Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Cozumel Race Recap

The bike course!
I signed up for Ironman Cozumel and it would be my 10th Ironman. I signed up just a few months before the race because I was on a high after a good Ironman race at Maryland.  I was hoping to qualify for Kona since my previous race was a good one and I placed 5th in my age group at Ironman Maryland.  I had been having some issues with my foot but I figured since it didn’t bother me during my Maryland race I would just do a minimal amount of running leading up to Cozumel.  The plan was to give it some rest after Cozumel. 

I arrived in Cozumel Thanksgiving Day and the race was on Sunday.  I had plenty of time to adjust and get settled.  I went alone so I opted to travel with a company called Endurance Sports Travel. They are great to travel with when doing a race because you don’t have to worry about all the details.  They take and pick you up from the airport and races.   Going to Mexico for the first time and being alone I was thankful to have them. 

I arrived in Cancun and had to take a ferry to Cozumel, which is about a 45-minute ride.  The day I arrived there was a cold front and it was extremely windy.  The ferry trip was like a picture from a movie because it was a barf-fest.  So many people got seasick and were puking in these green bags the attendants were passing out.  About half of the passengers in the area I was in were a lovely shade of green, grey and white.  I felt bad for them because if this was your honeymoon, romantic vacation, or Ironman vacation this was probably not a good way to start it.  I didn’t get sick but I was definitely uncomfortable for most of the ride and very thankful when it was over.

Group Ride
Group Ride
Someone from EST was waiting for me when I got off the ferry and they took me to my hotel and I quickly settled in and went to pick up my race packet.  I was lucky because my room was not ready so they upgraded me to this amazing suite with a balcony overlooking the ocean.  The balcony was probably the size of the suite.  Too bad I was alone to enjoy the nice upgrade!  I put my bike together the next day and went for an organized bike ride with the EST group.  We rode an easy 20 miles on part of the race course.  It was still windy from the storm but not as bad as the previous day.  The weather on race day called for some wind but in Cozumel on the east side of the island it is apparently always windy. 

Saturday we went to the practice swim and the water was really beautiful, clear, and about 80 degrees.  It was perfect and we were supposed to have a current, which was going to make for a fast swim.  Ken from EST told us to swim about 100 yards to the right (outside) of the buoys for the best current.  The morning of the race the guys on the paddleboards said the current had changed and we should swim to the left of the buoys.  I did swim inside the buoys and ended with a swim in just under an hour, which was my fastest Ironman swim. 

On the bike!
I was on the bike and was hoping for a 5:15-5:30 bike time depending on the winds on the east coast.  We had about a 12- mile stretch along the ocean where the wind would most likely be coming at us from the front and side. The bike was three loops so we had to hit that windy stretch 3 times.   To say it was brutal was putting it lightly! Not only did each lap get worse but, the headwind started earlier so it ended up being about 20 miles instead of 12.  When we made the turn off the oceanfront road I thought there would be a tail wind making 25mph easy to do but we didn’t get one.  The wind then came from the side not a tail wind, and this was better then on the east coast but still tough.  Mentally I was breaking down each lap as my goal time was getting further and further from reality.  I ended with a 6-hour bike and coming off the bike I figured with a 6-hour bike I didn’t have any chance to qualify.  Since I had foot issues leading up to this race I thought to myself why should I run on my foot when I don’t have any chance to qualify.  Then I would think about this being my 10th Ironman and I would like to finish.  I figured I could at least run a 4:20-5 hour marathon and that would bring my finishing time around 11:30 or 12 hours.  That wouldn’t be my best time but it wouldn’t be too bad. I got off the bike and started running. I didn’t feel too great but was hoping things would work themselves out.  I was nauseated and it seemed like everything hurt.  I was gripping the bars too tight on the bike from the wind so my neck and shoulders were killing me.  My hips and foot hurt and my stomach hurt.  After a slow 4-5 mile run I started a walk/run and by this time I almost quit each time I saw a medical tent.  I still kept thinking why keep going I should just stop and call it a day.  Then I would think about what I would say to everyone and didn’t want to tell people I didn’t finish. Once I got to mile 14 I was too far in and figured I had to finish.  I am glad I did finish especially when one of my clients said that I was an inspiration to a lot of people who have quit before.  Many races are tough physically and your mind can put you through more pain and turmoil during a long race than you can imagine.  I have quit before but more often I have pushed through mental and physical barriers.  Being strong mentally is just as important as having physical strength.  I hope to keep getting stronger both mentally and physically. 

My balcony 
As it turns out I was 4th in my age group out of the water with my fastest Ironman swim.  I was actually 2nd in my age group on the bike.  Then on the run I fell to 22nd because of the run/walk.  The problem is I thought I was doing much worse on the bike but in reality I didn’t do that bad. If I had known that I was doing pretty good I may have been stronger mentally for the run to push through some of the issues I was having. I don’t think I could have had a good enough run to qualify but I think if I had known what place I was off the bike I may have done better. I let my mind get the best of me coming off the bike and onto the run but not enough to quit because I still finished so I guess I won! Cozumel is a great race and was ran very well. I would highly recommend it for a destination race just be prepared for a tough bike!

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