As I half jogged/waddled up the ramp I stopped at the wetsuit stripper volunteers and gladly layed down while they whipped the rest of my wetsuit off. I’m really going to have to practice taking it off quickly on my own, because not all races have wetsuit strippers! Finally by the time I got to my transition area, the nausea was starting to subside. I plopped down on the ground and washed and wiped off my feet with the extra water bottle and towel I had layed out, knowing that my feet would be quite messy from the clay. Next I attempted to put my socks on and had some serious issues getting the one on my left foot. I also realized I had my shoes velcro-ed and clipped so I had to undo those before putting them on. Rookie mistakes! I knew I was taking much longer than I should have been in transition, but just kept plugging along.
Eventually I stood up, put on my gloves, glasses and helmet and took peaches off the rack. I passed T on my way out and gave her a quick cheer and after I passed the dismount line, I hopped on peaches and away we went! I immediately started eating my honey stinger waffle to get that nutrition out of the way so I could focus on getting a good speed going. Once I finished that, I took a swig from my water bottle and set out to get into a good groove for the next 56 miles.
My legs felt great and I was able to hit around 19-20 mph for the first 20 miles or so. I was also paying attention to my watch so that I would remember to take a gel at the top of the hour and eat my honey stinger chews in between tn the middle of the hour. Focusing on the nutrition helped the miles tick off fairly quickly and before I knew it, I was at the turn around point – woah!! The bike portion seemed to really fly by and I’m guessing part of it was because I was enjoying the ride and being in the race atmosphere. Racers (mostly men) that passed me, also were encouraging me and cheering me on. I guess it helped that I had put my bib on during the bike so that they shouted my name while cheering me on!
At this point I was also noticing how much I disliked grabbing my water bottle that was positioned under the front of my seat. Every time I took it out, it hit my top bike bar which closed the nozzle and I would spend extra time trying to pull it open with my teeth. It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it slowed me down and irritated me every time. Finally by mile 40, I had had enough and before I approached the next aid station, I decided to toss the bottle and just use the regular water bottles with the squirt lids that they were handing out. I executed the toss quite nicely as it plopped to the right of me amongst a ton of other bottles but when I approached the volunteers I was handed a water bottle with no top! Oh no! I didn’t want to stop or turn around, so I figured I’d try to use it without the top. No game, it was spilling water everywhere and really annoying. I quickly tossed that water bottle. I knew I had enough water in my first water bottle so I would be ok, but I would definitely need to get another one at the next aid station, because it was getting hot!
At mile 46 I passed the next aid station and got a water bottle with a squirt lid. Phew! After taking a few swigs I started to get a little emotional… this was really happening, I was going to get off the bike and do the run! I was going to finish! The bike leg was the one that I was most worried about, because so many things can go wrong that aren’t in your control. A flat, mechanical issues, a crash… but so far, things were good! I also started doing the math and realized if I could keep up the pace I was going, that I would finish in under 3:15 on the bike, and if I could do the run under 2 hours, then I would finish under 6 hours! Wow, I was hoping for 6:30 but didn’t know what was a realistic goal. I quickly pushed the calculations out of my head and told myself I needed to save my energy and focus on finishing the bike.
I took my last gel with 8 miles to go and around that point my legs started getting tired and the wind picked up. Ugh. So I guess I got excited a bit too early. 10 miles is still quite a bit of distance. Throughout the ride I was switching from having my hands near the brakes and from riding in my drops. I felt much more powerful in the drops and was able to cut down on the wind, but after a while my back got tired of the position, so I would switch back up near the breaks. I was silently cursing myself for not getting aero-bars this summer! They will be my very next bike purchase if I don’t end up getting a tri bike for next season! Regardless, at this point no position was feeling good. I just wanted to be off the bike.
After having some suck-it-up-and-be-tough-talks, and getting over not having aero-bars to avoid the wind, I was finally approaching the lake! Hooray!! I was only a couple of miles away!! I was itching to get off the bike and start running! I finally made it to the transition area and stopped my bike before the dismount line, and hopped off!
Gah! I tried to run with my bike back into transition but my quads weren’t aware of this plan and I was doing more of a shuffle/waddle instead. I re-racked peaches, took off my helmet, gloves and sunglasses, switched to my running shoes and grabbed my hat as I ran out of transition. I had to pee but also had no desire to stop and use the porta-potty either. Maybe it would go away? Regardless I kept going and exited the transition to begin the run.