Right as I came out of transition, I saw Jen, the kids & our friends – the Bilskys. I stopped and chatted for a few minutes before I headed out on the bike. Seeing the family was such a HUGE spirit lifter for me. I realized that this was one critical component that I didn’t have when I attempted Louisville. Knowing this, I will never race another Ironman without having my family on site!
The first 5-6 miles of the bike were heading west on Front Beach Rd. Basically, we were cruising past hotels, surf shops, go-kart places, airbrush t-shirt stores, and tattoo parlors. If only there were 20,000 college spring breakers and MTV…After we got through the first legs of the race, we headed up over the biggest hill of the day…the intracoastal waterway bridge. Having learned my lesson in Louisville, I dropped down into a granny gear and just spun up the hill. I passed a ton of people…I actually saw a guy walking up the bridge – and this was just 7 miles or so into the bike!
The first 20 miles were uneventful. Lots of riders, but not too complicated. Had a good pace going – was averaging about 21 mph. At 20 miles, we turned east onto Hwy 20…and ran into a headwind. UGH. For 25 miles, we battled some hills, some “false flats” and had the headwind. It was at this point in time that I first noticed my right hamstring and glute tightening up. It was also during this part of the ride that I saw a ton of cheating! In triathlon, drafting on the bike is illegal. In fact, you are supposed to keep at least 4 bike lengths between you and the bike in front of you. If you get closer than that, you’re obligated to pass. There were packs of riders 20-30 racers strong out there on Hwy 20. Blatant cheating. (insert very angry face here). I did see some race marshalls on the course, and saw a handful of folks get penalties – which made me happy. The leg continued to hurt pretty badly – I had to stop at almost every aid station so I could get off the bike to stretch.
I saw Jen & the kids near mile 50, and again near 72. This was such an uplifting thing! Got lots of hugs, dumped some of my gear, took a few pictures, etc.
Overall, the bike course was really good. Most of it was freshly paved – so it was smooth sailing. There was one part of the course – between 72 and 80 miles – that was as rough as cobblestones. I thought my teeth were going to rattle out. At one point, I heard something hit the ground. I took a quick mental inventory…water bottles, tubes, CO2 cartridges…all there. GPS unit? Nope. CRAP. Had to stop, park the bike on the side of the road and backtrack – walking – until I found the unit. I finally found it almost a ¼ mile down the road from where I stopped. I lost at least 15 minutes on this little walkabout!
After that fiasco, I hopped back on the bike and tried to power it in back to transition. Easier said than done due to headwind and leg pain. Had to stop 8 times during the course of the bike ride to stretch the leg. UGH!
My bike split looks really slow at 15mph. The funny thing is – I NEVER went that slow! I held 18-22mph the entire time, but when you factor in 8 stops to stretch/potty, 15 minutes to walk to get my GPS and 2 family visit stops, my overall pace dropped significantly. My friend Jeff said I was either going 20mph or 0mph.
Rolled into transition (passed the family), handed my bike to a bike catcher and headed into T2. I had a good volunteer in T2 – he emptied out my bag and then re-packed it as I changed. After a fairly quick transition and potty break, I headed out for the final leg of the race…