Once again I will reiterate - Fear is a very good thing. Not only is it a good thing but it creates an amazing high once you “man-up” and tackle it.
A BIG thanks to Seth for STP in one day invite - you know you can count on me for the 4-man Hood To Coast Team :)
A BIG thanks to Sue for all her kindness and hospitality, you made a stranger feel like a good friend.
Thanks Shannon and Nadine for the carb loading pre race fun.
On to the event....well let's start off with a short preface. Seth and I relaxed on a nice 3.5 hour train ride up to Seattle. The ride was fun filled with compression socks, a bit of alcohol and a whole lot of race/training talk. Sue graciously picked us up from the train station and we then headed over to Serious Pie for a carb loading dinner with Shannon and Nadine. For the next 2-3 hours we indulged in, need I say it? Serious Pie :) - or some might say some oh-so-delicious pizza and a couple glasses of red wine. I went to bed with 5 hours of sleep to spare, not an ideal situation for an 8 hour girl but the night of fun was well worth it. Unfortunately I paid for that fun, at 3:45am my alarm went off and I awoke to a serious headache. Ouch. Kat started the morning, (or maybe still night) with an evil head. A little coffee, yummy food and a kick ass riding partner quickly put the evil head in it's place and it disappeared for the rest of the day :)
The first century
The STP start was one of the many things I fear from this ride. As most of you know I am not a graceful rider…ok that’s the sugar-coated way of putting it. In all honesty I have poor bike handling skills, I’m clumsy and don’t like riding in packs. Starting a ride with several hundred riders was intimidating. Seth and I got to the start line, just in the nick of time. We were able to ride off at the end of the last “early bird” riders (1 day-ers) - 15 minutes ahead of the two day mass start. The start wasn’t as bad as I had imagined. People were overall pretty respectful of space - as much as one can be with several hundred riders. They were loud and vocal with riding communication. IE “slowing” “to the left” “stopping” and so on. We took the first 15 or so miles easy as it was pretty crowded and we were riding through town. I think my highlight during this time was riding by Lake Washington as the sun was rising - absolutely beautiful. Once we got out of town it was time for Kat to learn about pace lining. I had pace lined before - Ha! With one or two riders, does that even count? I struggled with it at first. Seth would “take off” like a fricking rabbit, grab on to a wheel and leave me in the dust. I tried to sprint off but it was difficult. My watts would sore sky high and it would hurt my quads. Sprinting scared me so early in the ride. I had to manage my intensity to last 200+ miles. We were passed by a tandem with aero helmets - it was badass! I was able to cling on their wheel for a short bit, once we hit some corners I fell back - to be expected from Kat. Seth “schooled” me on pace lining. I soaked up the info and after a few attempts I got it down. I knew this was a necessity as I was able to conserve 50-80 watts in the line while going 5-7 mph faster. We hit the first aid station around 8ish - 50 miles down. I refilled my bottle of malto, downed a PB & J, banana and ½ a Cliff bar. During the our first brake Seth named me the Bumble Bee as I was rockin a yellow cog jersey (uber cute IMO) and black shorts. I would have opted for something more aggressive like a Yellow Jacket but I’ll take what I can get J
On to leg 2
Shortly after the start we found a quick pace line (25-30mph) and attached on. Seth lost his sponge (aero bottle, which this would not be the only time in the ride!) and we were parted. Kill Bill’s whistle song goes off from my pocket. It’s Seth. I’m trying to stay with this fast pace line and my phone is ringing. What to do?! What to do?! Of course I had to answer it, I had to get back with my riding buddy. Talk was short. Signal disconnected and I wasn’t going to let these guys drop me. A txt later we decide to meet at the mini aid station at mile 86 - Tenio’s famous cookie stop. I lost the pace line when the riders decided to “cycle-cross” over to the bike path. I was too slow on the movement and rode the first of the bike path alone. This was actually a good thing as the bike path was not too crowded and I was able to finally get aero. I will not, repeat will not follow a pace line in aero bars - ever! I took the whole bike path in aero and was able to maintain a nice clip of (22-24mph) at a moderate intensity level. 1/3 way down the path and I look behind me and found out I had a tail. Hot damn! I would have never thought that I would lead a pace line - a pace line of all men at that! There were a few dudes that I picked up along the bike path that I would see miscellaneously around the route during the next 140+ miles. I was referred to as the “tri-girl” or the “rabbit” :) . Seth and I met back up at mile 86. I stopped and had one of the famous melted oatmeal chocolate chip cookie at the aid station - it was phenomenal! We continued on together until we hit the ½ way point in Centralia.
