Wednesday, December 02, 2009

IMAZ Race Report: The Bike

I was so glad to be out of the water and onto the sunny roads. I instantly felt warmer when I started riding, and I felt so safe and comfortable after the chaotic swim. I saw my friends in the exit chute for the first time in the day and they cheered so loud!

(If you're just joining us, here are the links for the Pre-Race and Race Morning & Swim sections of the race report. We rejoin our story at the beginning of the second leg of the Ironman race....)

I felt great from the beginning. I knew I was going to have a good ride and I felt deeply happy about this. You see, the bike was my least favorite in training. In fact, late in my training as the rides reached 5+ hours I grew to despise cycling. I didn't mind the shorter rides, but got burnt out on the long ones. I definitely improved throughout my training and I'm a much more confident and stronger rider, but it is still my weakness. I can tell you all now that from the second I signed up for the Ironman to the second I dismounted my bike late Sunday afternoon I didn't believe I could do it. I was very worried I wouldn't make the cut off. I guess logically I knew I would probably be OK, but if I had any delays- a flat, other mechanicals, excess stopping for restrooms, etc.. I was in danger of missing the cut off. I usually rode 14-16 MPH in training and I knew that didn't give me a huge margin of error in the race. So, on Sunday morning, as I pedaled out of town for the first time and saw that I was going 18 MPH with almost no effort, I was relieved. To say the least. I knew anything could happen over the next few hours but at least I was starting off on the right foot.

I continued to fly along with a smile on my face for the entire first lap (this was a three lap course). The first 8-9 miles are through the city on flat, boring, urban roads. You make like 4-5 turns as you head toward the highway out of town. This part felt great the first time around. My legs were so fresh and rested and I was just glad to be warming up. After that section, we made the last turn onto the Beeline Highway. This is a divided four lane highway that was partially closed to traffic. The course follows this road for about 10 more miles and then you turn around at Shea Blvd and head back to town the same way you came. As soon as we hit the Beeline for the first time I noticed a headwind. Nothing terrible, but definitely there. I saw the trees moving and flags blowing as evidence. I was prepared for the wind knowing this stretch is exposed and can get windy. I knew it would be at my back on the return trip so I just stayed steady. I was going like 13-15 MPH on this stretch. Then in the last couple of miles before the turn around there are actually some little bitty hills and those slowed me down to 10-12 MPH. Still smiling though. I hit the turn around and instantly the gravity + downhill pushed me along and my speedometer showed 25 MPH! I didn't see it drop below 20 MPH until I made the first turn back through town and even then my speed stayed in the high teens. It was freaking awesome. So fun!!

On the first lap I did a great job sticking to my nutrition plan. I drank my two Perpeteums and picked up water bottles at aid stations when they ran out. I ate a power bar too. My stomach was feeling kind of gassy and tight but I tried not to worry about it and kept eating and drinking. When I got back into town I saw my friends and family right before the turn around and they screamed and waved! I waved back and smiled. So cool. I noted my time at the turn around and I saw that first loop took me 2:15, a full 15 minutes faster than the 2:30 goal! I knew the next laps would be slower because I would be stopping at Special Needs and at porto potties but was thrilled to be off to a good start. I saw the group again right away and gave a wave and a thumbs up.

Lap 1: 2:14:28 (16.51 MPH)

Onto the second lap. I was still feeling very good and glad to be on my second lap. I noticed immediately that I was not going as fast heading out of town but figured that was because I didn't have those super fresh legs anymore. Still felt good though and was happy with the 15-16 MPH I was seeing. The strange thing was that when I turned onto the Beeline Highway, my speed stayed the same. It didn't drop. I realized there was no more headwind. You'd think I"d be happy about this but I was really bummed out! I was really looking forward to that free ride back into town! Shucks. It was nice on the way out I suppose but still there was that minor incline so I was definitely working. I ate another power bar and continued drinking water. My stomach was really tight and I realized it was because I really had to pee. I was a few miles from the turn around so I figured I would just go at the Special Needs stop. I hit the turnaround and was glad to at least have the gravity help me along for a while even if there was no tailwind. I confirmed my theory when I noticed my speed dropped quickly to 18 MPH where I"d been going 23-25 the first time around.

