Saturday, October 24, 2009

Ironman Hawaii Race Report, part 3

In the days leading up to Ironman Hawaii, Nathaniel and I drove most of the bike course, and I had spent 45 minutes on my bike descending from the Hawi turnaround (mile 60) back to the Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway. Jen wanted me to experience Hawaii’s legendary trade winds, whereas I just wanted to 1) Ride my bike AWAY from other athletes 2) have fun 3) spend more time descending than climbing (for once) and 4) have fun.

Do you sense a theme?

While driving up (and I DO mean UP!) to the town of Hawi, I couldn’t help but notice the car shifting. The ups seemed endless and for the entire 50-mile drive, I was amazed at how hilly the course seemed.

I even sent an accusatory text to training partner, friend, and podium-finisher Charisa exclaiming, “There are HILLS!”

And yes, living in Southern California, I realize what hilly areas are really like. Remember that I try to ‘find myself’ while climbing Palomar once or twice each month. But the Hawaii course seemed different. The hills seemed longer and more sweeping, and from the vantage point of my air conditioned car, extremely unforgiving.

I had been told to expect anything and everything from false flats to false descents, from headwinds to tailwinds and crosswinds. That the heat would be relentless, the sun would be bright, and the lava rocks would radiate an intensity unlike any other.

Goody!

But once I got on my bike and actually started riding, things seemed different. With the smooth pavement under my wheels and the wind whipping past my body – honestly – it wasn’t that bad. In practice, I took my time, made sure I was comfortable, and practiced controlling my bike when I felt the wind gusts whip past. Occasionally I would see Nathaniel – in our rented car – drive past or waiting somewhere on the road (making sure that I was okay and didn’t a) crash b) flat c) meltdown).

It was very reassuring, having him there, and before I knew it, I had reached the end of my ride.

So far so good!

I kept thinking positive things about the course – about how I COULD do it, how I was strong, ready, and had gone the distance over and over and OVER again – but I was still nervous. I knew that, come race day, sticking to my heart rate, keeping up with my nutrition, and staying mentally positive would be key.

Running with my bike out of Transition 1, that was my focus. Heart rate heart rate heart rate……

THE BIKE:

The screaming crowds echoed all around, and the solid walls of spectators on both sides of my person were incredible. There were a few other athletes mounting their bikes and zooming off ahead, and I did my best to not fall over or knock my bottles off as I swung my leg over and clipped in.

I knew the first 10 miles of the course – all within the town of Kailua-Kona – would be packed with athletes and spectators alike. I also knew from my experience at Ironman Coeur d’Alene that my heart rate might be a little bit higher than what I would be typically comfortable with, and that was okay. My goal was to establish a rhythm and get settled as much as possible.

Within a few turns I found myself on the slight uphill stretch of Kuakini Highway and heard my name called out from somewhere near the Palani intersection. It was a male voice that was yelling for me – not Nathaniel. But I distinctly heard my name and thought it weird that, in the thousands of other voices yelling, someone had chosen to cheer for me and that I actually heard them. It was wonderful, and made me feel like I was not alone.

Additionally from my CDA experience, I knew that I would be passed by a million people during the first hour of the bike portion. Okay, not really that many. But I knew enough to expect to be passed over and over and over again. There was nothing I could do about the other riders – some of whom were surely riding above their limits, others who were just plain fast.

This was, after all, the Ironman World Championships – and everyone who got here either had to qualify or was selected. I quickly learned to check my ego at the door as one after another rode past and dropped my sorry butt.

But no matter – I was here, doing my own thing. And so far, my race was going according to plan.

Keeping a wary eye on my heart rate, I made it to the top of Kuakini Highway, and then enjoyed the really fast ride down. Zoom! Before I knew it, I was turning up the ½ mile climb up Palani towards the Queen K Highway. If I could use one image to describe this climb, it would be similar to what I’ve seen in the Tour de France. Both sides of the road were crammed with spectators, wildly cheering and yelling as athletes rode the hill.

I saw some people get out of their saddles and surge ahead, no doubt bolstered by the support of the crowd. In a somewhat more anti-climactic fashion, I was different. I thought about Rob during CDA and just keeping my legs turning up the hill. Switching to my easiest gear I spun up the incline, keeping my heart rate low – which was difficult to do, given the crowd support, flowing adrenaline, and nature of the hill.

