I feel like the mount area in a triathlon is always a little crazy. You have people that have no idea what they are doing which can lead to some chaos! When I got to the mount line I stayed to the left to avoid being run over by any athletes that were in a serious rush. I got on my bike with no problems and was on my way into town.
The beginning of the course is a little tricky as there are a few turns and it’s fast and steep. I told myself I had a long day ahead of me and flying down the hill just to gain a few seconds wasn’t worth it. Once I made the right onto 73 I started to settle into my ride. There was a nice cheering section along 73. If you’re not familiar with the course there are a few flat miles and then a lot of climbing. Once you hit the ski jumps you know it’s about time to get ready to climb. Everyone had told me to take it easy on the first loop, which I planned to do. I might not barrel down hills as fast as others (I need to put bricks in my jersey) but I can climb hills faster than many (at least I think so). Once I started my climb, even though I was taking it easy, I was passing people. It’s hard not to get excited when you’re passing. Again, I kept telling myself, “it doesn’t matter, you still have at least 100 miles to go today.” I felt good riding. I was moving at a good pace. Before I knew it I was descending into Keene!
The descent into Keene can be exhilarating and/or terrifying. Depends on the day and who you are riding with. I enjoy going fast but I was much more cautious since the roads were a little wet and I was riding with 2,500 other people. I stayed in aero for a good portion of my ride but came out and hovered my breaks when I needed too. At this point a few men were flying past me and I just made sure to stay to the right to give them room. I knew I’d catch some of them on the hills later. On the last part of the descent people usually lose water bottles. The road is a little rough and if you’re not prepared you could lose your bottles and/or any other items that could be loose! Luckily I didn’t lose anything.
Once I made the left towards Jay I felt great. I was cruising! I made sure to eat one of my Bonk Breakers and take down a lot of water. I made sure to keep an eye on the road because I didn’t want to roll over any nasty holes that would give me a flat tire. That was probably one of my fears of the day, a flat tire! I started to see a few people on the side of the road with mechanical issues and I felt so bad for them. I felt like I was at the gas station in no time. Then I was headed out to the first turnaround. This part of the road is really nasty so I kind of rode more towards the middle to avoid any issues. I could finally see the lead cyclists coming back. Hey, I wasn’t too far behind, which felt nice! I saw Elyssa when I was almost to the turnaround and she was on her was back. I was feeling great at this point. Once I could see the turn around I got a little nervous. For some reason I always freak out when making a turn in the middle of the road from right to left. I can do it on a road bike no problem, I think it must be the triathlon bike. That’s my excuse! I was worried I was going to fall but I did the first turnaround like a champ. No issues. It was a little wide which was great! Once I did that turnaround I figured I would be golden for the rest of the day.
On the way back to the turn onto 86 I was having a great time! I realized I must have been riding pretty well considering there were a lot more people behind me than in front of me. I kept a an eye on the road to make sure I didn’t get rocked by any holes in the road. The turn onto 86 appeared faster than I expected. Holy crap, it was time to start this climb back into town! I was in this constant rotation with a few men. They would smoke me on the downhills and some of the flats and then I would pass them going uphill. I’m sure it was annoying when a girl in a bright pink Betty Designs kit with “Bad Ass is Beautiful on her booty smacked them right in the face as she rode by. Oh well, #ridelikeagirl! On that note, a lot of people gave me compliments on my kit! I absolutely love our team kit for 2015. I had one guy ask me if it said, “This ass is beautiful” or “Bad ass is beautiful.” I laughed and told him it could be both and that it was unfortunate for him that he had to pass me. He would have had a nice view if he didn’t!
I was looking forward to getting closer to the next out and back on Haselton Road. This section of the course was short and flat. There was also an aid station that you could hit on the way back to 86. Once I made the turn I could see a bunch of racers heading back to 86. I kept looking for Elyssa and then I saw her! It was nice to see her and it gave me a boost. Like I said before, I have issues with turning around in the middle of the road. I know, I can bunny hop but I can’t turn around. It’s pathetic. Well, I was a little nervous about this turnaround only because I dumped my bike there last summer riding the course and scuffed my bike. I made sure to slow down and give myself enough room to make the turn. No one was behind me but then I heard a woman start yelling. She wasn’t saying anything bad, she was just trying to pump all of us up. She startled me, I looked to the right and didn’t want to ride into the sand and gravel and before I knew it I was on the ground. I was angry at myself and very embarrassed. I’m lucky no one ran over me and fell. I popped back up and got on my bike. Everyone near me asked if I was okay. The left side of my leg hurt. Once I got going I looked down. I had some cuts on my leg but they weren’t gushing blood. I also made sure I didn’t rip my kit! I was more worried about my kit than my cuts. I knew I scuffed up my bike but I let it go. Mind you, Mark just bought me brand new carbon pedals (in the end I did scuff them up along with my bike but nothing terrible). A little while later I realized my thumb was bleeding. It looked like I ripped my nail off and then I got even more angry. I stuck my thumb in my mouth to clean it off. My nail was still attached but I had a massive blood blister right above my nail. It hurt but I ignored it. I didn’t grab anything at the aid station and just tried to get back into my riding groove.
