Pre-race and swim HERE. T1 continues below:
After I exited the water, all I kept thinking was “I’m not in any hurry”. I didn’t want to trip and fall with a wonky knee. My biggest fear was rushing and doing something stupid and ending my day. My only goal was to make all the cutoffs, and on a normal day, that isn’t even a passing consideration on any of the three sports, so I tried to be super conservative and patient with everything knowing that it was my day if I didn’t fuck it up.
Bags bags bags bags and more bags.
I walked all the way to my bike clothes bag, and heard Zliten’s name being called out of the swim as I walked it into the tent (yay!), and took a second to breathe. A volunteer came up and asked if I needed anything, water maybe, and I said OMG YES, and swished out my nasty ass canal mouth (yes, I swim with my mouth open no matter how hard I try, so that was pleasant), and then got to changing.
It was a little different getting super de duper butt naked in front of a hundred of my closest friends during a race, but it felt just like changing in a locker room. A VERY FRANTIC locker room. I got all my gear on and packed everything I needed in jersey pockets, took one look at my bagel with cream cheese and said NOPE (next time, I’d take the extra effort and buy english muffins instead of making do with what’s in the hotel breakfast) and headed out. I walked through all sorts of mud in my bike shoes, grabbed my bike, and got to the start line.
Let’s talk about this. I intentionally took my time, and I have zero regrets doing so, but I’m already thinking about how I could do better next time I have this opportunity. First of all, I could totally practice this and probably cut down quite a few minutes having a purpose instead of going durrrrr the whole time. Second, I forgot to pre-load up a bunch of stuff in my jersey pockets. Third, THIS would be the race where it would make sense to keep my shoes on my bike. Walking through a super long transition field in cleats was super slow and annoying. But maybe it would be worse with mud on my socks instead of cleats? *shrug*. These are things to think about far, far in the future.
Deathstar, when I dropped her off for sleepaway camp the night before.
I hit the line and pulled to the side and got on Deathstar and got going… and my left shoe wouldn’t clip in. I tried and tried and tried and finally I just jammed it up in there and took off. It was a magical unicorn day in terms of temperature (high of 70s in April in Texas), and it felt wonderful to be on the bike. I got a caff gel down the hatch right away and started looking for Zliten. He was behind me on the swim and for some reason, I couldn’t even fathom that he got out of the tent quicker than I did (but yep, he was two minutes faster there so I *just* missed him) and I kept looking backwards on the bike but he was just a teeny bit ahead. We watched the flybys on Strava and it’s HILARIOUS how we were almost riding together but only saw each other at turn arounds.
The first hour, you wind through neighborhoods and I noticed that a) everything was feeling remarkably good except b) my stomach was definitely a little off. I stuck to my nutrition plan with gels but I could see some trouble coming my way if it it continued. I kept calling what was in my bottle GURPLE (which makes no sense, it was orange and grape/purple gatorade) and it started to taste gross. Subconcious past me knew this was going to happen, and accidentally packed the cliff spearmint chews in my bike bag instead of my run vest and that turned me around. They are magic. I highly recommend.
When we turned onto the toll road, I was super excited to ride bikes on it. They blocked off a whole freeway for us! OMG! How cool is that? By the end of the first half of the first loop, I was excited that my speed was rockin’, but that was juxtaposed with how kind of BORING it was to be riding for 20 miles on one road with no scenery. And this is the girl who did 33 loops of Shoal Creek for long day training – at least there were interesting things to look at, even if they were the same interesting things over and over. This was just *highway*.
I saw Zliten at the turn around at mile 40 for the first time all race. How did he get ahead of me? (by having a purpose at T1, duh…) I made a note I was going to try and catch him after the U turn and then holy hell…. the wind. It sucked the life out of me to see my speed dropping, and dropping, and dropping. Flats felt like hills and I crawled up the few overpasses at like 6 mph since my knee was on the verge of complaining about life and I still had a long day ahead. I was in no hurry. Slow and steady becomes an Ironman. However, the pace was just demotivating.
At least I wasn’t riding THIS. #teamfattirebikeguy
After an IMPOSSIBLY long time to travel 20 miles, after being convinced the turnaround would never come, that we would just have to keep biking around the globe and somehow end up back on the other side, it finally happened. And it was relief, sweet relief, from the windy day and the growing-ever-more-frequent gusts.