Before I knew it though, I was making a left turn and was on the famed Queen K Highway. The black pavement stretched endlessly on ahead, speckled with bicyclists in their bright race gear, as far as the eye could see. I settled into my aero bars, kept a wary eye on my heart rate monitor, and made a quick physical and mental assessment. The heat wasn’t too bad and the winds felt light. I could feel the sun radiating and fervently hoped that my SPF 50 would do its job.

I highly doubted it.

Perhaps it was the nature of the course – black lava flows on both sides of the road, very smooth pavement under my wheels, a wide shoulder with a small section of rumple strips, and an endless expanse of blue out towards the ocean – but time seemed different. Indeed, I was passed by (seemingly) a million riders in the first hour, and another half million in the second. But time DID pass quickly, in spite of how slow I felt. And though I made a few passes of other sorry souls, more often than not I was the one being passed.

And I was okay with that. In all honesty, there was nothing I could do. I was doing the best that I could, watching my heart rate like a hawk, and letting my body do the work that it felt capable of. Hindsight is always 20/20. And while I admit that 1) I could have probably biked faster and 2) I’m not super thrilled with my bike split – given the circumstances, how I was feeling going into the race, and the race conditions, I did the best that I could with what I had. Personally, I couldn’t ask for more.

(And I think we - as athletes - are extremely harsh and unforgiving of ourselves. Racing is HARD. Training is HARD. Heck - life is HARD. But berating ourselves doesn't make it any easier... So do the best that you can with what you have - and go from there. Sometimes it works out SUPERB and other times, not so much. But in the end, you've got the experience and lessons that you can draw from them. And that is priceless!)

Additionally, I knew the dangers of over biking – or biking too fast and beyond my capabilities. I wanted to give my body the chance to absorb all the nutrition that I surely needed in order to run a decent marathon, and I certainly didn’t want to blow up. Could I have gone faster? Sure. But at what cost? It was a risk that – for my first time in Kona and only my second Ironman – I wasn’t willing to take.

Truthfully, I spent more time watching my heart rate and making myself stay upbeat and positive than anything else. The scenery flashed by, endless black rock, blue sky, riders and the occasional gust of wind, interrupted every 7 miles by aid stations.

The aid stations at Kona were unlike any aid station I have ever experienced. By the time I rolled through, the volunteers had their bottle hand offs working like a well-oiled machine. I only dropped one bottle, but quickly got another from a SUEPR excited young lad.

“She GOT IT!” he yelled, as I was pedaling away with my green Gatorade water bottle.

I couldn’t suppress my grin. Who could?

The aid stations themselves stretched on for half a mile, with water bottle hand offs at both ends. Sandwiched in the middle was a smorgasbord of Ironman food: bananas, gels, Gatorade, cups of pretzels, and nearly anything the Kona-finisher-to-be could want. I stuck with only water, trying to grab one or two bottles per station.

I had my nutrition down to a science: Every hour on the :30 minute mark, I took 2 sips of CarboPro 1200 (roughly 200 calories). At the top of each hour, it was a yummy Powergel (110 calories)– usually vanilla, double latte, or (my favorite) strawberry banana. Every 15 minutes, I would take in salt tablets, and I made sure to drink water frequently and often (and did I mention frequently?).

Within the first two hours of the bike, I felt the urge to pee. Unfortunately, I didn’t see any port-o-potties on the side of the road, and while in practice I have the wonderful ability to void my bladder while biking…for some reason, this particular talent eluded me on race day. I tried several times; I would stop pedaling, sit up, coast, realax….but my efforts proved fruitless. I was buoyed by the fact that I needed to pee; at least I was getting enough water. I continued drinking and eating, and was extremely happy that I wasn’t having any stomach upset or discomfort.

Hooray for small miracles!

What I was unhappy with, was my biking. For some reason, the power just wasn’t there. I can’t really explain it. And trust me when I say that I’ve thought a lot about that fact. I stuck to my heart rate, mostly upper zone 2, and low zone 3 – but could tell that my power was far from what I had done during long rides. At one point I wondered if my rear brake was rubbing – so I reached behind me to check.

No dice.

I was just going slow.

Correction: I was doing what my body could do on that day given the circumstances. And I was still on my bike, was still on the course, was still riding and participating. That’s all I could ask for.

And at some point, you just have to smile, have to laugh. So I did both - and thought about the moment where I would write those very words in my race report.