The Special Needs stop was at mile 63 so just a few miles past the turn around. I'd seen it on the last lap so I knew where it was. They had large cardboard boxes with some bags in each so I rode up toward the end to find my box. I wasn't sure what the procedure was so I just pulled off to the side by my box and got off my bike. There was a volunteer there and I'm not sure he was supposed to be my personal butler but he did it without complaint. He held my bike while I dug through my SN bag. First thing I did was pull my cold Perpeteum bottles out of my little cooler bag. Umm, they were frozen solid. Ok, I guess the cooler worked! I knew they wouldn't be drinkable for quite some time so I kept one water and put just one Perpeteum on the bike. I grabbed my PB&J and took a couple bites. I emptied my bag of pretzels into my bento box. I had a little bottle of sunscreen and the volunteer helped me put it on. The last thing I did was grab my little chamois butter packet out of the seat bag and stuck it in my pocket. I thanked the volunteer and hopped back on my bike to ride down to the end of the aid station to use the porto potty. They had little bike racks there so I racked my bike and hopped in line. Ugh, line?? I was very frustrated to have to just stand there doing nothing. The lady waiting in front of me was really chatty and annoying which didn't help. I took the opportunity to stretch my arms and back and eat a few pretzels. Finally it was my turn and I sat down and while I peed I squirted the chamois butter onto my bike shorts. I finished up and my stomach felt a lot better. I quickly grabbed my bike and started off down the road. I looked at my watch and I saw that this stop took me like 7-8 minutes total.

On the rest of the second lap I ate the rest of the pretzels in my bento box and drank water. I drank some of the Perpeteum as soon as it thawed out. The riding wasn't as easy without the tailwind but I was still feeling good. I still had a lot of company on the bike course as fast people passed me on their third lap. I was constantly passing or being passed, but I was careful not to draft. There was definitely a LOT of drafting going on. It was pretty shocking actually. I could see packs of fast riders shamelessly sticking right behind each other. There were lots of officials out on the course but I don't think anyone was getting caught. I didn't worry about it and just focused on my own race. People at my speed were being pretty good and passing legally. Lots of friendly folks too who said "Good job!" and "Having fun yet?" as they went by. We also called each other by name since our names were on our bibs. One girl told me she liked the color of my bike, and another girl commented that we were the only ones riding bikes without aerobars (pretty much true!). In addition to awesome athletes, the bike course was loaded with awesome volunteers. The aid stations seemed a bit far apart but they were well organized and stocked and the volunteers were cheering and handing out their goods with enthusiasm. I thanked them every single time.

I saw my group of screaming and dancing spectators again right before hit the turn around the second time. I noted my split as I made the turn. I saw this second loop took me several minutes longer than the first one but still below my goal of 2:30 for the lap. When I passed by my group I waved again and yelled to Zach "One more lap!!"

Lap 2: 2:25:21 (15.27 MPH)

I was so glad to be on my final lap. I broke the final loop up the same way I'd been doing- 8.5 ish miles through town, 10 miles out the Beeline to the turn around, 10 miles back down, and 8-9 miles to the finish. Yay! I kept eating, I had a couple more gels and kept drinking plenty of water. The third loop was just like the second speed wise. 15-16 MPH out of town and up the Beeline, a bit slower on the baby hills, then 16-18 back down the Beeline. Except this time the return trip was a bit slower as my legs grew tired. My stomach was aching again and I figured it was because my bladder was full again. I stopped at the same bathroom at Special Needs and didn't have to wait very long. I was only stopped for probably 2-3 minutes this time. Once again, my stomach felt much better after I stopped. Still, I had to really bargain with myself to eat more. Everything just sounded so gross. I crammed down one final power bar for a total of 3 bars, 3 gels, and most of 3 bottles of Perpeteum eaten on the bike ride. It was really quiet on this last stretch too, as most everyone was done with the bike at this point. It was a bit lonely but easier to settle into a pace without worrying about passing/drafting.

I definitely started to get tired on the final leg of the bike. As I approached the turns back into town I saw a sign that said Mile 104 and it took some real effort to figure out that this meant I only had 8 miles left. The reason I was so confused is that I noticed that this meant I was going to finish the bike in like 7:0x? That can't be right? Is it? I guess I figured with all the stops and as I slowed down a bit I would be coming in around 7:20. I was very excited about my projected finish time! Plus, I knew that even if I got a flat tire in the final stretch I had more than enough time to fix it. I realized, I was going to finish!! In the midst of this thought process I saw a few enthusiastic spectators on the side of the road and they were screaming and holding a sign and jumping up and down. "GO Jen!!!" Huh? I thought it was a coincidence, or they had seen my name on my bib? I realized long after I passed that was Kelsa Lynn!! Haha. Clearly my mind was not so sharp by this point.

On the last couple of miles toward Tempe I really let myself relax and backed way off the pace. I coasted and stretched my back. Knowing I was finishing way ahead of my planned time was great because I could stretch, rest, and start thinking about the run. Oh ya, the run. Hmmm. I really thought when I was training that the bike would be awful and I would be so excited to get off and start running. Now I was coasting into town feeling sad about leaving my bike and not even slightly looking forward to running! My legs were tired. Very tired. Especially my quads. I thought, "This is going to be interesting."

