September 24, 2009
Ironman Wisconsin 2009 - Bike
This ride was a dream from beginning to end. I felt great physically and was in good spirits coming out of the swim. The first few miles are along a busy road and narrow path with a stretch of mandatory single file. I didn't mind this much as it forced us to take it easy and settle in properly. After 10 minutes I felt comfortable, my HR had normalized and I started on my nutrition.
The course consists of an out and back from Madison to Verona, or "the stick," and two roughly 40 mile loops. My goal was to push the pace on the stick and ride the loops a bit more conservatively. While there are climbs on the stick, they are nothing in comparison to what comes later on the course. I reached Verona in 45 minutes, 15 minutes faster than my ride there in June. I was off to a great start.
The entire first loop was incredible. I'd heard the course support was amazing but was still surprised by how many people were out there cheering. In most races you have supporters at the swim start and along the run course, but it's rare to see so many people on the bike course. Some of them were out there all day and never ceased to share energy and enthusiasm. The miles were clicking by and my average was over 17 mph, even with the hills, at the first timing mat. The best I could do in June was 15.75. It was the strongest long ride I'd ever done and I couldn't have asked for a better time and place for that to happen. My nutrition and hydration felt spot on, my energy was consistent and my foot was pain free. I realized at one point that my cheeks hurt from smiling. I was having the time of my life.
As I approached the three nasty hills at the end of the first loop I knew I’d see my parents and couldn’t wait to get there. Riding up these hills is the hardest part of the course, but also one of the most fun due to the spectators. People lined both sides of the street and had tents set up, music playing and signs with a combination of funny and encouraging words. Strangers ran up alongside us and gave us energy to push ahead. My parents ended up not being able to get to the hill we'd planned but I saw them a couple miles later. Seeing them out there meant the world to me.
I pulled up to special needs just after starting the second loop. I can't say enough about the volunteers and organization of this race. As I approached they called out my number, asked if I wanted my bag, pointed where to stop, and by the time I got there, a volunteer was holding my bag open and ready. I clipped out, grabbed the two things I needed and he offered to spray me with my sunscreen while I got things situated. I couldn't have been there more than 45 seconds and was back on the course.
The second loop was more challenging. The heat had risen significantly and the spectators thinned out as did the riders. The wind also picked up to add another layer of challenge, but I continued to feel strong. As I neared mile 90 I recalled someone saying you'd hate yourself around mile 90 and question why you were there. I had a different feeling. Yes, I was starting to feel the pains of a long ride, but I was also having my best ride ever and I still had no idea what the rest of the day would bring. I got very emotional and thought to myself - please don't let this be over. I wasn't ready to end it, but also knew it might not be my choice to make. So I continued to do the only thing I knew I could do for sure that day: enjoy every moment. I accepted that those final miles might be the end of my race.
Time - 6:43:52
As I pulled into T2 the moment of truth arrived. I got off the bike and took a step that would determine the rest of my fate. And luckily, my foot felt great. I was definitely going to go for it. After a quick porta potty stop I headed into the change tent and was helped by volunteers from BT, one of which I volunteered with last year and have gotten to know quite well. Seeing familiar faces at such a critical point in the race was priceless and getting a hug even more so. I was filled with emotion. I was relieved, excited, scared, anxious and most of all, happy. They helped me tape my foot, get changed into new shorts and socks, then I was on my way.
As the narrator said in the 2007 Kona coverage, "two parts down, one dream marathon to go."
Time - 11:52
Up next... the run.