Friday, October 3, 2014

Ironman Chattanooga Race Report - 3/4 The Bike

I'm going to try to keep this slightly more brief. After all even though it's 116 miles there isn't that much interesting to say about the bike ride.

Just as a note - I'm using proofs for this post but I have purchased my photo package I just haven't gotten my link to download the images yet.

The Course
The course is a lot of fun. It's a lollipop where you head out for 11 miles and then do 2 loops through rural Georgia.

The course is changing for the future so if you stumble onto this post in the future it won't be relevant. But the climbing is rolling. So you are up and down for the duration of the course.

It's a lot of fun to ride actually. The scenery is pretty and the rollers are fun while a lot of work.

My goal for the course was to average 17mph. The first loop my average was over 18mph so I pulled back for the second loop.

My Experience on the Course
At the start of the course I thought perhaps I had swallowed about half the river because my bladder was full. I'm one of those lucky girls who can actually manage to pee on the bike so I spent the first third of the course pedaling and dealing with that. It's gross but the reality is that there aren't many porta potties on the course and those that are there have long lines. We all have our own ways of dealing with it.

About 30 miles in I got a stitch in my side which is something that has actually never happened to me on the bike. At times it was super painful but I just kept going and trying to figure out what was going on.

I stopped at special needs and got my stuff. Which included some minty gum. Seriously the greatest thing ever halfway through more than 6 hours of sweet nutrition. But there were no porta potties there. My working theory was that I would feel better if I completely emptied my bladder. My secondary theory was and is that it was revenge of the pasta bolognese. About 10 miles later there was a water stop with 2 porta potties and of course a line. Girls were just going behind and that is what I did. I did feel much better after that but the side stitch came back a while later and I just pedaled through it.

I backed off the speed on the second loop some on purpose and some just because I was getting tired.

So, this is old news but there were folks with flat tires everywhere. Literally every 100 yards was another person changing a flat. There were people asking for tubes and cartridges. It was mind blowing. I found out later that there had been tacks spread on the course. I like many folks spent a good portion of the bike ride trying to will myself to not get a flat. I was for sure happy that I had new sturdy tires.

Somewhere in the second lap it started raining. Not too hard and not hard enough to make me edgy. So I just kept going.  Just before the turn off I had to stop unscheduled to put a water bottle back in the cage. This was my one unscheduled stop but I just couldn't find that cage behind me. It was at this point that my friend Doug finally passed me. Bummer but that's the way it goes.

One down side to having been at the front of the swim is that I literally felt like thousands of people passed me on the bike. It was mentally taxing.

I have never ever been so happy to make the right hand turn heading back into town. I knew that it would be a long 11 miles but I was just thrilled to be almost finished. By this point the last thing I wanted was more Infinit but I stuck to the plan and kept drinking on schedule. My stomach hurt a lot and so I wanted to skip some but I kept on schedule.

The 11 miles in and out of town is the worst section of the roads. A lot of potholes and uneven surfaces and many sets of railroad tracks. I stayed upright and kept telling myself to pay attention to what I was doing.  Sadly at the last set of tracks I saw my one and only wreck. It's terrible to think that somebody made it 112/116 miles and then crashed but that is what happened. I hope that they are okay.

Finally the ride was over. When I handed off my bike my legs were toast. Luckily the volunteer reminded me to take my computer. Thank you! I walked up into transition and then took my shoes off and started jogging into transition. That's where I saw my family before the tent. This transition I was better than the first one. I took advantage of sitting and just did my thing.

My targets for the ride were to keep my cadence around 80 but my average was 70 for the ride. Also I wore my heart rate monitor and wanted to stay in zone 2. My average was 145 which is in the right spot. So I was on target there.

A quick advertisement for Coeur shorts.
I wore my Coeur shorts for the entire race. These shorts have been a game changer for me. They have a thin chamois pad that extends the entire length of the inseam which protects my skin from abraiding on the seat. I used Morgan Blue solid chamois creme which I swear is overpriced diaper creme.  I did not have any chaffing over the 116 miles and I didn't even need to reapply chamois creme half way. I have a good fit on my bike and I love my saddle but changing shorts made a huge difference. So all I can say is that if you are chaffing on your bike on long rides it's worth giving them a try.
Back to the race!
After taking off my sun cover, putting on my run stuff I headed out for the run. I rinsed my mouth with mouthwash and felt like a whole new woman. I put a tums in my mouth and I hit the porta potty and was able to relieve some of the pressure in my stomach. I had a giant gas bubble in my belly. I felt much better.

I saw my family again after that and headed out for the run.
So I started the bike split in 48th and ended in 73 so it wasn't my imagination that I was passed a lot.

This is a much improved bike split from my time in France. But that course was much tougher. I am proud of this bike split. I exceeded my goals so that's great. Looking forward I do think I have more room for improvement on the bike which makes sense because it's the newest skill for me.

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