Okay, I was just out of the water with a pretty good time - not super fast but within my goal time (it was a faster pace than my ½ ironman in New Orleans). I changed clothes completely in the tent. It was crowded – not standing room only or anything but there was a lot of people in all forms of undress. I ran out of the tent, got sun screened and got to my bike. As I was putting all of my junk in my cycling jersey pockets (pounds of pop tarts, a few gels and my flat kit) I turned my GPS watch on – I had it mounted in-between my aero bars. I had debated with myself a lot over the past week about what electronic devices to take. I was really worried about the GPS giving out late in the run – the battery is only supposed to be about 10 hours. This would be cutting it close. So I ended up wearing my regular heart rate monitor for the entire race and I turned off the heart rate function on the GPS to maybe help save the battery.
So I was running out of transition with a black cookies and cream pop tart literally rammed in my mouth. My mouth was so full that I couldn’t really shut it. I imagined black coal dust being blowing out of my gaping mouth as I ran. In training the nutritionally void but highly available carbohydrates of the pop tarts worked well. What I did not remember was that I always stopped on the bike and ate the pop tarts. Eating solid food is not nearly as easy to do when in a race situation. Anyway, I started the bike ride feeling fresh with black teeth grinning through a huge smile – the swim was over and the bike had begun.
Driving the bike course with Jim the day before was so valuable. In races it is always difficult not know what to expect – what turns you can take fast – where you need to be careful, etc. I knew that there was a large hill once you got out of Louisville and I was ready for it. There were no doubts in my mind – I was going to drop down in my lowest gear possible and just spin up the hill. Trying to keep my heart rate in range on these hills was going to be difficult. There were so many steep hills – steep by anyone’s standards but especially steep by my South Mississippi standards. There was one dog leg on the out section that you only had to do once – this was probably the most challenging portion of the bike. I really wished that I had a video camera on my bike. It was a very fast and winding decent then straight up the other side of the hollow. You zipped past bikes laboring up one side and then you got to see bikes going at break neck speeds while you were climbing at single digit speeds. The road was simply beautiful. I do remember seeing a medical tent at the bottom of the decent with back boards and such – I really hope that they were not needed. I think Ryan, from caught on the run, yelled at me as he flew down the road. I just saw a white flash. Ryan was successful this race in getting a much coveted Kona slot!
After this dog leg was complete it was a relief to know that it did not have to be done again. I was continuing to take fluids and each aid station and knew that I would have to pee soon. Going into La Grange there was a huge aid station with facilities. There would be no peeing on the bike. I pulled into the parking lot and they had a bike rack. I racked my bike and flew into the port-o-loo. There was no waiting. After my business, which seemed to take forever, I grabbed about 4 gels and water from the volunteers. The pop tarts were not going to be successful for this day. I did manage to cram down another one, a maple and brown sugar one, but I was not going to be able to maintain the 2 an hour plan that I had hoped for. The crowd support was building in the town and I flew through it at a decent pace. It was a lot of fun seeing so many people. I knew from Jim that it would be short lived and then back into the country side. At the next turn we would be only on what is best described as a two-way one lane road. There was a sign as you turned telling you so slow down and be cautious. I remember reading the sign, scrubbing off what speed I had, and then starting one of the steepest climbs on the race. I had to drop down in low-low gear again and stand in the saddle to complete the short but steep climb. At the next turn I saw Missy and her crew cheering and having a great time. They looked like they were having so much fun! It put a big smile on my face. Back on a main road I knew that the first loop was nearing completion and I was feeling good. I had been working my plan – keeping my heart rate in check and even on the climbs my heart rate was never getting completely out of whack. It maybe got in the ‘yellow zone’ a few times but never up into the ‘RED zone’. This is a good thing. I was riding conservatively and I did not want my run to suffer – okay, the heck with the run – I did not want to suffer!
The second loop through La Grange went well – I was alternating water and Gatorade at each aid station and this is when I decided to ditch my 3 pounds of pop tarts. I was not eating them anyway and they were just dead, nutritionally void, weight. I was winging my nutrition at this point but I was feeling good – I was really hoping that this would not come back and bite me in the end. I know that a poor nutrition plan can and will sink anyone’s day – no matter what a Hoss they might be! Every time I looked at my time I would add ten minutes to the clock and take another gel. I was not getting hungry, I had already peed, and I was continuing to take fluids. This might just work out – if the temperature had been hotter I might have been in trouble – but not today.
They had the special needs (special foods) pick up during the loop. I had debated a lot about what to put in these bags. I did not really have any foods that I just had to have or any ‘special’ nutrition or anything. I went to the grocery store the day before and walked up and down the aisles looking for something, anything. I bought an energy drink – one of those crank or monster or whatever they are – I have never drunk one of these ever. But I felt if I was having a tough day then this might be helpful – yes, you should never try anything new on race day, but... I also threw in an extra tube and CO2 cartridges just in case I flatted early. That was really not a bad idea – I saw tons of flats on the course and there were rumors that some disgruntled citizen had placed some upholstery tacks on the road. I was fortunate that I did not have any mechanical issues – no flats for me! And I was feeling good enough that I did not pick up the special needs bag. I’m glad I did not need it!
During the second loop I happened to cross paths with Jim. He was looking great and riding his race. We chatted for a few minutes and then I was off. I was wrapping up the loop and headed back to town. There was a large gap between the last two aid stations – something like 20 miles - so I chugged some water and grabbed another Gatorade. I was starting to need to pee again but there was a line at the port-a-loos and I was not willing to wait. It was time to call upon the Iron Bladder. The ride back into town, I knew that there was only one long climb, was comforting. I got passed but a guy with 8 miles to go who joked that he only had 8 miles left in him on the bike. He was ready to get of the bike. I joked back at him - that in 9 miles he would wish that he was back on the bike. This last section was the only section that I was able to really just sit in the zone and churn out the miles. Everything else had been so up and down that it was hard to get in a rhythm. You were either climbing or descending but flat level ground seemed few and far between.
The decision to wear the full, long-distance, bike shorts was a good one. Although not without discomfort it could have been much worse. This is where the climbing and paid off – I was out of the saddle enough to relieve any built up pressure and such.
I flew towards T2, hit the lap button on my GPS and started to run with my bike to the bike racks – a volunteer grabbed my bike from me – they would be re-raking the bike. I was not expecting that – my GPS watch that I wanted for the run was still attached!
BIKE TIME: 5:48:00
UP NEXT - THE RUN