Oh, that’s right, exiting the swim. One of the good things that comes of believing that there is a God and that He is more than just a fantasy in the sky is that you get an inside track on some good information. I’m just a scarred; partly broken down, stay at home mom with a great family. Because of the abuse of my past my brain doesn’t always work so well, and there are times when pain or other triggers just shut me down. Who am I to think I could take on one of the world’s toughest endurance events and succeed. I knew to train well and to cross that finish line I would need a lot of wisdom, and a lot of help.
“If you lack wisdom, ask God and he will give it to you generously, without finding fault.” It’s a good thing for me that being a total screw up, a lot of the time, doesn’t get in the way of being gifted wisdom.
“but when you ask, do not doubt that you will receive or you will be like a wave of the ocean blown and tossed by the wind”
This then is why I do what is right oftentimes in spite of myself. Reading some other blogs I’ve learned that I should have been concerned about getting sick on the swim, and that in fact many felt queasy and some no doubt got sick. I knew the ocean made people sick, so my chief concern was to not swim through vomit. Unbeknownst to me, earplugs are a great antidote to motion sickness. I just so happen to bring my plugs along; I wear them because I really hate the feeling of water in my ears. I didn’t wear them the day of our practice swim because I wanted to make certain I could hear my swimming partners, and I presumed I wouldn’t wear them race day for the same reason. The morning of the race, as I double -checked my gear I noticed the plugs and threw them in my pocket, a little voice in my head told me I might want them. I was glad for them when I saw the size of the surf, and stuck them in my ears because I didn’t want to be distracted by the discomfort of water flowing in and out of my ears. I had a few moments of queasy, but nothing overwhelming. Widsom.
I’m certain it was a cold run from the shore to the changing tent, but I think my delight at finishing the swim warmed me to the core. The volunteers in transition were awesome! I deliberately took my time in changing, making certain that I made the right choices in what to wear and what to leave behind. These choices began when I packed my gear at home and added my long sleeve biking jersey to my bag. I assumed it would be warm during the race, but that long sleeves would be nice to throw on post race. Was I glad for that wise impulse. I wore my jersey, a pair of grey leggings, my bike shorts, fingered gloves and a UA skullcap. I was toasty and didn’t have to think at all about staying warm, but was also aerodynamic, unlike some of the poor folks I saw on the bike course wearing windbreakers and garbage bags.
It didn’t take long on the flat course to be grateful for all the hours on the trainer and the circles on the flat bike path, my legs were used to spinning for hours at a time, and I had trained in a lot of wind so I knew what gearing I wanted in those circumstances to keep a steady pace without undue exertion.
Stick with your plan.
My plan involved a steady stream of nutrition, replenished at every aid station. Again, the volunteers were awesome. I did add bananas last minute to my intake, mostly because it was a riot trying to shove a banana in you mouth while pedaling, and I gave myself 2 points for each time I hit the trash can with the peel. Trimama 8, Cans 12. I don’t doubt that there is still banana residue in my nose.
I mentaled through the first tedious 28 miles, stopping for a break to eat, stretch and find a bush. I knew that this was a no complaint day. In ironman there is no room for whining, it takes too much energy and it’s a negative drain. The terrain was unique and beautiful and I spent that first couple hours just taking it all in. The wind was frustrating, but what are you going to do, quit? For every head wind, there is a tail wind when you ride a circuitous route, so I just reminded myself the ride home would be easier. I would chat briefly with each athlete I passed, trying like a dog to be mindful of the drafting and blocking rules.
This mindfulness was not universal. I’m not particularly bothered by people who cheat in the sense that they have to sleep in their own skin, and if they find cheating to be essential to success, well they get an asterisk by their success. It’s more important to me to just race with integrity. That was tough at times when the bikers stretched in a line as far as the eye could see, but I did my best to keep my draft zone clear. What makes me mad is when the cheaters jeopardize the safety of other athletes. On that note, chick with the ipod blasting, if your going to choose deaf, at least choose a straight line, you almost took us both down when you couldn’t hear my passing call. And to the chick with the disc wheel and tear drop helmet, you know better than to ride 3 and 4 abreast chatting leisurely, thereby forcing all the athletes passing to go far out into the line of traffic.
The best part of the bike, hands down, was that The Tribe would be waiting at mile 58. A hundred mile per hour wind couldn’t wipe the smile from my face knowing they were out there with me. I rolled into a stop and we had a little picnic together. Hyphen Girl wanted me to eat something other than the hot squashed sandwich from my special needs bag, so I explained the outside assistance rules to her. Soapinator wanted to give me her ipod, bless her heart-again, rules.
Trihubby had been keeping track of Paula Newby Frasier’s live race report and let me know that the first 70 miles were tough, and then things settled down.
He was wrong. This was the only tough part of the bike course. At mile 70 we turned not out of the wind, but straight back into it. It was only about 4 miles of the course, but I disgraced myself with a little tirade on the bike. It didn’t help that this was the bumpiest patch of road I have ever ridden. The good news, if you were going to flat it was going to happen here, I didn’t and on we rolled.
“You’d be real cute if you didn’t piss yourself.” came the southern drawl from behind me.
Well thank you for your insight Gizzy. But here’s the deal. I’m fueling with liquid, lots of liquid. At one point my rate of "dropping fuel" was about every 10 minutes. If I stopped and dismounted every time I would never finish this bike course, particularly because there was always a wait at the port a lets.
Stand and deliver became my motto. Remember those grey leggings? Yea. Oops.
I rolled through the century mark and into unknown territory. I’ve never ridden more than 100 miles at a time on my bike. That last 12 miles flew by, I had ridden an Ironman bike ride and no one could ever take that away from me. The ride took 7 hours with a 16 mph average. Obviously, everyone would have been faster on the bike sans the wind, but this day wasn't about time splits, it was finishing and when I left the bike I felt fresh and ready to run.
The Tribe was waiting and yelling at the bike transition, and I kissed them all- they are just plain awesome.
And dirty, so now it’s off to laundry.