Monday, November 18, 2013

Race Report: Beach2Battleship - Part 3

So there I was, running toward T1, wetsuit in hand. I ran through the entrance, picked up my clothes bag, and headed to the changing tent.

A word about the changing tent. The purpose of it is to house those who may or may not fully expose themselves as part of their transition. It was only offered for full distance triathletes. I, for one, never really need this because I don't fully change. I usually just pull on bike shorts over my tri shorts and go on my merry way. This time, I also had my last-minute tights to deal with. I pulled both on over my bike shorts (yes, that's three bottom layers for the bike) and then ran over to my bike, taking my bag with me. Remember, I set up some of my stuff at the transition. This ended up being very inefficient because I had to run it to my bike, finish changing, and run it back to the tent. Ideally, I would have gotten everything into the bag so I could hand it off before going to get my bike. Alas.

Another unusual issue I had was that I needed to use the bathroom in a pretty serious way. I'm not sure that's ever happened to me between the swim and the bike, but this time it was unavoidable. And there were only two port-a-potties in T1! So that turned out to be a 5-10 minute wait. My neck chafing was also stinging quite a bit and neither the fact that I was still wet nor that it was cold were helping me.
Lovely and fresh, as per my usual…or not.

Finally, I had everything in order and I ran my bike out of T1. Looking at my time later, I saw that this transition was 15 minutes. That is way too long for a transition. Live and learn.

The ride was nice. It was scenic and flat. I had very much looked forward to the flat ride, but it did make me realize that flat isn't necessarily good. Or maybe I understand a little more what people mean when they say a flat ride or run is "technical." I started to find the lack of definition boring and tiring. Hills give some variety in speed and position so I can use different muscles when I get up out of my saddle to climb or take it easy a little on a downhill. Flat rides offer none of that. It's the same muscles working at the same pace for almost the entire time. This began to impact me because my hamstring started to tighten up and I had to stop at a couple of the aid stations to stretch it out. During one of these pit stops, I had to pee also so used the port-a-potty once again.

I have two water bottle cages on my bike and started the ride with one bottle that was full of water. I didn't plan to drink much or any of my own water, but had it just in case. The reason for this is that the aid stations hand out full bottles of water and whatever electrolyte drink is on hand (Heed, in this case). I learned last year that it's easiest for me if I take one of these bottles at nearly every aid station and resolve to finish it before the next one, so I can ditch it and get a new bottle. It's worked pretty well as a system so far.

Often what helps me get through a long race is breaking it up into segments and dividing it into fractions. I break long rides up into 10-mile segments and I like to think of each one as a decade. Just like with marathons, I have some milestones for bike rides. 24 miles is the first one. I like to think of it as the "shit just got real" milestone. This is because some of my shorter training rides in Central Park consisted of 4 loops, which is about 24 miles. The next one is probably 40. "One more decade 'til halfway!" That's not even true because the ride is 112 miles, but I think of it as a century while it's happening because it's easier to swallow. 50 is obviously halfway. 60 is the beginning of serious miles. 75 is three quarters of the way done (again, with the idea that it's a century ride). 90 is one decade until 100. 100 is HOLY CRAP I'M ALMOST DONE. I'VE BEEN ON THIS BIKE FOR SIX AND A HALF HOURS WHAT'S ANOTHER FORTY FIVE MINUTES MY BUTT HURTS. Every mile between 100 and 112 is exhilarating. Painful, but exhilarating.

During the last 6 or so miles, I started a conversation with every person I passed (it wasn't very many people) out of sheer excitement for almost being done with the ride. In the last half mile or so, we rode over a bridge with a grated segment. Believe me when I say that falling on this grate would have ripped me up. I'm not sure I took a full breath as I rode over because…terror.

But finally, I approached the end of the ride. As I did, the race course became more populated with spectators and all of them were cheering. I rode my bike up to the dismount point, at which a volunteer took my bike to rack it and sent me to grab my T2 bag.

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