I continued to stay as mentally upbeat as I could, even while making the turn off the Queen K Highway, past Kawaihae and onto 270. I thanked the volunteers and policemen who were working the intersections, and caught a glimpse of the many cameras and even a few TV crews, waiting no doubt, for the professional’s race to unfold.

Before I could react to the frantic, “ON YOUR LEFT!” I was passed by a tandem bike going no less than 40 miles per hour. Sure, we were descending – but that speed and on a bike built for two, none the less. I could feel the breeze as they passed and saw the goose bumps form on my arms. The last think I needed was to have someone else take me out of my misery.

And as soon as I had that thought, I squashed it. It was true: I wasn’t the happiest of campers out there, but I was doing the best to control my own race and stay upbeat. I made each gel seem like a treat, and with every sip of carbopro, I knew that I was one more hour closer to Transition 2, and that much closer to my race finish.

The famed climb up to Hawi earned its reputation. Soon after beginning the relentless rollers and uphill grade, the wind picked up. The constant headwind, although unrelenting, really didn’t dampen my spirits too much in the beginning. I knew there was nothing that I could do about it – so I made sure to keep my body as comfortable as I could and followed my heart rate.

Spin, spin, spin…. Sip some water….spin spin spin.

Whenever my heart rate crept too high or went above what I perceived as a comfortable effort, I backed down.

And yet, more and more people continued to pass.

At one point, Kerrie Wlad came roaring by me, with a pack of guys shamelessly drafting off her wheel. She shouted to me and I just told her to stick with it – that she was doing great! And I meant every word that I said. Part of me was a little upset at myself though, but only for a fleeting moment. I had managed to hold her off until mile 8 of the run during IM CDA. Here, she was passing me before the Hawi turnaround. Oh well.

I reminded myself that each race is different, and the fact that I was HERE, that I had stuck with it when it got tough – well, that was good enough. You get out exactly what you put in, and I wouldn’t be honest if I said that my training was as solid leading into Kona as it was CDA. But again, I carry no regrets. I am honored to have done both races, and grateful for the opportunities to learn from each.

The final few miles up until the Hawi turnaround were the most difficult of my entire ride. Hoards of age groupers were whizzing past in the other directions, and the professionals were all but gone. One after another – people were streaming by for what felt like an endless amount of time. I had stopped looking at my bike computer, because I just didn’t want to affirm how slow I felt. Physically I knew that I wasn’t having a stellar ride; but emotionally this was the hardest point.

And then, I thought of all the people who inspired me along the way, throughout my journey. I thought about Nathaniel, carrying a store-bought pair of pilot’s wings in his pocket for two and a half years before being accepted to flight school. He wanted it so badly and he worked his tail end off to become the Marine Aviator he is today. And even when people told him that he couldn’t do it, that it was impossible he never gave up.

I thought about my many friends and training partners – about Donna and Zack riding the Queen K only weeks before, of Shannon climbing Palomar with me even though she was in the middle of earning her PhD, of Meredith talking me through her own IM experiences over lunch at the Beachgrass CafĂ©. And countless others who – even though they weren’t on the island that day – they were with me in spirit.

I remembered seeing my Dad during CDA, recognizing his blue jacket and hearing my Mom’s voice. I knew that there were countless others out there, cheering, rooting, supporting – and they all mattered. When things got really tough during those last few miles – I thought of my friends. And I can’t thank you enough.

Crossing that Hawi timing mat was great: now I had the luxury of downhill and – more importantly – knowing that with each turn of the crank, with each mile passed, I was getting that much closer to Transition 2.

Having not packed anything for Bike Special Needs, I kept tucked in aero and rode right by the incredible volunteers. I could see they were sweaty and looked hot. My heart went out to them: they are one of the MANY reasons why this race is possible, and as an athlete, I was indebted to their support.

I turned my focus back to the road, and staying upright on my descent from Hawi. With a size-able tailwind, I was able to pick up some decent speed (for me), but I kept my focus trained on the riders ahead. I knew that – should I see one or two get blown across the road – I could expect a gust. Additionally, I took a quick peek out towards the ocean.

The great Kona Champion, Michellie Jones once commented that if she could, “see whitecaps on the descent from Hawi, it was going to be a windy day!”

I was relieved: no whitecaps!

But I refused to let my guard down.