Right after the turnaround was special needs, and I tried to unclip and…that wasn’t happening. My foot (the one I jammed in there earlier) was just stuck. I finally rolled up to a volunteer and said “please help me, my foot is stuck”, and she held my bike up just long enough so I could get my cleat out before I fell down (but it was close).
Luckily, Zliten was still there so we hung out a bit. I sat on the ground and rolled my back and butt and legs with my $1.50 PVC pipe roller. I downed the salt pills and my 303 muscle relaxers from my med kit and my sunbutter honey sandwich, which was life right then and almost took off right after Zliten… when I realized I still needed to deal with my cleats. A volunteer got me a plastic knife and I spent an extra few minutes digging the dirt out. Totally worth it not to fall on my face again.
Many times the race director had said “on race day, one of the only things you can control is your attitude”, so I made a point to enjoy the heck out of that tailwind on the second loop because I knew I’d have to pay for it on the way back. And yeah, I had a lot of fun screaming down the toll road at 25 mph, not in aero (it was hurting like hell by then, so I figured I’d save it for when it mattered), at like 50 watts. I saw Zliten again at the turn around (mayyyybe a mile ahead at this point) and he barked at me and I giggled and that was the last happy before the wind tunnel happened again.
And you get a bike selfie from the day before because 30$ is too much to pay for a picture of my stomach that was not feeling well hanging out on the bike….
I think the second loop up was better than the first, because I knew after this, I’d be done. However, I realized I was getting super sunburned, I got my arms and fronts of the legs well, somehow I forgot my FACE and the back of my legs, and I stopped at the mile 95 aid station for a sunscreen refresh. Pretty happy with only two stops on the bike for this long of a ride!
I would say mile 100+ was a low point for me. Looking at the flyby on Strava, this is really where Zliten gained on me. After we got off the highway, we still were heading into the wind and now there were turns and my brain couldn’t fathom how slowly the last few miles were passing. I ended up behind someone going really slow and I didn’t have the brain to pass and I think mile 103 took at least 4 miles somehow, but eventually we got there. And I didn’t even fall getting out of my clips!
Total time: 7:21:05. This is a lot slower than the sub-7 I wanted, and at first I was beating myself up a little bit for it because the course is so flat, and it was just a little wind… but then when I found out HOW windy it was and how many people who expected to have no trouble with the bike either DNF’d there or just barely made the cutoff, I am happy with my extra unplanned 20 minutes.
The course showed on my Garmin as two miles short but I didn’t mind at all. Not one bit.
I had a chapstick in my bento box I was never able to find (too many gels stuffed in there), so I asked a volunteer to hold my bike for a sec while I dug it out. Then, I sent Death Star away with him. I was surprised at how little I wanted to throw my bike in the trash, and happy that I had some really tough training rides this cycle. Today was really just a) long (but I think my first century in January took as long or longer) and b) windy (and I have practice with that), and didn’t have any other major problems.
I slowly walked the whole way through T2 in my bike shoes. I think next time it might be smarter to take them off and muddy up my socks instead, but I was still just thinking “I’m in no hurry, I have almost 8 hours to get through a marathon, don’t be stupid”. I got my bag, got into the changing tent, and started to go about the process from a bibs/jersey to a tri suit to run in. I made a friend named Shauna while changing (she was worried about how her hair looked, heh), and decided to put my run shoes on first because it was muddy. Then, I realized I couldn’t get my tri shorts over my giant hokas and had to take them off and start all over again before I hit the sunscreen station one more time and then headed out under the arch to start running a marathon at 4 o’clock in the afternoon.
T2 time: 15:41
While it doesn’t surprise me at 9 hours into a race that I legitimately forgot how to put on my clothes correctly, it would definitely serve me to practice it in the future. I thought the full change from bike clothes to run clothes would be refreshing and maybe even life changing, but honestly, it just took time and brainpower. If I could find tri shorts that I could ride 112 miles in, I would wear them all day next time. I’m sure it’s a mix of HTFU and also trial and error with some different brands.
Either way, the 15 minutes actually served me pretty well. I dismounted my bike thinking “well, time to walk an entire marathon because I feel like straight dog doody” to taking off at a decent clip starting mile one.
Part three, coming soon!