Ironman Arizona Race Report – The Bike
The Bike – 112 Miles
Pulling through the starting chute I saw Ev and Travis there cheering me on for a long day of pedaling.
The course rides out 18.7 miles, turns around to the start, and then repeats that two more times for three total out-and-back loops – aka, a mental nightmare. The way out is slightly uphill most of the way, with a pretty noticeable incline just as you approach the turnaround point. I will say, the road conditions were incredible, and for that I am thankful.
On the first lap, there was no wind to speak of and the temperature was still cool. The first trip out went smoothly, but the hill leading up to the turnaround woke up my legs and reminded me just how far 112 miles is. Fortunately going uphill on the way out means going downhill on the way back and I took full advantage.
I sped back to the starting area, clocking in my first lap in just under 2 hours (and way ahead of my estimated pace). Here I am spotting the crew cheering me on, with a Southwest plane overhead, and pretending like I don’t have another 74 miles to bike. Beautiful day though, no?
Lap two was more of the same (literally), though this time I noticed a bit of a breeze picking up. I told myself it was just my imagination and that I must be going even faster, but the flapping flags spoiled that idea. Thankfully the wind was behind me on the way back uphill.
At the turnaround this time I heard a “Go Mike!” and saw another member of my support crew cheering me on. The way back to the start now had a headwind, so it wasn’t quite as fast as the first lap, but my legs were grateful for the relief nonetheless. I swung back into the starting area in nearly exactly two hours again.
The last lap can be summed up as bittersweet. Bitter because I still had 37 miles to go; sweet because… nope, just bitter. The final outbound trip taught me a few things.
- I will finish.
- I’m tired.
- Solid food is no longer an option.
That third lesson worried me. I just couldn’t eat anything, so I’d have to get my calories from gels and sports drink. Usually not a huge deal, except that I had a bit of a long run coming up. However, with each passing mile I got a little more excited. If you saw me at the turnaround, you’d think it was the finish line. Getting to fly back down the hill knowing that I was riding to the run course was definitely a high point for me. I made pretty good time getting back and saw the support crew cheering me on right before hopping off my bike.
Bike Time: 05:59:57 (goal: 6:25:00)
Once again my time surprised me. A volunteer took my bike valet-style and I jogged through the transition area to get my running gear. In the changing tent, another volunteer helped dump everything on the ground and lay out my clothes to make things easier for me. Before I knew it, I was ready to run. Just a quick stop to get a fresh coat of sunscreen and I was out the gate (and fast too, because Ev and Travis didn’t have enough time to run from seeing me get off the bike to starting the run).
T2 Time: 00:04:21
Get ready for the exciting conclusion: a marathon!