Thursday, January 28, 2010

it's all about the bike. or is it?

when I was training for my first ironman, I had a lot of people tell me the same thing about 140.6: "it's all about the bike." this made my stomach writhe every time I heard it as the bike is my "weak" link. if I was going to "suck" on the bike, how in the world could I complete the ironman in a respectable time?

I swapped out my pinarello (too big for me) mid-training for a kuota kalibur I bought off ebay (after extensive time spent roaming NYC bike stores and looking for my next best thing). two weeks later I raced on it and took 7 minutes off my half iron bike time (3:23:10 at Tinman in June; 3:14:59 at Timberman in August). sure, I was more fit, but the bike was always a better fit for me.

with a little more confidence in my back pocket, I plugged through the rest of training with the realization that I wasn't going to bomb the bike in florida. no, I wasn't going to burn up the road with my killer speed, but I was going to make.

enter race day. a solid swim (1:14:06) started me off on the right foot. then I hit the bike. the first 30 miles was a slaughter fest; so many people passed me that I eventually started laughing out loud in disbelief. to keep my spirits up, however, I kept reminding myself that I got to do the same thing when I hit the run course: pass each and every one of the individuals who had just passed me.

if you've ever done ironman florida or read about it, you know the bike course is flat and monotonous. one big loop with only a few little inclines to get you out of the saddle (and my strongest suit it climbing...IMFL: 1, me: 0). regardless, I tackled each mile the best I could, prayed for no flats and just keep eating to fuel my run. I remember hitting mile 90 and feeling really fatigued, but after digging deep and passing the century mark, I knew I was almost home.

I cruised into T2 with a HUGE smile on my face; I had made it in 6:27:18, a 17.35 average. I saw my sister and declared, "that was a long way to ride." I didn't care though. I finally got to run! And while I didn't have the most awesome run, I still kicked enough butt in order to cross the finish line in a thrilling 12:25:21.

I am now training for ironman #2 in june. I have a sub-12 hour goal, "lofty" as my coach says. while I know I can improve on both my swim and run, I still have it ingrained in my head that it's all about the bike. and it's defeating. you might think my confidence from training for and successfully finish my first ironman would give me some ammo; not so much. my first month of riding has felt horrible: painful, painful, painful. I got off the bike last night cursing and wondering why in the world I'm doing this again.

this is when I got to thinking (on my post-ride run...the best thinking time). yes, the ironman is about 112 miles on the bike, but it's also about 2.4 miles in the water and my favorite, 26.2 miles on the road. it's not all about the bike...and my first ironman time proved that.

so I'm going forward with this in mind. the ironman is about the swim. and the bike. and the run. it's about how well I can put all three of these things together. it's about remedying my weakness, fortifying my mind and body and making it a kickass second 140.6.

it's not all about the bike.


baker said...

excellent post. i am also a firm believer in the combo of all 3 too. i run my first HIM in June (Quassy-Rev3) and am looking forward to it. i did however, get a new bike! i was rocking a 1978 vintage Mercian in a few Sprints and my IM friends insisted i get a new ride. it comes tomorrow, im excited.

Allie said...

It's amazing how just looking at it from a different perspective can really change your performance. Good luck, with a positive attitude like that you'll do amazing.

Anonymous said...

While only a Olympic triathlete thus far, I look forward to a half or full IM some day. I think you have the right mindset here. If you obsess too much over the bike, you might cost yourself on the swim and run, and that would be no good!

Maria (maslife) said...

I'm doing my first IM in July (Lake Placid), and I really appreciated your post. Like you, I'm a runner *first* - and have been a little scared about the bike. I had a bike that was just a bit too big for me and it really hurt me on my first HIM in June. I just got a new bike, and it really does make a difference - I couldn't agree more.

You make an important point that the triathlon is really about the combination of the three sports.

And, super impressive time for your first IM! I would be happy if I manage to do 14 hours. But, 12 and change - that's spectacular.

Good luck in June - I'm assuming CDA? said...

thanks for reading everyone!

@baker I'm doing Quassy Rev3 in June too...congrats on the new bike...I'm sure it will rock.

@Maria yes, IMCDA. glad you got a new bike back broke down after my first HIM 2 years ago because my bike was too big...lesson learned.