Thursday, July 30, 2009

Lake Placid Race Report-Part 3-The BIKE

The swim was over. I wasn't sure what this bike leg would bring. This was the part I was most worried about. I knew the run would Hurt the most, but it was the bike that was the most challenging to pace correctly.

I ran into the changing tent with my bag and sat down. I didn't look around but I saw only a few other women out of the corners of my eyes. I had plenty of room and plenty of help. I do remember feeling lucky about this because I have heard it can get very crowded. Several women unloaded my bag and handed me what I needed as I said it. Towel--dry feet, socks on, shoes on, glasses, helmet, HR monitor, and arm warmers????? I wasn't sure. It had been raining. I put them on. Finally, race belt. I was off. I heard my # called multiple times as I ran towards the bike racks. A lady pulled it off it's spot, brought it to the aisle and that's where I took over. Ready girl? I talked to my bike. In fact, I did that a lot that day. The energy leaving town was intense. Palpable. I just smiled and smiled and slowed down on all the descending corners around the exit. Many volunteers were screaming at us to do this so I behaved. Plus, it had poured during the swim and the roads were wet. The last thing I needed was to crash on the bike course....again.

I headed up the first hill just leaving town and saw Kurt. He calmly yelled, "good swim Angela. Be patient." Yes, patient. Careful. But not too careful. This was the challenge I faced for this 112 mile ride.

The Lake Placid course is the hilliest on the Ironman circuit, I believe. 8000+ ft of climbing. Because of that, it's hard to know how you're doing at times. For the first 3 miles or so (not sure of this) we climb. Long gradual climbing. 10 mph, 11 mph, 8 mph....rockin'! Go Ange. It's hard to start that way. But I had biked this course a few times and was prepared for that.

The plan for the bike was to stay in upper z2 or lower z3 for the duration. Jen and I decided I'd wear the HR monitor on the bike only. I was to make sure I was NOT in z1 OR z4. Ok, piece of cake. I think. During training, I found my HR in z1-- a lot. That makes it sound like I didn't train hard. And that is not the case. I just found it was very tough to get my HR into z3 during training. I felt like I was Sprinting to get about 150 bpm.

I expected the the HR to be higher than normal at first, because of the swim and the initial climb. And I was right. I can't give you #s...but it was not low z3. I was Above that. Hmm.. Ok, patience. There is a 9K downhilll shortly after leaving town and that would be a great recovery period. I would calm the HR down, rest the legs, and get ready for the main chunk of the race.

I felt good. Legs were fine. No pain in my glutes or quads like I had been feeling for months. Yeah! Taper worked. I was rested.
Ok-this RR could be 74 pages long at this rate. 112 miles of biking is not easy to summarize!

I got to the downhill and HELD ON! I was flying so fast that I didn't dare look down to see the speed. I decided NOT to be in aero. No way. As I've alluded to before, I have hit the pavement off the bike and never want to feel that again. I held the brakes and got "low." I'm sure I looked really cool and tough. Who cares. Fast fast fast men flew by me. I didn't care. That just meant I blew them away in the water. Some felt the need to pass me So close on my left and cut in front of me Immediately so that our tires almost hit. While going downhill at 40+ mph. Why? Why do this? Grrrr.

My bike shook and wobbled back and forth in the wind. That disc on the back is great but sometimes I am like a sail and the wind just takes me.

I got to the bottom, signaled that I was turning left (I laughed out loud-probably 10+ policemen stopping and directing cars for us and I signaled. oh well. Dad would be proud of my safety concerns.) Now the fun part. A fairly long "flat" part. I can fly on this. My big quads come in handy at times. Watch the HR Ange. I kept talking to myself. I had notes to myself on my bike. I felt a little dorky but it worked. My 5 y.o. Nicholas and I did this together before I left town. He put little lightening bolt stickers on my aero bars. I typed messages to myself and stuck them in little places. I read them and listened. It's easy to lose focus. To get carried away in the race. I have to be very careful with that. First 25 miles......easy. That was over in no time. My HR was not even CLOSE to lower z2. Oh oh. I felt calm and in control though. Just keep the pace and settle down. I was drinking my bottles. I had my gels every time my watch beeped at 45 minutes. I felt fine. Legs were good. No problems. Just cruising along. Only 5 hours to go! piece of cake. :) darn bike...goes on forever!

Every now and then I noticed those around me. Men. I hadn't seen any women. I smiled about this but also forced myself not to worry about it. Just ride your own ride. I thought about my friends. I hoped they were all ok.

