Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Ironman Cozumel 2013 Race Report

Total time:  11:04:35
Swim:  46:18
Bike:  5:46:46
Run:  4:24:37

Let's do this!

One of the many lessons I have learned from training and racing so many iron-distance events is things never go according to plan.  The point of all this training is to be able to roll with it, so-to-speak on race day.

Ironman Cozumel this year was a perfect example of this.

In the days leading up to the race a fierce wind blew in -- a weather system that locals call the "norte."   Mike and I had experienced the norte earlier this year in Coz.  The wind whips up the ocean into such a frenzy that the port shuts down.  Vacationers who have booked scuba-dive trips are left sitting around waiting for the port to re-open.  And this November there were 2000+ nervous triathletes biting the inside of their collective cheeks...

Registration in my new bright pink top my sister got me for Christmas last year!!  :) :)

As it happened, every practice swim was canceled before the race.  That meant no ocean swimming at the race venue.  No getting familiar with how the currents felt, no practicing sighting and swim start/exit strategy.  Time for my new motto of "F@#k it" to kick in.  :)

Port closed down and no practice swims?
F@#k it.

Seriously, saying this in my head (and sometimes muttering it under my breath) acts as a release valve.  And it works.  My last key session before IM Coz was 25x 100m on 1.55.  I found when my pace started to shift, an emotional component would inevitably weasel its way into my thoughts and by me muttering "f@#k it" after every 100m, I brought my pace back down and got 'er done.  It is amazing how emotions can negatively impact my performance.  When emotions creep in, I lose focus...and speed and efficiency. 

I DIGRESS!

Literally the night before the race, a mass email went out to all participants detailing changes to the swim portion of the Ironman.  The swim was changed to a 3.1km point-to-point swim with the current.
  
(Keep in mind the current is strong in Cozumel.  More than 300 people were pulled from the swim last year.  After the race last year, there was a video circulating that showed a swimmer vainly swimming into the current and actually moving BACKWARDS.)

Honestly, my first thought was BOOM!  Finally I land in a race with an obvious time advantage.  I've done SO MANY FRIGGING races where the course is long, the weather is brutal, etc.  It's about time!!  :D :D  My next thought was, better wait and see, it is an Ironman after all!

The Momma scoring bath bomb schwag to fill up my goodie bag...you all know that I trick-or-treated right up until I was 18 years old right?  (I would wear a walrus mask and crouch down behind my sister- who is 3 years younger than me -  and her friends and just hold my pillowcase out.)  And I would do it again if I knew I could get away with it.  :D :D



The morning of the race was a cluster.  Athletes still had to go to T1 and then catch buses to the new race start.  I went into stealth mode and mooched 80 pesos from The Momma and caught a cab instead.

The Swim: 46:18 -- LOL!!!!

The new race start and beginning of a current-assisted 3.1km swim.

What a gong show.  The pro men started first, followed by the pro women.  The pros swam out to their starting point while instructions shouted out on a megaphone (in both Spanish and English) to us age groupers that we were to stand in either ankle deep water or on the shore.

Well, that went over like a lead balloon.

Yes, literally.

As soon as the pro women started,  everyone started swimming out to the pro race start.  I looked around a few times hoping to hear a whistle or something getting everyone back to shore, but nothing was happening.  So, I joined the horde.

It was 15 min to our race start and the current was bit by bit pushing us past the pro start line.  Good grief.  I said to one guy beside me, "If they don't start us soon, we'll be finishing before we even start."

He didn't laugh.  Dork.

The best electrolyte drink on the planet.  Why can we not get this stuff here?!?!?!

There were a few half-hearted attempts made by a couple of guys on water-ski-jet-ski things (why I cannot remember the word for this is beyond me, hahaha!) to push the swimmers back, but you can't fight the current!  I tried swimming back a bit but when I turned around there was a frigging wall of people behind me.  I waffled, swimming back a bit, forward a bit, trying to find the right spot for my conscience.

Another guy beside me shouted to a volunteer on a SUP board -- "You should bonk these guys on the head!"  (Ok I am liberally paraphrasing here...Hee-hee.)

The volunteer was so awesome -- he laughed and said:  "I just live here!  I don't care -- this is your race, you do what you want."  Whoever you were -- awesome response man!!  :)

Eventually everyone started swimming so I did too.  I never did hear the cannon or gun or whatever it was.  

The current was really apparent.  I was flying.  And I was still drafting like crazy too.  Although the water is crystal clear, I never *see* anything during the swim portion.  I call it being "race blind."  I am just so in the moment of swimming I don't *see* anything but the swimmers around me and how best to strategize how to draft from them.  :)  So, I don't remember seeing any fish or scuba divers (except for my Mikey at the start).

T1.

Once we reached Chankanaab Park (T1), the current reversed and it was like hitting a wall.  Oh how I remember that feeling from last year!  I tucked in behind some swimmers and made my way to the steps and gracefully hoisted myself belly-first out of the water.

The Bike:  5:46:46

I'm sure many of you have heard about the draft-fest out there on race day.  It was just as bad as people say.  I was able to keep my emotions in check until the second lap when I let my emotions get the better of me.  There was one pack of guys and girls that would pass me, then fall apart, then repass me.  I went as hard as I could and passed them again and again during the second lap, but I really became frustrated.



There were two pelotons that I experienced:  within one group, two riders collided and one skittered to the pavement.  Big surprise there.  Honestly in pelotons like that I was just waiting to see riders go down especially at the aid stations.  



The winds picked up and it was AWESOME!  Again, it was like the swim current -- finally I was in a flat race with solid winds.  It was like Ironman Crowsnest Pass.   HAHAHAHAHAHA!!  I was in my element and on the windy side of the island, I felt amazing and solid.  The winds in the Pass are so brutal they truly prepare cyclists for all kinds of conditions.

My nutritional strategy was bang on for this race -- FINALLY!!!  It has only taken me 14 iron-distance races to figure this out!!! YAY!

From what I have heard from other competitors, the bike portion ended up being a mile long...Despite the swim being short and current-assisted, things have a funny way of evening out during an Ironman.

Loving the wind on the other side of the island!  And the zinc on my arms this year -- no burns baby!!

The Run:  4:24:37

After Challenge Penticton this year I injured both my achilles and consequently could do very little run training between that race and IMCoz.

F@#k it!  :D

I swam and biked instead and as race day approached I eased back into running slowly.  I had a couple of sketchy moments during training as I danced the line between preparation and re-injury.  Also, I was ready to call the whole race off if I felt like I was going to do some damage.

Once off the bike, I knew right away that this was going to be a LOOOOOOOONG frigging marathon.  It was hot.  It was humid.  I was very hot and I had one pace -- my Ironman chug-a-lug pace which felt even more sluggish than usual.  Slug-a-lug.  :D  Honestly I thought I was going to be doing a 5.5 hour marathon.  I resigned myself to it, so when I saw it was 4:24 I couldn't believe it.  Hahaha. 

Chug-a-lug-a-lug. 
I had a few scary moments during the marathon where my achilles or random leg stuff threatened to shut me down.  I knew I was running right at the edge of my current fitness -- the leg cramping wasn't like I had experienced before...it was like I was at the threshold of what my body could do on that day, and if I went over it, even by an inch, I could be that girl who collapses 25m from the finish line.  I really didn't want to be that girl!  Hahaha!

When the heavens opened and a torrential downpour flooded the streets in ankle deep water -- the challenge was upped again.  I still had to grab ice water to cool myself off -- how crazy is that?  Running through rain and still needing to dump cold water on your head?  Only in Ironman! 

Towards the end of the race, I followed the example of some fellow athletes who had the clever idea to run up on the sidewalk to try to minimize puddle contact.  That lasted for a little while until I quickly realized that getting up and down each curb was too much for my legs.  Hahaha -- wimpy legs!!! Hahahahahaha! 

Those three laps were the longest run of my life.  I was *running* so slow, I would empty my mind again and again and get on with it.  I am still amused at how much this particular marathon sucked.

The.  Longest. "Run."  Ever. 

What was going on inside my head:
  • Of course you feel like crap, this is an Ironman what do you expect?
  • This is old news, been there, done that, this is number 14 for you.
  • Get' er done.

I also thought of my athlete Darren who jumped into a 100 mile trail race on less-than ideal training volume earlier this year.  I kept thinking to myself, all I have to do is run three laps to make 26.2 miles, that poor bastard would have run about 12 laps of this course! 

The finish:

As usual I had a "sprint to the finish" moment with a guy!  LMAO!!  I love this, I always end up having some kind of sprint -- it is so funny.  Said dude heard the race announcer say there were 2 athletes coming through the chute.  He looked back over his shoulder and I was smiling and laughing like a maniac and tried to sprint with him.  He was too fast for me!  Hahaha!

I shook his hand at the finish line and navigated my way through the mud pit that was the recovery tent.

Reclining to eat in the days after the race...

 The Aftermath --  

My ultimate goal for this race was to see how my body felt in the days after....as my goal next year is to race two iron-distance events in 7 days....The Ironman Double.  If I wasn't able to stand straight due to my achilles like after Challenge Penticton, this goal would be out.  Obviously.  Heh-heh-heh. But...I felt good.  Really good.  :D :D

The idea of the Ironman Double came about after Challenge Penticton this year....(aside from not being able to stand straight, heh-heh) I was feeling really good and it occurred to me I might be one of those athletes that do well with the double kind of thing.

And so, August 17, 2014 will be Ironman Mont Tremblant and 7 days later will be Challenge Penticton August 24, 2014! 

Happy New Year everyone!!!!!

3 comments:

Lisa Ulrich said...

Well done lady! Still a great time overall despite not having had the proper run training. I heard about the draft-fest on the bike, how annoying! It's so dangerous and ridiculous yet so many people still continue to do it.

Two IM-distance races in one week- wow! You are brave! The Quebec race will surely be amazing, too! Are you doing any early season races?

Runner Leana said...

Great job Julie!!! Two IMs in 7 days, eh? I have no doubt that you will rock those races!

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