Ironman Florida Race Report 2011: Part 2: the bike

Always sooo happy to be out of the water and on the bike 🙂

If you haven’t read the swim details, you may want to start there:

Rolling out of transition, I was in good shape…the swim went well…the transition smooth…the arm-warmers were a good decision, and just warm enough that not putting on the wind vest felt like a good decision…high 50’s F…great temperature for the bike

The wind was from the North East at 10-15 MPH, so primarily on the nose going out…although a bit of a crosswind for most of the course, so not as big a factor as it could have been…and I had it absolutely solid in my head that I was NOT going to cook my legs by pushing too hard into that wind…I was going to ignore speed, and only look at the Power meter…so it didn’t really matter what the wind was doing…power is power is power…190 Watts is 190 Watts no matter whether there are hills or wind…and my 280 Watts Functional Threshold Power (FTP: maximum sustained power for 1 hour) gave me a race plan maximum of 70% power = 196 Watts do-not-exceed average…and less-is-even-better to set up the run

…for my bike ride was all about protecting that last 8 miles of the run…I still wanted to be running that last 8 miles…so whenever I was feeling like doing something outside the plan…and giving it a little push…I beat away the thought with that last 8 miles of the run…that was it

Pre-race Bike Goal – 5:45 – 6:00 (by 2:25 – 2:50pm local time)
– 185-190 Watts first 90 minutes…190-200 Watts the rest…the course and conditions will determine my speed…headwind for most of the first half, tailwind back, so the biggest challenge will be holding back power, watching a slow speed against the wind to start…need to trust that it will setup a good run…don’t ’cook’ the legs in the first half of the bike

…now to settle down to the business at hand…to stay smooth…contained…and keep the power down at least for the first 90 minutes…always a challenge for me…my Heart Rate was running in the mid-120’s, so that was good…a bit high for the 180-190 Watts of power, but steady…always runs high on race day, which is why I use Power as my key indicator of effort on the bike

Almost at 2 hours now from the race start, without anything to eat or drink, I wanted to get my stomach back working again, make sure that I was hydrated, before ramping up the calories, so starting drinking water for the first 30 minutes…180-190 Watts…nice and smooth…head/cross-wind…didn’t really matter though…just holding back the power to what for me, is an easy, spinning effort…I noticed my cadence was an easy 95RPM+…felt like nothing on the pedals…nice

…and already passing lots of people…a few sips of Perform about 20 minutes in, starting to pee about 30 minutes in…all systems go…spinning along…passing and passing lots of people

So started to work in my nutrition at 30 minutes into the ride…I felt solid…legs were ridiculously strong…all about containment, and staying easy…and now to get in some calories

…since I was nicely hydrated, I went to my ‘hydrated’ meal plan, which is, all with water…gives me 450 calories per hour, and 1,000mg of sodium:

  • PowerBar strawberry gel at the bottom of the hour…1x caffeine / 200mg sodium
  • PowerBar raspberry gel in 15 minutes…no caffeine / 200mg sodium
  • PowerBar tangerine gel in 15 minutes…2x caffeine / 200mg sodium
  • 1/2 chocolate PowerBar and 1 Succeed SCap salt tablet in 15 minutes…441mg sodium

…and repeat…until the end of the bike course…I would occasionally add in 15 sips of Perform for one of the gels from time to time, if I hadn’t been peeing for at least 30 minutes…that usually got things going again

…my get-hydrated schedule moves the intervals to 10 minutes, and gives me Gel with water / drink Perform alternating every 10 minutes, until I start peeing…and then back off to the 15 minute intervals as noted above…equivalent calories and sodium, just more fluids…usually on a hotter day though…cool day today, so I was good with the 15 minute schedule

So I rolled along…passing lots of people…which was actually the most challenging part of the bike ride for me…to pass people, and not be drafting, you have 20 seconds to get past them, once you enter the drafting zone, which is 3 bike lengths…7M or 21 feet long…you must continue with the pass or be penalized

…so the trick is simply that as I come up to someone, if I’m going fast enough to get by them in 20 seconds at my current speed, I can just keep a stable power level, and roll on by…easy…but too often, I’m catching up to someone a bit slower than that…and in order to get by them in 20 seconds I need to speed up a bit…and therefore need to increase my power…as gently as possible so that I’m not ‘surging’, which is bad for the legs…best is _even_ power all the time…so surging is not good

