Ironman Texas: the Bike

When I got on my bike I had the biggest smile on my face. I remember exiting the transition area and almost having an emotional cry/breakdown since I was so happy I was doing this. I just kept thinking “I’m doing an ironman!!” Biking out of the Woodlands was relatively easy; I let my legs warm up a bit before getting my power up. After being around so many people on the swim, I had to remind myself that I couldn’t draft! I headed through The Woodlands nice and steady, and then after turning north I was back on roads that I was extremely familiar and comfortable with since that’s what I’d trained on.

A lot of people passed me, mainly guys, but I wasn’t too worried, I might see them on the run- ok maybe not, but it was my race to do.  I can’t emphasize enough that having a power meter was like a secret weapon.  Marni and Karel had analyzed my training files and provided what wattage I needed to bike at to give me a strong run, which was a 127-138 watt range.  No matter what conditions, the power meter would enable me to steady and not over-bike.  I split the bike up by hitting the lap button every 30 minutes, which also reminded me to take my nutrition and salt.

I really enjoyed the way out; people were chatty and asking “what’s a Betty” (my shorts said “I’m a Betty”) or “Hey Betty!”, and one guy said he had seen me training out here lots before. I got scared at one point when I was passing someone, then a guy passed me and I while I was dropping back, but an official drove by and gave me the evil eye. I had no idea if I was going to be penalized; I definitely wasn’t in the wrong, but this was my first time with officials and I didn’t know what to expect.

Capture

Anyway, I was happy to get to the National Forest because I enjoy the rollers through there. I had the BEST compliment ever when some guy passed me and said “you must be one helluva swimmer!” – I told him “thank you for the compliment!” – boy was I excited to hear that!  My only annoyance during the ride was that guys loved passing me then coasting – REALLY?! I love descending, and I had a hard time descending the hills since guys loved to pass me up hill then stop pedaling and coast downhill. Or just pass me then stop pedaling or decide to stop and eat something after passing me; I don’t get it. Anyway, due to my hate-to-break-rules personality, I was timid and dropped back a lot when people passed me throughout this ride. Next race I will be more bold. Other than that, I felt like I was still smiling a lot of this part.

I had 3 bottles with 1.75 scoops of my custom Infinit drink mix on my bike plus a water to start. My goal was ~1 bottle fluids per hour and 4-5 bottles with Infinit for the whole ride; I had done only two 100+ mile rides in training and had used these to perfect my nutrition plan. In my Bento I had salt tabs (1/hr), 2 gels (eaten ½ at a time) and a bonk breaker (eaten in bites), and 3 tums wrapped in saran wrap (and taped sort of like a Hershey kiss). In my back pocket was a container of Hammer endurance aminos (2/hr). Also in my bento was a patch kit, and tool. I drank my first bottle and then ditched it at the second aid station where I did my first-ever bottle hand off to get some cold water – the hand off wasn’t too bad after all. I used the cold water for drinking and cooling – spraying my shoulders, the vents in my helmet, and swishing in my mouth. It sounds silly, but the swishing cold water in my mouth and spitting really helped get me cooler and get that sweet taste out of my mouth later in the ride. I also always sat up when I drank and stretched my torso and was pretty good about deep belly breathing – both to prevent side stitches.

I was feeling good apart from around 1.5-2 hours I noticed my right gluteus medius / tailbone area was aggravated. Not a bad pain, but a bit of a dull ache. I kind of expected this as I’d felt it in the last few weeks, but knew I’d just have to deal with it and strengthen my hips/glutes later. This same thing happened before my first half ironman, but last time it was on the left side. It was bugging me mainly when sitting for long or in the car too much, and I knew it might get irritated during the bike ride. Because of this and also because of avoiding drafting, I was staying a bit on the lower end of my power goals – looking back I was too conservative but I wasn’t sure how my hips would react on the run and went by feel. I don’t know why, but I wasn’t feeling quite as strong on the bike as I had been during the middle / peak of my training where I’d have trouble staying within my power zones since I felt so strong. Probably just psychological though.  Anyway, after 3 hours, I thought “oh, just like a regular weekday training ride”, and it hardly felt long.  Just like in practice, I never watched mileage and just had my bike computer set to: Normalized 3 second power, Lap Avg Power, Lap Time, HR, Cadence, Avg Speed and Total Time.

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At mile 60 (it was written on the road) I stopped for my SN bag – boy are they organized and got me my bag quickly!!  From my bag, I grabbed two more bottles of Infinit and also a gel (didn’t think I’d need it, but in case) and I had one of those chamois butter individual packs in there. I told the volunteers, “sorry guys, I’m going to do this in front of you!” and applied it in my shorts quickly then was on my way. It was the best idea! The next section of road was quite rough so having a little extra comfort was nice. And also after standing briefly, my hip/glute was feeling much better. At SN there was a port-a-potty and I’d been trying to go pee on my bike but could not, so I stopped, but there was a line, so after 30 seconds I just decided to leave. I repeatedly tried to pee on the downhills while coasting (sorry for the detail – but maybe this will explain all my coasting to Marni/Karel!), but I simply couldn’t.  I know it sounds gross, but if you know how gross you already are by doing an ironman (covered in lake water, sweat, and maybe even sticky gels or drink mix) you would understand. I knew if I wasn’t going pee then I wasn’t hydrated enough (even though I went while swimming and at T1), so I really kept up with my drinks to make sure I didn’t get dehydrated.  At the next aid station I stopped and a volunteer said “give me your bike darlin’” and I popped in and out of the port a potty, and while getting back on the bike he asked if I’d like cold water sprayed on me – um, yes! – so he dumped cold water all over my back/shoulders and it was the most amazing feeling ever! Again, awesome volunteers – I thanked him so much and then was off.

