Can I talk about my transitions? They were so fast! I based my T1 goal on Dirty Spice's transition in 2013. She is the fastest transitioner of ever. She did it in 4:42. I figured that if she could get through the changing area, take off the wetsuit, run in bike shoes, grab the bike and be on the bike in under 5:00, maybe I could, too. After all, I didn't have to peel off the super suit and I could leave my shoes rubberbanded to my bike. All I had to do was put on my headband and shades, grab the helmet, ask the volunteer to spray my back with sunscreen and go. I was able to cruise past seven men running in bike shoes because of my bare feet. My result: 4:41.
It was so great to be on the bike, but I had two glitches in the first three miles. The first was that one of the rubber bands that I used to attach my shoes to the bike was still dangling from my skewer. Not a big deal - but annoying. The other: my bike computer wouldn't pick up my power meter! Kind of a big deal and very annoying. As I headed off the beach, I powered my Garmin off and on. I searched for signal. I took my feet out, clipped them back in. Nothing. My watch was able to calibrate it and find it - why couldn't my Edge? I finally stopped at Goofy Golf to snap off the rubber band. I took the computer off the mount and held it near the pedals. Nothing. I figured my watch would have to do and set out again.
My ride was steady all day. I felt good and strong and averaged 17.6 miles between every checkpoint on the tracker. I broke it up into little pieces. The first 40 miles were all about hydration and looking forward to seeing Ace and the spices. The next 40 miles were all about nutrition, enjoying the change in terrain and deciding when and where to stop. The last 32 miles were all about nutrition, hydration, the uphill headwind, the downhill tailwind, a thunderstorm and temps near 90. Here's what I liked most about the ride:
LEAP FROG: I played leap frog with girl on a white and green bike. She had green stripes on her helmet and green side-walls on her tires. It was like having Erica out there on her black and green tri bike, Mr. Anderson. This girl (she was 34) and I traded hellos each time we'd pass the other. We made fun of a guy who passed us: Mr. Pedal-Pedal-Pedal-Pedal-Pedal-Pedal-Pedal-Pedal-Coooooooassstt. Eight pedals and a coast for miiiiiiiles. I also got to see her pull over to the side of the road and kiss her baby and husband. She came up behind me again and I said: they sure gave you a boost. Was that your little one? She excitedly said, yes she's seven months old. My response: Wait. You have a 7-month-old AND you trained for an Ironman? You are badass! She passed me and I never saw her again.
BIKE TECH: I played bike tech! I won't go into details here, but I played bike know-a-little (not a know-it-all) and helped two riders on course. I used what had happened on my bike earlier in the season to diagnose crazy noises on their wheels. I reassured them that I had had the same issue, it was easily resolved and their bike would hold up through the rest of the ride. I felt like super chick - even though they both passed me in short order. At least I never saw them on the side of the road.
SPECIAL NEEDS: I loved special needs. I debated on whether to stop or not. I didn't need the nutrition in the bag or the spare tube. What I needed was more sunscreen. About a mile from the stop, I noticed a girl on the side of the road, repeating numbers into a walkie talkie. As I crested the next hill, I could see special needs and realized she was alerting the volunteers to who was coming in. By the time I got there and called out my number, a volunteer was standing there with my bag ready and open. It was like having a NASCAR pit crew. I threw some used nutrition wrappers in the bag and retrieved my sunscreen. I asked the volunteer to read what was on my bag and so he did: PRETEND LIKE JEN IS SCATTING. RIDE FASTER. And I did.
LET'S GIVE 'EM SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT: One of the first things I'm asked about Ironman is: what do you think about for six hours (or more) on the bike? The answer is A LOT. This time, I planned what to think about. Mainly, I did Pilates on the bike. What I mean is that I went through the basic Pilates mat sequence in my head: hundred beats, roll up, roll over, leg circles, rolling like a ball......... I practiced my cueing and my breathing. It took six hours and 23 minutes, mainly because my mind wanders. So, in between every few imagined exercises, I would insert a story or song or a memory from the past year. I had pre-planned what to think about, wrote the ideas on a card and taped them to my bento box so I could see them.
So, I thought of how Sami Winter made it to Kona. I thought about the coastal 10-miler I nailed early in the season. I remembered what it felt like to ride a CitiBike through NYC and ride over the Brooklyn Bridge. I pretended I was being chased by Misty Brown, I pretended I was chasing Misty Brown, I remembered Grab My Wheel and what it felt like to draft off Alecia and train with her this season. I had a great time on the bike reliving all the great parts of training for this giant race.