This is the part that worried me the most. I know I'm a swimmer, I now think of myself as a runner, but a biker? Um.... I'm still working on that part. Sure, I can ride. And yea, I do ok out there on the bike. But, 112 miles is a long long long way to go and there are just so many things that can happen.
This is where your nutrition plan is either nailed or completely blown. This is where you either ride with intelligence and patience, or you get over excited, pull out an impressive bike split and therefore set yourself up for a nasty and miserable run. This is where you sail around a course on a well tuned machine or (I can say it OUTloud now that the race is over) you FLAT!
As I sit here 4 days later attempting to compose something interesting to read about this LONG leg of the Ironman, I guess I feel a little giddy when I have to admit, I don't have many stories at all about this ride!!
after waving to my 4 Bancroft boys as I cruised down the hill out of town, I put the game face back on. Moments later I came upon Coach Kurt at the base of a hill. I remember almost everything he said to me that day. Except this part. I just plain forgot. He said something to me and off I went.
The first 15 miles includes the long and fairly steep 3 mi descent. It was fine. We had a Headwind on that part!! I was with a group of guys and one of the only women I saw all day on the ride. I passed her at the bottom of the hill and that was that. I felt strong. Smooth.
I was getting all my fluids in easily. The gels each hour.
I climbed the 11 miles back into town to complete loop 1 of the bike. I got excited thinking about where I'd see my family.
First, I saw one of my athletes and now friend, Marisa way down on the hill. She was just amazing all weekend. She jumped around and cheered and snapped lots of photos. We slapped a high 5 and I smiled. As I neared the top the scene caused goosebumps on my arms. Those of us riding only had a small narrow hallway to climb through. The crowds were lining both sides of the roads screaming, playing music, banging drums, and hollering words of support.
As I got to the top I heard familar voices yell, "HEY! That's ANGE!" It was Mary Lou, Erin, Carrie and Stacy. RIght after that I saw Jared. I smiled and felt really happy. I saw my brother and adorable twin nephews in the next 1/4 mile. His loud screams pumped me up even more.
I skipped the special needs bag stop in a last minute decision. I looked towards the tent where my family set up camp for the day and saw all the boys holding their most awesome signs and Mark's alwasy audible yells for me. I had goosebumps. I was flying high. Floating through the Olympic circle. The crowds are indescribable and invaluable to me.
But before I knew it, I was descending the hill out of town again and heading out by myself for the final 56 miles.
One last push of personal support as I left town though.
Kurt was still in the same spot at the bottom of the big hill we start with on this two loop course.
In his controlled and steady manner he yelled to me,
"Let's go Ange. Third on the Road. You're THIRD ON THE ROAD!"
I nodded and settled in with the power meter.
Third on the road????
What does THAT mean???
Third third? Or third in my age group? Or... what does that Mean????
I think that's when I realized things were serious. I was in the process of having the race of my life.
Just keep doing what you're doing......that's what I told myself. Just keep doing the same thing.
Surprisingly, I did not stare at my power meter. Kurt told me I wouldn't but I didn't believe him. I had a range that I was supposed to ride in. And, without even thinking about it, I was there. I was right in the zone. I checked in with the numbers frequently, but never changed what I was doing to get myself there. I just rode the way that I was taught to ride and it magically worked out perfectly. ( Ha! No magic involved of course. It's called hours and hours and hours of very smart, specific training to prepare my body for that day.)
My nutrition was spot on. Except for the fact that my aero bottle was so damned Stick from the EFS / Perform bottles that it kept getting Stuck in the bottle holder! I dealt with that though. Oh and there was at least ONE potential close call.
Remember that 3 mile descent?? Loop 2 found me alone on that. No problem. I prefer that. But I guess the critters in the woods had been waiting for a dull spot in the action for a moment to cross becausea big DEER ran in front of me on the road!
It started to get Hot out there around mile 80. I grabbed waters and cooled my neck and head. But not a single cramp, no pain, not one GI issue and that was a huge huge relief. I did hit a few bumps and developed a bad headache. I thought I had excederin with me.....couldn't find it. Miraculously, it went away. I tell ya...the stars lined up for me that day. My headaches never just go away.
I think I might have passed one woman while I was out there. Other than that, I never saw a single female. Not one. Hmmm...
I rode on and off with the same men. Occasionally new packs of men who were blatenly cheating in their little draft packs would fly by. At one point in particular, after dropping back like I was supposed to, it was time for me to overtake them again. Now, I realize men don't like to get chicked but too bad. MOVE OVER! This one group was spread out across the entire road blocking anyone from passing. If they wanted to risk penalty time and ride in a pack, drafting all day, go for it. You know it's wrong but Do NOT get my way and block the road. I hollered a few times, "GET RIGHT!" "I'M on your LEFT!!" Stuff like that. I kept the 'cheaters' comment under my breath. Finally, a few moved over a bit and I blew past them. Ha! Take that...
that was the end of those guys..
I hit mile 100 in 4:53. I was stunned. I ride my centuries around Maine and Rarely can even get under 5:30. I felt like a stud. I was totally enjoying the ride and feeling strong.
And that was that!!! Before I knew it was climbing those hills into town. Marisa was still there even more enthusiastic than before. The crowds were still pulling us up the final hill with their energy.
I sat up a bit and stretched my aching back. I did have a back pain...that was the one thing. But I just put it out of my mind. Around the Olympic oval, I dared gaze down into the ciricle to imagine the finish just hours away at this point.
I clicked out of the bike and handed my trusty Cervelo to the best volunteers in the world. I LOVE that they take my bike. I took off my shoes and ran for my bag. Legs were creaky but I was smiling and feeling OK!!
bike split 5:37 (huge huge PR here... 15 minutes to be exact)
red run red run red run.....
I snatched the red run bag from the hook and hit the tent.
what's going on??
Every single volunteer in that tent stood and clapped as I ran in. What?
No less than 10 women circled me to help. I asked if I was in some strange kind of spa. We laughed.
They said, "We dont' have anyone else to help yet. You're the first one here."
what did she just say?
dry feet, socks on, shoes on, belt on, visor, wipe face, what else what else??? grab flask
I HAD to stop in the bathroom here. I just had to.... it wasted time but it was important.
when I ran back into the tent after my bathroom break and headed to the other side to exit for the run, they did it again. They all stood and clapped and yelled my name.
It was, to say the least, overwhelming. I have tears now just remembering and writing about it.
What was going on??
I flew out of the T2 tent with the biggest smile in my life.
The guy that rode near me for most of the 112 miles exited at the same time and said, "I just can't get rid of you can I?"
I don't know what I said, but what I was thought was, "Nope, but I'm about to get rid of you."
So that's exactly what I did.
only 26.2 miles to go......