I headed up the beach toward T1, completely missing James, Iron Wil's husband. Though sad that I missed him, I'm glad he was there to capture the pictures he did. At least I found my family. I always keep an eye out for them on the course.
After a quick hug and kiss for all, I headed into transition. I was already removing the swim gear as I sat down, turning my attention to the wetsuit. All the while, I was talking to the kids letting them know what was happening. Soon enough, I was ready to head out onto the bike. I ran out of transition, ready for 56 miles of testing my limits. The plan was to push more aggressively than I had at High Cliff, and my goal was 2:50 with an average pace of 20 mph. This was also an opportunity to compare heart rate data against that from the High Cliff half-IM.
Straight out of transition, we headed up a short, steep hill. After that, it was a great deal of flat with some rolling hills. I quickly got my heart rate under 130, and started setting pace based on a 130-140 rate. I easily hit 20+ and locked in a cadence of about 95 rpm. The course was fairly well laid out, with a few bothersome turns. They had cones plainly identifying the course throughout the more urban areas, and even had road hazards painted orange. This was a huge help in seeing bad things coming.
After ten minutes, I began my nutrition plan which consisted of a Gu every 30 minutes, Accelerade, and water. In a fit of overzealous preparation, I had taped eight Gu packets to The Pol-R Express before I stopped myself, realizing this was "only" a 56 mile ride. It seems I was on auto pilot and preparing for the more standard 5-6 hour rides I've been doing lately. With that many gels, I was ready for anything.
Through mile 20 I was just ahead of my target pace. Between miles 20 and 30, knowing I was a few minutes ahead of pace, I made a pit stop for the porta potty and to refill my water bottle. I had gone through two bottles, and wanted to stay on pace for 1 1/2-2 bottles every hour. Around mile 30, I realized that was going to be rough. One of the bottles I picked for the race was a piece of junk. The top was hard to open, and even when it was open, more of the drink oozed out the cap than made it into my mouth. That will teach me to use anything other than my favorite bottles. To make up for the Accelerade I was missing, I grabbed a bottle of water at every aid station and downed it.
Through miles 40 and 45, I was right on target for my 20 mph goal. At mile 48, I passed another racer standing by the side of the road with a tire in her hand. I stopped to see if she needed a CO2 cartridge or spare tube. What she really needed was someone to change her tire. She had all the gear, but had never changed a tube, herself. She said her bike shop always fixed flats, and told her to just take the equipment and let SAG support change any flats. I hope she finds a new bike shop. One that will encourage her to learn as much about her bike as possible. SAG support was lacking on the course. In the time it took to change her tire, we saw exactly zero support vehicles.
About 7-8 minutes later, her flat was changed and we were both on the road. I quickly picked up the pace and started passing some of the hundreds of racers who had passed me while I worked. I was unable to make up all the time, and went into T2 with a bike time of 2:53 for an average pace of 19.4 mph. Not bad, considering my target time was 2:50.
I had gained a lot of bike karma, but I had lost a lot of time. I headed into T2 formulating a plan to get me time back.