Friday, November 30, 2012

The Bike

The bike portion has always had me feel a bit tentative.  I get easily intimidated by other people's bike and gear, and I have little confidence in my maintenance skills if something goes terribly array.   This time, however, was different.  I knew I had this.  I had trained on and was using Sumer's tri bike, which was all tuned up and ready to go.  I knew I looked the part of an Ironman cyclist, even if I didn't really feel like one.  Between Sumer's bike and her aero helmet, I fit right in.  Then I had a cool outfit and calf sleeves, thanks to my brother.  I knew how to fuel on a long ride, and I had trained to be able to do it.  Bring it.

(To see the bike course map, click here)

So, I left you all hanging in transition (literally), holding my Bike Gear bag and looking for a place to dump it out and get busy.  I was directed to the far end of the tent which was designated as the women's changing side.  I knew to avoid going in there; so I found a spot right outside it and dumped out the contents of my bag.  Immediately I had my own personal volunteer there, sorting through my stuff and asking me to tell him what I wanted to put on first.  I was still a little foggy-headed from the swim, so I said, "Ummm...I don't know?" Duh, Kerry.  Work from your head down, just like you learned, just like you've always done.

Head wrap (to catch sweat/comfort), helmet, click the helmet; sunglasses, gloves, cycle shorts over the tri shorts, calf sleeves- eeks, they're crooked! Get the grass off my feet, put on socks, shoes, wrap on my race belt, put the bib on the back.  Swallow some applesauce, put on some chapstick, take the cookies with you, and oh, yay!  I have to go to the bathroom, and I never peed in my wetsuit, perfect!  The volunteer said to leave my swim stuff there, he would take care of it.  So nice!  Into the porto I went, then got to stroll through the changing tent to get to the bike rack.  Good golly, I was so glad I followed the advice to not change in there.  It was so hot and humid in there, and women of all sorts of stages of dress were in there.  It dawned on me that there were a lot of women in there that had probably swam faster than me, but were now completely changing and taking a lot longer in transition than I was.  Sweet- catch ya later ladies, I have some cycling to do!  Right outside the tent were the sunscreen appliers, so I told them to lather me up!

There were volunteers that lined each row of bike racks.  I knew my bike was on row 5, which was way over towards the exit.  This was a great place to be, because you're a lot faster going without a bike through transition than pushing one when dodging people.  Most of the other competitors had a volunteer go and fetch their bike for them, but I didn't have one, so I got my own bike.  Off I went to the Bike Out arch, where the Bike Mount line was just a few yards away.  I decided to go just passed the mount line to get on my bike instead of stand right on it like the others that were there were trying to do.  The spectators were going crazy:  "Get on your bike!  Go!  Go!  Go!"  I just wanted to laugh at them, it seemed so ridiculous.  Keep your cool, Kerry, you can spare the few seconds it's going to take.  Never mind those crazies, they probably don't know what they're yelling about anyway.  It was fun. :)

I even remembered to push the lap button on my Garmin, letting me know I had spent just over 10 minutes in transition, and was getting started right at 8:30am, right when I was aiming to start the bike.  Perfect!  I saw Gia and Kaylin again as I rode out, and was grinning ear-to-ear.  I wanted to know if Pat had made it out of the swim and if he was ok, but I was going too fast to ask.  The swim was already done, it's already a third of the way over (Don't mess with my math on this one.  I am well aware that 2.4 is not a third of 140.6.  It works for me.)  Soak it all in, enjoy every moment.

The crowds were thick as the road led out.  I grabbed the baggie with my homemade Ironman cookies and started to eat one.  This is going just so smoothly.  There were a pleasant amount of cyclists around at any one time.  I was nervous about staying four bike lengths apart, but realized it was just unrealistic to expect us to do that at this stage.  Besides, I figured Pat was right- He always said that the officials will be far too busy with the Pros to worry about us little age-groupers. 

My plan was to take the first half of the first loop nice and easy; get a feel for the course, settle in on the bike.  The course was out-and-back three times, about 37 miles for each loop.  I had also planned to eat a PayDay on miles 30, 60, and 90, with some chomps in between that would be on the course.  I had two bottles of water and one bottle with Nuun (an electrolyte tablet that you put in water).  I was hoping to complete the bike in 7 hours, which would mean starting the run by 3:30pm. Ok...

The first loop was fantastic, the plan executed perfectly.  At the turn-around I was at 1:10 (meaning an hour and ten minutes), which was fine.  I knew I had held back and gone up a little hill.  Now it was time to turn around and go down that hill!  Weeeeee!  What was that on the side of the road?  Oh, just a huge sign that read, "Ironwoman Kerry Sue"!  A mile later, there was another one.  Another mile, another sign, and on and on for about 10 miles.  I would see it and get a huge smile on my face.  So that's what Jason and Ken were up to the afternoon before.  That brother of mine, I am so blessed! 

Zoom-zoom I went back to the start, barely pedaling and able to hold 21-22mph the entire way back.  I ate my first PayDay bar at mile 30, just as planned.  I saw Tammy and Jason first, then near the turn-around were the rest of the crew cheering and ringing their bells.  I was so happy to see them, as you can see by the picture above.  The girl next to me asked if I was the "Kerry Sue" that had the signs...why yes, yes I am.  She was the first of many people during the ride to ask me, and each time I would enthusiastically answer, "Yes!  My brother did that for me.  It was a surprise!" and they would usually say something about wishing they had the same kind of support.  I know, what can I say?  I have the bestest people! :)  At the turn-around I checked my watch: 1:58!  Whoa, super!  I just knocked that out twenty minutes faster than I had done riding out.  I began to realize my hope for doing the bike in 7 hours would be blown away, and that maybe I could even finish it under 6!

