That which does not kill us, makes us stronger. - Nietzsche

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Ironman Cozumel recap: Part 4, the rest of the bike (no pics, all my bike pics look the same...)

Been traveling. Been doing Christmasy stuff. Going to try to get this finished for ya'll....

So there I was, pedaling. My foot got really, really freaking hot. On fire hot. I figured the mystery Mexican foot rub cream must've had some Icy Hot-ish properties. I decided that hot foot felt much better than painful foot. However, I was still really, really not sure if I could finish the bike, and even less sure if I could finish it under the cutoff. I didn't even let myself think about running on that foot. Everything was taking longer than I thought that day. It was hot. I felt nauseated. My nutrition plan (solid every 45 - 60 minutes) had completely fallen apart. I tried to get it back on track. 45 minutes after the special needs stop, retrieve gel from cleavage. Try to hold self together.

There were the people, the crowds, the kids, again. This time I didn't have it in me to whoop and yell and pump my fist. I managed some weak waves and smiles instead. It kept me going, though. I mean, can you really ride past smiling people yelling, "SI SE PUEDE!" and say, nah, nah, really, no puedo, and get off your bike in front of them?

This time, there were plenty of people veering right into the transition area, and I had to veer left. Someone else made the left turn with me and tried to be encouraging as he passed me. I passed Chankanaab again. Loop 3, officially on.

The beginning of the third loop was lonely. For a while I saw nobody except the carnage....people stopped along the side of the road. A guy kicking the dirt next to his sad, fallen bike. He asked me in Spanish if I had a camera. A what? Yep, I heard him right. Tienes una camera?? No, no tengo. What the heck did he want a camera for? And why would I have one? I rode off wondering if camera meant something in Spanish besides, umm, camera.

A race official on a motorized scooter pulled up beside me and asked me if I was ok and if it was my last lap. I responded in the affirmative, both counts, and told him that I was t r y i n g! He smiled and sped off. I was dreading the windy part coming up ahead. I was soooo dreading it. The aid stations no longer had gels, and I was out. One of them gave me a warm, mushy half banana. I took one bite and threw the rest toward a dog that was scavenging along the side of the road. I was hungry, but not THAT hungry. Yuck.

About 89 miles in, I passed a guy standing next to his bike. I asked him if he was ok. He forced a too-big smile and made the "cut" hand gesture. "I'm out." I gave him a sympathetic "awww". Then it hit me. If I don't make the cutoff, I don't make the cutoff....


I did some quick calculating. All I had to do was average 14 mph for the entire time I was pedaling, accounting for the break. I still had my stopwatch counting the race time. I was over 14. I could do it, even with the wind. I swapped Gatorade bottles at the next aid station and they handed me a fresh bottle of watermelon, my favorite. It was ice-cold. I took a huge gulp and it tasted awesome. GAME ON.

I turned into the windy part and I didn't slow down NEARLY as much as I had on the other two loops. I couldn't pedal too hard without my foot getting twingey, but I could pedal pretty freaking fast in an easy gear and it was fine. I started passing people. I yelled encouragement at each one, updating them on how much time was left, telling them we were going to make it. I recalculated every 10 miles and every 30 minutes. Each time I did, the numbers were more and more in my favor. One hour, 12 miles to go. I relayed this to a downtrodden-looking American girl.

I passed the special needs station and wondered if the volunteers recognized me. I waved. Look, I'm still going!! I passed a girl from Argentina. "Si se puede!" I told her and she responded in kind. I turned out of the windy section and watched as my Garmin shot from 13 mph up to 17 mph with no increased effort. I had plenty of time to make it. PLENTY of time.

The only thing I was afraid of was a flat tire, but I put that out of my head as soon as I thought it. If I got a flat, I would grab my bike and run like hell.

The people I passed on that last stretch were much more optimistic. Everyone was smiling. We double-checked our calculations with each other. We're going to make it!! 30 minutes until the bike cutoff. I figured nobody would still be out there, but I was wrong! The cheering crowds had thinned, but people were still out yelling. People on scooters honked, arms shot out of taxi windows to wave at me. The sun was setting but trees blocked my view. Guess I wasn't going to get to see the Cozumel sunset today after all.

It was just getting to the point of being too dark for my sunglasses when I made the final turn. A little boy sprinted alongside me, yelling "SI SE PUEDE SI SE PUEDE SI SE PUEDE!!!!" It was almost a mile after my Garmin read 112, but there it was....the transition area. A crowd of people still cheering. According to my watch, I was 10:19 into the race....11 minutes before the bike cutoff.

You guys, you would've thought I had just won the entire race. I pumped a fist into the air and started screaming. "I MADE IT I MADE IT HELL YES I MADE IT!!!!!" I  almost didn't see the volunteer telling me to stop my bike and then I almost didn't get my foot unclipped in time. I got off my bike, and another volunteer whisked it away. And then.....hoooooly wobbly legs.

I did plenty of bike-to-run brick workouts during training, but mostly shorter ones. I did run after 50-60 mile rides a few times, but that was nothing compared to trying to move my legs after 112 miles. I felt like they were moving every which way but forward. A volunteer went to grab me, but just as quickly, my legs figured themselves out again. Someone shoved my bag into my hands. Into the T2 tent.

I sat down and yanked off my helmet, shoes and socks. A volunteer offered me a tube labelled "repellente." I asked if I needed it. "There are...mosquitoes," came the reply, so I rubbed it on. I had seen advice on the internet to change socks for the run. I cursed that advice as I fought with my fresh socks. I rubbed body glide over everything that could possibly chafe. Another volunteer helped me put my bike gear back in the bag. I popped the mystery blue pills, why not? There was another pb&j in my run bag. I grabbed it and a bag of water, hopped up, and took off running out of the tent without even thinking about it.

Bike time: 8:03:55
T2 time: 4:26

Conclusion, soon to come....