We climb a big 3 mi hill again and then into the "out and back." I don't like the out and back. If you skip it, you go left and back to town. But...we must go right and go away from town. It's a tease. 7 miles out-7 miles back. However, the road was paved since we'd been there for training camp and it was faaaaaaaast! I had fun. I flew I felt great. And the bonus...a beep at the turn. I loved the beeps of the timing mats. It made me think of those at home who were tracking me. I thought of Jen. I hoped she liked my pace so far. I think it was 21 mph at that point. I was psyched. My HR was fine. It was Easy to keep it in the proper zones. Much to my surprise. I didn't have to kill myself to hold it there. Unless I climbed, and then it rose. I couldn't help that. And I climbed a lot.
Flying back out of this out and back I began to see my friends. You see everyone coming at you. It's a little nerve wracking. Ahh...there's the women. They're right there. Stop Ange. Don't race. Not yet. That's Ironman challenge for me. Cause I love to race. It's what makes me me.
I saw Tim...flying. Mike....right behind him. We screamed to each other. I saw Mary...Looking great and fast flying up a hill. I'm not sure she heard me but I hollered to her. I saw Allison. I saw Matt. I saw Kiely? I can't remember if I saw Kiely. I think I did.
Now the climb home. 11 miles. A long long climb back to town. I was still eating and drinking. And I was hot. The sun had been out. My face had sweat dripping down. I had to throw my arm warmers away. This made me sad. It's been a long cold spring/summer at home and those arm warmers were my friend. A staple in my wardrobe...I passed 3 aid stations before I finally released them to the trash area. Sad.
Ok, up the hill. No big deal. Just go go go go. Don't think. Just climb. I was keeping a good pace adn legs were fine. I saw Chess taking pictures at the aid station. I heard my name. Must have been Rob. This was uneventful...I was all excited to be heading back to the town to see everyone, to get my fresh bottles, and to start the 2nd loop. I was getting it done. I climbed Papa Bear and heard a subtle but familiar, "GO ANGE." It was Nat. Love Nat. He was standing alone smiling at me. It's so comforting to see friends. The crowds were enthusiastic here and I ate it up. I turned into town and headed to the bags.
I made a super quick stop and just grabbed 3 new (still cold and slushy) bottles of nutrition, a luna bar, and that's that. I rode down the road and saw the family and frineds screaming at our Team tent. I turned the corner to go up the little hill at that point and my bike wouldn't shift into the small chain ring!!!! It just wouldn't go! ? I panicked a bit. I couldn't get over those hills without that small chain ring. Later, myfamily told me they thought I was just distracted by them. Nope.
Ok-fun's over. Back out of town for loop two. No big deal. Only 56 more miles. And then a marathon. I tried not to think about that yet though.
I just plugged along for a while. Up the big hill out of town. down a little. Up again. Next thing I knew, I was at the 9K down again. This time it was scarier. I'm not sure why. At one point I couldn't even see I was going so fast. HOLD ON! My back and shoulders Ached from being so tense and holding on so tight through this. I had real fear on it this time. There were just too many corners!
And then, right at the bottom, when I started to feel safe and ready to let the speed come to me, one of my bottles flew off!!! ON NO! Well, it's ok. I was going to be faster than 6 hrs (I hoped...pace was on so far) and I could get by with what I had. 5 bottles, 6 gels, 3 bars would be fiiiine! Plus, I could grab gatorade and stuff from the aid stations. I reached back to check on the Other bottle back there and couildn't find it!? Then I felt it, sideways. It was twisted and sticking out of the holder ready to fall off. I had to stop. I couldn't lose 2 of my 3 bottles for the 2nd half. All that speed, and I had to stop. I pulled over and what was on the road in front of me? Another Peak Performance bottle! HOw funny. That's my team/bike shop's name. I secured the bottle and took off. A little irritated.
And hot. I was getting really hot. My head was killing me. I had a really really bad headache now. I had for most of the ride in fact. But now it was awful. Throbbing. My eyes ached. I decided that my head was hot. I decided that my helmet wasn't letting enough air through. I sort of lost my mind for a few minutes and almsot just ripped my helmet off. Can't do that! Be careful. I really almost freaked out and just pulled it off. My head felt like it was going to explode. Once I decided that was why I was so hot I was totally distracted by it. I Must get over that. I must find a way to get my head back on the ride. Read your stickers Ange.....FOCUS!

I began grabbing water bottles and squeezing in into my helmet. I would tip my head forward and squeeze it in. It felt good...but I still needed the top of my head cooled off. It was hot blazing sun. I think. I wondered where the rainy day was. 80% rain it had said. I was going to get fried. I put some sunscreen on before the swim...but I'm sure that washed off.

Things were still going pretty well. My legs felt good. My HR was fine. But my stomach was just starting to get a little sick of the SE/HEED combo. I was starting to feel less than perfect. Over the course of the ride I had one bite of my clif mojo bar. I coudn't chew it. Pieces dropped onto my bike and stuck there. Yuck. I did eat most of my luna bar--that was easier to get down. I needed a break from the gels and drinks.

