Friday, November 20, 2009

IMFL – The Bike

What a beautiful day for a bike ride! The sun was shining, the birds were singing and the wind was blowing (so I don’t really know if the birds were singing, because I couldn’t hear them because of the wind!) …

The bike exit was surrounded by cheering spectators – I felt like I was starting a leg of the Tour De France. Of course, Douglas was there holding a sign based on my fortune cookie, “In Dreams and In Life, Nothing is Impossible”. It was a good reminder as I was setting off for what turned out to be nearly a 7 hour bike ride!

Starting my 112 mile tour

The first half mile or so is on S. Thomas Drive where many condos are and the main staging area for the race, before turning onto Front Beach Road to start the first real stretch of the ride. I knew that the rest of my family would be waiting for me at the Shores of Panama so I took this short section nice and slow so that I could wave to my boys and to my mother-in-law, Kate. It was great to see them as they were sleeping when I left in the morning and I didn’t know if I would see them again before the finish line.

When I turned on to Front Beach Road, I attempted to settle into my bike and get mentally organized for the ride. I didn’t feel quite right on the bike, but I couldn’t put my finger on what the issue was. I felt like my power was slightly off, but I was holding a good pace at the right effort, so I stayed positive and kept pedaling.

About 15 miles into the ride I got worried because my right leg was starting to feel like it does when my sciatic nerve acts up. It hasn’t done it since the Gulf Coast Tri, ironically enough, on the same course. I remember thinking to myself, what is it about this course?!?! Thankfully though, I shifted my aero position a bit and after another 10 miles or so, the feeling was gone, never to return. I was also thankful that despite swallowing a bit more salt water on the second loop of the swim, my stomach felt fine. My power still felt just slightly off, but nothing to get worked up about.

I took my first porta potty stop at the second rest stop and also used the time waiting in line to stretch a bit, which I think helped my right leg pain. I hated that I had to stop and wait in line, but this girl just can’t go on the bike.

By this time, the head wind was really rearing its ugly head and my average mph was dropping considerably. I was pretty disappointed by this at first, but I reminded myself that it was a beautiful day and that I was fulfilling a dream, whether I was riding at 16 mph or 18 mph (or sometimes into the wind, well below that …). I was also getting hungry, something that I was not expecting, so I ate 3 Clif blocks to help stave off the hunger. The Clif blocks and the Infinit worked like a charm.

Special Needs snuck up on me around the 50 mile marker (conveniently around 3 hours into the ride) and I debated about whether to stop. However, by this time in the race, it was obvious that I was going to be going longer than 6 hours, so I pulled off to grab the extra Infinit powder I put in my Special Needs (“just in case”) and dumped it into the concentrated bottle that I had just finished. I also dropped off my arm warmers. Just as I was about to dump the bag back into the pile, I felt a piece of paper.

I didn’t remember putting anything in the bag, so I pulled it out to see a sign from Douglas and the boys that read, “Keep Moving Forward.” It was exactly what I needed at that moment! The quote is from the Disney Movie, Meet the Robinsons and it is about overcoming adversity. I cried the first time I saw the movie and I love the quote – I didn’t realize at the time that the quote would play an integral part during the marathon that was yet to come.

I assumed that the course would mark the halfway point with a timing mat and I was getting really nervous when it felt like I had been riding forever without seeing a sign or a timing mat. I ride with my computer on time, not distance, so I was relieved when I hit mile 60! I also had my first emotional experience of the day because for the first time since the bike exit, handfuls of cheering spectators were on the course. It was so neat to watch their excitement, especially as their athletes were approaching. Shortly after this, I stopped for the third time (2nd potty stop) and had 3 more Clif blocks to help keep the hunger at bay.

At mile 65, on a slight downhill portion of the course, I was surprised to see my family waiting for me! I was not expecting them out on the bike course, so it was a major pick-me-up. I actually had to turn around and ride back to them because I had passed them by the time I realized who it was! Had Douglas not called me back, I probably would have kept going, mostly because mentally my brain was locked in the “Keep moving forward” mode. It was great to gets hugs and kisses all around and to tell Douglas about the wind. They decorated the Suburban as Lightning McQueen, which I am sure was fun for the other riders as well! So creative! After one more kiss from all of my boys, Douglas told me where to expect the out and back and I was off.

