Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Ironman Arizona: The Bike

As I zipped into the changing tent at transition, I knew from all the planning I’d done exactly what I needed to do to get out onto the bike.  I had a wonderful volunteer who helped me pry the bike jersey onto my wet body and run out fully equipped for the long ride.  One quick stop at a portapotty and I was headed out to grab my bike.

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Just as I mounted the bike, I heard the DJ start one of my favorite motivational songs, my Ironman song if you will – All These Things That I’ve Done by The Killers – and I smiled and hoped that would carry me through the day.

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The weather forecast for the day had been fairly mild with no winds above 4mph.  Unfortunately it seemed the wind forgot to read the forecast!  As soon as I got out of Tempe, I hit a strong headwind.  The first hour of my ride, the plan had been to go out very easy, let my heart rate settle and get going on my nutrition plan (all along thinking, how will this affect me at mile 18 of the marathon?).  So I continued to spin easy and keep my heart rate down in the strong gusts up the Beeline.  What this meant though, was that I averaged 12mph over the first 18 miles to the bike turnaround. 

Melissa had so kindly braided my hair on race morning but it turned out that when jammed under a bike helmet it gave me a raging headache.  I had to stop an hour out when the pain had not diminished and rip the braids out in a hurry – aaaahhhh, much better. 

Thankfully, I had a tailwind on the return trip and made up some time, all the while doing calculations to ensure I would make the bike cutoff without a problem.  Again, *I* knew I would, but it seems I made a few people a little nervous along the way :)

I was quite happy to head down Rio Salado after the first loop and see my crew!

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A cheer and a comment about the wind as I flew by and it was off for loop #2.

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As I began the next loop the wind had shifted and I had some tailwind heading up the Beeline and headwind returning downhill.  Not enough to affect pace too dramatically and I rode the second loop 20 minutes faster than the first one.

I continued to stick to my nutrition plan without a problem and, just as important, drink tons of water.  About once per loop I would stop at an aid station and use the restroom while they refilled my water bottles so I’d be set for the next lap.  Every time I crossed the timing mat at the far turnaround of the course, I’d wave in my head to all my online friends cheering, though it turned out they were only putting up the splits when we crossed the mat back in town.  This was only disappointing because I’d hoped my coach in particular would see my splits both ways and understand that I had strong winds in one direction, not that I was riding too slow!

Back through town, 2 loops down, 1 to go!

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Heading out on the final loop of the bike course was both exciting and challenging mentally.  The vast majority of athletes were headed inbound to finish the bike, the massive peletons of drafters were gone, and there were far less of us on the road.  For many miles, I was alone.  I just kept counting down the miles, reminding myself how little was left (“20 miles – that’s just a ride to Morgan Hill and back!”  “15 miles, that’s barely anything to you!” and so on). 

When I finally hit turnaround and headed back to town with a bit of a headwind, my spirits began to lift.  Bit by bit, the miles ticked away until I was cruising back on Rio Salado and into Tempe Beach Park!

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I handed my bike off to a total stranger (volunteer) and headed to transition.  I realized I’d move a lot faster without my bike shoes, so I stopped for 10 seconds to pull them off.

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Now it’s time to run a marathon – yayayayay!  I think I hollered to my crew something along the lines of “I can’t believe I had to go through all of that to finally get to the GOOD part!”

4 comments:

UG said...

The run is my absolute favorite part too. I was always so damn happy to be off the bike! Thus my focus on ultras and the dust gathering on my bike now.

Great race!

beardies3 said...

It is so good to hear how you were feeling during the different segments of the race. It was hard to know just watching the screen for updates. Melissa did a good job of keeping us informed.

mthead said...

Hey Molly - I haven't read this yet (you know, work and all) but I'm looking forward to perusing later. Congrats, I'm really impressed at your training AND execution on race day.
Mike (Justine's husband)

Wes said...

I'll never forget that feeling when I saw the 90 mile marker at IM FL... I was so excited. I kept looking and looking but I missed the 100 mile marker. Above the skyline, I could see the hotel on the corner by the Waffle House, and I knew. I just knew.

I wasn't worried about you on the bike. I knew when you made it to the run, you were golden....