Thursday, December 12, 2013

2013 Ironman Cozumel Race Report

It's been over a week since I raced Ironman Cozumel.  I thought of many titles of this blog that day - Ironman Cozumel: the s#*tshow was a big favourite.  Getting there via Cancun-Playa del Carman to Cozumel, to the unorganized registration and packet pick up, to the misinformation as to where we had to check out T2 bags ... it was what I guess you would expect in Mexico ... a bit of a s#itshow.

BUT, our hotel was great and the locals were great.  We stayed at the Intercontinental which ended up being the swim start for the race, so we can't complain there.

The days leading up to the race were windy - incredibly windy and the seas were rough.  The day before the race, as we ate breakfast, we noticed a bunch of officials talking for a long time and I started a rumour that our swim would be made a shorter, point-to-point swim starting at our hotel.  By 4pm that afternoon that rumour was confirmed by a race official.  That's right - hang with me before an Ironman because I'm in the know! (or follow me on twitter)....
Race Directors and Triathlon Mexico Officials
So race morning was like most race mornings though a bit light on nutrition now that I think about it.  I had brought my gluten free bagels, a toaster and some peanut butter but the bagels were too stale and I only got down a few bites.  I had a 200 calorie bottle of CarboPro+Nuun before heading to the T1 and took another bottle to sip on.  I caught the first bus from the hotel to T1, made very quick work of putting my nutrition on the bike, borrowing a pump and pumping my tires and lubing the chain.  I got on the first bus back to my hotel which was key as there were over 2,000 athletes, some of which had no idea the swim start had been changed, that needed to be bused from T1 to the swim start.

I was so lucky to be staying at that hotel!  I went back to the room and heading down to the swim start just before the pros were to go off.  I found my buddy Duncan and like always it's so calming to have a friend to chat with!
talking about something....

The pros went off and in went the age groupers.  Even though officials were saying we had 15 minutes - you know us triathletes - so the fast swimmers got to the start line and started drifting with the current - oh did I mention the new swim course was point-to-point with the current the entire way?  So by the time the gun went off, which no one even claims they heard, the lead swimmers were probably 50-75 meters past the start line (including my buddy Hector who was the 2nd age grouper out of the water, first out of T1 and led the first 50k on the bike!).  Oh well.  There was a loud cheer and we were off swimming.

Typical Ironman mass start swim.  Most violent swim I have ever experienced.  I was pushed into a buoy line and got rope burn on my left leg, I nearly sliced my left hand completely open on a coral head and felt lucky that I only caught a chunk of my right hand on it (which I am still nursing back to health) and I took a whip kick to my left eye that knocked my goggles off and left me seeing stars. It was a short (3.1km) and fast swim (52 minutes).  Getting to the stairs and pulling myself out of the water was a complete disaster too...
yes, we had to tread  water waiting to get up the stairs!
As always I was happy to get out of the swim.  They were handing out the bags of water so I grabbed 2 - one to drink and wash my face and the other to rinse my feet in the change tent - brilliant move if I say so myself!  I made quick work in T1 with a time of 4:58 but there was a long, crowded run-up (that's right people RUN -it's a race) and a crazy bike transition area.

I was happy to get out on the road until I realised that I hadn't secured the top correctly on my new aerobottle (I left mine at home) and I lost half a bottle of Carbopro-Nuun before I pulled over and fixed it.  Deep breaths, long race ahead, put that behind me.
the wind sucked but the scenery was beautiful

The first loop of the bike course was super fast.  The winds hadn't picked up too much and I was riding strong. I had passed quite a few and was only being passed by a few men until I got caught by the first big peleton of the day.  I was about half way through the windy side of the island when I was over taken and sucked in by the largest peleton I have ever seen in a triathlon!  They were 5-6 wide and when I looked over my shoulder they went on as far as I could see.  I'm sure I benefited from this pack passing me.  When we made the turn to head West across the island the pack broke up.  And as I was catching up to a large group of riders, and actively passing on the left (and eating a gel) I heard an official shout out - I turned and saw a guy, on a scooter with his phone, calling out numbers.  In hindsight I think he was warning me to drop back or pass faster - but I assumed it was a penalty.

So we came into town, I saw Barry and Carole and they had a sign that said "22nd out of the swim".  I knew I had passed quite a few and had not been passed by any woman that I knew of so I felt good.  I shouted "Penalty" and road on.  I stopped at the penalty tent and had a frustrating conversation with the official.  Since no card was shown to me I presumably didn't have one.  Ugh - wasted time and energy there.

different bottles on the back, further along
Back on my bike I continued to drink my nutrition, take a gel every 40 mins as well as some gel blasts to switch it up.  I peed 3 times on the bike which I thought at the time was great - must not be getting dehydrated.  I supplemented my Carbopro+Nuun with gatorade and felt like I had done a good job with my nutrition on the bike.  The second loop was tougher, the peletons had mostly broken up and the winds were picking up.

I should mention it rained twice on the bike.  Though my exact memory of when escapes me.