Lap 3: 2:24:15 (15.8 MPH)

My group wasn't in the same spot at the end of the bike course but I saw them as I entered the bike finish chute. They yelled and waved once again as I rode past. The dismount line came up suddenly and I hopped off and a volunteer took my bike. Bye, bike!

Bike time: 7:04:04 (15.85 MPH)


I remembered where my T2 bag was and found it easily, then carried it over to the change tent. This time I definitely did not jog. And this time, the change tent was very spacious and empty. This is the good thing about being a slower cyclist I guess! The biggest difference this time was my frame of mind. In T1, I had been so cold and numb and a little overwhelmed. This time, I strolled into the change tent, met my little volunteer girl (I swear most of the volunteers at this race were teenagers!) and slowly did my thing while chatting away with her. She got all my things out of the bag and the first thing I did was strip off all my bike clothes and put on clean, dry running clothes. I put body glide around my waist and under my sports bra and between my legs. I rinsed my face off with water and toweled off. I wiped the grass off my feet and put on clean socks and my running shoes. I got my Garmin out and turned it on and it quickly got a signal. The volunteer got off easy compared to my T1 volunteer! She tied my shoes while I ate my PB&J sandwich, and then she helped me put my sunscreen on. She bagged up my bike stuff and I thanked her and said "Well I suppose I should go." She wished me luck and I walked out of the tent.

T2 time: 9:53

And... pictures!

Exiting T2:

The clock is from the Pro start, which was 10 minutes before we started.

Right before Bike Mount line:
Hiiii! One lap down!

Starting second loop:

End of second loop:

Starting final loop:

Heading to bike finish:

Gear bag in hand, heading toward change tent in T2:

Run report coming up next. :) Remember to check out the video if you haven't already. There are a couple videos of me zooming by on the bike. Also the Pre-Race post has some pictures of when I drove the bike course if you are curious what it looked like.


M. Brooks said...

Its great to see someone doing an Ironman on a road bike without aero bars! Great race reports - looking forward to reading about the run!

Anonymous said...

You are amazing. Great bike report. Can't wait to read all about the run. Love how you are still smiling after dismount.

kristen said...

I got up early to read your race reports and you did not disapoint. These are fantastic!! I am so glad you got such awesome and helpfull volunteers and of course the best one of all - Zach!!

I know I've said this so many times but you are AMAZING! Miles of smiles (hello, cheeseball)but so true. I'm so gald all the training is coming to fruition like this. Can't wait for the run report.

kristen said...

p.s. LOVE Zach's sign. Good for you :) You know you have to do a separate post about all the new stuff you bought right?!

kelsalynn said...

YAY! I was so surprised to see you on the bike course when we did too! You came so fast! We were only standing there for maybe 3 minutes when you rode by- I couldn't believe our timing and how speedy/efficient/athletic you appeared after finishing the swim AND practically the entire bike. I could tell I surprised you- it made me laugh!

Amy said...

I just LOVE reading your race report! You had the best attitude and I feel like I'm right there with you while I'm reading. Just love it.

PS- if you're ever feeling down b/c it's after the race e-mail me and we'll chat.

the gazelle said...

again - awesome! I can't believe I have to wait another day for the next installment! I can't wait to hear about your run.

aron said...

loooooving these reports :) SO excited for the run part. i CANNOT imagine running a FULL freaking marathon after all that. you are amazing girl!

Marathon Maritza said...

Yay! I was so happy that the bike went so smoothly for you! Can't wait to hear about the 'adventurous' run that you had and the grand finale!!!!


Alisa said...

These are GREAT reports. You killed that bike course AND you did it with a SMILE---impressive chica!

I gotta agreed with the chick that said your bike is purrty---it is!

Keri said...

I love reading these! Yay for no aero bars!

I cannot wait to hear about the run! I am with Kristen, I want to see all of the IM loot!

KK said...

Funny comment about the bike SN volunteer being your personal butler. And I can only imagine how annoying that lady was at the porta john. I hate when people can't leave me alone so I can be free to silently curse how long other people are taking in the john? sheesh.

I am so happy that you exceeded your expectations on the bike. What a testament to all your hard work in training. I get bored and tired and burned out with longer rides too-but now you never have to do them again and your commitment clearly paid off.

I love your smiles in all the pictures.

Erin said...

You are such a super star! I've really enjoyed reading these recaps of each section! The swim sounded EPIC. I'm excited to read about the run!

Ewen said...

That was a great bike split - even with having to queue up for the loos behind chatty ladies ;)

I had a chuckle at "this is going to be interesting" and "well I suppose I should go"!

Bring on the run (and the bloody knee)!

Jo Lynn said...

I had no idea you dreaded the bike portion. It was my favorite leg of my itty bitty baby triathlon. ;)

It is somewhat relaxing, after that darn swim, huh?!