Ironman Arizona 2013 Race Recap Part 2: The Bike

It was bike time. I felt GREAT finishing the swim, but as soon as I crossed that mount line, I was nervous again. There were TONS of people starting the bike at the same time and if there is anything that makes me panic, it is mounting the bike around people. Bah. In the photo below (and if you watch the video, I’m going to post at the end of the recap), you can see me waiting and waiting to mount. I kept waiting for a clear spot, but it never came so I finally just walked as far ahead as I could and went for it. I soft pedaled through the Bike Out chute and then clipped in once I had some breathing room… I was on my way! I started my Garmin Edge and waited until I got through the crowd before getting down into aero position. Spectator support is super strong the first half mile or mile and then it dies off pretty quick as you leave town.

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Around the first mile, I heard my tire making a weird noise. A flat. I unclipped and hopped off, but it was still firm. Phew. It was just the sound of my tire on the road. Weird. I looked around and a spectator told me she has seen other people do the exact same thing. Ha. Well, at least I’m not the craziest Ironman out there 😀 I hopped back on my bike: 111 miles to go!

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My bike: a QR dulce

The bike course is 3 loops. You start in town and then head out on Beeline Hwy for about 20 miles and then turn around and come back. I let myself warm up for a bit and then got into aero and got serious. My first trip out on Beeline I wasn’t struggling, but I just wasn’t hitting my goal pace. I felt like I was puttering around at 13mph when I wanted to be at my goal of 15 and my heart started to sink. “Why didn’t I train more?!”, “This is going to be the longest bike ride of my life” and other negatives were in my mind… but as soon as I hit the turnaround.. BAM! I had been biking into headwind the entire time! My ride back into town was around 20mph!! I NEVER bike that fast. Holy cow… those 20 miles back to town were the best miles I have EVER put in on a bike. I once again had the biggest grin on my face and I was just FLYING!!!!!

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Bike Course Map from the Ironman AZ website

I had originally planned to stop 3 times on the bike to stretch and eat. However, I felt SO GOOD flying in that tailwind that I didn’t stop on the first loop. On my way back out on the 2nd loop, just knowing that my new best friend, Mr. Tailwind, was going to hang out with me from miles 50-70, I had no problems chugging through the wind and up the gradual hill. My Garmin Edge was set to beep every 15 minutes and this meant to sip out of my bottles. For nutrition, I had 2 bottle cages on my bike: one was a polar bottle filled with a 6 hour supply of Gu Roctane Endurance Drink powder (grape) and the other was a throwaway bottle of water. I would sip small sips every 15 minutes from the Gu and guzzle water whenever I wanted. I would replace the water bottle at each aid station for a fresh cold one and I had a 2nd bottle of Gu Roctane with another 6 hours worth of calories in my Special Needs bag. The plan was to stop on my 2nd loop and swap it out for the fuller bottle (but each bottle contained 6 hours worth in case I couldn’t stop at special needs or dropped it). I also took a Gu gel every loop… however, I think I would change this plan to take 2 gels a loop in my next race because towards the end I was getting a headache and I think it was from hunger. During my longer training rides, I found that I was also hankering salt. I had a small bento box on my bike and I kept my Gu gels in there as well as a small Ziploc of Chicken in a Biskit crackers… the saltiest snack I could think of. Those were my lifesaver! I munched on those off and on the 2nd half of the ride and since I had practiced with them, I knew my stomach could handle it.

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This is my polar bottle filled with only the Gu powder. Since it was so much powder and so little water, it was a bit like a sludge to drink.. so I would only take a few sips at a time. I did it this way because I didn’t want to carry a ton of bottles with me on the bike.

On the second loop I finally stopped at special needs station (about mile 66) to swap out my Gu bottle. The NICEST volunteer on this planet held my bike, helped me open my other Ziploc of Chicken in a Biskits, tore open a Gu and politely looked away while I slathered inside my shorts with more Chamois Butt’r and Noxzema (sounds weird, but it feels SO refreshing!). I also took off my shrug since it was heating up, and put sunscreen on my arms and face. While I was in the special needs, Paul zoomed by on his final lap. To say I was jealous was an understatement, but I wasn’t hurting and very proud that he was kicking butt 😀

I hopped back on my bike feeling good and ready to finish out the 2nd lap. I was ahead of schedule and confident in my time. Prior to the race, I had taped goal times to my bike, as well as the cutoff times. I had written what time and what mile marker I had to be at to avoid the cutoffs and then listed each hour (1:00, 2:00, 3:00) and what mile marker I needed to be at for a 8 hour bike time. This allowed me to easily see if I was ahead or behind pace and the entire time I was still slightly ahead of my goal and WAY ahead of the cut-off times.

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At the turnaround to start the next loop!

After I finished the 2nd loop, I stopped for a quick potty break and then got back on my bike. By now the wind had shifted. I had a stronger headwind on the way out and then somehow still had a headwind on the way back into town. Bah. My times for the 3rd loop were a lot slower and my back was starting to get sore (not to mention my neck and other parts), but I made no more stops and knuckled through it. I was certainly DYING to get off the bike, but knowing exactly where I was in terms of my goal and knowing I was going to make it kept me strong. I was proud of myself for not taking multiple breaks and keeping my pace steady. As soon as I hit mile marker 100, that grin came back. Every pedal was a new distance record! I WAS 2/3rds an IRONMAN. The spectators in town had mostly already moved to their spots on the run course, so it was pretty lonely coming in, but I WAS GETTING OFF THAT BIKE. That’s all I cared about! A volunteer took my bike from me at the dismount line and stopped my Garmin for me. I headed into T2 and was trying my hardest not to cry. I DID IT! I had been the most terrified about the bike, but it was over!! Now just a measly marathon, ha!

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Off the bike and running into T2

I finished the bike in 7:31:50! My goal was 8 hours and I had totally nailed it! I couldn’t be more ecstatic. I’m not going to lie, I teared up in T2 knowing that as long as I kept moving on the run, I was going to be an IRONMAN!

The volunteer in T2 was just as nice as my special needs guy. I had packed options in my T2 bag in case I wanted to change and she was a good mix of pushing me to keep moving, but being nice about it and not minding that I couldn’t make up my mind. I was definitely in a bit of a daze. I ended up changing my shirt, but keeping my bike shorts on (I knew I wouldn’t chafe in those). I fixed my hair, put on my visor, changed my socks, got my running shoes on and she snapped my race belt around my waist. I ate some Cheez-Its that I had packed and then made my way towards the Run Out. The volunteer had me leave everything on the floor and she packed up my helmet, shoes, gloves, etc. It was like having a little maid. I was so thankful for all the volunteers (and yes, I definitely told them that!). As I left the Run Out, there were more volunteers there to apply sunscreen. They rubbed it all over my arms, neck, ears, face and even my upper lip! I was then officially on my way. Only 26.2 miles left!!!!!!!!!!!

Click here to read Part 1: Pre-Race and the Swim

Click here to read Part 3: The Finish Line

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