I hopped on my bike, clipped into my pedals and was off! After a mile or two I felt like I was moving pretty slow, I looked down to see if my front brake pads were rubbing but it didn’t look like they were, and soon I realized I was just riding in headwind. I quickly passed a few people and then tried to settle in. I have really been working on my biking, especially during the off-season on the kickr and trying to get stronger. When I rode with my tri-girls a month ago they said they were both impressed with how much my cycling had improved, so I hoped it would translate into races as well 🙂
I had my garmin set to show time, heart race, distance and average mph so as I passed the miles, the avg mph went up too. Soon it was over 18mph and I was pretty happy, my legs felt good, my heart rate was in a good zone for a half (155-59) and I was doing well with nutrition. Around 17 miles we hit the first turn-around, ok, I didn’t mention this before, but the week leading up to the race I was FREAKING out about the sharp 180 turn-arounds. I know it sounds silly, but I am terrible at making technical turns on my tri bike. The geometry of a tri bike does make it more challenging than a road bike, but on top of that, I just don’t have natural riding skills. I have to actually remember to put the outside pedal down and then lean into the turn 🙂 Yes, I need to practice more. So all week I had visions of tumbling over at the turns and people crashing into me. I know, I’m dramatic.
I was watching the riders in front of me, and one girl unclipped, tried to make the turn, and just put her foot down and shouted ‘I’m really bad at making turns in this thing’ and then started riding again. Ok, so I am not the only person that was a tad intimidated by these turns! I prepared to turn, unclipped my left foot in case I needed to put it down and freaked out and just put it down and stopped, and then started up again. Silly, yes, but if that was the less-stressful way for me to ride that day, then that’s what I would do. I could practice more, again, after the race. After making the turn around, I grabbed a water bottle from a volunteer, filled up my aero bottle and was on my way. At least I can do that task without running over a volunteer or crashing my bike 🙂
After passing a few more people, I made a right turn onto the next leg of the course (the bike course was in the shape of a T, which we did twice). Headwind. I knew we were going to hit it at some point with the 20mph gust predictions. It wasn’t terrible, and I was used to headwind from riding in Columbia, IL. I pushed on and passed a couple more people and then once again, hit the turnaround. I unclipped my left foot just to be safe, and then safely made the turn and was on my way, hooray! Now we had some lovely tailwind. Since I didn’t have my watch showing mph and just avg I wasn’t sure how fast I was going, but my watch showed 19.1, so it had to be over 20mph. 🙂
I grabbed a bottle of water from the next aid station and soon was making another right turn to ride 8ish miles and then get to the turn around for loop #2. I was feeling pretty good, passed another cyclist, and made it to the turn around to head out for round 2! I was about 1:30 into the ride and my back and neck were definitely aching. I had wished I had spent more than two rides in my new fit, but I would just have to deal with it. I also seemed to be lacking energy and was feeling like I was going into a low point. Then I realized it was probably time for half of a honeystinger waffle. I quickly ate it and five minutes later I could already feel a difference in my mood and energy 🙂
The rest of the second loop was pretty uneventful, the cross winds were tough on the top of the T, but when I made the right turn into the ‘bottom’ of the T, holy moly headwinds. They were MUCH worse than the first loop and it was awful. I haven’t checked my garmin but I’m pretty sure I wasn’t going faster than 12mph and I was really pushing. Every time a cyclist passed me heading the opposite direction, I felt jealous. This stunk. I pushed and pushed and finally made it to the turn around. Hooray! Once I turned it was wonderful, push, push, push (I was pretty angry that my avg mph dropped to 18.2) and I was flying. When I made the last right turn to the bike finish, I saw I was back up to 18.8. Yay!
With only 8 miles to go I was ready to get off the bike, I hadn’t done very many long rides and combined with the new fit, my back and neck felt pretty achy and fatigued. I also noticed I was started to feel pretty nauseous. Uh-oh. I knew it wasn’t from pushing too hard as my legs felt fine and I hadn’t been spiking my heart rate doing anything crazy. Then it hit me, it had been in the back on my mind the whole morning, salt tabs. Whenever I was low on sodium during my rides last year I felt really nauseous and once I took salt tabs, the issue was resolved. Oh boy, how was the run going to go? I was relieved to see the dismount line, but also really worried about the half-marathon that I still had to run.
Once I got off the bike, changed into running shoes, put on my race belt and hat and grabbed my gel, I was off. Ugh. I felt terrible. This wasn’t going to be pretty.
Bike time: 2:58:29 (9 min PR!! almost 19mph!!)