Learning New Things: Ultraman Florida Part 2/Day 2 Race Report

After another 4 AM wake up call I was out and about the condo with my pre race routine making sure I got in enough calories for breakfast before what was sure to be an exhausting but exciting day.  Out of all the days of the race day 2 was the one I was most looking forward to,  since we were all starting at the same time I would have riders close to my ability to ride with for most of the day.  After everyone else was up and the car was packed for the day we headed out for the hour drive back to Cocoa beach.  Everyone that has started day 1 had finished so I was excited to ride with 32 of my new friends and hoping everyone would see the Day 2 finish line as well.

Ready to go!

Ready to go!

We arrived at the start line with a little more than 30 minutes to go.  Most everyone was inside and eating breakfast with a select few outside tweaking with their bikes before the long day in the saddle.  I borrowed a pump from one of the other crews to top off my tires and made sure everything was tightened and set.  I also made sure that I had enough nutrition on board to last the first 18 miles of the race which was a no feed zone, where we would be out of touch with our crews.  After finishing up the last of my pre race nutrition I kissed Erica goodbye and headed over to the start line placing myself right in front with Adam, Chuck and Inaki.  

10 seconds to  go!

10 seconds to  go!

Even though I was about to embark the longest ride of my life mileage wise, I was surprisingly calm.  I knew from some of my epic training rides where I road through sleet, snow, rain and ice that there were absolutely no conditions that I was unable to handle a bike. I had done several rides over 7 hours outside and was forced to do some inside rides of the same length as well due to the weather.   I coyishly asked the others what their plan of attack was for the day as I honestly did not know how hard they were planning on going out.  All I knew is that with a more than a 30 minute deficit to make up whatever they did I had to follow or I risked falling further behind. 

The next thing I knew we were counting down to start and we were off.  At first it was a nice calm pace to get the legs moving, with nobody showing their cards.  However that really didn't last long as one of the other guys decided to take it out at a pretty hard pace.  Chuck and I looked at each other and he said "we'll see him later".  I nodded my head in agreement and then someone else took off right behind him.  They made a quick break however they both got stuck at the next light, and we were back together as a group.  I looked at my power output and took stock of how I felt it was time to up the ante.  

We were probably less than 5 miles in, there was virtually no wind, and we were on a very flat section of the course.  I went out and set the pace seeing if anyone would follow.  I was well within my target wattage and I felt strong so I went with it. I was now leading the group and wanted to see who was coming with me.  I turned around after a few minutes and was happy to see I was not alone.   The next time we got stopped at a light our group was significantly smaller and by the light after that we were down to four with no one else in sight.  It was early on and we had already made a significant time gain. The three others with me were Adam, Chuck and Inaki just like we had been on the start line.  It was at this point that Chuck decided to take the lead and I was happy to let him do some work without letting him get too far ahead.  After awhile I decided that I wasn't working hard enough so I went back to the front and back to work.  

leading the pack early on

leading the pack early on

We soon came across the crews for the first time and it was really neat to see all the vans lined up on the side of the road anxiously waiting for their athletes to arrive.  Some of them were taking pictures with others just staring in to the distance with nutrition in hand waiting to be able to hand off at any minute.  I passed Erica, grabbed my bar and, kept on peddling.  The winds started to pick up a bit but I really didn't think anything of it.   I did notice however that I was starting to have the urge to pee. After the first pit stop Inaki's crew was sticking to the group and taking a ton of photos.  It was fun to have the paparazzi, it took my mind off the massive amount of mileage that we had yet to conquer.  

leading the group through the fog

leading the group through the fog

The next few miles ticked off without incident but the winds picked up more, and the humidity was apparent. We saw several groups of cyclists coming the other way, but the four of us were still together. The next hour or so was pretty uneventful, we kept a pretty close eye on each other and no one got too far ahead.  I found myself mostly in the front, simply because I wanted to dictate how fast I was going, and how much energy I was expending.  All of the sudden it started to drizzle, then it started to rain, then out of nowhere the sky opened up and the deluge started.  I could almost hear the nervousness coming from my crew van, but I knew I was in my element and I was loving every minute of it.  The next time we made a pass I yelled out to them "are you having fun yet?"  We were soaked to the bone and riding our tails off.  It was coming down so hard that it was making it difficult to see the road ahead, but I was comfortable leading the way and pointing out any dangerous hazards to the rest of the group.  After about 15 minutes the rains let up and were much more docile.

As we were plugging along on one of the straightaways Adam pulled up along side of me and let me know that Inaki had flatted on one of the last bridge we came over.  I mulled over attacking for a minute and trying to put some time in make up some of the time that I was behind, but I quickly decided I did not want a mechanical to be the reason I made up time so I eased up on the throttle a tad.  I figured since he was an experienced athlete, he and his crew would have an extra wheel ready to go so at the very least he would be back with us in a few minutes once he swapped the wheel and caught up.  

