O.K., so I left you hanging on the edge of your seats as I was telling you about the self absorbed driver of the SUV who pulled out and parked in the middle of the bike course around mile 44. Well, now it is time for the stunning conclusion to the bike leg!
The bike course took a turn to the North and suddenly I was pedaling straight into the wind. I would venture to say that the wind was blowing at a steady 17 to 20 miles. The few flags I saw were standing straight out from the flag pole. On top of the wind, the road was climbing ever so slightly. I slipped the chain into the smaller chain ring so that I could keep the legs spinning and not muscle through the last miles before the run. I ended passing up the German guy who passed me on the bridge that crossed Tampa Bay. YES!!! I ended passing up this gal who was in my age group. SWEET!!! We hit a bigger bridge that went over some rail road tracks. I could feel the gap was widening between my bike and theirs. Again the police support was fantastic.
As soon as the course turned west again, I knew right where I was on Hwy 60 that goes to Clearwater Beach from the airport. It was easier to have a crosswind rather than a headwind. I had a guy on the sidewalk yelling out to me to kick it into high gear and chase down that guy in front of me. The athletes had an entire lane coned off near the center of the highway. A motorist would have to be a complete dimwit to have driven onto the course because of all of the orange cones, but then again we did find one of those dimwits at mile 44. The only thing left to tackle was the causeway bridge. I set my gearing appropriately and started on my last hard effort on the bike. There were already hundreds of people out on the run and I knew that I had to get a move on it to get in the game. Then I looked down at my watch. I was going to finish this ride in less than three hours. Rock n' Roll!!! I was ahead of schedule! I got my feet out of my shoes and prepared for the dismount line.
I approached the dismount line, swung my leg over the bike and hopped off and ran under the "Bike In" arch. There were lots of great volunteers ready and waiting to take my bike and I ran down the racks of gear bags to get my red "bike to run" gear back. The volunteers in the change tent were helpful and asked if I needed sun screen. What I really needed was a Port-o-can! The least amount of time I could spend in a hot Port-o-can the better, but since I had a shy bladder on the bike, I had no choice but to make a pit stop. In and out, and I grabbed a handful of sanitizer lotion from a volunteer and I was on my way to the Run Exit arch.
My first goal was to keep my heart rate from going through the roof. The first 400 meters was confined to one normal traffic lane. Runners coming in and runners passing me by. Slow girl was doing her best to stay to the inside and stay small. It is a good thing that we were all sweaty and everyone was sliding by each other. The spectators were thick again and cheering loudly. My plan was to run for 8 minutes and walk for 2 minutes and keep my pace around 10 minutes per mile.