After finishing the swim-fight-swim 20 minutes slower than planned, all I could think was “can I get dry enough to avoid hypothermia on the bike?” I felt great physically and even attempted to run into transition. However, I was barefoot, and running on the cold asphalt was painful, so I walked. Along the way, there were freshwater showers so we could rinse off the saltwater. A warm rinse was appealing, but opening my wetsuit and allowing precious body heat to escape, and then getting wet again was not. The ride was going to be a salty one.
Bring extra everything!
Unfortunately, I didn’t bring the right clothes. I was only 2 hrs into the race and had to deal with more rookie mistakes. First, I didn’t anticipate weather in the mid-40s. As a result, I didn’t have any leg covers, a base layer, or a jacket, and my arm sleeves were for the run. Luckily, I had a fleece pullover that was meant to be worn after finishing. So, I dried off as thoroughly and quickly as possible and pieced some clothing together. Like last year, I planned to wear a bike bib and jersey over my tri-kit so I’d have some pockets and extra padding. However, I broke the zipper on my bike jersey the day before. I had to ride in my damp tri-suit 🥶. Rookie mistake #347 – always bring duplicates! One bit of fortuitous luck was the vest that was given to me by the generous folks from the Kyle Pease Foundation. With a shoulder shrug and lots of determination, I set off with fantasies of warm sunshine on my back.
Braving a cold, topsy-turvy swim wasn’t sufficient, so mother nature added some wind to turn up the challenge. We rode into 13-18 MPH headwinds for the first 60ish miles. I anticipated some winds, but fuuuck! Instead of pedaling harder to sustain a faster pace, I allowed myself to slow down and stick with the plan. My goal was to stay within zone 2 power during the entire bike leg. Doing this became very difficult as I watched people ride past me. I began questioning what the fuck was happening when I was holding 215 watts and only going 10 MPH😖. When you are used to riding 18-21 MPH, 10 MPH feels like a crawl! I wanted to release some aggression and mash and smash the pedals, but I remained disciplined and stuck to the plan. “Trust the plan” is what they always say.
Unexpected difficulties & big delays
Besides clothing mistakes, the other major hurdle was my inability to fully control my body’s exit functions. Less than a year ago, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer and underwent a radical prostatectomy. The anatomical changes have required some adaptations on my part. Fortunately, I’ve healed well and regained most of my strength. However, the changes and the new limits to how my body functions occasionally surprise me. During the first half of the bike leg, I spent 55 minutes either waiting for or standing inside of port-a-john.
During training, I usually have to stop and piss more frequently than in the past. On this particular day, things got worse. I was incapable of relaxing one exit without releasing the other. So, while riding, if I had gas, or needed to pee, I had to go into a port-O-John because I ran the very real risk of shitting on myself. Every time I urinated, I ended up dropping a load of shit without the ability to hold either. If I farted, I would piss – crazy, huh? It was either squeeze and hold everything or relax and release everything, nothing in between. I was having a personal “all things must go” clearance event. Once I realized what was happening with my body, I relaxed and accepted the situation for what it was. I knew that I was fortunate to be out there, and pretty certain that I’d still finish within the allotted time. Acknowledging that less than a year has passed since the surgery, I realized that my resilience and determination to get back into racing have been remarkable and I became filled with gratitude.
The halfway point/ special needs area was uneventful. I picked up the UCAN powder, Maurten electrolytes, and my peanut butter sandwich. The majority of my calories are in liquid form. However, after a few hours of liquids only, chewing on a sandwich was a welcomed change and very satiating. While there, I saw Robin and Kai which boosted my spirits. Since the temperature had increased I removed my fleece and gave it to them.
The 2nd half
The 2nd half of the course was much better than I expected. Having remained disciplined with my power, I noticed that I was passing many of the riders from earlier in the day. Around 90 miles, I had to exercise restraint because I was full of energy and my legs felt so good. “Remember you still have to run 26 miles dummy” – said me to my ego. I also remember riding past a woman who was clearly at the end of her rope when she said we’re almost done! I responded, yes, so savor it because it’s almost over. She smiled, sat up, and said, yes, that’s true, thank you.
Since I was feeling so strong and full of gratitude, the ride back to T2 was exciting. I didn’t want to rush, but I didn’t want to delay either. I was enjoying being right where I was soaking up the sunshine and looking at the ocean. As we approached transition there were lots of cheering spectators with funny signs. Oh, and the sun was out… it felt like a dream.
As I ran into T2 I saw several members of my PTRC triathlon club that started the race and were now standing as spectators. Initially, I was confused, then realized that they didn’t make the swim cutoff. As I was racking my bike, once again, I was unable to get to the port-o-john fast enough and lost control of my bladder 🤣. There were tables filled with bottled water so I just rinsed myself, finished changing into my run gear and set off to conquer the marathon on my surprisingly strong legs.
As expected, I didn’t break any records finishing the bike ride, but I did execute it well. To that point, I hadn’t experienced any cramping, dehydration, or energy dips and I was able to maintain 90% of my ride as a zone 2 effort (165-189 Watts). #goalachieved 💪🏾.