Shortly after the 3 of us crossed a busy intersection and Adams crew flew by us and his wife was flagging us down and waving her arms like ferociously to turn around.  It had been a while since any of us had seen our crews and the hard rains had wiped the turn arrow off the pavement so we ended up going off course. Fortunately for us his crew saw us miss the turn and we only rode an extra mile or so out of the way.  We quickly turned around and headed back the other way.  I turned to Chuck and told him I really needed to learn how to pee while riding as I still been holding it for the last 2 hours or so. He commented on how he had been doing it all day and even gave some advice on how to.  I knew going in to the day I was going to be in the situation and I didn't want to lose the group, so I had to figure out a way to learn, and learn fast, but I tried once again without success.  On the way back we got stuck at the light at the busy intersection and lost some more momentum, but once it turned I was just focused on where we needed to go next.  After a couple of quick turns we saw Sway, the race director,  and asked her if Inaki had come through yet.  When she told us he came through a few minutes prior, I shouted some expletives, put my head down, and started to go in to attack mode.  

We saw Inakis crew as we were chasing and they apologized for not being there when we missed the turn, which really wasn't their fault as they were busy attending to their athlete.  I put in a few 300 watt surges and Chuck and Adam were right there with me,which was fun.  In hindsight this probably wasn't the smartest thing to do as we still had over 100 miles of riding left, and the gap was fairly small, but it didn't seem to hurt in the long run. Chuck at one point during one of the turns commented that he was getting nervous that he hadn't seen his crew in awhile but I let him know I was fully stocked and if he needed anything I would be happy to let him borrow fuel.  We finally started to pick up some momentum and then all of the sudden we come to an area and see all of our crews stopped, among other cars and not going anywhere. 

Our group for most of the day followed by Chucks Crew, setting the pace early

Our group for most of the day followed by Chucks Crew, setting the pace early

Apparently there was some sort of street fair and the street had been blocked off.  After we were initially stopped by the cops, they decided to let us ride through as the bikes don't take up much space on the road, and we would be in and out of the blockade shortly.  Once we were finally through and came around to the next corner we saw Inaki sitting there waiting for us.  He had seen us get stopped and decided that waiting was the right thing to do.  I patted him on the back as a thank you, and we kept on riding as we had been in our group of 4.  We stayed together for the next stretch, but that didn't last very long, and  I still really had to pee.  It had started to rain again and I dropped back a little to see if I could finally learn how to pee on my bike after 10 years of racing, and all of the sudden I had a Eureka moment.  I was so happy to finally be able to break the seal on the bike.  I caught back up with Inaki and Chuck at the next light, but noticeably absent was Adam.  He had told us early on his plan was to stick with us as long as he could, which was quite some time,  but with a little over 100 miles to go our group was down to just three.

For the next 20 miles or so Chuck, Inaki and I rode in a very loose group, each one of us attacking at different times.  Chuck had gaped Inaki and I at a light and we got stuck waiting for a few minutes.  I had gotten there first and Inaki asked where Chuck was, having seen him just make the light I told him he wasn't far ahead.  Once the light change Inaki attacked, and at first I went with him, but I looked at my power output and decided he was going harder than I wanted to go, so I sat back and let him go.  I was comfortable in my decision as we had ridden almost 100 miles but we still had a long way to go, with a decent amount of hills to contend with. 

The next stretch of the course was fairly lonely and uneventful, with the turns and the hills, I could no longer see Inaki or Chuck.  I rolled through the 100 mile mark solo in 4:34 which was the fastest 100 miles I had ever ridden.  I was still alert and in good spirits making sure to feed at my designated intervals so I was getting in at least 400 cal/hr.  I was pretty excited when I finally came to sugar loaf mountain I shouted out to Erica "Sugarloaf!!!!"  I could see Inaki climbing and about to crest it so I wasn't too far behind.  About halfway up my chain decided that it was going to fall off, which is really the first bike issue I had had up until that point.  I looked back at what I had already climbed, and ahead at what was left and decided my best option would be to run the rest of it and climb back on the bike when I would be able to get some momentum and get the chain back on.  Sway was at the top warning about standing water on the downhills and telling us to slow down.  I had my sights set on Inaki so I wasn't concerned about the water, and didn't really listen hitting 42 mph on the way down.  After coming down the hill I noticed at the that my Quarq stopped reading correctly.  It was at that point I realized I had a dead battery and I would be riding the next 60 miles on feel and could no longer rely on power.    

Halfway up sugarloaf, dropped chain, only option was to run it up!

Halfway up sugarloaf, dropped chain, only option was to run it up!

Almost at the top!

Almost at the top!

Time to find Inaki, sorry Sway, I'm bombing the hill whether there is standing water or not!

Time to find Inaki, sorry Sway, I'm bombing the hill whether there is standing water or not!

The next section saw quite a bit of climbing and was a bit dicey on some of the descents with the standing water from all the rains.   At one point my crew car was in the way of my descent and almost caused me to go down, but I corrected and stayed upright. Even so I continued climbing aggressively and descending the hills with reckless abandon as I wanted to make up my deficit and get back to Inaki and Chuck.  I had lost my chain again on another one of the climbs and I decided I was done with small ring riding for the rest of the day.  Shortly a after I spotted Inaki and his crew up the road and I told myself I would be staying with him for the rest of the day once I caught up.  

