Thursday, December 10, 2009
Episode II: Attack of the Wind
Unfortunately, my bike was in the furthest possible spot from the entrance and exit...like, no one had to run this extra little bit except for us who had bikes there. Yeah, so just add a minute to my time (not that it matters, but STILL). Anyways, I grab Rocky – notice that Bobbi (a friend we made at the tri in Gruene who just happened to have the number next to mine!) is still swimming and silently wish her luck – and head out of T1. I don't see any of Team Blain, but judging from the embarrassing video they have of me attempting to get on my bike, they were there!
I ride out of T1 and quickly notice that my bike computer isn't working. Ugh. It's registering heart rate and cadence, but not speed or mileage. At that point, I knew my 6 hour goal on the bike was out the window. I stopped for a minute to try to fix it but didn't have any luck. Oh well! It must have gotten messed up when we shoved the bikes in the luggage compartment the day before. Eh, worse things could happen. I went on my way and made a plan to just keep my heart rate at 150ish and cadence above 80 and see where that put me. I rode on feel...and apparently I felt pretty slow because my average speed was something like 17.7 mph.
The bike course was challenging but not terribly so…or at least that’s what I thought. Judging from race reports on Slowtwitch, most people thought the bike course was super challenging due to the wind and the lack of hills (which means there were no descents, which means you have to pedal for all 112 miles), which I just think is absolutely ridiculous. For me though, these were perfect conditions. I live in Houston where it’s windy and totally flat. Almost 100% of my training rides were done on totally flat ground on windy days…we even ventured closer to the coast for some stronger winds on several rides – Bike Around the Bay for example was brutal and a great training experience. If my bike computer had worked and I had KNOWN that I was going 12mph in those windy sections, I might have thought the bike was harder than it was, but in truth, the not knowing probably helped me. I just kept trucking along! For a day on an island, the winds weren't bad at all. It was still windy, but we had prepared for much worse. I had to have been doing pretty well because I rarely got passed and I cursed at those who tried to draft off me.
My first loop has minimal winds – the headwind was there but not terrible, the crosswinds were eh, and the tailwind was magical. This all changed in loops 2 and 3 however! The wind got stronger and changed direction so that we didn't really get a tailwind at all and had a headwind for about 20 miles instead of 12...so that was a bummer. The other side of the island (the rough side) is gorgeous, but incredibly difficult to bike. It was hard to stay in control of my bike, but luckily, it never got too congested. There was a lot of drafting happening as well. Most was accidental, but there was quite a bit of intentional drafting too. One guy kept about 6inches off my back wheel for about 5 miles before I gave him a piece of my mind...he backed off. :)
After the first loop on the bike (40 miles) I was feeling great, but then at about mile 50, my nutrition started going horribly awry. I stopped being able to digest anything and being in my aero bars made things worse...so I ended up doing a lot of sitting upright, which is GREAT with a headwind, and getting off my bike to stand (to pee but also to let my lunch move on down). Things weren't looking so hot. After mile 50, I ate almost nothing and I was really starting to worry about the run. I had a lot of dark moments on the bike in fear of the run to come. How in the world am I supposed to run a marathon in a couple of hours??!? Holy crap. It was so weird too because I never have nutrition problems on the bike unless I do something crazy like eat 4 hamburgers and down a pitcher of beer, so I just wasn't quite sure what to do about it. Regardless, I told myself to keep drinking Gatorade and that I would make myself eat something (anything!) at mile 90 and I would have to wing it from there. Blah. At about mile 70, I stopped on the side of the road and put my finger down my throat but didn't have any luck (and then I realized that this is the same finger that touched my shorts that I had been peeing in all morning – how THIS didn't make me vomit, I will never know). Things weren't going well.
My 6 hour goal time was out the window at this point and I was pitiful. I lost a lot of time not being aero in the wind, but my belly just wasn’t having it. For the first time ever on a tri, the bike was my worst sport. I was disappointed with my time (6:19, average speed 17.76 mph), but knew that I had bigger fish to fry with a marathon in the heat of the day!! I hadn't seen Team Blain at all on the bike course (turns out that because the roads are closed, cabs couldn't get from the swim to downtown even though they told us it would be possible) but I saw them as I dismounted at the bike finish...and there is another terrible video of me getting off my bike of course. For some reason, I can't get on or off that thing!!
The roads were in decent condition (better than Buffalo Springs) for the most part – there was an incredibly smooth section on the road to downtown and a really really really bad little section in town (but it was only about 200 feet). Other than that, the roads were just eh.