A little while later I saw my friend Alex as he passed me and we chatted a bit. He had a good swim and seemed to be doing well on the bike and said he was enjoying the day. It was nice to see a familiar face. The rough roads seem a bit long at times on this stretch, but it was a pretty interesting ride since so many people were there, and I knew I could bike this distance well after doing my solo century and also 106 miler on tired legs.  I finally got back to smooth roads after passing HWY 105, which feels really great on the saddle (see my course recap here). Somewhere around there my tummy felt a bit off briefly, so I took a tums as a precaution and it cleared it right up.

Near mile 90, I was pretty much ready to get off the bike, and 90 seems close, but it is actually still 22 miles away! This was the part that seemed a bit long to me, my lower back felt it and I was stretching my legs more at this point – the rest of the ride I had just broken up into 30 minute segments and seemed to go by before I knew it, especially with so many people around. But near the end, the sun was starting to get hot on my face and shoulders as there was no cloud cover, and I started to worry I’d be burnt to a crisp. The heat wasn’t too bad, just the direct sun. David had given my explicit instructions to apply enough sunscreen at T1, and I wondered if the volunteer had sprayed my shoulders enough. Well too late now.

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I felt the wind the most during the end sections (I think it had been around 15mph SSW) and I wasn’t holding my power as well, I think I was just a bit fatigued. Do you ever get a deep feeling in your lungs from endurance activities like century rides? It was that sort of feeling – my legs were fine though. I didn’t want to push too hard, and the last few miles of the bike were a bit technical and winding through neighborhoods, so I took my time and coasted a bit on the turns as there were a lot of people around. It was nice to be back in The Woodlands, though a bit deceiving.  I also saw a guy I had kept seeing the whole ride somehow and he said “We need to stop meeting like this Betty” and made me laugh.  The last 5 miles seemed pretty long; I did see TriMarni athlete Justine here and said hi, but she did not seem too cheery and said she was just ready to get off the bike!

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Coming into the transition chute I could see the bright pink “Team Brittany” shirts straight ahead and started waving and had a huge smile to immediately see David and the fam!  And then thought – “hmm, did I really just bike for 6 hours?”  Even though I was ready to get off the bike, it really wasn’t that bad.  I had hoped for a closer to 6 hour bike ride and I know I have it in me, but I was holding back today.  Marni had once told me the bike would be the easy part, I didn’t believe her at first, but now I knew what she meant.  We had done a lot of shorter rides with intervals in training, so the long ride at a low wattage was something I could do all day.  It was just setting me up for a marathon.

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{ thank you body }

I dismounted my bike and the volunteers took it for me – sweet! Now time to get my legs ready for a little running. No one seemed to be running to get their bag, but I did a little run walk around them (since I was still in my cycle shoes I wasn’t that speedy). I took another quick port a potty stop to pee so I wouldn’t have to stop on the run – keeping up with hydration, good.  Then in the tent, I was directed to a seat and got my cycling shoes/socks off, quickly dried my feet with a small towel, then went to apply body glide and whoops, it had melted right off. I just picked up the remainder of the bar and slathered it on my inner foot area where I get hot spots sometimes. I tightened my shoes with my lace locks and put on my visor and grabbed my gel flasks. And in the meantime, a volunteer had already strapped on my bib and sprayed my back with sunscreen.  I thanked them and then I ran out and there were more sunscreen volunteers and so I ran at a teenage boy and pointing I said “face, face, face!” – he started gently putting it on my face, and then I said “GO CRAZY!!” and his friend laid it on me like he was putting a pie in my face – we all laughed and then I jetted out. I only had the run left and I knew I could make this – but how quickly was a big unknown.

Bike Stats: 6:17:23, 17.81 mph, Rank: 31 AG, 128 Gender, 891 Overall

T2: 5:36

Bike Gear: Team Betty kit, CEP Compression socks, bike socks, Giro Factress cycling shoes, Giro Aero Attack Helmet, Oakley Sunglasses, Garmin 500 bike computer, 910xt, & HR monitor strap

Bike Nutrition: 4.3 bottles of 1.75 scoops custom Infinit, 1 espresso Hammer gel, 1 vanilla Gu, all but a bite of a Bonk Breaker, 1 Salt Stick tab + 2 Hammer endurance aminos hourly, lots of water from aid stations for drinking and cooling

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6 thoughts on “Ironman Texas: the Bike

  1. That’s an amazing ride- congratulations!!! It must’ve felt good to know the roads and all the markers! That cold water poured on you must have felt incredible.
    Ha- I can’t pee on my bike either, no matter how hard I try! And I totally kno what you mean about the deep feeling in your lungs. I can’t breath deeply for a few days after a long race.

  2. Great ride!!! I hate when guys pass you just to pass you!! I am sure it is such an ego thing. If you want to pass just pass and go. Don’t just sit in front of me!!! 🙂 Sounds like you set yourself up for an awesome run!! I think playing it safe for your first IM is good.

  3. Awesome bike, Brittany! You biked smart and looked like you had a ton of fun! Totally get you on the not being able to pee… same thing happened to me at Canada! Just couldn’t do it. Love the pic of you waving to your sherpas! Captures the excitement perfectly 🙂

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