I slowed up as I passed the car and I could see Inaki working on the bike and messing with the rear derailleur but didn't think anything of it.  I figured there was nothing I could do to help since I'm not really mechanically inclined and just commented on how my chain had been falling off for the last 10 miles.  I though he had just had a small mishap and would be up and riding again shortly.  After coming across Inaki my mindset immediately changed to finding Chuck and limiting the damage he could put on me before the end of the stage.   Every time I saw one of the volunteers I would ask how far ahead Chuck was.  At first it was 6 minutes and then I started to hear splits of 4 minutes, then 3.  I figured I was working my way back to him in a smart on controlled way and I was comfortable with that.  As the hills continued I thought I had to have been getting close and I would be able to see him sooner or later.  I also started getting excited as I started to see green arrows for the run, which meant the bike was coming to an end. 

Yes there are hills in Florida, busy hunting for Chuck.

Yes there are hills in Florida, busy hunting for Chuck.

 When I hit the out and back section I asked John where Chuck was and he told me I was 9 minutes back, which completely deflated me.  I was miffed on how I could lose 6 minutes that quickly! I then realized that the other splits I was getting probably weren't correct and I was losing time steadily instead of gaining it.  I then saw Chuck for the first time in about 3 hours headed the other way, and he looked like he was plugging along at a decent pace.  We shouted some words of encouragement to each other and kept on going.  I don't think he will admit it, but I think he decided at that point he was going to attack until the finish line and empty that tank to give himself as much of a cushion as possible going in to the run. While I didn't attack, more I did all I could to maintain my pace.  All I kept thinking after that was where Inaki was.  When I hit the turn around I looked at my watch to see what my gap was on Inaki but I made the next athlete I saw wasn't him, then I saw 2 more, but still no Inaki.  In fact I had no idea who was behind me and I had estimated I was now 15 minutes ahead of Inaki by the end of the out and back section.  I was actually quite worried because I know I shouldn't have put that much time on him in such a short period.  

The last 10 miles of the bike seemed to last forever.  I skipped my last bar at 8 hours because I just could not get another solid thing down.  I had been struggling to get anything solid down for the last few hours but I was able to force it.  Instead I started hitting my bottles of EFS every 10 minutes instead of 15 to make sure I was still getting a steady stream of calories as I knew I had just a few short miles to go.  I could sense I was getting closer and I was starting to get excited, in my mind I was almost guaranteed a finish now that I got through the first 2 days without any issues.  I started to get emotional as I came across the final turn to the finish and everyone was telling me to slow down.  I came into the chute a little hot and almost took down the whole finish line structure and landed in the grass.  I hopped off my bike and bounced it on the ground in exuberance as Steve had announced I had just ridden myself into 2nd place based on the last time Inaki was seen at a checkpoint. 

A little over excited at the day 2 finish line!

A little over excited at the day 2 finish line!

I grabbed my recovery drink from Erica, went to medical and got my massage.  It was then that I found out Chuck had almost gone down, and Inaki had gone down hard.  I had no idea that he had crashed and I felt really bad that I had gone by not realizing he went down.  I also found out that one of the female riders, Fiona, had crashed and gone down at that same spot effectively ending her race.  My heart immediately sank as I knew the time and preparation it takes to get ready only to have it ripped away more than halfway through. Shes in good spirits and is already talking about settling the score next year, and I will be following her journey when she goes back to conquer for sure. While we were getting our massages Chuck asked how fast I was going to run, and suggested we run together.  I slyly told him that I would run however fast I needed to to make up the 49 minutes I was behind, which really was my plan.  

Less than a minute out of 2nd, and 49 minutes out of first after 2 days.

Less than a minute out of 2nd, and 49 minutes out of first after 2 days.

a little overly emotional at the finish.

a little overly emotional at the finish.

When Inaki came across the line the standings changed again and I was back in 3rd place by 56 seconds, but now 49 minutes behind Chuck. I was still super pumped because 56 seconds could easily be made up over 52.4 miles of running, and while it would take some work so could 49 minutes.   I can't stress enough how important a good crew is.  Erica and the rest of my crew had done an amazing job keeping me hydrated well fed, and on course and I weighed in only .3 lbs less than the prior day.  I finished the day with plenty of energy and knew exactly what needed to be done to walk away with the win.  I am fortunate to have such a loving wife that understands my craziness and will even sign up for journeys like this with me.  We said our goodbyes and packed the car for the 1 hr drive back to Orlando.  I forced myself to eat anything I could get down as I needed to start fueling for a long run in the morning.  I stalked the Ultraman Florida facebook page for updates on the way home and once we made it back to make sure everyone made the cutoffs and there were no more crashes. I got my daily dose of Enduropacks and Forte and I was happy to see that everyone else made it and I continued my prep for day 3.  I learned two things today,  how to pee on my bike, and that Florida actually has hills.

Part 3 can be found here

Interesting Stats:

Calorie Intake: Roughly 3300, 

Calorie expenditure: 4891 (probably off due to 3 hours of 1/2 power output)