The volunteers at the Ford Ironman Arizona were really amazing, I was informed yesterday that for 2,800 or so competitors there were 3,000 volunteers throughout the day. I wanted for nothing, I was catered to the entire way, I barely had to think during the entire race (which is probably a good thing cause a thinking man would've stopped somewhere along this section of the race). But I digress, leaving the water was the turning point of the race for me, from here on out my dominance would not be on display, rather the next portion of the race is my weakest. The bike.
But I wasn't thinking about that as I was getting dressed, or as I was trotting to my bike. My outfit was awesome, and I dare say that I had more fans than anyone else on the bike course. Tip to future ironmen, if you want fans and lots of them wear a hilarious bike jersey not some stupid one showing how knowledgeable you are about bikes or other races you've done or the current race you're doing. Go with something like this:
Boom, tuxedo jersey. Not only are you classing up the joint, but you will have fans from start to finish because everyone goes crazy for a well dressed man. For 112 miles I was "tuxedo man" or "bow tie guy", and I even overheard one group of supporters decide that despite not knowing who I am they would cheer for me the entire race because they liked the way I was dressed. Looking good, feeling good.
Getting my bike and running alongside it to the bike mount line (tee-hee) I was all energy and confidence. "I crushed the swim, this race is cake, these roads won't know what hit them." This bravado was soon tempered by three failed attempts to clip in while getting passed by 4-5 serious bikers. Then was only further tempered by a general disregard by the rest of the competitors for my awesome biking prowess. But still the race was progressing smoothly, the course was relatively flat, my legs felt great, and I was humming along. I had my water, the aid stations were stocked, and peanut butter and graham cracker sandwiches have never let me down before.Three 37 mile loops? No problem.
Until the first turnaround.
Sidebar: I grew up playing tons of different sports besides just swimming so the land is not as treacherous a place to me as it is to many other swimmers I know. I have a modicum of coordination, and believe myself fairly competitive in most endeavors on land. However, biking is a horse of a different color. Sure, I'll perch myself up here for 112 miles making my 6' 1" frame into a tiny speck of an aerodynamic pedalling machine. What's that? I'm as aerodynamic as a parachute? My torso is way long for a biker? I look like I stole that bike in the picture from a kid half my size? Oh yeah.
Wind. 15-20 mph sustained in my face gusting up to 35 mph, bringing with it what desert dwellers consider rain. Note to Arizonians (Arizonans?) that wasn't rain, but it was a little painful (also, did I know it was going to rain? Of course I did, I was on my bike, it was bound to rain. 200 years ago I'd be a travelling salesman through the prairie offering rain wherever I biked, at two bits an acre). This cycle of riding out with the wind at my back, and turning right around and back into it continued for the remainder of the bike portion. In the meantime I talked to my bike, made up stories about competitors that passed me, did simple math in my head, and generally went insane trying to stay sane. The wind didn't let up until towards the very end of the last loop, when it began blowing across me instead of straight at me, this was welcome news.
Until I realized the last few miles now would be directly into the wind, as the last loop veers off towards downtown Tempe. Did this surprise me? No. Wind in Houston tends to blow counter clockwise, why should a wholly different climate offer up a different menu. I make the turn for home right back into the driving wind. But that doesn't matter because 2/3 of the race is down and I feel great. Finishing this thing will be a breeze (get it?), you're going to crush this little run ahead of you.
What's that? It's a full marathon? Oh yeah.
Miles covered so far:
Swim : 2.4