This past Sunday was a big accomplishment for me.... really more mentally than physically. For some reason riding a bike for 100 miles was a huge hurdle for my mind to get over. We travelled down to Lubbock to go to see Reba and George Strait in concert on Saturday night. Bright and early the next morning William, Tim, Jerred, Damon, and I began our 5:45 hours on our road bikes. We started near Slaton,TX and headed to Post then turned South to Gail where we turned around and went back. The terrain consisted of gradual rolling hills which is very similar to what the course will be like in Houston. It was much colder , however, and we even had to battle some sleet for an hour or so. Tim followed us in his car and gave us great coaching advice as well as replenished our water bottles along the way. One thing I learned was how important calorie intake will be during this part of the race. Our goal is to intake 2gms/kg/hr of calories while riding the bike.
Here is an article on Active.com by Rich Strauss that I think describes perfectly the strategy for the bike portion of the Ironman race:
All you've done for 9 months is build a vehicle. Ironman racing is about how you DRIVE that vehicle, it is NOT about the vehicle. The majority of athletes on race day are fitness-focused (look at my T-shirt, look at my abs/veins/etc, look at how fast I can go in the first hour of the bike, etc.)
It's easy to get caught up in the buzz and energy of the day, but creating and sticking to the right plan for you is the only thing that will lead to the best possible day.
The LineNothing on race day really matters until you reach The Line on the run. The Line is the point at which continuing becomes very, very difficult. You define success as simply not slowing down at The Line. EVERYTHING before The Line is simply about creating conditions for success for when the Line comes to you. Additional Kool-Aid flavored thoughts we'd like to put in your head regarding this point are:
- A successful race = a good run. There is no such thing as a good bike followed by bad run, period. In our world, if you showed up with solid run fitness, had a "good" bike and a poor run, we will ALWAYS assume you messed up your bike pacing, until proven otherwise.
- If you think you can ride faster than we're telling you, prove it by running well off the bike.
- Ride your "should" bike split versus your "could" bike split. Your Could split is what you tell your friends you could ride on a good day, when you're out together for your Saturday ride. If you say you "could ride a 5:50," your Should split is likely 6:00 and is defined as the bike split that yields a good run (see above bullets).
- In our experience, 80-90 percent of the Ironman field doesn't know how to race. If you find yourself doing the opposite of everyone else, you're doing the right thing. If Jimmy is "king of this random hill" at mile 46 of the bike...don't join him! Lots of people passing you in the first 40 miles? That's good, don't join in. Going backwards through the field on a hill? Great!
- Think you made the mistake of riding too easy? You now have 26 miles to fix that mistake. Make the mistake of riding too hard? That mistake now has 26 miles to express itself, to the tune of X miles at 17-18′ walking pace vs X miles at 8-12′ running pace. Do the math. How great is that bike split going to look as you are walking/shuffling the last 10 miles of the run? The Ironman run course is littered with fit dudes walking and talking about what a great bike split they had. Don't join them.