironman bike segment and felt great.  Total ride time was 7 hours even, clock time was 7:19.40.  Not really sure how I wasted 20 minutes with traffic stops, a kissing break, and 2 rest stops.  Maybe the traffic stops were longer, because I really didn't waste much time on the rest breaks!

I handed my bike off to a helpful volunteer - remembering to take my garmin with me for the run.  I waved to Will and told him that the bike went fine and I felt great.  Yes, I felt GREAT after a 112 mile bike ride.  How crazy is that?!?!?

I grabbed my bag in the run transition bag zone.  Made a smartass comment about how hot it was.  Another lovely volunteer grabbed a cup of ice, which I promptly tossed down my shirt.  I had a nice but only sort of helpful volunteer for T2. 
Feeling good and ready to run!
Maybe I just wasn't very well organized and didn't know how to work with a volunteer?  I dunno.  I changed shorts, re-sprayed my feet with TriSlide, had the volunteer fill my hand-held with water to make my drink mix, put on more face-stick sunscreen on my face, decided to have the volunteer use the stick on my back.  Somehow that all took 9:29.  I think I must have sat there trying to cool off for a while, or something.  Finally, I put on my running hat and left the changing tent.  I had a job to do - and that job was to go 26.2 miles on my feet before midnight - and I had over 8 hours to get it done.  Today I was going to be an Ironman!

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