I know you all REALLY dislike the multiple-chapter race report... but too freakin bad! There is only so much rambling I can do in one day!
Coming out of T1 I knew I was in for it. Coach Liz and I had talked about my approach to the bike... and I knew I was in for pain. Not only is this a very challenging course, but Liz wanted me to go after it... take a risk... and accept whatever would come next. "Don't let people just blow by you... go with them." Uh. Ok. If you say so. I knew I could go hard on the bike... but what would that mean for my run? Have I mentioned that it's hard for me to let go and have faith in what those that know more than me tell me to do? Well it is... VERY hard for me... but that's exactly what I did... I surrendered to the plan.
The first 15 minutes I just settled in. I was passed by one of "those guys" with the bitchin bikes and mean face in transition... and went with him, holding on without much effort. I then started munching on half a Power Bar. Ok. Yes, they're yummy... but it took me a full 5 minutes to get the muther hubber down! Irritating! My power was holding steady and at the upper-end of my limit for the race. I felt strong so I just went with it. Then I was passed by, "clanky bike hairy leg sorta chubby guy", or "CBHLSCG". Yeah. Him. My ego SCREAMED! "HEY! What the HELL!? I shave my legs! He can't be stronger than ME!" Bah ha HA! Seriously... that's what I said in my head! I actually giggled... out loud... at myself. I'm a dork. Anyway, despite VERY hairy legs... he pulled away only to be seen again late in the 2nd loop.
A note on nutrition: I was planning on 1/2 a Power Bar at 15 min in plus one gel at :45, 1:15, 1:45, and 2:15 drinking one 24oz bottle of CarboPro + Nuun every hour. After the Power Bar... I began to hurp... yes, "hurp". I dunno what the technical term is... but I was burping up a LOT of whatever I took in. Not really puking... but burping up enough stuff that I had to spit it out. I just felt FULL! Not comfortable... but I knew that if I had a prayer at a decent run... I had to get the stuff in... so I did. I'd like to formally apologize to the dude with the fancy bike, wheels, n helmet that caught the majority of what came out of my nose during one particular hurp... sorry dude.
This course is HILLY. People say that about all sorts of courses... but when Luke Bell comes out and says that its perhaps the toughest bike course at this distance in the United States... that pretty much solidifies it for me. My bike and me... we do really well on flats and downhills. Uphill? Different story on this day. People would come around me... I'd try to hang... they'd pull away... I'd blow by them on the subsequent downhill and flats... giggle some and smile... then they'd come around me again on the next hill! Couldn't do anything about it... so I just rolled with it. The first loop came to an end and as I was heading out again... I thought, "Uh oh. I'm tired." Which is about the exact time I started to blame Coach Liz. More on that later.
The second loop began and I looked at my power. Despite my best efforts, I saw the average begin to drop... not by much... but just enough to make me concerned. "Hold ON Rob... don't be a fucking pussy!" (please excuse the expletives). Don't you just LOVE the mental games you play with yourself in these races? To make matters worse, I caught up to a 26 year old kid that would NOT stop talking smack and I could NOT shake him... for the rest of the bike! ARG! I wanted to punch that guy in the neck... but I didn't... and I just played leapfrog with him and tried to drop him every chance I got. In retrospect, I'm glad he was there. Without him I probably would have lost focus and actually listened to the voice in my head that was saying, "You suck Rob. What the hell are you doing out here? You think you're sooooooo cool! Now look... you're floundering on this bike and your run is going to suck ASS!" SO... thank you annoying, smack-talking young guy! I love you.
At mile 52 I was totally done with the stupid bike! There was a left turn with a sign that said, "To Transition"... and I was SO happy to see it! However... the next 4 miles were hellishly long and included a couple of fairly steep climbs. I also got to see and pass "CBHLSCG"... which was the only bright spot of the last 4 miles. I cursed a bit. I resented Coach Liz. I tried to stay positive and think about what was happening in that particular moment... rather than thinking too far forward. Within that particular moment, I was tired. My legs felt like jelly. My belly was so full of sports drink and gels that I felt like a bulemic ready to burst. I wasn't having fun... I was beginning to really suffer... which made me MORE mad at Liz. How DARE she not prepare me to do this bike course fast AND comfortable! The NERVE of that woman! The unmitigated GAUL!
Look at the picture. Do I look comfortable? Do I look like I'm having fun? Do I look like a happy boy? Nope. None of the above. Suffering... but that is what I was supposed to do right? That was the plan. Mission accomplished!
Finally, I begin to hear the crowd about a 1/2 mile out... what a relief! The crowd's energy completely snapped me out of my pitty pot! I felt good! I was ready to run my skinny chicken-shit bastard ass off! I slid my feet out of my shoes and came in hot to the dismount line... off the bike... sprint to my rack... NO BIKES THERE! YAY! Rack bike, helmet off, shoes on, grab visor and gels and I'm heading out through that amazing crowd on the hot corner!
Bike Split: 2:44;26
I was in the zone baby. The crowd disappeared. The only noise I heard was the "patpatpatpat" of my feet on the blacktop. Short, snappy strides, settle in, find your running legs... and...