Wednesday, August 7, 2013

IMLP Race Report Part 2 "The Bike"

The Bike
I nearly ended my day running to get my bag and slipping on the wet wood platform, but stayed upright. I grabbed my bag and was off to the changing tent.  There were no more than ten women – lots of volunteers and seats to be had. My volunteer and all the volunteers all day long, was awesome. She dumped the bag and started packing up my wetsuit and swim gear. I choose the sleeved jersey; arm warmers and calf sleeves (remind me to skip that next time!) We struggled a little with the sunglasses as I had backed two pair (you know in case one broke – paranoid!) and I needed to change the lens given the misty and cloudy weather.  I put voltarin on my knees, stashed my #3 and #4 bags of nutrition in the jersey, grabbed my helmet and shoes and was out the door.

Last year a volunteer was ready with my bike, this time I had to yell my number so it took a little bit. I put my shoes on as she ran for the bike. I took a moment to let one blast of air out both tires given the wet roads. The mount line was starting to get a little crowded and mostly with men – meaning those a little less timid on the hair pin turn and steep descent just out of the gate. So I stood for a couple of seconds to wait for a clearing. Some volunteer said "way to have patience!" It was way more about fear of crashing than patience!

In my opinion, the worst part of the course is the first climb right after the ski jumps. It goes F-O-R-E-V-E-R. Turns out I'd get a break right in the middle….yep, flat tire, mile 4. Son of a !(*@#!@!. Right then I figured it was over. I needed EVERY MINUTE to make the cut off and here I had to stop and change a tire. "No matter, I will keep moving forward… stay in the moment. Now shut up and change the tire – you've got this."  As I took the cap off the valve I realized that I had not closed it after letting air out in transition and the cap had PROBABLY let the rest of the air out in the first couple of miles. PROBABLY……big descent ahead, 40 mph..hmmmmmm. Not taking the chance! I changed it and reached for the CO2 and inflator. Now I should say here that dozens of people had asked if I had everything I needed as they rode by. Each time I said I was good and they carried on.  So again, I reached for the CO2. GONE. I had none. I pulled out the other tube, checked the pocket.  Nothing.  GONE.  What?!  That sent me right back to "I'm done."  I prayed that race support would come but it was so early in the race. Before long one of the men tossed me a cartridge but no one wanted to toss their inflator because they couldn't do without it later if they had a flat. And no one wanted to stop and waste all that time. No one that is until Mandy – a total stranger with a big heart! (Coincidentally my coach knew her and noted the reference in her race report to this "woman looking miserable" that she stopped to help – yep that was me. I was so glad to be able to connect with her and thank her for stopping.)  Now I was back to "No matter, I'll keep moving forward. No way am I giving up at mile 4!"

My next lap (5 miles) was a 26 mph average. I flew down those hills, passing the people who were obviously on the course for the first time, white knuckling it -so grateful I had rode them in the rain during training! I stayed steady on the flats, careful to not overdue it. I ate and followed my nutrition plan – bag #1, one bottle of perform and one bottle of water gone before the turn around.  

Starting up the cherries I felt my back for the first time. "Shut up and ride, Shut up and ride, Shut up and ride." I don't know if it was my mind or the Tylenol I had taken at the turn around, but I kept moving. I was so glad that I had figured out that my friends had chalked the hills the day before because it gave me something to look forward to. When I got there, it was hard to see what they had written because of the rain. But it didn't really matter what it said, it was that it was there. Cool friends!  I also was told about another surprise that I should be looking for at the campground on 86….it was like Christmas.
At about mile 50 Andy Potts passed me. Yep – about 62 miles ahead of me – holy crap! I got to the next set of spectators, acted like I was out of breath and said "I tried to hold him but I just couldn't keep up."  They laughed.  Next was the sign that said "Caution, gay guy ahead, singing and dancing."  And oh ya there was – in a speedo and bowtie- I laughed.  Next was the group that had clearly practiced a variety of chants so they could choose the appropriate one for the oncoming cyclist.  I got "Shut-up legs! Shut-up legs!"  I heard someone else get something like "Beer at the finish! Beer at the finish!"  And finally, I hit the campground. There it was; a campaign-like sign posted in the ground with a full color picture of me and some awesome encouraging words.  Two women (sisters) who were at a training weekend I attended and that I hardly know, went to all that trouble. It was soooooo touching!  I looked at the cyclists around me and said "Hey! That's me! How cool is that?"

