Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Race Day: The Bike

Once I reached the transition area after the swim I plopped myself down on my towel, wiped my feet with the hand towel, slipped on my socks (not extremely easy when wet) & bike shoes, threw on my helmet, watch & glasses and took off toward the exit. One thing that so many people get penalized for is mounting their bike before the official area. They mark this with a thick yellow line and large signs... I mean it was pretty brain dead.

Once on, I focused on getting my speed up slowly and finding the right gear. This is where it's important to have made sure that you racked your bike in an appropriate starting gear. Then it hit me: I had just finished the longest open water swim I've ever attempted. With all my training both in the pool and Bay, I had yet to attempt a full non-stop open water mile. That small accomplishment just revved me up and, unlike the swim, I felt I started my bike really strong. Also, within my first 1 or 2 miles, my family was waiting for me curb side, camera in hand and cheering.

*Important Note: I understand that triathlons are not an appropriate spectator sport. I get that. But I cannot tell you the immense motivation you get from seeing friends and family cheering you on.

Even though you are feeling good you need to make sure you pace yourself. I heard stories of some of our best veteran runners having to walk/run the last leg because they hadn't gauged their effort right. Think of it as a 7 out of 10 in effort.

The bike course was relatively flat, but since we were getting on and off the freeway there were some ramps and slight hills. This, ironically, made the ride much more fun for me. You were able to play with your gears to pick up speed up hill and fly down the other side. Though serious hills could be an issue, I imagine a completely flat course would get quite boring. Plus it seemed to work more areas in the leg rather then simply chugging along on the "usual suspects" and seemed to ward off muscle exhaustion.
After the first 12 miles or so I did have to pull myself up out of my saddle now and then to stretch out. On top of the usual kinks you get from working in the same position, during a race, with all that adrenaline, you can unintentionally grip your handle bars which causes extra and unneeded stress to your neck and shoulders. Getting yourself off of your saddle can remind you to reexamine your positioning and focus on what your muscles are doing.

Something else to remember is this is really the only time you have to refuel & hydrate. As mention before, I had 2 bottles of liquid: one water, one Gatorade. I tried to make sure to switch between the two and my goal was to mostly finish both, even if I didn't feel thirsty. I also had a Clif Bar and Jelly Belly Sports Beans taped to my handle bars. Though I didn't finish either I made a significant dent in both and you really do feel it kicking in, especially when the adrenaline starts to peter off.

By the time I came to the end of my bike my adrenaline rush from the morning had disappeared but in it's place had come the most intense endorphin high I have ever experienced. I was flying and my body felt like it reached a place that I've never physically been before. It was by far one of the most amazing feelings I've ever felt in my life. That alone made this entire process worth every penny and ever drop of sweat.

*The pictures in this post are of my actual race and me (#2589)

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