We are one week away from Ironman Florida! I feel ready and am excited to take on the course again. After yesterday’s ride with my Pearland Triathlon Racing Club, my energy is now off the charts. Eleven of the club members will be doing the race and at least four will go to serve as support (sherpa). This, I believe, is what a race club is all about. Showing up and supporting each other.

All of the long rides are done and intervals are in the past. There is no fitness to be gained this close to race day. We are tapering and maintaining the fitness we worked so hard to build. Feeling fresh, rested, and ready on race day is the goal. Our long ride today was only 50 miles. Everyone that showed up was going to Florida for the race. Most were participating, two were going as sherpas.

We decided to start the ride about 1.5 hrs later than normal because it was cold (45 degrees F) and some people stayed up late to watch the Astros play in the World Series. The atmosphere was very light-hearted and relaxed. No one was in a time crunch or pushing hard to get going. Dressing for morning rides is tricky at this time of the year. The mornings are cold, 45-ish, and colder with the wind chill while we are riding. However, once the sun rises the air temperature typically increases 15 degrees in addition to the body heat we generate as we ride.  So, layers are generally the way to go, while keeping in mind not to take more than can be carried when the article is removed. We don’t have storage on the bikes, just pockets on our jerseys.

Once we began the ride, I felt the heightened energy. For me, watching all the cyclists roll down the road, lean into the turns and get into aero position lit something inside of me. Mentally, I began to visualize being on the racecourse seeing a long line of cyclists knowing that we are all going to push ourselves to the edge. Each of us is constantly juggling self-talk, race strategy, specific performance goals, nutrition, actual effort (watts, MPH, heart rate) as well as perceived effort (how we feel). It’s an all-consuming exercise in focus, discipline, and belief.

My training plan called for a two-hour zone 1 ride. However, I knew that zone 1 would be too slow to keep up with the group today and I wanted to enjoy the companionship. So, I decided to see how it would feel to stay in zone 2 for the entire (or majority) of the ride. This was important to me because I plan to ride the entire 112 miles of the race in Zone 2. So, this ride would let my mind know what we’d be dealing with next weekend. A refresher of sorts.

As the sun rose, the scenery was magnificent. We didn’t have much wind, so the ride was speedy all the way to our turnaround point, the Kolache bakery. We stopped and grabbed some coffee and baked goods before turning around.

The return route is where I knew that I’d want to take it easy. My legs were warmed up, I’d eaten two kolaches and wanted to just enjoy the weather. When I began the ride, I set the intention to remain in zone 2 for the entire time, so that’s exactly what I did. Of course, there were moments along the way when we faced a mild headwind that I wanted to coast or ease up. I reminded myself of the intention and stayed on task. We made it back feeling alive and happy. Some of the riders went for a short brick after they finished the ride. We enjoyed some refreshments, discussed some of our Ironman travel and preparation plans then decided to have lunch together.


After reviewing my ride data, I hit all the metrics as intended.

  • My average power was 188 Watts – the top end of Zone 2. I’ll back that down during the race.
  • The average speed was about 19 MPH. This isn’t that relevant because it’s greatly affected by terrain and wind.
  • I focused on diaphragmatic (belly) breathing a lot during the ride and I think having a moderate heart rate for the majority of the ride is reflective of the improved breathing. Maintaining a lower heart rate during race efforts is critical as it reduces physical fatigue.
  • Finally, the average bike cadence was 85 rpm. This is right where I want. I’m most comfortable riding between 85-90 rpm.

All-in-all, the ride was a complete success and left me feeling excited as hell for Florida.

As the Texans say, “The Hay is in the Barn”