The Ironman CDA bike is a two loop course. You do an out and back along the lake, and then a big disfigured balloon loop out of town with a short out and back when you get back in town. All that...twice. In the middle of the balloon loop there is about 10 miles of huge "rollers". There are 5 distinct challenging hills in this section. Heading out of town I heard Troy cheering right away, his voice is booming, and I saw and heard my parents shortly afterwards. I had my Garmin in multisport mode and for some reason it wasn't finding my heart rate monitor. Dang, what do I do, what do I do? Do I risk shutting down my watch and restarting it, thus no longer knowing what the time on the race clock is, or do I go without heart rate data? I hemmed and hawed over this. What to do, what to do? Finally I made a decision. I shut down the watch at mile 9 and I restarted it. Wha-Lah! I was now in business.
I had some great guidance from Chuckie on how to pace the bike leg and what sort of heart rate numbers I needed to stick with. I wanted to run well and so I strickly stuck to the plan. And you know, It was really nice. There is so much emotion starting off the bike in an Ironman. You have all the slower guy swimmers going crazy trying to catch up to where they think they should be. I saw people in the first 15 miles pushing so hard on their pedals. Like quads engaged serious hammering. Not me. I just got comfortable, settled into my heart rate range and tried to stay smooth as butter. At about 15 miles in I biked by this lady that was spectating and she said "Good girl, nice and smooth". I almost felt stealthy.
I hit the hills on the first loop and I planned to stay in the saddle as much as I could, but the first really big one I ran out of gears and had to stand for a bit. No biggee. Its impossible to hit a groove through this section so I just stayed focused on my plan. The hills felt a lot better compared to when I was out training on them 5 weeks ago, but they were still uppity. My legs were definitely there, they showed up, they felt good. After you are through the hills there are more rollers and turns. I settled back into the plan and got myself back to town. Coming into town Mom and Dad were cheering up a storm. Then Trista and Sean were cheering in town, and Troy was on the outskirts with Annie.
I felt great going into loop two. I got passed by my high school ex-boyfriend. Hadn't seen him since high school, so that was a bit interesting. He looked very strong, and I was still grovin', doin' my thing. I was surprised that I didn't feel any pull to go with him, but I rarely do with the young dudes, I just expect them to be stronger on the bike, then I try to run them down later.
I grabbed fresh bottles out of special needs and got on my way. I knew I was in a good place, but like I've been told many times, the race just begins at mile 90 on the bike. Getting through the hills the second time was good. I allowed myself more time standing, which I enjoy. I passed a friend on the course who had a fantastic swim. I had a friend pass me. I met Darryl who is coached by Chuckie too. This was the first time we met, but we instantly knew who each other was. My mom had put some chalk on the course. It said Grr and I knew it was for me. There was Grr written like 8 times with "Go Son". That rocked.
At mile 90 I assessed myself. I felt good. I was working hard, but my legs were in a good place and my head seemed to be in a good spot as well. I was computing my time and I noticed that I had slowed a bit in the second lap. I had maintained the upper end of the heart rate range for the second lap, whereas I was in the lower end for the first lap. The wind had picked up quite a bit as well. We had a headwind back into town and I figured with 22 miles left it was time to go. So I picked it up here got as aero as possible and just stuck to it. I hammered all the way back to transition and by my calculations had biked the same time as Canada. My official time was: 5:45:08, or 19.5mph
I would say that this bike course, for me, was a bit more challenging than Canada. It could be that this Ironman is on the earlier side of the season and that we have had an especially hard winter in Colorado that has thwarted more than a few rides. Before Canada I just had so much riding under my belt. However, I was super pleased with the effort. I had to work hard those last miles, but I choose to. I enjoyed having a strict pacing plan for the bike, thus allowing me to feel pretty rockin' on the run. I think that there is more in me too. I think with another Ironman build I will see my numbers get better and better.
My fueling was spot on, lots of little sips throughout. I went through 3 flasks of EFS liquid shot that were mixed in a water bottle. I went through 1 bottle of EFS. I went thrrough 3 bottles of NUUN with my EFS bottles. I had a few other various goodies that I stashed in my bento box along the way as well.
Ironman transitions are the greatest, especially T2. It's so cool to just hand off your bike to someone and run to the tent. This transition was really quick for me. I threw on my compression socks, and my hat. I grabbed my Nathan waist belt that had some nutrition in it, and grabbed my hand bottle and I was out of there. Now, had I raced a smart enough race to run to my capabilities?
I see Ironman in three stages. The swim is where you need to be strong and set the stage for the day. The bike is where you can screw up your race or you can set yourself up for a great run. The run is where is you can cave mentally, or you can stand up to the demons in your head.
To me, the swim is all ability, the bike is all brains, and the run is all heart.