Monday, December 5, 2011

Ironman Cozumel Race Report: Part Dos

 Part Uno described the days leading up to the race and the panic of potentially not getting my bike in time for the race.

The Swim

We left off at the mass swim start. This was unlike anything I have ever experienced in a triathlon ever. Normally they start the races in waves and the biggest start I have ever been a part of was at Eagleman 70.3 which was about 125 or so girls. This time there were 2,350 people- mostly men- all swimming in one direction.

I swam with strong strokes and tried to find clear water but there wasn't any. To my surprise, I was passing people. I was also being swam over, swam under, kicked, punched, and dunked. I wasn't totally innocent myself- I swam over at least 3 people (sorry!), kicked several people and elbowed a few more. After we made the first turn around we were going with the current and it felt glorious. Although, it was hard to sight because the buoys for half the course were orange and all of the men were in orange swim caps. Luckily, I was keeping up with the main pack so as long as I saw people around me, I didn't even have to sight. I finally found some clear water and enjoyed looking down at the divers beneath us. I tried to look for fish but I think the thousands of people stirring the water around scared them.

Just when I was getting into a grove I got stung by a jelly the face. Right on my lips actually. The stings to the legs and arms don't even make you flinch but taking a jelly to the face hurt! I screamed into the water and picked up the pace a little bit. The wrestling match continued on the straight away to the swim finish. Luckily, I made it out alive with no bruises or bloody noses.

Don't laugh- I had a hard time getting up the steps. I'm short! I had to hoist myself up on those bad boys. I did it little kid style- sit my butt on the steps and swing my feet around. I managed to keep my heart rate low during the swim and I exited the water feeling awesome.

I saw my family cheering as I got out of the water and then I saw the clock. 1 hour 16 minutes. I was ecstatic with that time. I honestly thought I would be much closer to the 1:30 mark even with the current and buoyancy of the salt water. Needless to say, I was pretty damn pumped about the swim. Jelly fish sting to the face and all.

The run from the from exit to the changing tent was quite a ways. I grabbed the bag with the sparkly blue bow and went into the women's changing tent. Unlike all of the reports that I have read where the volunteer basically dresses you, I had no help what so ever. I put a wet washcloth in a ziplock bag to quickly wipe the salt and sand off of my body before putting on bike shorts, sports bra, bike jersey and accessories. Let me just tell you how damn hard it is to put a sports bra on while wet. Maybe that is why T1 took me 12 minutes. Yes, I know that is a long transition time. No, I don't know how or why it took me that long. When Phil saw my transition time he said "What were you DOING in there?!" I don't know! I swear it felt like I was rushing! Anyway- after a 12 minute fiasco of trying to get my sports bra on I grabbed the Pink Lady and we headed off on our very long bike ride.

The Bike

The bike course is 3 loops around half of the island. Three very windy loops. As soon as I mounted my bike and made the right hand turn out of transition I was greeted with a nice head wind. I took a deep breath and kept my effort easy, letting my speed slow down in order to keep my heart rate low. I didn't know my speed which made it easy to keep a positive mind set. For now.

As the road curved to the left I was in awe of the pretty beaches. The scenery is amazing. Just as I was admiring the waves crashing into the rocks, a gust of wind blew so hard that my bike and I flew to the other side of the road. The head wind had changed to a side wind. A wind so hard that I was holding onto my aero bars for dear life using a ton of effort just to keep my bike going in a straight line. I used my arms so much to stabilize my bike that the day after the race my biceps were just as sore as my legs. At least it was pretty scenery!

The back stretch of the island was about 10 miles. 10 very slow and frustrating miles. I continued to keep my effort easy and my heart rate low. My team had a cheering station set up at the end of the windy stretch which really lifted my spirits! They were having a ton of fun and I looked forward to getting to them each loops because they were amazing and it also meant the end of the side wind!

Yes, that is my coach. Yes, he is in his underwear and a sombrero. The best way to make people laugh at an Ironman is to strip down to your undies.

The locals were out in force as you headed back into town. They made home made noise makers (rocks in soda bottles) and radios jammin'. They also loved that I was a girl, on a pink bike that says Quintana Roo down the side. Hearing "Vamonos, Chica!!" never got old. They cheered for everyone like they were winning. It was amazing.

My family managed to see me coming through town on the first loop but I didn't see them. However, I heard them scream my name as I was already past them.

Once you go through town you turn back onto the road with the head wind. When I looked at how long it took me to complete the first lap of the bike, I felt frustrated and down. I knew my speed was slow, but I didn't realize it was THAT slow.

It was at this point that I took out a few little notes to read to get my spirits back up. (Thank you to all who wrote notes- I read all of them and they were all amazing!) The first note I read was from my friend Jenn who is finishing up PT school and it said "You put the Physical in Physical Therapist". It really made me smile and excited for the next few years of my life. The next one was from one of my best friends from college and it said "Remember when we would run a mile our senior year and almost die? Look how far you've come!" She was right. I've come a long ways. Who cares if the nasty wind is making my bike time slower than I would have wanted. I took those words with me for the rest of the bike ride. Thanks, Rach :)

I kept my heart rate low the entire time. I was spot on with my nutrition, salt and water intake. My stomach felt amazing. My legs felt fantastic and other than a few minutes of feeling sorry for myself on the second loop- my mental state was exactly where I wanted it to be. I was happy and grateful.

The last loop was the windiest as there was a storm that rolled in on the other side of the island. As I made my way back into town I was so excited to get off my bike and onto my own two feet to run my first marathon. I dismounted my bike, practically threw it to the volunteer, grabbed my second transition bag and headed for the changing tent. The bike portion of the race took me 7 hours and 47 minutes. Over an hour slower than what I was hoping for.

I began the run with a smile on my face, legs and stomach feeling great, and knowing that it would only be a few more hours until I was an Ironman.

Part 3 coming tomorrow!


  1. Tomorrow? I have to know how this ends. ;-)

  2. Loving these recap posts! More now!

  3. Um.. for the record I was wearing Speedo swim shorts. Okay they might as well have been undies.

  4. I am super impressed with that swim!! Congrats, fishy!

  5. I can't believe a fish stung you in the face and you went on like nothing happened. I would have completely flipped out!

  6. WHY do race directors issue caps the same color as the buoys? NOT COOL.

  7. Tomorrow!? So cruel;) well, I am already so impressed with you! Jellyfish stings, a terribly windy bike ride, and your very first marathon on the end of all that? Wow!! I guess if it wasn't tough everyone would do it, but it sounds like you more than earned your ironman title!!!

  8. Girl, you are my hero! Can't wait to read the next one!

  9. I love your pictures! I love that you took the time to smile and wave at your family and friends! :) It's just awesome!

  10. Why do they still do orange caps with orange buoys? WHY?!?!

    Sucks about the Jelly fish sting to the face but awesome job on the swim without a wetsuit!!! How clear was the water?

    And great job on sticking it out with that wind. Its that scratching sound in the ears and feeling of riding through mollasses that drives me INSANE!!!