The most memorable thing about T1 was the interactions with the volunteers. When exiting the water, volunteers were placed to yell out your number so other volunteers could find your bike gear bag. This woman followed me into T1 and helped me go through my bag and get ready for the ride. She opened a Gu for me to eat, helped me strap my helmet on and even offered to put on my socks for me! I was told that Ironman tries to put volunteers in the transition area that have either done the distance, or love someone that has, to try and ensure that the athletes receive amazing care. I’m not sure if that’s true, but it makes sense based on my experiences that day.
Leaving T1 I was all smiles because I finished the swim about 30 minutes faster than anticipated so I knew I had some extra time to meet the bike cut-off. The first 12 miles of the bike were with a wonderful tail wind, so I was averaging over 23 mph. To put that in perspective, I NEVER go that fast unless it’s down a hill. I don’t even think I’m capable of riding that fast on a flat without a tailwind. It was great! When I went across the first timing mat, I started giggling because I knew everyone tracking me was going to be so surprised at how fast I was going. Around mile 12 we made a U-Turn and rode 12 miles into a headwind.
IMMD has the reputation as one of the flattest Ironman bike courses in the world and is the main reason I picked Maryland as my full. I’m not a strong cyclist and I knew my best chance of a successful finish would be on a flat course. This course lived up to its reputation perfectly because there wasn’t anything that even resembled a change in elevation. The only downside of this kind of course is that you have to pedal the entire time and your legs never get a break when you coast going downhill.
The next section of the bike was a big loop that we rode twice. This part of the ride was through the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge and was gorgeous! The minimal traffic and scenery helped the ride go by quicker than normal. The best part of the bike came at mile 64 when it was time for special needs. I had been looking forward to my special needs bag from the time I started the ride. I had a ginormous bag of chips and two Mountain Dews waiting for me. When approaching special needs, one volunteer radioed your number in and other volunteers would grab your bag. When I got to special needs, one volunteer was holding my bag out yelling “846! 846! 846” The volunteer stayed with me while I ate my chips, drank my Mountain Dew, and popped Sports Legs (runners/triathletes – if you don’t take these magic pills that prevent the pain from lactic acid build up, add them into your training NOW). After special needs it was time for my second loop of the bike course. I said a quick prayer as I watched the miles tick off for the perfect weather (cloud cover and no rain) and no mechanical issues.
I spent 7 hours and 35 minutes on Dixie during IMMD. My goal was to finish the bike in under 8 hours, so when I finally hopped off the bike I was really excited because I knew I had given myself an extra 25 minute buffer to finish the run. At this point in the race I was feeling great and knew that all the long training rides I had done in the months leading up to IMMD had been worth it.
Stay tuned for IMMD Race Report #3: The run and the FINISH LINE!