It was awesome to pass the spot where I had to stop the prior year, so much so that I made it my one pit stop. Mirror Lake Drive was incredible and there were tons of club members and T2 people yelling and screaming for me. Of course, above all the other voices I heard my coach. "GO HARD, GO HARD, GO HARD!!"  
Around the corner I stopped at special needs knowing that I wanted the CO2 cartridge and extra tube that I had in my bag. I also grabbed the extra water bottle so that I could fill it at the aid stations since the water bottles they were giving were not secure in my cages especially on the bumpy shoulders. One of my teammates, JE was my volunteer. She pulled things out one at a time asking if I want this or that. Finally she pulled out a small make-up compact. I wish I had a camera to get a picture of the look on her face. Knowing what she was thinking, I quickly explained that I had thrown that in because it had a mirror, which I would need if I had to fuss with contacts. I'm not sure she believed me but it was a good laugh, then and now. I grabbed the extra salt tabs, Tylenol and tums too. Then off for the next 56 miles.

Now, I had my Garmin on and was watching the lap splits some of the time, but for the most part I had no idea what time it was. Knowing my coach, the "go hard" had me a little concerned. On my way back out of town I saw MM. "What time is it?" I yelled. "12:55," she yelled back.  I had four hours and thirty-five minutes.  I knew I hit the course at about 8:05. That meant it had taken 4:50 for the first lap – but there was the flat. "No matter – I'll keep moving forward."  With that I focused most of the next 30 miles on nutrition, cadence and a steady effort. 
At the turn around I knew I still had a chance but I was starting to hurt and losing some energy. I was having a hard time getting myself to drink warm perform and eat those damn chews. Bonk bars were still appealing but I didn't want too much solid food in case I got to the run. I took more Tylenol and a couple of salt tablets. I had not finished my #3 bag but pitched it in favor of #4 where I knew there was some caffeine. I went for the gel in #4 just as I remembered that, in order to force myself not to do too much caffeine until the run, I had replace it with a non-caffeine variety. Screw that – aid station ahead. "ROCTANE PLEASE!"  It was the only thing I dropped at an aid station. But, behold the volunteer!! He ran after me until he could hand it off again. That and my Powerbar coke blasts did the trick. I was good until I hit the bottom of the bears.

Then came my one and only dark moment all day. And even then, it was fleeting because it was followed immediately by the one best "places of miracles" moment.  It was the very same general spot that I had seen the deer on my breakfast ride two years earlier after breaking my toe. It was the same general spot that I became aware of all the butterflies I had seen on my difficult training camp ride. I hadn't paid too much attention to my watch beyond knowing that I was still in the game. As I came around the corner to see the River Road intersection I looked; six miles, 25 minutes and three significant hills. I let the emotions take over and the tears started to fall. "I just want the chance to run" I thought. "I just want to run." Right then the sun came out very briefly and the only butterfly I had seen all day, a swallowtail, flew over my front tire.  GOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!  No caffeine can do that!  Up the bears, up the little bitch (our nickname for that Northwood hill) and around the corner onto Mirror Lake Drive. I heard a few random people yell "you're going to make it!" I saw people already on the run turn around. I heard the club and T2 people screaming. (I swear I gave them all near strokes at least twice that day!) I looked for ML but couldn't find her, hence the look of confusion on my face that people referenced later.  She was around the corner past the crowds. I saw her and starting sobbing. "I made it, I made it!"  After a brief acknowledgment through her own tears, she started yelling instructions. "How bad do you want this? You have to get in and out of that transition and start running! Go!"  
When I got to the dismount line, I don't think the volunteers could decide whether I was crying because I made it or because I didn't.  I had finished with FOUR minutes to spare!  Once my shoes were off I realized two things. One, my toes were cramped up in little balls and two, wow did I have to go to the bathroom!

P.S. So what happened to the CO2 and inflator that I had double checked were on my bike before racking on Saturday?  It never turned up later so sadly I am left with the conclusion that someone took it from my pack. Note to self!


  1. Deb, I posted a comment while reading this post on the train yesterday. I guess it didn't actually publish. I was trying to choke the tears back, not a pretty sight on the train. You, Deb are the miracle in all of this. You are a strong, confident, determined, and yes a bit stubborn woman. I am totally in awe of what you have put your mind and body through! I know you want to cross the "line" in the correct fashion, and it will so sweet when it happens! You will do it!

    BTW I know exactly where those ski jumps are and I have pictures of them from the Olympics. I can visualize you going by them.

  2. Hi Deb!!!

    Great report - and I was happy to help, and I am happy you found me after because I didn't remember your number and I was thinking about you!

    You are amazing, way to push through that tough bike course!

  3. I was going to wait until the end to comment, but just wanted to say how cool it is that the world is so small!! The fact that Mandy is the one who helped you is equally amazing and unsurprising! This just makes me smile ear to ear!