I left off with a visit to the strippers. Probably the shortest amount of time I have ever spent with a stripper. And it didn't cost me a dime.
I trotted to the changing tent. I was given my bike gear bag before going in. Once inside, I found a chair and changed clothes. I decided to wear biking shorts to give me the extra padding for the ride. I also put on a cycling jersey which gave me three pockets to put food/gels in. Spandex/cycling clothes are always a struggle to put on when you are wet and in a rush. I also had to put my wetsuit in a separate bag and put everything in another bag.
I finished dressing and headed out to my bike. I surprisingly had to pee but I guess it was a good thing as far as hydration goes. I ran to the port o let first. I was not going to pee all over my bike while on the course. My pee was still clear so that was a good sign.
I also had put on my Garmin during this time. I kept pushing the on button but it wouldn't come on. It had happened before but I forgot what buttons I pushed to get it back working. Oh well.
I grabbed my bike and started running it towards the bike start. I then saw that my girls had moved to this area. Again they were holding signs encouraging their "daddy". As I was mounting my bike, I told them, "I can't get my Garmin to work." I found out later that for some reason my oldest thought I said, "I am having cardiovascular farts." Now I can not figure out how that sounds like the other but okay. My oldest was not sure what that was but thought it sounded serious. So much so that she called her aunt and had her do a Google search to see what it was and how it would affect my race. Turns out there is no such condition. Whew for me and anyone behind me.
The bike course was no surprise to me. I was able to ride the course several times during the summer. I learned numerous lessons during those rides. Lessons about nutrition. Pace. Heat. Bike skills. Hills. Hydration. Myself. Relationships. Which bike to use. Gearing preference. Who's your daddy?
The start of the bike has several short climbs through a neighborhood. Just enough to get your legs a little tired. I had to concentrate on pace. That was my main goal. Of course with the adrenaline and fresh legs my pace was quicker than I wanted. I was averaging over 21 thru the first 10-15 miles. I then backed it off once I got on a long 8 mile stretch in to the wind.
The bike course is three laps. The first lap includes Sugarloaf which is a long steep climb as hills in Florida go. I was glad I decided to go with an 11-28 rear cassette and a compact crank. The climb up Sugarloaf was not bad at all. Again familiar faces holding signs and giving cheers. Although it appeared the 2 hours sleep was catching up to the oldest.
I made a point to drink and eat something about every 20 minutes. The weather was not as hot as it had been in the past so this at times caused me to forget to drink. I also learned that the cooler weather will cause the energy waffles to harden like candy. Just put it in your mouth and let it melt. Either that or put it inside my shorts to soften it up. I tried the first method and that seemed to work.
I made it in to complete the first loop in just over 2 hours. I stopped at the bike essential bag area just to re-up on some gels. I was also mauled by some very friendly BRA women. They tried to assist me with some of my stuff but I warned them to step back so it didn't appear I was getting assistance. I did not know how strict the rules were going to be enforced.
Off on my second loop to the cheers of Go Gators. This is because I was wearing a University of Georgia cycling jersey and here I was in Gator territory.
I slowed down to about 18-19 mph for my second loop. I was still full of energy but kept mentally reminding myself to slow my pace. As I was told, "if you feel you are going to fast, slow down. If you feel you are going too slow, slow down."
One thing I forgot to do at the changing area was to put on sunscreen. Every water stop I came to I was asking for sunscreen. I was always told they did not have any. There were some pretty pale volunteers out there. I am not sure if they had it and just weren't allowed to give it to me. At some point I was going to rub a banana all over me just to block the sun. At the end of lap 2 I was able to get some sunscreen. I lathered up and headed out for lap 3.
You never realize how long 112 miles is until you do it alone. Sure you have other cyclists that you ride up to and chat with or ride up to you and chat. The sucky part is when they ride on by you like your not even pedalling. I so wanted to try and hop on their wheel but no drafting in triathlons.
So all these miles and so much on my mind. I had to remain focused. Not think about the time other than every 20 minutes for fueling. I will admit that at the top of every hill and the completion of every turn, I was looking for a familiar face. Hoping there was that extra encouraging word. A witness to the madness.
I did see three familiar faces at the top of one of the last climbs. Turns out I saw them before they saw me. Jan, C-Steve and Navy Steve. I knew they were coming over to watch. Jan had told me they would try to see me during the bike. She had picked out a spot to wait but because of my fast swim time, Navy Steve had to change all his algorithms for my bike leg and they weren't sure if I had passed already. Again seeing a familiar face(s) does give you some extra mental energy. I stopped and gave them my Garmin to see if they could get it working. I really wanted it for my run.
I made it in off the bike in under 7 hours and still felt pretty good. I gave my bike to one of the volunteers. Took my shoes off and ran to the changing tent.
Part 4. A marathon now?