Thursday, November 28, 2013

Ironman Cozumel Travel Guide

This post may be a couple days late for some traveling to Cozumel this year, but some things may still come in handy.  This is my second year taking the trip to Mexico for an end of the season race and I know there are many people, like me, looking forward to some warm sun!

Travel Logistics:

  • Avoid Flying with your bike - it turns into a HUGE hassle.  I use Tri-bike Transport. 
  • Flying into Cancun is generally cheaper and makes for a bit of an adventure getting to Cozumel.  When you land, collect your luggage and find the ADO bus  (ask for 'ahh-deh-oh') to take you to Playa Del Carmen for the ferry.   You will be approached by MANY taxi/bus drivers from private companies wanting to take you to the ferry.  You can haggle price with these guys, and if you are a small group, this can be an affordable option.  If you decide on the bus, you can purchase the tickets online before your trip, but I think it's easier to buy them when you get there incase you have delays in travel or get there early.  After an hour bus ride you are dropped at the bus stop in Playa Del Carmen, which is just a few blocks from the ferry stop.  You can easily purchase ferry tickets as you approach the ferry. 
  • If you have ever had motion sickness, take precautions for the ferry ride.  I like the motion sickness bracelets, or just regular dramamine.  It is ~45min ride to Cozumel.  
  • When you get to Cozumel there are plenty of taxi drivers waiting there to take you to your hotel/house/condo.  You need to have the address of where you are going (and maybe even a map so you can point to where it is if you don't know much spanish) and make sure to have pesos to pay them. 
Ferry to and from the Island!

Entrance to the Ferry in Playa Del Carmen

  • Check with your debit card on charges for using ATM in Mexico, most charge a small fee and something like a 3% charge for the total removed.  There is an ATM right by the ferry at Playa del Carmen if you didn't get to convert any money before that. 
  • You can bring cash to the airport and use a money conversion station there...usually a small fee associated with that, but nice to have it done.  
  • Any taxis and many vendors are cash only in Mexico.
Plenty of nice relaxing ocean front space...especially on the southern part of the island. 
  • Probably best to keep your phone off.   Even with an international plan, there are usually some charges still associated with calling, and especially data usage.  Things that seem very simple, like checking Facebook, add up on data very quick....for example, Verizon charges $5.12/MB.  Accepting texts are much cheaper than sending, and this is a cheaper option than calling... (on Verizon it costs 0.05 to get a text, 0.50 to send, and 0.99/min to talk)
  • Most hotels and condo's you stay will have wifi, so just take yourself back to the pre-smart phone days and do your computing on the computer, and use Skype to talk to your friends and family at home :) 
Race Logistics:
Swim start at Practice swim pre-race
Nice paved bike path to ride to swim start from town!
  • The swim start and T1 are a few miles south of the expo/finish/T2 area.  There are plenty of shuttles provided by the race and hotels that leave from the main expo area to get you to the pre-race dinner and swim start race morning.  You can ride your bike to the pre-race swim if you are up for it, or you will probably have to get a taxi.  This is one of the the only Ironman races where I think it somehow works to go without renting a car....BUT if you need one, you can find one from most major hotels that have daily rentals available. 
  • Separate transitions means that when you drop of that T2 bag you will not see it again until during the race...make sure everything is in there that you need.  
  • 3 lap bike and 3 out and back run = an awesome race with tons of spectators.  This is a good thing.  This race rivals the BEST crowd support of any Ironman. 
  • Athlete check-in. 
    T1, hanging bags that you grab on the way to the changing tent. 
    Great bike racks! 
  • They give you water in bags on the run.  Yep, bags.  You have to bite off the corner and try to  spill water into your mouth.  It's great, ice cold water. 

Where to stay: 
  • Cozumel has PLENTY of places to stay for all sorts...there are your all-inclusives which tend to be busy with people and entertainment, there are homes for rent or small condo style rentals.  Last year I stayed in an AWESOME place, Villa El Encanto.  It's a small place, with ~8 condo's where the family that runs it lives on the same property...gated, pools, hammock, very tidy, nice rooms, and a perfect location for the race.  Very competitively priced and walking distance to the grocery store.  I like the condo/home rental for racing so I can cook my own food :) 
The bakery section ROCKS. 
Peacocks roaming at Villa El Encanto!!

VERY relaxing :) 
Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions!  I may learn more on this trip and update my post.  Happy travels! 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Florida Train-cation / Racing into shape

After all the fun in Hawaii (2 glorious weeks!) at the beginning of October, I realized it was time to get down to some business to get ready for my last race of the season, Ironman Cozumel.   I love racing, so of course I had to plan some epic training around some races to get motivated!

THE PLAN:  Wisconsin is I thought it might be nice to get a bit more outdoor training.  I volunteered to drive my grandma down to her winter home in Naples, FL...IF we could detour for a couple days for me to do part of Ironman FL :)  She agreed.  After Panama City Beach, it was a day drive to Naples, a week of training, then Rev3 Florida Half Ironman (just over an hour from grandma's) and I fly home Tuesday.  Sounds good, right??

IRONMAN FL:  I executed my plan of trying to swim hard and just survive the ocean swim (more on this coming), bike hard and try to 'stay in the mix' and run a couple miles.   WELL....I did get dropped from the pack I wanted to swim with, but it was still an ok swim.  I was happy with my starting position and did get out well...I only got dropped really when we had to get out at the end of the first loop, run around a table, and get back in.  This just zapped my energy!  FL Ironman was my first bike under 5 hrs (4:49) and I am happy to report it was competitive w/the other women pro's, which were also fast due to the great conditions!  Another plus is that I felt just fine getting off the bike (maybe a little light on nutrition, but ok).   Props to my friends that raced and fought for some awesome PR's and finished strong!!

Side note on the Ocean Swim:  I get motion sickness and often puke in salt water swims.  I have notoriously had horrible ocean swims (3xKona and Cozumel last year) and really want to fix this!  The only way I can figure is just to do more of them, since I don't actually live by an ocean to train in.

MORE DRIVING:  After Ironman FL, we booked it (9 hr drive the day after the race) to Naples, FL.  I was SPENT and immediately zonked out for 12 hrs when we finally got there!  Anyhow, it was a nice week of some volume, sunshine, swimming outdoors, and flat bike rides.

REV3 Half Ironman Venice, FL:  This was today.  Solid training day and made some monies.  I did have a horrible swim, which sucks.  It just was not going well right from the good explanation, but I think when I got dropped and was swimming solo I was probably swimming just a little crooked here and there :)  Anyhow, it was a solo mission on the bike...really, I only passed a couple people and only got passed by a couple.  TONS of turns and 180 degree turn-arounds which I really don't think are good for me, but I tried to be technical :) I got off in 9th I think and just wanted to finish the thing.  It was getting hot and I forgot my hand-held bottle so I was really noticing the distance between aid stations!  I was using all my normal cues, but I just couldn't muster the normal 1/2 speed that usually comes pretty easy.  Oh well, hung on and even passed a girl in the last mile to take 8th.  Maybe I can just run that speed twice for a full!!  

swim: 29min :/  bike: 2:28  run: 1:30 :/   overall 4:34 (I think)

GOING HOME and MORE!  I am excited to get home for a little bit of normal life :)  I've got 2 days then Mark and I are off to my girl Christine's wedding in Colorado next weekend. Then it's 10 days home before Ironman Cozumel where I get to celebrate a Mexican Thanksgiving for the seconds year in a row.

Thanks for following!!

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