Skipping ahead to the final 11 miles. I wasn't a happy camper. My stomach downright hurt. I decided to go to Plan B. Everyone said, "have a plan and be ready to change it." Ok, time to change it. I ignored the beep of my watch and stopped taking gels. Marni told me that if I had bloating, to first slow down and then take water in. It wasn't really bloating but that was the closest thing to it. Just pain. I sipped water. I worried about this..."she stopped taking in calories. " I worried I'd hear that later as the reason I crashed. but I couldnt' take more in. I decided to give myself 30 minutes. I was now climbing 10 miles back to END THE BIKE! Woohoo!! I could Not get into aero. I sat back, stretch my stomach out, rolled my head around to try to ease the headache. Just basically tried to survive that climb. It was windy. I wasn't moving. "steady forward progress." Just keep going. It IS all about nutrition isn't it.

I had a few girls with me now. One said, "you aren't 59 are you???" :) that was funny. She thought my leg said 59. I told her I was 39 and she was relieved. There were a few 30 somethings nearby. I didn't worry. We had a looooong run ahead. Plus, my stomach hurt. I couldn't do much about it anyway.

So, remember that metal?
My feet usually get a bit 'numb' on long rides. I was certainly feeling some tingling pain in my feet. Numbness too. But, I was comforted by the fact that it was both feet. I was squeezing them both periodically to relieve the numbness and wake them up for the run. I have neuromas in my feet and hoped this wouldn't become a problem too early on. I squeezed and squeezed. I was also "testing" them. Was that left foot ok?
And then, OOUCH! SHIt.
I felt a sharp stab in the area the metal had been. Or still was? I tried to calm myself. This was not good.
After a few minutes I was riding near a guy and said, "If you go to the med tent for they let you out or are you done?" He said he thought they'd let me out. I had a plan to go, get it yanked or dug out, and then go run the marathon. I was NOT going to quit. No way in hell. But I was worried.

I rode past my friends at the tent and waved and smiled. I didn't see Mark.

I rode around the loop by the Olympic oval and up the little road to the bike dismount. Allelujaih!! I did it! 112 miles!!! No FLaT! Yippy!
Sub 6 hrs..... 5:50. Just what I wanted. 4th bike in my age group. (found out later)

And then, ARGH! They took my bike and I was immediately hunched over in pain. I could barely stand upright to run to the tent. Oh my god it hurt so bad. How the hell was I going to run to the tent...forget about a marathon?? and there was that little issue of metal in my foot. I saw Mark at the fence with the boys. REady to snap a picture. "GO BABY!!! YOU'RE AWESOME! GREAT JOB!" I grimaced at him and he dropped the camera. "There's metal in my foot!!" He said my face was so bad that he couldn't begin to take a picture of me. He told me later, " I thought your day was over." He also said he thought, "what did she say? She's been smiling for almost 7 hrs could she have metal in her foot? What did she do out there?"

I hobbled into the tent with my bag.


MaineSport said...

Typical Ange toughness...nice even effort, and smart! I'm sure you'll learn lots of lessons for Kona, like consider a regular helmet (not aero) to get the ventilation. Wellington does it. Btw, Mary's postings are only done with the swim. ;-)

IronMatron said...

Well I finished an hour behind her, so I should be behind in race reporting too, right? :)
I so agree with the helmet thing. There was steam coming out of my head. Where the hell was that rain?
You were smart on the bike! Good girl! Can't wait to hear the rest--esp. since I know that although things sound bad at this point, they get better!

Kim said...

way to push through the heat and the tummy cramps! you still stuck to a great pacing strategy and finished strong. hope the med tent was able to help your foot!

sallyaston said...

Oh man, I'm on the edge of mey seat. REALLY enjoying your race report! You are awesome! Sally :-)

Marit Chrislock-Lauterbach said...

Oh man, now I'm on the edge of my seat! Way to HTFU and just get it done!! I'm super impressed - WOW. But it must have been a bit scary for your family to see you off the bike and NOT looking good - but totally helpless to help you out. You are such a rock star though - way to get it done!

Yeah - and WHAT IS IT with guys passing you and then IMMEDIATELY cutting you off...? Sheesh.

Pedergraham said...

I'm on the edge of my seat, wondering what happened with the stuff in your foot. And hoping your headache went away.

Marni said...

Wow-what a story. you could write a book about this and be a best seller! You did the right thing with the nutrition. Nutrition won't fail you unless you let it and you did the best thing possible. We all have nutrition stories during IM's, it is just about how we dealt with them to get to the finish line. way to go, so proud!

SinGal said...

It's funny how once your head get ahead of you everything can just snowball.

I can't wait to hear about the run!

Swimming for ME said...

I agree with Steve... typical Ange toughness. I love the idea of post-its on your bike to stay focused on your mission. Sounds like it really worked. Look forward to seeing you at B2B this weekend!

Jennifer Harrison said...

I am enjoying reading this after hearing about it all LIVE....:) YAYYYY

Melissa said...

Yeah! You did the bike so well. Staying on target with all your notes. I love that.

The men should be penalized for riding so close. What jerks. I'ld be so pissed.