Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Longhorn 70.3: THE BIKE

as i went into transition, i felt great - great to have that damn swim behind me. now it was time to get on Muffassa and ride like the wind. we had gone over some of the course the night before, so i knew there were quite a few technical turns out there only to follow quite a few "rough" spots that were thankfully and clearly marked by yellow squiggly lines. i had confidence in my ability to avoid the trouble spots while maintaining speed. there weren't many people in transition as i jogged to my designated area so i felt good about my timing out of the water. i had purposely not worn a watch for the race and i had purposely tweaked my bike computer so that it wouldn't activate when i got on. i didn't want any pressure during this first 70.3 race of mine. it was me against me, not anyone or anything else.

race top - check. sunglasses - check. a whole dadgum garden covering my feet - check...?! i seriously wasted a good 2 minutes trying to get the mulch off of my feet enough so that my bike shoes would fit. i knew i should have brought a bucket of water with me, oh well - the towel i high jacked from the hotel did its job. as i wrestled to get the rest of my gear in place, i began to shiver in the 80 degree morning air with the thought of the journey to come. 56 miles of nutrition. 56 miles of speed. 56 miles of me, the white lines, the blue Texas skies and the wide open fields. was i ready for this? was i strong enough, fast enough, good enough to get this done?

YES. YES, a million times over YES. the nervous thoughts were fast and fleeting. as soon as i mounted my steed, i knew the race was on. when i came upon "the turn" that would later (i have read) cause dilemmas and crashes of astronomical proportions, i cruised on by. long slow climb up, sharp 90 degree turn leading to an even sharper 100 yard ascent that i man handled like it was my bitch :) on to the next set of ups and downs, down and outs - i was on top of it all. riding high, riding fast, riding free. i did at one point - i'm guessing around mile 30 - get really distracted by my race number flapping violently in the wind. did i fail to mention the wind out there? holy Lord. there was a bit of a strong head wind at points, but at many others there was a cross wind straight from the Wizard of Oz out to get me. that damned cross wind would have liked to have picked me up and set me down in Oz had i been in Kansas to start with - and i think it might have had Todo been along for the ride. instead it settled on driving me nuts by tormenting my race number. i had been playing cat and mouse with a 34 year old woman and a 35 year old man. neither of them were content with me being in front but neither of them were very content on holding a strong pace either. so we continued our little game until that damned race number really started a flapping in the wind. i reached back to adjust the bugger and what do you know?! the damned thing popped right out of its holder on the right side! OY! i immediately slowed my speed to try to maneuver it back into its rightful home with no such luck. 34 and 35 finally got to cruise on by without a peep from me as i pleaded with God to just help me get the dadgum thing back in a safe place so i could finish my ride. nothing. for a good 3 or 4 minutes i played with that thing and lost quite a bit of speed in the process. finally, i gave in, looked behind me - clear, pulled off to the side and re-fastened the number to the belt clip. those things are the most difficult contraption to work out on the course! it took me about a minute of all thumbs to get it back in place and finally - finally i was able to get back on the course to hammer out the rest of the miles.

i kept thinking how annoyed i was that i had to stop for such a minor detail, but then i quickly realized that i had it easy. there were handfuls of "man downs" littering the sides of the roads with flat tires and i was not one of them. with a "thank you God" and a heartfelt smile to Mary, i flew through the rest of the turns and made way to T2. the final 400 or so yard climb did not lend itself to spinning out the legs in the most enjoyable way so i pushed through strong and readied myself for the dismount line. hopping off and landing felt awkward at first, but CB had me do plenty of bricks so i was prepared for the wobbly nature of my knees and headed straight for my rack. i kept a clear head about me and even dumped my "trash pocket" before heading out. i didn't want any extra weight for the hours to come. i still had 13.1 miles to go and it would prove to be the hardest task of the day - both physically and mentally...

official time: 3:04:57
official mph: 18.2
official temp: who knows with the wind, but it felt like high 80's
official elevation: 997 ft
official feeling: confident, strong, ready to finish my first half ironman!


BAM said...

your bike skills bring a tear to my eye katie. next time just throw the race number away and have a spare $ waiting at your T2...

Speed Racer said...

Why the heck were you wearing your number on the bike?! You've found the number 1 reason not to wear it: you're more likely to lose it, but also 2) it's not aero, 3) you don't have to, and 4) you've got a chip and a whole sharpie's worth of ink on your arms, hands, thighs, and calves that identify you for the cameras.

Sounds like you're doing great! I'm glad it's living up to expectations.

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