Lightning Suburban (Tyler is crying)

Turning around to greet my #1 fans

And I'm off ... again!

Douglas later apologized for holding me up, thinking if I had not stopped I may have broken the elusive 13 hour mark, but as I told him then, this race was not about a couple of minutes and I was happy to have my cheering section on the bike course.

I rode on in a just-saw-my-family high until I turned into the wind on to the worst stretch of road of the entire course. There were cracks/bumps every 3 feet that jolted me for miles. I rode on the edge of the road on the white line (there was no shoulder) in an attempt to get away from the shocks. The wind was really just adding insult to injury at this point. When I saw the turn around and the timing mat (finally!) I was beyond thrilled. The road conditions on the ride back out were just as awful, but with the wind at my back it just didn’t feel as bad.

At this point, I was starting the countdown to get back to transition. I was still in a good mood , despite my readiness to get off the bike, and I chatted with people I passed and with the many people who passed me . When we got back to the Intercoastal Bridge (the only real hill on the course), I was thrilled to see the 100 mile marker. 12 miles to my running shoes! In training I did a lot of 45 minute spins / 15 minute runs at work on the spinner and treadmill at lunch. I always marked these workouts as 12 miles on the bike (to be conservative), even though there is not a distance computer on the bike, so I was confident that in a mere 45 minutes I would be handing my bike to a volunteer!

The last stretch back on Front Beach Road was physically tough with the wind and my feet were killing me (not something I had experienced in training either) but it was also very exciting. The anticipation of starting the LAST leg of the race was nearly electric.
I had worried for months about experiencing some sort of mechanical failure on the bike that would take me out of the race, so to be so close to the bike finish without having experienced any bike issues at all was a major relief. I definitely thanked God for looking after me and keeping me safe on the bike course. I later heard about an incident where a car hit a cyclist and several crashes – there was nothing like that near me, thankfully!

When I made the turn back onto S. Thomas we were again surrounded by throngs of cheering spectators. I had the biggest smile on my face as I searched the crowd for Douglas. He was waiting right near the bike dismount with a sign that listed each leg of the race with the respective distances, with the swim and the bike legs crossed out. The bike ride had taken longer than I thought it would, but it was done and I was ready to run!

Bike split: 6:52:08
16.3 mph

So happy to see the bike finish!
Side note: It wasn’t until much later that evening that a possible reason for my lower than expected MPH came to light. Douglas picked up my bike from transition and rode it back to the condo and promptly informed me that I had been riding with a slight brake rub. Rookie mistake. It was an ever so slight rub, just enough for me to feel off but now I possibly know why. Did it affect my bike split? Who knows, and I am not going to dwell on it because I still enjoyed every minute of that windy ride! For the record, I did check the brake in transition, but it was only after braking that it shifted too much to one side and created the rub.

I got off my bike, handed it to a waiting volunteer, trotted over to the T2 bags, called out my number and received my bag from yet another volunteer. Then it was off the changing tent where another extremely helpful volunteer opened my bag and handed me everything that I needed. I did a quick change of my socks and shoes, changed out my helmet for my visor, picked up my Garmin and grabbed my nutrition before exiting the changing tent. I made a pit stop at the porta pottys in transition because there were no lines and I didn’t know what I would find along the course … and then I was off to run a marathon!

T2: 5:37

5 comments:

ONEHOURIRONMAN said...

I hate that riding and not knowing you have a mechanical issue. I have been on training rides where I swear something is rubbing (because of the low speed) only to get off and have my hopes dashed.

Trishie said...

Great ride and I'm loving this RR :)

Kelly said...

I think I would love it if this RR just went on forever!! This is good stuff. BTW, you really need to learn how to go on the bike! :)

Paige said...

People seriously go on the bike? I don't think I want to know!

I love all of Doug's thoughtful signs/notes. And the car was so neat! I'm glad to see that pic, even if sweet Tyler wasn't so happy to be in it.

Love and Puppies, Christy said...

I don't know you, but I am loving the recap! I am doing IMCOZ this weekend and I am feeding off your enthusiasm! Keep it coming and congrats!