½ way point -
I can honestly say at this point I was whipped. I had managed intensity well but the heat was starting to catch up with me. I was almost relived to know Seth was feeling it too. We both agreed the second half was going to be much slower then the first half. The stop was longer then expected - as were most stops. At this point my back was starting to turn pink, thankfully Centralia had a sunscreen tent and I got slathered up. I ended up with a golden tan - no burn, thanks sunscreen ladies. We took in some more solid food. I had a plain turkey and cheese sandwich on white bread. At first I thought, ugh - so plain, but after devouring it I found it rather tasty - funny how that happens. Seth got one of the vendors to donate a few paper boats of pickle juice. I think this saved us from cramping and re-energized out electrolytes. Way to go Seth! Water stop, malto refill and we were off.
The second century
This was by far the worst leg for me. Coming out of half way point I felt heavy, bloated, hot and fatigued. My tummy took a good 20-30 minutes to digest all the food I had force fed down. Digestion came at the wrong time as we were approaching the “rollers.” Up and down and round and round. This was my leg of being “dazed and confused.” I’d look down at my power meter. I was going 18-19 mph at low wattage - yet I was tired and didn’t feel like I was moving forward. Seth loses his sponge somewhere around mile 135. I stop so he can go back to get it. This was a mistake because as I try to get back onto my bike I clip in and fall right over. What’s a ride if Kat doesn’t fall over? I was pretty much at a standstill and I didn’t break skin - I was A-ok. We decided to stop at the next mini aid station a mile down the road to get water and try to regain some sanity. Picture moment.
On ward we went to the next food aid station at mile 145. This was a good time as we got more solid food and took some time to rest a bit. The last 45 miles were tough. I was now experiencing my longest ride ever, prior had been 112 miles. I looked within myself and found the positive. 10 or so more miles and we’d be in Oregon - home town. Then all we had to do was highway 30, one more food stop and coast home. It’s funny how after doing 145 miles that 65ish more doesn’t look all that bad. Plus the sun was shinning - things could always be worse.
This was an incredible leg. I don’t know where my energy came from but it was in full force. On the train ride up I had told Seth I didn’t know what I was great at. I’ve felt a little lost in training. I mean in tri I’m not great in any of the three sports, I’m just ok in all 3. Well during this ride I found what I’m great at - endurance. As most of the pack suffers as mileage/duration goes on I excel. For the remainder of the ride I had good strong power. 5 or so miles into the leg we come up to the Longview Bridge. I looked up at it, longer moderate climb, so far into mileage it scared me. The bike lane was narrow, there was a lot of debris and I would be riding it up with 20-25 other men. Forward I pedal and I hear something from Seth like “Ride up you animal”. I laugh to myself as I don’t feel animalistic at all. 150 miles in I didn’t feel strong, but in comparison to the group I was. I passed all but one man climbing the bridge and I did so quickly. Descending the bridge was scary as shit! It was windy and there where ruts in the road. I had MASSIVE front wheel wobble. I thought I might fly right off the bridge. My arms, hands and wheel shook violently - this was not ok. To calm myself I started singing Bobby Darin’s - Don’t Rain On My Parade. It helped and I survived. As we reached the highway another rider came up behind me and said he thought my wheel was going to fly off. “You and me both buddy”. The next 20-25 miles my power really came out. I’d come up on pace line after pace line - attacked and passed. I would have probably sat on the back of a wheel if they were moving fast enough but at this point each pace line was avging 15-17 mph, I was hitting 20-21 in aero. I had the power so I decided to ride with it. I think the real confidence booster was passing pace lines of 20-30 MEN - quickly.
The last aid station! I fueled up on more PB & J and decided it was now time to take some vitamin I. Upon getting back on the bike I realized my abs and sit bones were sore. Riding aero for so long really works the core! And I guess 175 miles into the ride and just now experiencing some kind of tail pain is not bad. I <3 my Gore Bike shorts! The first few miles back on the bike were slow. Eh, we had a tad bit of headwind. I was getting tired of my position on the bike so I was shifting around too much. My tummy was still digesting from the last aid station so aero was not that comfortable BUT riding aero saved me 30-40 watts and I was able to go several mph faster - so I forced myself to ride aero. Again, the last 20 miles or I went along passing pace line after pace line of dudes. I wish I had a camera of this, it was one of the highlights of my ride. The compliments from the boys didn’t hurt either. I rolled into the finish at 203 miles - 11hrs and 20 mins of riding time - not bad for a “non” cyclist.
And now for the techy-nerdy stuff
Total distance (miles) 202.25
Uphill distance (miles) 30.87
Uphill altitude (feet) 1,951
Maximum altitude (feet) 463
Ride Time 11:20:19
Caloric expenditure (based off of watts-pedaling only) 5220 kcal
Max speed 42 mph :) / Avg speed 17.93 mph
Max cadence 143 / Avg cadence 68
Max HR 173 / Avg HR 144
Max torque 33.56 / Avg torque 519
Max Power 470 (hehe, sprint to a paceline) / Normalized Avg watts 142 / Avg watts 126
Max watts to kg 7.73/ Avg watts per kg 2.05
Seth - you were right. I am now confident for the bike leg for IMC. Thank you!