(I am sitting blogging at an Oceanside coffee shop, watching the people who obviously have no sense surfing the big waves during the "Tropical Storm" conditions we are suppose to be having. This is the only sign of a hurricane 220 miles south of the Island. It was raining now the sun looks like it's about to come out..geez all that worry for this?)
Wow the bike portion..it took me on an unexpected ride that challenged me physically and mentally. Not in a way I actually ever thought of quitting, but man it was difficult! I will admit near the end I wondered if I would make the cutoff, something I have never been worried about before. I am embarrassed to say I didn't even remember what the bike cutoff was, but knew the hours were passing..too many hours passing for my comfort level. In the end, I made it in time but not without fighting the wind for much of the ride..
It started out coming out of the chute and straight up Palani Dr., probably a 2 block 8% grade hill. That'll wake your legs up! There is a 4-5 mile section around Kona in the beginning which is nice, I got to see spectators and part of the family!!
I was riding Arero, down in the bars for much of the first 20 miles or so. The Queen K is a great road surface, the whole road was closed for the race so smooth sailing from a long bike ride perspective. The only bummer, and this was a big bummer 7 hours later, was that they did not allow spectators on the bike course. Let me tell you, riding almost 8 hours in mostly solitude is very challenging! I did however, have one ray of sunshine ..they allowed folks that were staying in the resorts on the Northwest Coast to go out to the Queen K to cheer folks on. My wonderful sister in law (H's sister) and brother in law (her husband), two of my favorite supporters were staying outside such a resort. I looked for them by the first Aid Station and didn't see them. They had the awesome Team Wess T-shirts on. My SIL told me she was screaming and could have reached out and touched me she was so close! I must've had my eye on the water station because I never saw her going out. The water stations came up frequently, thank goodness. I would grab one water and pour it over my cooling sleeves, then one water to pour into my bottle. I would have to stop to add the electrolyte tabs because they wouldn't go through aero bottle top. I did manage to do it a couple of times on the bike but once the wind came, forget it. That wasn't such a good plan..
The bike to Hawi to the turnaround
|The bike up to Hawi to turnaround..|
The wind, ah the wind..at about mile 25 (aproximately) there started to be wind. I had biked out of Kona with a tailwind/side wind of sorts-it wasn't an issue. So It was windy already but this was a crazy, swirling headwind. Ok, I am in Kona doing the World Ironman Championships and this is why it is considered one of the hardest courses in the world! I carried on, drinking, eating and fighting the wind. I looked at bikes in front of me and they looked like they were struggling also so this somehow made me feel better. I got hit with some side winds that took me and pushed me across the lane of the road. I started riding on the far right shoulder so if I got pushed sideways again into the other lane, I wouldn't hit anyone. It was crazy..that's all I can say. I was soooooo grateful I had done the Acoma Century ride. We had crosswinds on that ride and headwinds, granted not as harsh as this but I remembered that feeling of having your wheels pushed out under you and staying upright. When the wind decided to be against me, I was barely moving on an already sort of rolling course. Nothing I coudn't have rocked had the wind been down. The first real gust of side/headwind, I yelled Bring it!!! Don't know why it was kind of like you can't break me, no matter what you do Madame Pele, i can handle it! So I used that kind of Bring It attitude the rest of the ride up to Hawi. There is about a 6 mile climb up to the turnaround that is a bit steeper and longer than the other hills. Before I got there the Pros started coming back. They were flying, which gave me hope that I would have a tailwind on the way back. I said a little prayer to that affect. I had to stay out of my aerobars much of those 40 or so miles up to Hawi. I saw a woman flat on the ground, race officials around her. I deduced she had been blown off her bike (total of 8 athletes got blown off their bikes in the race)...I tried to remember all my tricks to riding in wind. Keep knees together, use core to center, just plain hang on! I wasn't particularly tired, which is a good thing. This meant I had trained right. It was super hot but the wind was a good distraction from that! Someone told me the gusts were 50 MPH. I don't know, all I remembered was my coach saying it will be windy but nothing as bad a Geelong (70.3-race from hell wind). Uh, Coach you are awesome but this wind is worse. Alot worse it seemed at the time. I tried to look around and enjoy the view. We were climbing and the sight of the ocean and lava rocks was stunning! I couldn't look for long because I never knew when a gust might hit in the headwind so I held on tight, literally to my bike. At one point I realized my arms were so tight they were getting sore..My neck was killing me. I tried to stretch but very hard to move around when you are trying to "stay center". I honestly thought my neck would be a mess the next day..I think I didn't go over 11 MPH for 25 miles...wicked conditions.