On the first loop I noticed that there were event signs put to mark every 20 miles, and I remember races in the past where I would wish I were farther than I actually was.  Not this time.  I wanted to embrace every mile, enjoy every loop, earn every marker. 

Beginning the second loop was like a dream.  I had this Mumford & Sons song stuck in my head for pretty much the whole 112 miles.  It was a good one!  I did a bit of a "self-check" once I got away from the crowds: How was my rear doing?  Good.  Was I drinking enough?  Yes.  Eating right?  Yes.  Stay aero, next aid station grab some Bonk Breaker bar and Chomps.  They didn't have any bars, so I took the Chomps.  My next plan was to get my special needs bag at about mile 63 and use the porto to take care of my girl business.  As I neared the turn-around point I noticed I had just done that stretch in under an hour, allowing me some extra minutes to take care of my girl parts.  They were on fire and sitting on the seat was beginning to be painful.  I could not get comfortable, even sitting up out of my aero bars. 

At mile 60 I was not feeling right in the stomach to eat the prescribed PayDay bar.  I decided to put it off until mile 70 and ate some Chomps instead.  More like choked down some Chomps.  I was still a little mad that I had to be on the worst day of being a female on this day.  So frustrating, but I can't change it, so deal with it.

I stopped to get my Special Needs bag, thinking that I got to take it, but the volunteer just held it out and told me to grab what I needed out of it.  Great.  Couldn't I get a girl volunteer so this guy wouldn't see me pocketing a tampon?  Oh well, so I had some fun with it instead.  I took my sunscreen spray, "So I won't get a funky tan-line."  I took my applesauce pouch, "Because it's magically delicious."  Then I grabbed the tampon and my Hoo-Ha Ride Glide (so you know I'm not joking), "And because it's so awesome to be a girl."  He laughed, help me spray on my sunscreen, and cheered for me as I rode to the nearest porto.  I swallowed my applesauce as I waited.  Why there were only three portos at the Special Needs area, I don't know.  I got back on the bike, feeling much more comfortable and ready to do this thing. 

Coming in for the end of Loop #2.  This picture captured how the road was lined with spectators.  Such a rush!

Still having fun, still smiling at every "Ironwoman Kerry Sue" sign, still bantering with other cyclists along the way who took notice.  I felt so popular.  At mile 73ish I ate half of the PayDay bar, still not feeling like I could tolerate the entire thing.  I had to eat more before mile 95 though, I told myself.  I had to have something in my system for the run.  Oh yeah, the run.

I finished the second loop in just under two hours again, giving me a total ride time of under four hours.  Sweet, I can do this!  Again I got to see my loved ones and was excited to be two-thirds of the way done with the ride.

I almost look like I know what I'm doing! :)

Final loop.  Only 37 miles to go.  Soak it all in, enjoy every moment.  This was a lot easier than I thought it was going to be!  Well, let me clarify:  my legs were fine, I felt like I could go forever except for the return of the burn.  I know, too much information probably, but it was a serious factor out there.  I didn't want to stop again to put more Hoo-Ha cream on, so I decided to just get through it.  Ouchy-wa-wa.

The way back on the third loop the wind shifted.  There wasn't a tail-wind anymore, but more like a side-shifting wind.  As in, whichever way you were headed, the wind wasn't working for or against you.  I couldn't get above 19mph the entire way back after the downhill.  I did the math in my head the whole way back, trying to figure out if I could get under six hours.  The closer I got, the clearer it became that I was going to just barely miss it.  I just couldn't go any faster because of my butt area hurting so bad.  And I knew the run was coming up.  Notice I wasn't acknowledging it as a marathon?  Yes, well, it's all part of the mind game I play with myself.

I was so happy to get near the finish and know I was that much closer to being an Ironman.  I had no mechanical issues at all, no flat tires, I had stayed hydrated and ate the rest of my PayDay bar and some Chomps at mile 95.  Thank you, Jesus!  That was a lot of prayers answered right there in that six hours!

It was an amazing feeling to ride down the chute that led to the transition area.  It was still so surreal:  I'm doing an Ironman!  Like, right now! 

I got to the dismount line and it reminded me of the mount line.  The spectators and volunteers were crazed with "Stop!" and "Dismount!" with some more "GO! GO! GO!" along the way.  Dude, chill!  They made me laugh!  Does it look like I'm trying to win a medal or something?  Oh yeah, a finisher's medal.  It must have been the cool bike I was riding and the helmet I was wearing that threw them off.  I'm just a regular person doing something spectacularly amazing.  I'll get there.  Chill.

A volunteer took my bike, which was so cool.  It's kind of like getting valet service after only knowing parking yourself.  Off I went to find my Run Gear bag.  This is just so cool, I am so glad to be here, right now, doing this exact thing.  How fortunate am I?  So very, very much.  No wonder Chrissie Wellington always smiles.  This is so much fun...the event, the experience, the people.  Just so incredibly awesome.

And now I get to run?  Does it just keep getting better and better?  I knew where my family were going to be, and heard rumors of some friends that would be there, too.  My friend Matt was going to be volunteering at Aid Station #2.  I couldn't wait to see them all!  Hopefully I would get to see Steve and Pat and find out what kind of day they were having.

Meanwhile, I'm still getting my Run Gear bag, again headed to find my little patch of grass...

1 comment:

  1. You are one crazy little sister I have. I know in spirit we all loved that you did this. I take great pride in telling people that my sister did an Ironman in 12 and a half hours. :-) Looking forward to the run part.

    These are just so fun to read. It makes me feel like you were pumping me on your handle bars and was right there with you.