With me on my bike, I brought 3 bottles (2 with GU2O, 1 with water mixed with Nuun), 6 Clif Shots, 2 spare Nuun tablets, and 8 Endurolytes. The plan was to finish off the 2 GU2O water bottles first to get the majority of my calories in early, and continue to stay hydrated by the Nuun. I would also be taking in Clif Shots every 30 minutes, and Endurolytes every 30 minutes opposite the Clif Shots.
So off I went from T1. After only a few pedal strokes, it happened. My darn hamstring cramped up. At first, I just shifted into an easier gear, but that didn't stop the cramping. Every single rotation would cause it to cramp more. This was just like Columbia. I don't know why it happens, but it seems like whenever I hop on the bike, the hamstring starts to cramp up. So I stood up, stretched out, and tried to do anything and everything to get the darn thing to go away. Meanwhile, people were wizzing by me. I stupidly looked down at my monitor to see how slowly I was going. 6 MPH! I was 1/4 mile into the race and I was not able to pedal. Thoughts started running through my head, like if I would be able to continue the race. What would I tell people? How could this have happened? And then my mind cleared, and I remembered, just like at Columbia, the magic pills: Endurolytes! I reached into my bento box and grabbed out 3 Endurolytes. I sucked em down as quickly as I could and sipped some drink to make sure they got down safely. Within 15 seconds, sure enough I was able to start pedaling again! And within about 5 minutes, I was back to full strength, and moving at 20+ mph. I need to remember to take those Endurolytes ASAP after the swim to hopefully avoid these cramping issues in the future.
Shortly after picking up the pace, I started picking people off, one by one. I came upon Winz, gave him the thumbs up, and pushed forward. I really wanted to hammer since I had lost time due to the cramping, but I knew I needed to hold back some if I wanted to survive any part of the run course. So I just settled in on what felt like a hard steady pace. For the first 15 miles, this was right between 20-21 mph. Around this time, I came upon a yellow bike that I recognized. Sure enough, it was Nancy Toby! I rode with her for a bit and introduced myself as we chatted for a minute. Nice to finally meet you! Then I was off on my way. Around this time, the top age groupers from some of the later waves were really screaming by with their carbon wheels. I'd here that rolling sound of carbon several times a minute for the next 30 minutes or so. I mean, I was pushing low 20s...I can only imagine what they were doing! I had to really force myself to race my own race though and pace it since this was my first half and I didn't know exactly how hard I could push and still have enough left in the tank for the run.
Aside from a few changes in scenery and a few turns every 5-10 miles or so, the bike course was pretty nondescript. It was very scenic, but it just went on and on and on. The only excitement I had was at the bottle exchanges. After going through my first 2 GU2O bottles and onto my Nuun bottle, I tossed my 2 empties at the 2nd bottle exchange and had planned to grab a water, to make another Nuun bottle. This the first time I've actually used a bottle exchange, as I usually bring my own. I was a bit nervous as I approached the handoff, because a bunch of people in front of me were having a hard time and I had to dodge a bunch of bottles from failed handoffs. Sure enough, I got it without having to slow down much! At the next bottle exchange, I decided to grab a Gatorade, since I was through all my calorie bottles and still had a good bit of course left. I felt a bit bloated from all the liquids, but knew I'd have time to processes it all toward the end of the bike so I don't go running with a water belly. I only sipped about 1/4 of the bottle, because me and orange Gatorade in 90+ degree heat do not get along. Finally, I grabbed another water bottle at the last exchange, which I used to lightly sip on the last 10 miles of the bike and dump on my head to cool me down for all of 3 seconds before the sun made it hot again. After checking my watch out, the top reading of the day was 100 degrees!
I will say that wind wasn't too much of an issue until the last 15 miles of the bike course. Not sure if this is normally the case, but once I hit that point, it was truly a headwind. I went from riding most of the course between 20-21 mph to being stuck at 17-18, and at times barely holding 17. I was also tired of being aero. Prior to the race, I was excited about the prospect of riding a completely flat course, as opposed to all the other races I do, which always have hills. However, what this course made me realize was that there are no breaks. No coasting. No sitting up. No stopping. You stop pedaling or sit up and your speed drops dramatically. It takes it toll.
So I was forced to remain aero for as long as I could. I was really looking forward to the end though, but at the same time thinking about how hot the run would be. So I rolled on in to the transition area, happy to see Rebecca and I was surprised to see my parents who made it out to see me, and got ready to get my run on. I even tried one of my new transition tricks by taking off my shoes before the end of the bike to save a few seconds in T2. Worked like a charm!
Final bike time: 2:56:06 (19.08 mph)
Note: Click the link to see the full collection of photos that were taken by Rebecca