I managed to stay aero for a large part of the descent and subsequent rollers, but I was still careful, keeping my eyes peeled on the athletes ahead. I was also keeping a close watch on my heart rate and noticed – to my great surprise and dismay – that I had begun to pass a few people.

Okay, not a lot. And certainly not nearly as many who had passed me in the first hour or two. But after the Hawi turnaround, I slowly began to reel in rider after rider. I made a game out of powering over the rollers, trying to see if I could remain in the same gear while keeping my heart rate down. There were a few times where this worked; while other times I needed to downshift because I just couldn’t keep my cadence high enough.

All too soon the descent was over, and the REAL work began, I thought grimly to myself. Elizabeth had mentioned that the stretch of road from Waioaloa until the Kona Airoport were by far the most difficult. Mentally draining from miles 75-95, more uphill than down, headwind, side wind and more side wind, and plenty of sun radiating off the lava rocks – THIS is where people crack and are either rewarded for their earlier efforts or suffer the overzealous consequences of going out too hard.

As though in slow motion, I would catch up to one rider, slowly pass, and then work my way towards another rider. There were a few groups that I had seen – some women drafting shamelessly off each other (# 1136 was by far the WORST) – but most people were being honest and fair. The wind was relentless, growing seemingly stronger by the minute – but I thought back too all of my long rides and times completing the Henshaw Loop, and knew that I had the strength – mental and physical – to carry on.

In all actuality, it was the sun that had me the most worried. I had made sure to use plenty of sunscreen, even going so far as to have Nathaniel rub SPF 70 Neutrogena into my back and all over the parts of my body that would be exposed the night before (thus allowing the sunscreen to soak into my pores). In transition, I had taken plenty of time and allowed the sunscreen helpers to smear as much on as they possibly could. But no matter their careful efforts – my Nordic skin was having none of it.

Somewhere from Waikoloa until the Airport, I could slowly feel the skin on my arms cooking. Had I been a pig, one could have smelled bacon – I kid you not, it was that bad. If I EVER do this race again – I WILL MOST DEFINITELY use arm coolers. Several days after the race I developed painful blisters and even to this day – nearly two weeks out from the race – my skin is still peeling. I could care less about how it looks; I’m more worried about long-term consequences and sun damage down the line.

During the plentiful aid stations, I made sure to grab two bottles of water, the first meant to drink, and the second to douse my head, arms, neck, back and any other exposed body part with cooling relief. It felt wonderful to have my skin cooled, and I tried to not worry too much as I made my way back towards town.

Slowly the miles ticked off, and as they did, the amount of cross winds increased. I experienced a few FULL gusts, that sent me shooting across the road – luckily I had plenty of time to prepare as I had seen the riders ahead get severely buffeted. But more so than the cross wind, we had to contend with a nasty head wind. If there was EVER a reason to bike FAST and HARD on this course – beating the headwind back into town would be on the top of my list. It is my understanding that it only became worse throughout the day.

But it wasn’t anything that I couldn’t handle, and I put my head down as I passed – and was repassed – by riders.

One by one the miles ticked by. And then…suddenly….there it was: THE AIRPORT.

The sight of a plane taking off seemed surreal, and I commented to the gentleman that I was passing, “Wow, I am SO HAPPY to see the airplanes! It means that we’re almost back to town!”

He just gave me a funny look.

In reality, I’m sure he was wrapped up tightly in his own race. That’s one of the things I noticed most from Waikoloa to the Kona Airport: people seemed more in tune with themselves, quieter, more alone. Undoubtedly the field had spread out. But more importantly, we were coming face to face with what the Hawaii Ironman was really about.

The heat. The sun. The wind. And the desolate expanse of lava rock, black road, and sun making shimmering mirages dance for miles on the unforgiving asphalt. We were as much attune to Mother Nature, Mother Earth, Madame Pele, as we were with ourselves and our race.

I did see some very weird things during this stretch: a few people walking their bikes, two athletes peeing on the side of the road, and one sight – that I won’t soon forget – of JUST a bike laying on its side. There was no one in sight, absolutely nothing. It was just a bike. For a moment I came out of aero and looked around, wondering what had happened to the poor soul belonging to the bike. But I saw no one, and heard nothing, save the spinning of my bike wheels and race number flapping in the breeze.

It was very eerie. And very odd.