The third loop was mental!  The winds had picked up substantially on the Eastern Side of the island and my speed and power dropped substantially.  It was disheartening when I realized not only was I not going to hit my bike goal for this race, I wasn't even going to beat my bike time from IMFL last year.  We made the last turn to cross the island and the crosswinds had picked up too so there was little reprieve there.  I was ready to get off my bike.  I successfully held back my tears of frustration as I shouted to Barry "That Sucked".  Official bike results: 5:56:40, 12th off the bike.
happy to be off the bike, not happy with the bike

I made quick work in T2 - had a volunteer sunscreen my back, got my socks and shoes on and was out in 3:15 and off on the run.
Let's do this!

My legs were shakier than normal but at this time I felt pretty good.  I was running 5:15/km when I was running.  I stopped at the first aid station and grabbed a bag of water and took my first gel.  Here's how it went... open gel, squeeze in mouth, big gulp of water, step, step, step, yack.  Gel and water on the ground.  Ok, well that is sub-optimal.  Keep running and walking the aid stations.  Take Pepsi and gatorade.  Make it work....

First loop the sun was out and it was hot.  I was taking gatorade, pepsi and water and  whenever I could get a hold of it, ice too.  It was hot but that wasn't a bother, the fact I didn't keep my gel down was.  Made it to the 7km turn and felt ok.  Thought I would try another gel ... same results.  Remember joking that it would be nice for a bit of rain.  I don't like to leave much out of these race reports, and since this is sort of nutritionally relevant, I wanted to mention that I peed a lot on the run.  A lot, a lot.  Like every time I stopped running and walked, I had to pee.  And I did. And my runners are no longer useful due to the smell.  That's all I'm going to say about that right now. I'll dissect this more in depth with my tri friends, but I'll just leave it at that for this blog.
still sunny and hot
Made it back to town, 2 down, 4 to go, I told myself (three 14 km loops or 6 x 7km).  It was nice to see Barry and Carole at the turn.
still dry, 7km in
At this point I was averaging 5:30/km but knew if I couldn't get nutrition into me, the next 28km were going to be slower ... much slower.  I took pepsi and gatorade  at every aid station.  Then the rain came.  First it was a nice gentle mist, then it would come in buckets.  The roads flooded, the aid stations became self-serve as the volunteers disappeared as did the spectators and it was a pretty grim time in my head.  This is where I again failed miserable in the mental race.  I would walk the aid stations and would struggle to start running again.  Nothing really hurt, I just didn't have the energy.  I knew at this point Kona was out of the question, and pretty much breaking a 4 hour run and an 11 hour race were history (though with hindsight the 4 hour marathon and 11 hour race were still in reach ... it's so mental!).  Not a good space in my head.

I pushed on.  As I came to the end of the second lap I had dealt with the demons in my head telling me to quit.  I actually had the conversation and almost convinced myself I could quit.  But I pulled it together.  As I made the turn to go out for my last lap, in the pouring rain, I remember saying to Carole "I'm going to finish this thing.  It won't be soon, but I'm going to finish".  I left them with my sunglasses and pushed on, tears in my eyes.  Disappointed in myself. 
14km to go
The last lap, the last 7km out, were mentally tough.  I drew strength from athletes that I knew were on their first or second lap.  I thought back to all those miles spent on the bike, on the run.  I reminded myself of why I do this crazy thing and I told myself this was supposed to be fun.  I will not lie, it was not fun.  It was pouring, there were puddles calf deep, and my body was pretty much revolting on me.  But I pushed on.  I got to the top and made the turn and said to the guys recording bib numbers at the turn "gentlemen, I will not be seeing you again today".  7km left.

It was pouring.  There was little aid station support and little spectator support.  The puddles were massive.  But it was only 7km.  Then 6km.  Then 5.... ok no more walking, I can do this and slowly I sped up, I pushed, I smiled, I grimaced.  I was ready to finish this thing.

I ran the 41st. Km at 5:29/km pace and the 42nd km at 5:16/km.  I finished strong, in the pouring rain, with a smile on my face.

And I gathered all the energy I could muster to jump across that finish line.

Run time: 4:13:59. Official Time 11:10:57: 7th  in my age group, 50th female, 431st overall.

I cried after I finished.  I was disappointed in my run.  I was sad that my body didn't produce what I had thought I had train to produce.  Don't get me wrong, I know that just finishing this race is a feat in itself. And the journey to the race is more important than the race itself.  And deep down, I was not ready, I was not able to endure to make it in the top 3.  I was not World Championship material.  Not yet.

nice photo bomb, that's Carole comforting me as I broke down.
But in the end, I finished strong.  I went from 25th in my age group last year in Florida to 7th.  That's pretty good.

So that's it for Cozumel - would I race it again , yes I think I would. Will I race it next year, nope.  So what's next I'm always asked.  Well I've got Boston Marathon in April, Lake Placid Ironman in July and NYC Marathon in November.  Plus a few local races along the way.  And as for the off season, I'll be working on my swim, bike and run as I've got a long way to go before I'm Kona bound!  Dream big, and never stop dreaming!
two days post race with my bestie and a pina colada!

1 comment:

  1. Strong Race! Sorry not what you expected but looks like you got some great R&R as a consolation prize.
    i am running NYC Marathon too! SO excited already
    nic from