T1 was kind of a cluster if you ask me. Last year, you left the beach after getting stripped, ran through a little opening in a building, picked up your special needs bag and went 5 feet to a changing tent. This year things were totally different - for the worse if you ask me! You still ran through the building, got your bags, but now had to run to a building on the other side of transition to go into an overcrowded smelly tent to change. I actually grabbed my transition bag and stood in line to get into the tent. It wasn't right! T1 was a chaotic mess as usual. God bless the women who volunteer in the change tent. They see A LOT of women parts - granted Ironman women tend to be in decent shape, but ew... it's still a lot of women. :) The carpet of the building was wet and sandy. I found a spot, emptied my bag, had a great volunteer, quickly changed (although pulling bike shorts up when your wet is not fun or quick and yes, I changed shorts because my whoha just can't handle tri shorts for 112 miles) and was on my way. I exited the tent right next to my bike, but again, had to run all the way to the other side of transition, only to turn around and come all the way back and get my bike. In bike shoes. T1 took me 8:49.
I got on my bike and it was a gorgeous day. I had arm warmers on, but didn't need them which was a nice thing. It was sunny as could be and the first 7 miles or so just flew by (I had a tailwind which helped). We made our first turn around mile 8 and I started thinking "this is going to be a long day". I got settled in and just rode. There were bike everywhere and clumps of people on each other's wheels. I wondered if drafting would be as prevalent this year as last year. I turned at mile 20ish and got smacked with what would be my biggest enemy for the next 30 miles - a straight headwind. It sucked! And for the record, Ironman Florida might be flat, but this 30 mile stretch is a lot of false flats. It was tough and sucked your energy out. I stopped at mile 35ish to use the facilities and had to wait on line. Yup... the joy of being a woman that day. :( I had not other choice! Special needs came around mile 48. I always laugh at Special Needs. I stopped, refilled my bento and was on my way. Others lay in the grass, have a picnic, etc. I guess they realize that it's a long day and they might as well enjoy it. To each is own! I'm still fighting the headwind at this point and know that the turn is coming soon. I can't wait.
Then it happens...
I make the turn about mile 50 and I'm coasting along on a 4 lane road. All lanes are open to the public and there are quite a few cars. People have spread out a little, but I still see clumps of bikers. I've worked so hard to keep my 7 meters all day because the motorcycles and race officials are EVERYWHERE. I get up close to a man that I want to pass and know that I'll have to go out into the lane to pass him. I get right by his wheels and hear a car. Not wanting to kill myself as I pass him, I drop back. He slows to which means that I'm in the draft box too long. Of course a race official saw the whole thing and had no pity for me. "Number 2307 - that's a red violation. Serve your 4 minute penalty at the next penalty tent." AHHHHHH! I was so pissed! Especially since I was trying so hard to not draft. I silently cursed Ricardo who was the man in front of me who had slowed as I dropped back, but of course just smiled as I passed him a few minutes later. All I could think about was the damn penalty. And I wondered how far the next penalty tent was. I knew there had been one around mile 20. Surely another was coming up. I kept my eyes peeled. I see the 60 mile sign, the 70 mile sign, the 80 mile sign. Now I'm worried that I missed it and I'll be disqualified or something. And I've totally embraced the fact that I'll sit for 4 minutes once I find the tent. Finally around mile 90 I see it. I stop. I've never gotten a penalty so I didn't know the routine. There were 3 other girls in the tent, all bitching about the same thing as me - how come the guys get away with it and when we don't think that we are drafting, we get dinged! They hand me a stopwatch which I have to hold for 4 minutes. They mark all my numbers with "X", and laugh about how fresh we'll feel on the run because of our break. Not funny... The head lady at the tent had a clipboard and said that she's never seen so many drafting penalties in her life. She was on page 11 and there were 8 people on each page. She was only 1 of 3 penalty boxes. My 4 minutes was up soon enough and I hopped back on my bike, grumbling to myself the whole time. I only had about 22 miles left - I wasn't going to let it ruin my day.
The last miles went fast - the tailwind helped... and maybe the 4 minutes off my bike! It's funny how you try to occupy your time on the bike too - for me, it was trying to convert the kilometer markers to miles. Sure I could have just looked at my computer, but that's not nearly as fun right? :) I was excited to get back to transition though and start my run. I knew that I would have a PR in the bike, even with the penalty which made me happy. I haven't been feeling very confident on the bike lately and well... let's face it, I hate riding in the wind so to survive that, I was pleased. The crowds really bring you in the last few miles. It's almost surreal. Another successful leg - besides the penalty. Total bike time was 6:33:29 - 17.1mph. That was fine with me. (I have to note that Tom had an awesome day on the bike. He finished in 5:22 something which was 20.8mph. He was really happy with that and said that he felt the wind a lot too! He also thought it was so cool that I got a penalty - So cool honey, let me tell you! He's weird!)