Coasting the last ten miles towards Kona, I was able to see the men’s professional race unfold on the run. I was too focused on staying upright and taking in my gels and water to really catch a glimpse of the leaders. But it seemed daunting and wonderful all at the same time to be riding past the spot where – in three or four hours – I would be running, myself. It seemed so surreal that they – the icons of the sport – were running the same roads that I would have the opportunity to run on.

Some looked determined while others looked miserable. I could feel the intensity, as they radiated focus just like the lava rocks radiated heat. Each one's stride was different, yet they were all headed towards the same destination. In short - I was inspired.

It was another reminder of how great the race was, but also of how many miles I had left to cover. Woa… I’m supposed to run a marathon now…??? In THIS heat….???

At some point during an Ironman, you just need to make peace with the work that is yet to be done. I knew that on this day, there would be no easy way. Welcome to Ironman, and most notably, Ironman Hawaii! With the swim completed and bike portion nearly done, I felt my mind shift towards that of the marathon that lay ahead. I had no idea what to expect time-wise.

And in the end, that didn’t really matter.

What mattered was getting to Transition 2, getting in-and-out as quickly as possible, and starting my run.

Cresting the last hill before taking a right turn off the Queen K was bittersweet: I was far away from biking my goal time. But at the same point, I wasn’t disappointed at all. My body had done precisely what I had asked of it, and more importantly, I felt that I was smart about my race. My legs felt surprisingly fresh and according to my bike computer, I had gotten faster throughout the race (which, with the tailwind on the way out and headwind on the way back – should NOT have happened. Indeed after reviewing my splits, I discovered that I held EXACTLY THE SAME miles per hour for my entire foray onto the Queen K and Hwy 270).

So -I rationalized with myself -that because I was feeling stronger and better at the end of my ride, I had set myself up in a brilliant position to have a super run.

Cruising down the Palani Hill past the crowds of cheering spectators, I was determined to do just that. I quickly slipped my feet out of my shoes, came to a complete stop, threw my leg over my saddle and handed my bike off to one of the incredible volunteers. The last thing I did was to yell THANK YOU!!!

I heard the timing mat BEEP as I ran under the BIKE IN sign, into Transition 2….

24 comments:

TriGirl Kate O said...

I wish I wish I wish I had part 4 to read to help me mentally prep for my marathon tomorrow. I will think of your Nathaniel with every Marine I see. Hoorah.

Stef said...

You are soooo right about this:

And I think we - as athletes - are extremely harsh and unforgiving of ourselves. Racing is HARD. Training is HARD. Heck - life is HARD. But berating ourselves doesn't make it any easier... So do the best that you can with what you have - and go from there. Sometimes it works out SUPERB and other times, not so much. But in the end, you've got the experience and lessons that you can draw from them. And that is priceless!


To me this right here is MY key to success, in business and in continually setting goals in triathlon and surpassing them.

I've worked VERY hard to take that insidious pressure and self judgment off myself and it has freed me up to do more, be more, and set goals that I never thought I would set.

Thanks for writing it here and for sharing your Kona race with us. :-)

Ange said...

Marit---that was Mark yelling to you!! :) (my husband) He has this knack for remembering people and he has a great deep loud voice for us to hear out there. He just told me he remembers yellingi to you at that spot. cool that you heard him.
You did great holding it together on that ride. it was TOUGH!!!! Great great job

Heidi Austin said...

Great Job Marit! I think sticking to your plan was the best choice by far... I guess I will find out in part 4! But from what I remember you rocked the run :)

D said...

Would you believe me if I told you that I actually read that whole thing?

Bob Mitera said...

Marit - brilliantly written. I love the aspect of Kona that in some parts it is loud and exciting and at the hardest parts it is so lonely and quiet you are alone with only you. I totally agree with you about arm coolers. I saw many purple sunburns. OW! Didn't know about how hard Nate had to work to get into flight school but not suprised as he is part of an elite group.

#1136 is a 41yr old F accountant from Bermuda. Karen Bordage. No blog.

Jennifer Yake Neuschwander said...

I can't wait for part 4. I think you are right about how we as athlete's are really hard on ourselves. You really did a great job in Kona. From what I understand, not having raced Kona, is that it's a really hard race. One that only the physically elite, lucky lotto winners or semi-celebrity people with sponsors exemptions can race. Kona isn't a just a bike split and you respected that. Hello great run! If my mind serves me you have had some spectacular bike splits. Encinitas? Oceanside? You are probably too modest but I would think part 4 could include all the people you dropped in the first hour of the run.

