Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Blue skies
Smiling at me
Nothing but blue skies
Do I see
- Irving Berlin

112 mile BIKE: 7:59:31 / T2: 07:49

The BIKE course is where I am most comfortable. Cycling is my sport of choice and the place I feel the least self-conscious as an athlete and a triathlete. My goal for the BIKE was 7:00-7:30 overall and a average pace of 15 mph. I knew based on training that this was a very reasonable goal and would give me the energy I needed to actually do some running on the Marathon course.

The B2B bike course is advertised as FAST and FLAT and as long as the wind and weather cooperated I had no reason to expect anything other than a sucessful 112-mile Bike ride. The ride spend 12 miles riding on I-140 which was a real treat! It was fun to actually have a full lane of the Interstate and the pavement was in good condition and i just jumped into the big ring and rolled along. Being in the back of the pack at the end of the swim, I was soon being passed by the Leader of the HALF IRONMAN race and they all were super friendly and supportive. Nearly every guy who passed me gave me a "Looking Good Ironman" or a " Looking Strong" compliment.

Pretty quickly, after cresting the rise of a bridge and exiting the Interstate, we got to the course split for the FULL and HALF distance Bike Courses and I found myself on my own again. I just kept drinking my Infinit every 10 minutes and took a GU or Sports Beanz at the top of every hour and focused on the next 15 miles. Near mile 50, I began to see some fellow Ironman competitors and over the next 20 miles, I would steadily pass 3 women and get passed by the oldest competitor in the race. She was 71-years young and also racing her first Ironman and as she passed me the first time at aound mile 55 she said "I have been looking at your yellow jersey for 25 miles now, my dear. It is nice to see your face."

I responded by saying "How about I watch your orange jacket for a while?" and she smiled and moved up the road a ways. I would see her again around mile 74 at a turn around. She must have stopped at one of the AID stations because I was surprised to have her pass me again and she said "It took me an hour to find you." She then asked me if I thought we needed to worry about making the Bike Cuttoff. I looked at her, I am sure, like she had three heads and told her "That at this pace, we had nothing to worry about." and that was the last I saw of her as we turned onto Rte 421 and the last 38 miles back towards Wilmington.

When we reached Rte 421, we turned into a steady "headwind" that never let up and my pace, which had been a solid, steady 15.5 mph dropped to 13-14 mph. That's IRONMAN for you! All you need to do is wait, there is always a new challenge somewhere down the road. About this time, the miles on the bike were taking their toll and I began to find myself daydreaming about THE RUN. I immediately gave myself some "TOUGH LOVE" and started talking to myself, out loud.

"Holly, you are going to stay HERE AND NOW, you are at Mile 85 on this course - Let's focus on getting to Mile 90. HERE AND NOW is all that matters."

Then I started singing to myself - "Blue Skies", "Sing-a-Song", "Bright Sunshiny Day" - anything to keep me in the present and moving forward but I was slowly losing energy to the steady "headwinds" and beginning to have some nausea in spite of sticking to my nutrition plans. I needed to change something, to get this nausea under control but I wasn't sure what to do so when I got to the last AID Station at Mile 101, I asked for 4 salt tablets and a piece of Banana. As soon as I took the salt tablets with some water, the nausea went away - making me think that maybe all I really needed was some water - which kind of made me laugh. At around Mile 105, I at the Banana and it tasted like the "Best Banana Ever!" so I guess my body was maxed out on the GU and Infinit but with the nausea asside, I knew I had to continue to drink to fuel the upcoming RUN in less than 10 miles.

Right around Mile 105, I was SO OVER being on the Bike. I doesn't matter how much you like riding - 7-hours is a long time to be in the saddle. I was so frustrated at that moment that I sat up, out of the aero bars and let out a big long scream....ARRRGGG! And it helped, a little...

So imagine my chargrin, when literally 1 minute later, a brown truck with two race volunteers pulled up beside me and a head popped out the open window and said "Hey, Ironman, how are you doing?"

"I'm OK," I said, feeling sheepish and stupid because I know he saw me screaming...LOL.

All this wonderful guy said to me was: "Good, because you are looking fantastic and you are less than 8 miles from the Bike finish and the race clock has not even hit the HALF WAY point yet. You just keep up the good work!"

It was just what I needed at that moment, to be reminded that I was making good time and doing well and still going STRONG and it lifted my spirits for the next 4 miles.

MILE 109: FLAT!!!

I was pushing hard and getting cold and really anxious to get off the bike when I heard the sound that every cyclist dreads. That tell-tale PPPSSSHHHHH that tells you that you just puntured a tire. I immediately prayed that "maybe I just had a peice of paper stuck on a spoke" but within a minute I could feel the tell-tale THUMP THUMP vibration through my saddle that signified a flat rear tire.

"SON-OF-A-B*TCH! COME ON! I'M LESS THAN 3 MILES FROM T2," I moaned as I got off my bike and began to open my break and shift gears to remove my back tire. As *LUCK* would have it, the race offered neutral support vehicles on the bike course and not 2 minutes did I get into changing my flat when the truck pulled up. They asked me what was up and I told them I had a rear flat and they offered to help me out. I asked them if that was allowed and they pointed to the sign on the truck that said "Neutral Support" and these wonderful guys grabbed my bike and found the glass in my tired and had a new tube set and pumped in less than 10 minutes. All told, I lost about 15 minutes to the FLAT tire and then I was on the road again - praying that I could make it the last 3 miles without any more incidents.

I rolled into T2 and Battleship Park just about 4:35 and when I dismounted a volunteer took my Bike and Helmet and directed me towards the T2 racks so I could get my running gear. The headwinds and the flat tire had only delayed me about 35 minutes from my "race day goals" and I averaged a pace of 14.0 miles per hour for 112 which included 2 port-o-potty stops.

As I ran into the T2 change tent, I did my best to shift gears mentally and get into the tent to change in to my running clothes and get ready for the next 26.2 miles.

Nancy popped into the T2 tent as I was changing to check on me. She had just finished her HALF Ironman race and it was great to see her. She was all smiles and encouragement as I changed my socks and got my race bib on and slipped into my running shoes and hat. She told me that I looked good and to go out and get my "Ironman Finish" and I gave her a quick hug and kiss and headed out of the Tent.

I was elated to be off the Bike and starting the RUN but I was all business in my head. I had a solid goal of never going slower than 15:00 mile overall average for the distance of the Marathon. I had work ahead...

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