Friday, December 4, 2009

Ironman Florida Race Report: Bike (part 3)

So there I am, still riding riding riding away from the third aid station. Feeling cool. Hey I'm doing an Ironman! Woohoo. Go me. This is great. I have no idea how fast I'm going, but I'm following my nutrition plan and my legs feel good. Often in training or in races I have that "omg my legs are sore" just five minutes into a workout or a race and then the feeling goes away. Maybe I realize that my legs aren't actually sore that's just how they feel when they're not propped up on a coffee table in front of the couch, or maybe my legs just start accepting that yes, it's another workout and they start behaving. I don't know. And it's one of those things I always forget about after the feeling goes away so I never think to mention it to my coach. But I'm remembering it now and I'm remembering I did not have that feeling. Maybe that's what tapering does for me? Point is - I felt great and I was still having fun. I expected that to end at some point on the bike though. I don't think I've ever ridden 100 miles having pure fun, let alone 112.

I recently installed Polar Pro Trainer 5 on my desktop computer, even though it came with the new HRM that I got months ago.. Ironman training sure takes over life sometimes! Anyways, it has some great features including the ability to zoom in on the speed/time/heart rate curves. So, at the risk of an overdetailed blog.. it looks like my first stop at rest area 3 was at mile 32 and the stop was actually only 6 minutes, not 10 like I posted earlier. Later in the race I realized the distance on my bike computer was slightly off from the mile markers on the road. My watch was a little behind. Overall it said I rode 110 miles, not 112. Anyone else have this?

I neglected to say in my initial bike post that I'd mentally broken up the bike portion into 4 segments. Mile 0-23; Mile 23-50; Mile 50-75; Mile 75-112. The first segment had ended around the second rest stop when we turned off the first main highway and went east. The second segment was a 25+ mile stretch all on the same road going east. I knew I'd hit special needs near the end of this stretch. I didn't count it as halfway until I made the turn to go west again around mile 60.

Here's the bike course directions and in parenthesis I wrote the total miles you'll have traveled before you make that turn, based on our rental car odometer. I'm posting this because I wanted to know the info before I did the race and I think it's ridiculous that Ironman doesn't just include it in the race course information, so hopefully it'll be helpful to someone else:

* Start at the Boardwalk Beach Resort and go west on S. Thomas Drive to Front Beach Rd.
* (0.6 miles) Left on Front Beach Rd.
* (6.6) Right on Hwy 79.
* (22.8) Right on Hwy 20. (Segment 1 ended when I turned right on Hwy 20)
* (50.3) Right on Hwy 231. (Segment 2 ended when I turned right onto Hwy 231)
* (59.7) Right on South Camp Flowers Rd.
* (64.9) Right on County Rd 2301.
* (70.3) Right on Hwy 388 and go east approx. 3.5 miles to turnaround. (turn around at 75.8 = End of Segment 3)
* (86.4) Left on Hwy 77 and go approx. 1 mile south to Hwy 388.
* (86.4) (4pm cutoff) Right on Hwy 388.
* (87.4) Left on Hwy 79.
* (99.8) Left on Front Beach Rd.
* (105.6) Right on S. Thomas Dr.
* (111.2) Finish at the Boardwalk Beach Resort. (112 - the end!)

So there I am, riding east on highway 20. This stretch of road was the longest stretch without any turns. It also included a few very mild gentle "hills". Hills as in you didn't really have to shift gears to get up them, but it made sense if you wanted to keep a consistent cadence. (For those who live in Sac, they're almost all about the gradient of climbing the bridge from Discovery Park to Old Sac on the bike path, but maybe three times as long. They might be a little steeper than that though because I don't shift on that "hill"... Needless to say, these are not scary hills.) It's fun. I always like variety in terrain. People are being nice and following the rules for the most part. The people that aren't, well, I saw them get carded. hehe.


(You can almost see one of the "hills" in this pic near the horizon.)

At mile 42 I had to stop again to pee. This was the 4th rest stop and my 2nd visit. I had a 4 minute stop, waiting in line again. I was hydrated! One of my big worries had been that I'd end up hyponatremic. I feel like I've read so many race reports where someone ends up with a DNF for lack of sodium and too much water. Peeing was a good sign that I wasn't hyponatremic, so even though it was annoying to stop again, I decided it meant things were going well.

At the special needs stop around mile 48, I stopped again. Believe it or not - I had to pee! No line this time so a quick minute in there, then some time with my special needs bag. Lucky for me (and the smoker) the nice young man who wasn't smoking handed me my bag. (Really why do people think it's okay to smoke on an Ironman course?) Having a low number was so great - so easy to find my bag everywhere!