Jennifer Yake Neuschwander said...

I can't wait for part 4. I think you are right about how we as athlete's are really hard on ourselves. You really did a great job in Kona. From what I understand, not having raced Kona, is that it's a really hard race. One that only the physically elite, lucky lotto winners or semi-celebrity people with sponsors exemptions can race. Kona isn't a just a bike split and you respected that. Hello great run! If my mind serves me you have had some spectacular bike splits. Encinitas? Oceanside? You are probably too modest but I would think part 4 could include all the people you dropped in the first hour of the run.

Ryan said...

Waikaloa to the Airport...YIKES!

The heat was so intense coming off the perfectly black road and lava fields. I was begging for the gusts of wind just to cool the fire on my skin. There is no doubt that the lowest point of the ride for me was at mile 92 going up to the scenic point, baking in the heat, blocked by the wind, and forced to choose with my water that is left in the bottle...drink it or pour it over myself. It was a 2 mile torturous game I played until I crested the hill and saw the upcoming aid station (paradise).

Then the cruelty of "Bike In" relief from pedaling, now go run!

kerrie said...

yes, you described it perfectly...that last section sucks and i actually fear the "32 miles to Kailua-Kona" sign cause i know it means the fun is just beginning.
that ride sometimes just sucks....as time goes on, the wind picks up and it gets hotter, and you can't avoid it.
Can you believe that the pro men didn't even have wind on the way up to Hawi?!?
final thought - aren't you glad the volunteers wear gloves when they take your bike at t2? lol....

Ness said...

Hey Marit,
congratulations on such an enormous feat. Hard to believe you were in a hospital bed not that long ago!
You're a true inspiration.
-Ness.

ADC said...

Oh don't let us wait too long for the next part :)

GoBigGreen said...

Marit: You make me ALMOST want to do this race just bc I want to go "Where Marit" has gone! You are amazing and a great writer. Cant wait to read more!

Beth said...

First, I have to thank you for such a great report because it's so truthful and gives us people who have never done Kona the true picture of how hard a race is!! And second I have to say that it takes a very mature athlete to do what you did - work through a day when you weren't feeling 100% and READY TO GO and still have yourself a solid day and a solid race. Many, many athletes would have thrown in the towel!!

Missy said...

Way to stick with the plan - never easy when you're not getting the results you expect for sure. WHY are we so hard on ourselves? What you just did was such a small part off the population, yet you're able battle with yourself on your performance. We all do, bunch of daYum freaks;)

Teresa said...

Fantastic Report! You are an amazing athlete for knowing to listen to your body and follow YOUR plan. That is so difficult for many to learn. Waiting for part 4!
tn

Kim said...

DYNAMITE sister! you stuck to your plan and hung in there! awesome job and fantastic race report! cant wait for #4.

Greg Remaly said...

I really enjoyed the moment where you conquered your doubts and lack of motivation by thinking of the motivating people in your life. The bike course seems to be part-ordeal, part-quest, and all hot!

Rebecca DeWire said...

I can totally relate to the pale skin and sunburn issue. When I feel the sun radiating on exposed skin, my mind totally freaks. If it is hot and shade, I am OK...but when I know I am getting fried I have a really hard time. Good advice to cover up on the bike!

Charisa said...

I think you rode a smart bike - stuck to YOUR plan. Nice work!

Damie said...

of course I am waiting for part 4!!!!!

Trigirlpink said...

enjoying your reports when I can sit and read the darn things and not just in sections!

You did great. Looking forward to the run part!

Angela and David Kidd said...

I have started reading this post so many times only to be interrupted. Finally, I can read the whole thing! So honest and detailed. I think we can all relate to the ride you were having and the frustration of just not being able to find your power.

And honestly, the sun burn thing is one of the things that scares me most about Ironman, Hawaii specifically. If I ever make it I will be covering up. I may look a little silly but it will be worth it in the long run.

Mer! said...

You did awesome Marit....you captured the biking spirit very accurately..you sort of go through points on the bike where you go "i'm not going fast enough" and somewhere along the line you make peace with your pace and you become thankful for just being able to bike and realizing how AWESOME you really WERE DOING!! =0

Can't wait for the run part!!! You just did fantastic!!!!