I was a little “off” riding towards Wilmington. I was shaken up, annoyed, angry, pissed, you name it. I eventually got over it because I had to focus on climbing! The climb from Wilmington is BRUTAL. It looks flat but looks can be deceiving. It’s a long false-flat. This part of the course is more mental than physical, in my opinion. It also doesn’t help that it’s a wind tunnel next to the river. I have nothing exciting to report other than I focused on keeping my legs moving and my cadence up. Once I got to the bridge after River Road I knew I was so close to finishing the first loop. All that I had left were the 3 Bears. The 3 Bears are a series of hills on the last part of the course and they are named Mama Bear, Baby Bear, and Papa Bear. They are supposed to be tough and the road is lined with tons of spectators. It’s like being in the Tour de France! I couldn’t wait to ride through that area. In my opinion, the hills aren’t bad. They are short and quick. I like them in some sick and twisted way. Once I got to the base of Papa Bear I was so excited to finish my first loop! I plucked off a few men (#yougotzippchicked, sorry, it’s fun) and saw Mark, my mother-in-law, and one of our friends (I did not tell Mark I fell off my bike because I knew he would be worried about what I did to my bike for the rest of the day). I couldn’t stop smiling once I could hear the cheering! I quickly made the turn up Northwoods, then the turn onto Mirror Lake Drive. Coming into town was amazing. The spectators made me feel like I was in first place with all the cheering and screaming.
Once I passed through town it was time to head out for my second loop. I did not stop at special needs because I didn’t need anything. The sun was out in full force for the second loop. It was blazing hot. I just kept doing my best to take in as much water and Gatorade as I could. I did a great job with water, the Gatorade was hard to get down. It’s just so thick! I definitely didn’t do the best job with putting calories in my body during the ride. I had a hard time getting my Bonk Breakers down. I had to chase every bite with water so I could get it down. I also had a hard time opening my bars with my stupid thumb issue. I had to rip everything open with my mouth! I did manage to take a salt tablet per hour which worked well. Note for next time, all calories must be consumed via liquid. For some reason I can train and eat bars but come race day I struggle. Lesson learned.
Nothing exciting happened the second loop. It was really hot and it got windy (as always). At each turnaround I un-clipped one of my shoes. I wasn’t risking tipping over again. I couldn’t handle another fall mentally or physically. The climb back into town was so hard. I felt like I wasn’t moving. Each hill got harder and harder. I knew this was going to happen, it’s how it goes on this course. I just kept telling myself how awesome it was going to be to get to the 3 Bears again. That truly kept me going. I did stop at an aid station to use the bathroom. I think I was right around mile 100. I was feeling a little woozy so I figured a bathroom break and some time on my feet would help. A wonderful volunteer held my bike and I used the facility making sure I didn’t drop anything in there or let my one-piece take a dip. The bathroom was shockingly clean and didn’t smell. Once I made it back out to my bike I took another salt pill and was on my way. I started to feel a little bit better but knew I still had 12 more miles of hell left.
At one of the last aid stations I grabbed another water and all of a sudden I heard this terrible hissing sound. I think I almost started crying and then told myself to grow up and see what the issue was. I didn’t even have to get off my bike, I saw someones bike sticker stuck on my wheel making that horrible sound. I laughed and took it off my wheel. I was so glad I didn’t have a tire issue! The last few miles sucked. They were hard. I just wanted to get off my bike. My butt hurt. My back hurt. I wondered why I picked such a hilly course as my first Ironman. I am sure a lot of other thoughts raced through my head. At this point I should have remembered that the elevation gain was 6,898 feet!
When I made it to the 3 Bears I was greeted by more amazing spectators. Town was full of cheers. I rounded the corner up by the bike-in/bike-out area and was directed to the dismount line. I was relieved that my ride was over! When I got off my bike I felt pretty good. I wasn’t too wobbly. A volunteer took my bike and I was directed to my run bag in transition. I was very careful running to it as I didn’t want to wipe out in my cycling shoes. I grabbed my bag off the rack and headed into the tent. I clicked lap on my watch (I always forget to do it when I should) and briefly looked at the time. I wanted to be between 6:00-and 6:30 and I realized I was a little over. I reminded myself that I did wipe out and that cost me some time and to just get over it and move on with my race.
Bike Time: 6:34:33 (17.03 average MPH)
My volunteer in T2 was fabulous! She gave me water and started taking apart my bag. She helped me wipe down my face and my feet which felt amazing. She then helped me put my socks and sneakers on. She slathered my back in sunscreen and I made sure that I had my hat, sunglasses, and race belt (bib, salt, and fuel were already attached). I thanked her a thousand times and then I was on my way onto the run course! T2 went a lot better than T1 but I feel like that’s true for every race. T2 is a lot less involved than T1.