In my special needs bag I had: Larabar cashew cookie; flask of 5 Carbboom apple cinnamon gels; flask of 5 Carbboom watermelon gels; packet of honey almond butter (in case mine flew out of my bento box); one carbboom double espresso gel (in case I needed more caffeine than the Chomps and vanilla-orange gel were giving me); extra endurolytes; extra Heed powder in a ziplock; 16 Gu Chomps in a ziplock; plus 2 spare tubes and 2 CO2s (in case I'd gotten a flat in the first 50 miles and wanted more backups). I'd mostly been eating my apple cinnamon gels so even though I had some left in my apple flask, I dumped it and got the full one. I can't remember if I picked up the watermelon one or not. I think I did and ended up with 3 flasks in my jersey just in case I got tired of the other flavors. I also poured the spare Heed into my Heed flask, and made some mixed drink for my Speedfil while I was there. I emptied the Chomps and Endurolytes into my bento box. I spent 6 minutes with my special needs bag, and I'm really not sure why. What was I doing? This might be a good reason to go the minimalist route with the special needs bag, but I wasn't sure what I'd want, so I put some extra things in it. I left everything else.

Here's a photo of my wonderful iron team captain helping me fill the flasks Thursday night.



I had a lot of gels!!! I'd labeled the piles for organizational purposes and so I'd know which bag to put the flasks in.



Shortly after I finally leave the special needs bags, we got to turn off that long stretch and have a change of scenery. This time we were on a more major road. I was still following my nutrition plan to a tee. I started to worry a little about how many times I'd stopped and how much time I was losing. Not really worry so much as starting to feel excruciatingly slow. I started using my mental training more. I'd written down all my mantras on the note in the T1 bag just in case my brain fried. But I remembered them. My friend Lil once told me she counts 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4, and I've found that really helpful on tough hills. My friend Jennifer does 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, etc. But the counting wasn't working for me, I think because the terrain was so flat and boring that I needed something more than counting. I wasn't feeling like I was really in a groove. I wasn't getting negative either but I wanted to see if the mental training could give me a boost. A few times earlier in the race I'd tried my coach's suggestion: I'm strong, I've trained for this, I'm ready. That was a good one. I'd also been using I am awesome; I am amazing because so many people used those terms on my Janus Charity Challenge fundraising website! Of the few signs I saw on the bike course, most of them said things like You are awesome so I felt like those were good adjectives to focus on since they were right in front of my face. The volunteers said great positive stuff like that too.

On this southbound stretch between mile 50 and 60, there were more cars so I definitely rode more in the shoulder (although the drivers were awesome about staying a full lane away). The wind was coming from the east. At one point there was a gap in the trees and a sudden gust blew me what felt like a full foot. One moment I was riding on the white line, the next moment I was almost off the road. It was scary and I'm amazed that I didn't fall off my bike. I got out of the aero position then for a little bit and once my heart jumped back into my skin I went for the drop bars instead, since I feel more stable there in wind than on the aero bars.



(I'm 85% sure this is the right photo... If any of you think this isn't Hwy 231 let me know.)

Around this point I pulled out my friend Artemis' yoga chant: ohm namo guru dev namo. I couldn't remember what it meant exactly but had the idea it was related to the spirit of the universe within me. I just kept saying it over and over again in my head and it relaxed me, even though I was at risk for getting blown off my bike. (I was really glad I'd gone with the Speedfil since it made me more stable than if I'd had an aerobottle or one of the hydration systems that hooks up to the saddle.) The chant actually started making me feel stronger and eventually I felt like I was flying. Artemis was taking her first kundalini instructor course that day so she'd promised to send all her good yoga vibes my direction. We'd talked about November 7 so much - the beginning of her yoga journey and the end of my ironman journey - so I knew she wasn't going to forget her promise.

I got into a great rhythm and was feeling super strong as I turned onto Camp Flowers Road. Although I hadn't noticed when we drove the course, Melissa had mentioned at our blogger party that this stretch of road has bumps all across the road every few seconds. She explained why but I can't remember. Something about the way the road was built though. Sure enough, bump, bump, bump. Wow that's not fun. This went on and on and on for awhile. I was still doing the yoga chant in my head though and I felt like I was on a roll even with all the annoying bumps. Finally I'd gotten into the zone and I was going to bring it home! One woman just barely in front of me mentioned she was going to stop to see if she had a flat - she couldn't tell if it felt that way because it was flat or because the road quality was so poor. I wished her luck as I kept riding. It was maybe a mile or two later when I started having the same thought nagging at me. Did I have a flat, or was it just the crappy road?

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