The first ten miles felt great. Legs were good, stomach was settled, power was right where I wanted it to be, brain was quiet. I had to hold back quite a bit to keep watts in range, which I've never experienced in ironman before, usually it's legs vs. The Power Meter right off the bat. When I did this race in 2013, I spent the first twenty miles crammed into a huge pack of riders, wasting time sitting up and coasting to try and get shaken loose and frustrated with so many athletes around me. This year could not have been more different. There were 2-3 riders near me most of the time; I passed a few people and got passed by a few people, but I had open and clear road for the majority of the ride. I could feel a little bit of swirly wind going on, but it didn't feel like much, and (sigh) I remember thinking to myself, maybe the wind on the far side of the island won't be bad today and we'll all get to ride so fast!
I went through the second aid station right before the turn and as soon as the trees dropped away from the side of the road, we were in for it. I knew that I'd be facing the wind for roughly forty minutes until the next turn so I tried to note landmarks to help me break it up on the following laps and simply stay low and steady in the bars. But I went through about five minutes of some seriously bad negative brain bombs - this is fucking stupid ironman is stupid why do I keep signing up for this if this was a 70.3 I'd be almost done riding I want to get off this is fucking stupid. I didn't realize until I was out of the wind that I hadn't eaten at all during that section and likely wasn't tanked up nearly enough going in. I immediately put down about 400 calories plus a whole bottle of OSMO, plus grabbed two bottles at the aid station for drinking and squirt showering and it was only about fifteen minutes until my brain settled back down. It just wanted sugar, I told myself as I motored back towards town, everything is fine. It was nice to start seeing little pockets of spectators pop up. In Cozumel the support in the town is ridiculous and awesome but there are about twenty pretty lonely miles each lap of the bike. I started smiling again and by the time I zipped past the poet and my friend Rosalyn I was happy enough to flash some peace signs their way.
I stopped at one of the aid stations near the beginning of the second loop to pee, grab some bottles & reapply sunscreen. And look, I promise I'm going to try really hard to only say this once but, it was hot. The day ended up being a bit warmer than is seasonal but on the bike with no relief or shade for so many hours, a few degrees can end up feeling like twenty. I made sure to get down plenty of calories before turning back into the wind the second time around. It was starting to get harder to keep my power up and I felt like a lot of energy was going towards managing the bike in the wind. I stopped at special needs to pound a bottle of OSMO, put three new bottles on my bike and cram a fistful of chamois cream down my shorts. I took another minute to open and eat a stinger waffle and then got rolling. The trip across the island was a bit of a blustery crosswind and it felt like it was taking more work to move well, but I was glad to be heading into my last lap. Counting down.
I pitched some more bottles as I rolled through town so I would have space to grab fluid the last loop. The third loop was pretty bare - I don't know what it is about where I was riding, but I never saw more than 4-5 athletes around me the whole day, other than a few tiny peletons that went by (at least once with a woman pinned to the back, come on ladies) on the windy side. I stopped near the beginning of the third lap to pee again and reapply sunscreen. I've had a troublesome hamstring all fall and it started acting up somewhere after mile 90, not horrible just some twingy pain hello please stop doing whatever it is that you are doing thank you. I kept shoveling down the bars even though they tasted awful, and when I ran out of OSMO I switched over to ice water in hopes it would cool me down from the inside-out.
I realized after I made the turn for the last time (THANK GOD I DO NOT HAVE TO DO THAT AGAIN) that my feet were swollen and completely saturated from all the water bottle showering. That's happened before in hot races, and it usually means that I'm about to spend several hours feeling like I am running on knives and glass instead of sneakers. I opened up the strap on my shoes to try and let them air out, and after a few minutes of feeling like that wasn't working I took my feet out completely and rode the last 5-6 miles home with them on top of my shoes, twisting and turning them to try and dry out. I shoveled down one last bag of chews right right before dismounting, and while I'm always happy to hand over my bike, this was a bit more thank goodness that is over than usual. But I've run well many times in the past off of a challenging ride, and I felt ready.
And in hindsight, I'm content. I rode a small handful of watts higher than I rode at Boulder this summer (and despite that rode almost forty minutes slower, which I think speaks to the difficulty of the day). I still need to fiddle with my nutrition timing to help with some of the bumps and lows that I hit, but my gut felt as good as it ever has. I didn't finish with a massive sunburn or get hit by a Brit going thirty miles per hour while not paying attention or sit up in the wind or say fuck it and roll the last hour at 78 watts or stop eating because I just don't feel hungry. I spent a lot of time talking to myself like a huge dork in the second half but it worked, my brain felt calm and steady and strong even as my physical body was starting to accumulate the fatigue of the day.
Nutrition: 5 Bobo bars + 1 Stinger waffle + 1 pack of Stinger chews & 8 bottles of OSMO + at least 4 bottles of water = 2120 calories for 370 calories per hour & 256oz fluid for 43 ounces per hour.
Bike: 112 miles, 6:18:47, 8th AG
There was a big clock outside of the entrance T2 that said 6:27 when I ran by it, which confused the living shit out of me because while I didn't look at my swim or bike times, I knew there was absolutely no chance that was even remotely close to my total race time. I was alone in the tent and took time to change my shirt, use the potty, and stuff all my pockets; I was getting ready to head out when I realized my hips felt all of whack. I only paused for a second before laying flat on the ground to unrotate myself and realign my pelvis. This caused a high amount of consternation from the young girls working the tent, You have to go run now!! but it made me feel about a thousand times better even if I looked ridiculous. I jogged on out of T2 with a bottle of warm OSMO in my hand, pretty sure that I was going to pitch it without a sip because heat + a ton of sugar is usually death on the intestines. The poet and Rosalyn were waiting at the run exit and I was so glad to see them, I said something along the lines of well that was rough as I jogged by. It felt good to release that from my mind and turn towards the last leg of the day: the run.