A kiss for Douglas
It always takes me a while to settle in on the bike and find my legs. I have to make a conscience effort not to “eat the paste” while the slower swimmers who are strong bikers fly by in the early miles on the bike. Coach Carole gave me good guidance to take the first miles easy to settle in, so I did just that.
The bike can be mind numbing so I try to split up the miles, if only for a mental break. This bike course was easy to split into 4 sections – the bike start to the start of the first loop, loop 1, loop 2, and the final leg. Douglas and I drove the bike course the day before the race so I was very familiar with the route and my surroundings, which helped tremendously. The best part was that we had so much fun on the bike route tour, just chatting and laughing together in the car, that I couldn’t help but smile as I passed various landmarks and recalled those conversations.
Doug and I had discussed a good spot for him to spectate on the bike course – a place where he could easily see me three times on the bike course without having to drive around like a mad man. I was excited about 20 miles into the race as I approached our designated spot because seeing Douglas is a huge pick-me-up … except, he wasn’t there. No big deal, I told myself. The first 20 miles ended up being pretty fast for me and I figured that Doug must have gotten stuck in traffic. I was wearing a Trakkers device so I knew that Doug would know exactly where I was in the course, so he wouldn’t worry about me. The designated spot was also the demarcation of the end of the first segment and the beginning of the first loop of the course. I did a mental check to mark the first portion as complete and told myself I would see Doug in a couple of hours.
Shortly after the 20 mile marker, we turned to do a short out and back and it was on this stretch that I was surprised to see Douglas – and our rental car completely decorated with colored duct tape as a huge sign for me!
We exchanged a couple of yells back and forth and a virtual fist bump and I was on my way. Douglas later told me that this little town was easier to get to while the race was underway, so he made a game time decision to change spots. Spectating is hard work – hours of waiting and worrying, just to see me for less than 30 seconds! At least with the Trakkers device he could see where I was on the course and my speed, which took away a lot of the worrying (mechanicals, crashes).
We love mom, A+T (Andrew & Tyler)
I got a big boost from seeing Douglas and did some mental math and figured I would see him again a little over 2 hours. I refocused and settled into “section 2” of the ride. Just as was settling in, I noticed a motorcycle behind me. At first I thought it was a race official, but they were not passing me – and then I saw the blur of the lead male cyclist coming up behind me! It was so cool to see the race leader. That is one of the best parts of racing a triathlon – you get to race WITH the pros.
The wind on the course was mostly in our favor or a cross wind for the first leg of the race and I was slightly anxious about when we were going to turn into the headwind. The first half of section 2 (the loop) had a great tail wind, so I did my best to take advantage of the favorable wind. When I turned I was expecting to take a beating, and while my speeds slowed down considerably, I never felt miserable.
At this point, I was approaching special needs, but since I carried all of my nutrition on my bike and was feeling comfortable with what I was wearing I did not stop. Rev3 did a great job of having someone a half mile ahead of the special needs stop radioing in our numbers so our bags were waiting for us as we rode by. Special needs also marked nearly the end of the first loop, which meant I was on my way to Doug (yeah!) and that killer tail wind!
With the first loop behind me, it was time for a self assessment. My nutrition felt spot on and my legs felt good. The best part about starting the second loop was knowing what to expect at each turn. Which roads were rough or uphill, when to expect the aid stations, the tail wind and downhills. Mentally, this is a big thing for me.
Shortly after starting the second loop, I saw Douglas again and got another mental boost. I figured I would see him again at the bike finish and settled in to the third section of the ride (loop 2). This loop was slower overall as the wind changed against us. I still had a nice tail wind, but it was not quite as good and the sections with the head wind were tough.
All of my solo riding in preparation for the race paid off though, and I was focused and not at all frustrated or bored. Each turn was a mental checkmark getting me that much closer to the marathon. As I approached the end of the second loop (mental section 3), I was getting a bit down. The wind had slowed me down and I was starting to get ancy to get off my bike.
It was as if Douglas knew I was going to need the boost of seeing him because just as I was having my short lived pity party, I saw Douglas in the original spectating spot we had scoped out. It was so good to see him and it was just what I needed at that moment. At this point with only one mental section left to ride, I was feeling good about my overall pace and my time.
I have always been a second half rider and my body has a bit of a horse to stables mentality so I kicked it up for the last 20 miles, just like Coach Carole wanted. My last hour was one of my strongest. I kept expecting awful wind on the last leg, but it never materialized. I passed quite a few people in those last few miles. I felt so good and I was not pushing the effort, just anxious to hit T2.
Once I was within a mile or two of the finish, I decided to check my mileage on my bike computer to see exactly how much further I had to ride --- and my computer showed 120ish miles. Hmm, that is not right. I knew I reset my computer, so I immediately realized that when we changed out my battery, Doug’s programming must not have worked so my computer thought I was riding on 700c wheels instead of 600c wheels. That explained why my mph was higher than expected throughout the ride. Good thing I was not paying attention to speed much at all -- it was all exertion level and time.
As I made the turn back into the Cedar Point parking lot I said a prayer of thanks for my safety and no mechanical issues (remember, my 3 flat tires the day before?) and was thrilled to be getting off my bike. I was happy to see Doug waiting for me at the bike dismount line. 2 of 3 sports down – 1 to go!
Bike Time: 6:12:39, 18.03 mph
5 /14 Division
26/67 Overall Women (including pros)
As I entered T2 a volunteer grabbed my bike and I started running to the peg boards. I took one step and decided to take my shoes off on the spot. My feet hurt and I couldn’t wait another 20 seconds to take my bike shoes off.
As I turned the corner to reach my T2 bag, Doug was worried and asked me if I was ok. I told him I was great and he asked me if I had had a flat or anything and I said no. He was relieved and told me that my Trakkers device must have run of batteries at the 92 mile mark because that was the last live data he received on my progress and he had been worried about me. He was about to go look for me in the car! I reassured him that I was ok and ran into the tent to get ready for the run.
The tent was empty and I had 2 volunteers waiting on me hand and foot. One took my gear and the other was basically helping me get ready (putting my race number on, turning on my Garmin, helping me with my hat, etc. It was amazing to have such great volunteer support. With that I was off like a prom dress, ready (or so I thought) to conquer the marathon.
T2 Time– 3:56
Starting the marathon, I was 48 minutes ahead of my IMFL time and looking at my watch (cumulative race time was 7:45:37, I could taste a sub 12 hour race.