…but then we get to the real issue that I was faced with…passing loooong lines of racers…many were drafting, tightly packed…illegal…some spaced out a bit, but close enough that once I was past one, I was into the drafting zone of the next, so needed to keep up the power to keep going past…and so it went…all race long

After 90 minutes, I ‘allowed’ the power to come up a bit, into the 190-200 Watt range, but a lot was dictated by my ongoing, adjusting strategy on how to pass people, without drafting…

Turns out that I moved up 970 positions on the bike that day…I was in overall position 2218 coming out of the water, and position 1248 finishing the bike…I don’t know that there was anyone that was a slower swimmer than I was that was faster on the bike, so basically went past 970 cyclists…to put it in perspective, that’s an average of passing 1 cyclist every 36 seconds…for almost  6 hours…so to do that, and keep power levels smooth is an _enormous_ challenge

…the downside of that, is that the extra surges, almost constantly, makes keeping smooth, constant power largely impossible…the upside though, is that as I approach and go past almost 1,000 other cyclists, I do get a brief drafting effect as I come up behind and then go around them…do that 1,000 times, and even an average of 5 seconds of benefit each time is almost 90 minutes of ‘legal’ drafting…and I did find that I was often at lower power for the same or higher speed coming around single cyclists, or small groups…although there was no benefit in passing the long drafting packs, since I needed to stay hard left and keep on going until I got past…

I had been looking for IronDaughter along the way, since much of the course is out and back along the same road…never did see her though…constantly wondering how she was doing…hoping that her day was going well…all that fatherly thing 🙂

Coming past the 100 mile mark, I was in great shape…hydration and nutrition felt right on the mark, only 12 miles to go…nice and easy still

…it was then that I started to talk to my bike…sort of weird…my daughter had asked me a few days before if I had named my new bike…I had not I said…never really crossed my mind…she felt that it was bad luck not to have a name…nothing really came to mind, so I began the race on my nameless bike

…for some reason, just past the 100 mile mark, I started to become concerned about getting a flat tire, or a pedal seizing up, or some other type of weird mechanical breakdown to shatter what felt like a great ride…so close to the finish…so I started talking to my bike…I felt sooo strong at that point…I was just flying along…still passing scores of people…I felt like I was riding on a surging black stallion, galloping at full speed….blowing by one racer after another…past one…next one just up ahead…blowing by…picking off the next one

…so I started calling my bike ‘stallion’…perhaps in an attempt to distract ‘him’ from thoughts of breaking something to the task still at hand

…most likely a result of too much caffeine and sugar for almost 6 hours 🙂

Rolling in the last few miles, I was in great shape…peeing regularly, so hydration good…the 450’ish calories an hour went down smoothly for almost 6 hours now, so nutritionally I felt set…sodium levels right on plan…so all systems ‘excellent’

Rolling up to the line, dismount…beep at the timing mat…5:50:35…19.17 MPH total…95 RPM average cadence…unbelievably speedy legs on the day…5:49:00 moving…so the 2 quick stops that I took along the course to take off arm-warmers and reload my gels from my pocket to the bike, took a total of 90 seconds…the only time that I wasn’t moving on the bike…

184 Watts norm average…I knew that I just had a great ride…and felt solid

…quick chat with a few friends…handed off my bike, picked up my running transition bag, and lightly jogged into the transition area again…not as frantic this time as it was after the swim…still busy, but I was quickly through my change…and realized that I had left my Heart Rate watch still attached to my bike…rats…coming out of the transition area, I found a volunteer on the bike side of the fence…asked him to retrieve it…he jogged off to find my bike…struggled a bit to get the watch strap undone, but did…came jogging back and I was on my way…momentarily thought about the need for a ‘sit down’ bathroom break…decided it wasn’t necessary…beeped across the timing mat, and headed out onto the run course

ah yes…that marathon thing…now I’d _really_ find out what kind of shape that I’m in as I head out for 26.2 miles, on a rather warm, sunny day…fun 🙂

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