Headwind is NO joke.

I’m still alive!  There’s so much that I haven’t written about, but this week, 5150 is on my mind.  What is 5150, you ask?  Well, it’s an Olympic triathlon (1.5km swim, 40k bike, and 10k run) that I am signed up for and it’s coming up in 2 days!   Oh, shit. It’s in 2 DAYS.

I’ve competed in various sprint triathlons, but this will be my first Olympic.  The race is going to be in Galveston, which is notorious for its wind.  I had read about the difficulty of dealing with headwind in my early days of cycling and thought, how bad can wind be?  For a runner, wind can be a bit of a nuance but nothing that I’ve ever worried about.  Turns out, wind is a HUGE deal when it comes to cycling.  I experienced it this past weekend when I did a long training ride in Galveston, covering the straight path along the sea wall (with nothing to block the wind) in Galveston.

The forecast called for 14-15mph winds to the west, which meant tailwind out and headwind back.  My plan was to go at a comfortable pace heading out, knowing that I would need to save energy for the second half when we would face headwind.  I felt pretty good heading out and was riding with an average around 18mph.  The course was relatively flat and the tailwind was pushing us along.  Thoughts at this point were, “Whee, this is fun!” and, “Cycling is cool!”

IMG_20130914_140644I also recently discovered that I could peddle while taking my right hand off the handlebars, and thus, was finally able to eat on the bike!  The day before the ride, I had a new Profile Design water bottle holder installed to my road bike handlebars and now could easily drink water from my AeroDrink bottle with its extended straw (thanks to Johnny Z at Powerhouse Racing in Pearland!).  Very exciting!

We’d ridden a little under 1.5 hours when we decided to turn around.  I immediately noticed how tough it was now to peddle and had to drop a few gears.  I knew my speed would slow down after the turn around but I had not anticipated exactly how much.  I didn’t know my exact speed (forgot my Garmin) but I could FEEL how slow it was.  My cadence was lower than it needed to be and I was on the third lowest gear.  Ugh.  I started to question how anybody could enjoy cycling and how stupid Ironman races were. Seriously. WHO THOUGHT THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA?!  Crazy people, that’s who!  Not knowing my current speed, I feared the worst and thought maybe signing up for Oilman Triathlon (FYI– I signed up for a half-Ironman distance race in November!) had been too ambitious and I was setting myself up for a DNF.  I was also running low on water and getting hungry.  Hmph.  We had planned on stopping at a gas station, but the gas station was still far far away (10 miles from our starting point) and I had dropped some of my food by accident.  *sigh*

I felt bad because I was clearly falling behind and Kevin had to pull into condo parking lots a couple of times and ride around to wait for me to catch up.  Sorry, Kevin!  My legs felt like bricks and I was frustrated with how slow I was going.  Trying to catch a break by cruising was NOT an option.  The second I stopped pedaling, my speed would drastically drop and then it was more work to try and bring it back up.  While the view from San Luis Bridge was lovely, riding the bridge was awful. The crosswinds were roaring and I could feel the wind trying to push me over.  I was nervous about taking a hand off the handlebars since I had to constantly adjust to fight the changing winds.

Eventually, we caught a break at the gas station, and while I wish I could say it was smooth sailing from there, it wasn’t until we turned away from the sea wall that I discovered my legs actually still worked!  I furiously pedaled towards Moody Gardens, ready to be done with the ride!

It was only afterwards that I was able to appreciate the ride– we ended up averaging around 15mph and had completed 52.5 miles in under 3.5 hours.  This was a big PR for me and made me feel a lot more confident about both my upcoming Olympic race as well as Oilman!  Perhaps we should have gone another 3.5 miles to hit the half-Ironman distance?  Kevin’s response was, “NO!” but that’s okay, we will next time.  🙂

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