Finally, finally I got to the turnaround. The time it took me to get there was LONG and I anticipated flying back with a tailwind, where I would make up for the slow-ass time it took me to get there. The volunteers and spectators in Hawi were so great. Mostly local people, these folks are donating their time and their community for me! I thanked as many volunteers as I could when i remembered to do so. The only annoying moments at Aid Stations was when they didn't open the water bottle. Pretty difficult to do on a bike..Mostly I was smiling because I knew about the downhill coming. Turned around-wheeeee!!! Maximum speed 35 MPH.. The wind was now mostly at our backs, sometimes a sidewind but I didn't care. I tried to fly down the hils as much as I could.
Then, a couple things happened. I couldn't find my last 2 electrolyte pills, thought I left them at Special Need at the turnaround (actually found them later in my bike jersey-geez). I thought well, I can either switch to water, knowing I had a couple hours to go? Or: drink the nasty ass Perform which is like Gator Aid only worse and tastes like crap.. I chose the latter. The temp was in the 90s probably more out on the lava rocks and I knew people get in trouble in Kona because of heat/sweat/electrolyte loss. I was super paranoid about this. Had continued to consume Shotz Gels and 2bars, one with protein. The only thing missing was the electrolyte tabs for the last 1.5 hours.
I still wasn't tired physically, just mentally tired of being on the course. In the wind. I checked my tires a couple of times (they weren't low or flat). I finally had to give in that these were the conditions so suck it up or you better work b#*%ch! (Daughter Allison showed me this-made me laugh soooo hard!). I thought of these random things on my odessey bike ride.
Oh, you've got to be kidding me, then the wind decided to switch and we had a direct headwind for the last 30 miles. I just went with it. This was the race of my life, I wasn't breaking any speed records, NBC wasn't chasing me for the IM Kona TV special-may as well enjoy! I kept leap frogging with two other women in my AG on the way back. They were super serious. I tried to say a few words in passing just being light. One woman said how much this sucked and I said But we are at KONA! She said oh yea, I guess there's that. Then my goal got really small. Beat this grumpy woman on the bike. Every time I would pass her, she would pass me. Well, I guess it is a race, even at 10 MPH..lol
My feet all of a sudden felt like they were on fire! Not just one but both. I loosened my new larger sized Tri shoes. Nope..not working. So I stopped and took my socks off. Ahhh, that's better! It bothered me one more time. I needed to stop and take my shoes off to move my feet around. My stomach started to get a little funky at the end of the bike. I pee'ed twice on the bike so knew I was hydrated.
Then I saw my sister and brother in law!!! In the shirts and everything. I yelled Hi guys! but it was brief. Just knowing there was someone in a 25 mile radius around me that knew me was a relief. I worried a little about making the cutoff, I thought it was 5:00. I learned later was 5:30. I picked up a little speed passing the Energy Lab because there were all the runners running in and out. They were 17-23 miles into the marathon. My heart kinda sank for one second. I was about an hour past the time I thought I could do the bike. Oh well, I am in Kona! Finally, was headed toward the turn into town and I passed those two women in my AG and never looked back! I knew they would probably kick my ass on the run. Who cares? I had met my brief yet shining goal on the bike. The wind died down in town then it was just HOT!
This was the bike course and my data: