Sunday, December 5, 2010

Ironman Cozumel Race Recap

Usually I wake up on race morning with foul thoughts.  I am so nervous, so unhappy, particularly since I'm usually dreading the swim and the COLDness that goes along with it.  In Cozumel though, the cold factor was OUT and I wasn't very nervous!  :)

We woke up at 4, had breakfast in the lobby at the Palace (an amazing, customized spread - they had asked us what we wanted earlier in the week.  They had food ready at 3:30AM!), and took a taxi to the race start to get there by 5:50AM.

We dropped off our special needs bags (I don't use a bike special needs, just the run) 

We were conveniently racked next to each other, so we filled up bottles and tires, went to the bathroom, and were ready to go!

Swim start was AWESOME!!  There is a dolphin sanctuary (as you saw before), and  there were about 10 trainers with 2 dolphins each, and the dolphins were doing all kinds of tricks for the spectators and the athletes walking along the docks to the swim start!  I was not nervous at all because I was so entertained!!

Can you see us?


SWIM: 1:28 (eek)

Water was crystal clear!  A little rough at the start as usual, but not too bad.  My nose didn't burn - I put vaseline in my nose- (thanks for the tip AJ).  Don't know if that helped it or not, but it was worth it!  No issues not swimming with a wetsuit.  The saltwater made me feel so buoyant it seriously wasn't a problem at all.

We headed north for about 1000-1200m (guessing based on my time), then at the first set of turn buoys on the rectangle course were ROUGH!  it was  major cluster*$%&.  Then we started on the looong stretch south.  This was a disaster for me.  MAJOR PROBLEM:  The men in race had bright orange swim caps, the SAME color as the buoys.  The buoys were already pretty scarce, but I didn't know that, because I kept "sighting" and ending up in the middle of the ocean by myself.  DANGIT.  And my goggles kept filling up with saltwater.  Sometimes I swam through some "little pricklies".  I felt like I was swimming better than I had at any Iron race and not getting anywhere.

PS I LOVE my new Garmin - I had set to vibrate every 10 minutes in the swim so I knew how long I had been in the water.  Thank you wonderful husband!

FINALLY the last set of turn buoys came about.  As I was rounded them, someone grabbed my ankles - it was Dan!  He is usually 10 minutes ahead of me in the swim, so he must have had a rough swim (ends up he was chafing, pulled his top off, and was swimming with a parachute lol).  We did the final stretch north back the pier and it felt like it took forever.  Near the pier there was an underwater statue and it freaked me out!!

He came out of the water about 30 seconds behind me, and I wouldn't see him again until the run.  Transition went well, slower than I thought (7+ minutes and I didn't even change! jeez!)  then headed out for the bike I've been waiting for all year!

 BIKE: 5:45 (yay! 2nd fastest in age group)

First of all, the Palace Cozumel was an AWESOME spot to spectate - at the "hot corner" on the bike course, and Dan's parents told us that they set up chairs, umbrellas, and brought drinks out to hotel guests that were spectating!!  The Palace is the one with the umbrellas on the left.

Heading out on the bike I had several objectives: 1) Keep a steady, moderate-hard effort. I know what that FEELS like, since I've done a lot of training on my own, no #'s at all, AND I have quantified it on a few occasions; HR 160-170. Don't hold back TOO much since my run was going to SUCK anyway b/c of my lack of  training due to plantar this year.  At least I could be proud of SOMETHING.   2)  If conditions allowed, I was really hoping to see a 20mph average (5:36).  But my B goal was to go 5:45  :).  I did some AWESOME bike training this summer, but I sputtered out after REV3 Cedar Point - all my training partners were done for the season, and I was unmotivated with my bum foot.  Silly me.  I wasn't really sure what I was capable of at this point.

 My HR monitor was not working for the first 5 miles.  Frustrating, but I was fine.  I was in my small gear and averaging 20 mph.  Sweet.  10 miles in I switched to my big gear and never looked back.  HR also started working- excellent.  Tummy felt sloshy, so I sipped on the NUUN water in my aerodrink for 1 hr.

Nutrition:  On my bike, I had an aerodrink that I would refill with water at every aid station, my gels and First Endurance (FE) Liquid Shot (with a little bit of FE Pre-Race in it for caffeine), and 2 bottle of of concentrated FE EFS, also with a little Pre-Race in it.  I sipped on the EFS and water and finish 1/2 bottle of each every 45 minutes, along with gel or swing of Liquid shot.  It worked great on the bike!!  I had practiced this routine several times this year WITH THE EXCEPTION of the "concentrated" EFS - on regular rides I would use a standard concentration and just get a new bottle in the middle of the ride.  I figured it would be the same if I diluted it with water from my aerodrink.

 I LOVE the EFS because it has A LOT more electrolytes than other sport drinks, and "tart lemon-lime" flavor tastes like a margarita.  I am a SALTY sweater, and I have NOT taken a salt tab or had a related cramp all year!! :)  And the Vanilla Liquid Shot goes down so smooth and is soo delicious  :)

Back to bike.  The course was straightforward.  From Chankanaab, we headed south for about 5 miles (VERY mild crosswind, sheltered) until we turned and headed East (HEADWIND) for ~10 miles, then turned and headed north for ~10 miles along a BEAUTIFUL coast (moderate crosswind, nothing awful)- ocean crashing on a gorgeous beack, sometimes the water would splash you a little bit, then a ~10  tailwind back east to town.

I took it easy the first lap, maybe a little too easy, and only averaged 18.xx mph.  Second lap I was ready to go.  My "game" was to count girls in my age group.  From what I could see (without compression socks) it was 10.  I averaged 20.xx mph  3rd lap the wind picked up significantly and it was getting to be a long ride, but I was still determined. I needed something to keep me motivated/occupied.
end of 1st loop
end of 2nd loop
My head was a little heatbox with my aerohelmet and no vents and my sunglasses were bothering me.  I hate sunglasses in the first place (I only wear them to prevent eye cancer or whatever), I'd rather deal with the glare, so once I passed Chankanaab park I allowed myself to take off the sunglasses.  Then, I played a game called "Pass 20 people".  With how BAD I suck at the swim, I really don't get passed a lot on the bike (except for being lapped by pros and TOP age group men).  Once I accomplished this, I could reward myself by getting out of aero and stretching on my bullhorns, or taking an extra sip of nutrition, or whatever.  One stipulation, despite how many people I was passing, I could NOT let myself go slower than 17.5 on the headwind section.  I successfully completed the "P2P" game 3 times :).  3rd loop I averaged 19.xx, and was happy to end up with a 5:45!  5:36 was a LITTLE ambitious given my fitness this year :)

RUN: 6:26 (oh my.)

T2 was slow. again (5:xx), and I was out.  I hadn't figured out the "Auto Multisport" on my Garmin yet, so I stopped, reseted, changed mode, then started the watch after each sport lol.  I did all this while walking out of transition.  I opted for the compression sleeves that Dan bought my last Christmas since m calves have been super tight from my short runs, and arm-coolers since I wilter in the heat.  Not like it would matter today.

The run course was also 3 loops- roughly 4.5 miles out and back heading north.  The run course, like the bike course, was completely flat.  It even had some shade from from the trees lining the street.  Great course!

I felt pretty good for the first 1.5 miles - jogging at a 9:30-10 min/mi pace, foot/hamstring not hurting- excellent.  Then I tripped over a speedbump and gashed my hand.  It is still oozing a week later.  That shook me up and I cried for the 1st time that day.  Interesting note:  At the run aid stations, if you wanted water, you didn't get cups- you got these jiggly little plastic "packs" of water that you had to bite open with your teeth.  Kinda cool.  I was disappointed though because I though they were freeze pops at first.

Then  at mile 2, is when disaster struck.  I thought it was just gas, but I was wrong.  For the next 9 miles, I made forward progress from potty to potty.  I was miserable.  I don't know what I did wrong.  Maybe I used a little too much pre-race.  Maybe the concentrated EFS/water combo didn't work like I thought it would.  Maybe it was water from the aid stations. Maybe it was saltwater from the ocean. I have NEVER had these issues before, so I was dumbfounded.

On the 2nd loop (mile 9) is when my untrained legs started to hurt.  **You CANNOT have a happy Ironman marathon with a "long run" of 4 miles**.  My jogging pace slowed from 10:30 min/mi to 12 min/mi to 13:30 min/mi...Is that even POSSIBLE??  Potty issues were at bay, so I made a deal to walk for 2 minutes after jogging 2 miles.  MY legs and butt felt "bruised"  -they were tender to touch, and when I would start jogging, the bouncing would be painful.  It is a DUMB idea to try to run that far with THAT MUCH undertraining and fitness.  Well, mile 13 potty issues hit again -bad.  This is the 2nd time I cried.

When I left the porta-potty at that point Dan was there!  He had a rougher time than I did on the bike, and stopped to help another lady change her flat, so he was 1 run loop behind me.  This was seriously the best thing that could have happened.  After an initial LONG walk break catching up on the day, we set my Garmin to beep every 2 minutes so we could alternate walking/jogging.

THOUGHTS on compression sleeves and arm coolers.  My initial thoughts on these items are that they are "gimmicks" and look stupid.  Yeah sure, compress my calves and improve blood flow.  Really?  I don't know, but at Triple T this year I didn't have calf issues, and I didn't have calf problems here either, even though my calves felt tight all week!  Arm coolers- how can wearing MORE clothing improve your heat tolerance?  I was told to keep them wet by pouring water at them at each aid station- it worked.  I guess I'm sold- probably only for racing though.
At the turnaround in town
It was SO wonderful to do the last 1/2 of the marathon with Dan- it made the death march as enjoyable as it could be!  My foot starting bothering me a little the last 5 miles, then one more potty stop (with crying) on the 3rd loop, and I was so  so happy to come back into town - EVERYONE was out.  The crowds were INCREDIBLE!!  They were yelling all sorts of Mexican encouragement- "SI SU PUEDE!!".  Adults had their cervezas, children were playing and had noisemakers, I LOVED it.

FINISH: 13:52

Well, I finished, but I was sad that Dan had to go do his last loop by himself - he ended up picking it up A LOT without me :)  I was very proud of myself to finish my 8th Ironman, but very disappointed with my "grand finale" of a marathon.  Part of the pride of finishing an Ironman is pushing through the pain and seeing what you are capable of- I've been very happy with some IM marathon times of 4:08, 4:12, and several others in the 4:20-4:50 range where I had to dig deep to keep a steady pace.  These are time times I truly take PRIDE in.  I did NOT get to suffer like that this race.  There was no "pain cave" on the run.  I gave up, let myself off the hook.  Which sucks, but I'm okay with it.  If I had kept jogging, what's the best I could have done with 13-14 min/mi? a 5:45 marathon which would be me closer to 13 hrs?  Been there, done that.  No PR's or age group placing would come of it, just a more miserable experience and maybe more injury.  I'll take my 5:45 bike split and be happy with that.

Anyways, I was happy that Lew was able to greet me and help me get my stuff and head back to the hotel (which was only a block away).  I was debating whether or not to go to medical for the after-effects of my potty problems...I just wanted to lay down.  Back at the hotel, I tried to take a shower....oh my it was awful.  I was crying IN the shower, because the water hurt, I couldn't help anything....oy.  I got through it, layed down on the bed (on my stomach) and decided to rest for a little before going back to to watch Dan finish.

I underestimated him- he booked it on the last loop and missed him finish.  :(  But Lew was there to take pics for me :)  Once we rounded him up, we got the rest of the stuff and hung out to watch the final finishers.  Seriously, the crowds here are AWESOME!!  The final 1/2 mile was still LINED with people cheering their hearts out all the way up until midnight.  AMAZING!

There you have it folks.  Although it was a disappointing end to my season, I am so happy just to HAVE a triathlon season  :)  My plan is HEAL UP, recharge, and take next season by storm... a LOT of exciting races...coming soon :)


AJ said...

Laura - Nicely done! You've seriously got me convinced that I absolutely need to do IM Cozumel in the near future. Great RR and really fun venue! Where are you guys headed next year?!

Mer! said...

Way to stick with is so incredibly frustrating to have stomach issues, Ironman is hard enough and I think the hardest part for Ironman for me is you train, train and then you do the race and out of nowhere...stomach issues!! Ugh.

BUT! You did an amazing job in all three of your legs trying to juggle what was going on, you stayed positive and you finished like a champ!!! Way to ROCK!!

You guys are my idols--someday I wanna do an Ironman with my husband!! Congrats to both of you!!

Meredith said...

Great race Laura!!!

Kiersten said...

Congratulations on sticking it out!!!!

Joel said...

Laura - great recap of the race. So sorry to hear about the GI issues.

Interesting perspective on the arm coolers. I've never considered using them - maybe since most of my races are here in the hot south, I should try them.

Laura said...

OMG I loved this! I know you weren't happy w/ your run, but isn't this what IM is all about... getting through it.. whatever 'it' is on any given day. Maybe you didn't hit the pain cave as you have known it in the past, but it was a pain cave of it's own.. and hell .. look at that scenery.. wow! Way to hang tough.... now heal up and we'll see you out there in 2011!!! :)

Caratunk Girl said...

Hey Laura - awesome RR. I loved it. Sorry about the tough run...and the GI issues - that just sucks! But I guess you get that in IM, right? Congratulations on such an accomplishment.

Recover well and I am looking forward to seeing you in 2011!

Velma said...

Nice work gutting it out!!! Love the bike - whick model do you have?