Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Ironman Race Report: The Bike

The bike is the meat of the Ironman, the longest part of the day. This is where you settle down and really get into the race. For me, this is where I really start to relax. I crossed the bike mount line and turned the corner to head up main street. I saw Doug’s family and they all cheered super loud when they saw me. I screamed back. I was SO happy to be done with the swim!

The weather started out nice. It was sunny with a bit of cloud cover. I had a general idea of how the route would go. Pretty flat for the first 30 miles or so, one small climb during that period. Then one big hill – Richter Pass. Then some rollers. An out and back to special needs. A final climb to Yellow Lake and a fast descent.

I was rolling along, feeling good. My arm was holding up, my nutrition was right on track. I spent a lot of time in the aero position, just relaxing and enjoying the scenery. It was beautiful wine country and orchards. There were tons of people out at the street cheering. People would sit in their yards and cheer, people parked their cars on the side of the road and they cheered. They didn’t just cheer for who they knew, they cheered for everyone.

We got to Richter Pass and it was over before I knew it. We trained hard on hills, so it didn’t feel so tough. Before I knew it, we were at mile 50. I was making good time. I was hoping the bike would take me 7 hours, 7 hours and 30 minutes at the most. I was right on track.

I knew special needs was at 75 miles, so I focused on that. It made it easier than thinking of 112. There were 10 rolling hills, I powered the uphills, coasted downhill. This is when the wind started. The sky turned dark and the wind started to whip. We turned on the road to do our out and back to special needs and the wind was relentless. I wasn’t sure how the weather was going to turn, but I wasn’t to happy about it.

I turned right and saw the bikers on their way back from the out and back. Then, unexpectedly, I saw Trevor. We had a moment to realize we were seeing each other before we passed. I said “hey” and he said “hey” back. That was it. I was happy to see him so that he knew I made it out of the swim.

I headed out to special needs. The road was super bumpy and that really bothered my arm. Too much jarring. I was playing leap frog with the same people all day long. We all had our names on our race numbers, so we could call each other by name. It made the day very personal. You could tell some people were struggling, but for the most part, everyone was in good spirits. When I saw someone with a flat tire or bike trouble, I would always yell and ask if they had what they needed and I thanked my bike for staying in one piece.

We made the turn to Yellow Lake and the wind was still really blowing. I kept expecting to get to a climb that was steep uphill to Yellow Lake. After a while, I realized that I was in my smallest gear and I had been climbing for miles. This was around mile 80. I believed that the downhill started around mile 90.

People were really struggling here. Everyone was very quiet, grinding up the hill. I had stuck to my nutrition plan, my stomach felt good, my legs felt good. I was feeling strong on the bike and really looking forward to that fast downhill to make up some time. Now, it started to rain. Wind AND rain?

The road to Yellow Lake was lined with cars, people were cheering on both sides like it was the Tour de France. They kept saying “you are almost there”, but they were never right. We finally reached the top, there was an aid station. I stopped, moved around my bottles of fuel and got back on for the final ride back into town.

I had until 10 hours and 30 minutes into the race to get off the bike. At the top of the hill, I was at 8 hours and 45 minutes. There was about 22 miles left. With a fast downhill, I figured that would take less than an hour. 45 minutes, 30 if it was really fast.

I started the descent and the wind was blowing harder that I have ever felt wind blow. I was scared on the downhill that I would get blown over. Plus it was raining. I did not get to coast the way I had planned, it was a slow descent. Once we got on the flat road into town, the wind was even stronger and I had to pedal hard just to keep moving. It felt like those last few miles went on FOREVER. I could see the lake and it looked like the ocean because of the wind. Insane.

I made the final turn into town and figured I would be out of the wind. Instead it seemed to be a stronger headwind. I just laughed. I looked at my watch and started to worry. It was now 9 hours and 45 minutes. Not as much time as I had expected to have before the cutoff.

I saw runners headed out on the course and I saw runners headed in toward the finish. People were going to finish the whole thing before I even started the run. Do you believe that?

I made the last turn, dismounted my bike, handed it over to a volunteer and thanked it for the ride of my life. I made my way to the tent to get ready for the run. Time was right around 10 hours. I had hoped to be here an hour before. Our friend Randy had sent us a note a few weeks ago about Ironman and one of the things it said was that planning your Ironman is like trying to land a man on the moon, by remote, blindfolded. And that how well you can adapt to changes on race day will make all the difference. I remembered that and just kept moving.

10 hours into the day and all that was left was a marathon.

Bike Time: 7:59:09
Transition Time: 7:02

No comments: