Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Ironman Cozumel 2013

Hey!  I made it to off season!!

I was lucky enough to travel to Mexico again for my last race of the year.  Ironman Cozumel is truly an amazing race, venue, and community.  The volunteers go above and beyond and the community support top notch, a close second to Madison (of course).  I came into this race feeling more fit than last year, and with another year of racing under my belt I had that much more experience of how to race and make it the best race possible.  I didn’t go into the race with any expectations except to execute the race the best I could.   I ended up in 8th place (made enough to pay for the trip!) and am overall happy with the day....like every race, I learned plenty of lessons :) 

Pre-race prep with Jennifer - nice easy ride to the east coast of the island. 

We found a pool!  Super happy for this since the Ocean was 'closed' because of the current and waves. 
On our way to Bike/T1 drop on Saturday 
SWIM:  The swim was shortened due to an unsafe current and swim conditions.  After my struggles in the current last year, I was actually happy to hear this news.  It seemed like a logistical nightmare to have everyone get to the T1 (old swim start) and then re-load on busses to the new swim start 1.9 miles down the road, but somehow they seemed to pull it off flawlessly.   It was an in water start and a point-to-point swim with the current.  All went fairly smoothly and I had some nice feet to hang on almost all of the swim.  I came out in 37:22, a perfect spot right with the girls I wanted to be with! 

BIKE - 3 loops, 112miles, 5hr14min:  I flew through T1, determind not to let this group leave me in the dust.  Since racing with power at Ironman Florida and Rev3 Florida in November, I had a good idea of where I wanted to be and luckily the girls were riding in just that zone.  It is truly a completely different race when you’re out there as a pro.  It can be a lonely bike ride, which is why you see small groups form during the race.  It is amazing how just having  1 or 2 other people in your sights or nearby can make it seem easier.  The headwind was much worse than last year on the far side of the island.  I think it’s a 12 mile stretch, but it felt like FOREVER.  By the 3rd loop there were some serious packs (peleton’s) of men age-groupers catching up, that proved to be extremely annoying, disruptive, and dangerous.  They were riding with no regard what -so-ever to the rules of passing, drafting, or even just general cycling ettiquite.  There was almost no way out of it and at many points I found myself just riding on the far left (oncoming traffic) lane to avoid getting mixed in or knocked off my bike.  Ugh.  Finally an official did show up and threw out plenty of warnings, however I only saw 1 penalty go out.  

Out there on the bike is where I think I started to chip away at my chances for an awesome race.  Between the wind on each lap and trying not to get hit/mixed up with the guys on the last 20 or so miles of the ride I completely ignored nutrition.  I wasn’t used to the gatorade so I wasn’t drinking much, it was windy so the sweat was evaporating quickly, and I just didn’t eat enough calories.  I got off the bike in a deficit, which made for an extremely challenging last leg of the race.  

RUN - 3 times out and back:  I knew I was already in tough shape starting the run, but sometimes I can salvage things.  I pushed all my worries aside, reminded myself it was the last race of the year, and planned to give it all I could.  I left T2 with another pro (girl in red, Celine I think, ended up 4th) and thought “ok, run with her”....this was not a good idea!  Another lesson - stick to YOUR OWN RACE.  Chick went out hard and stubborn me was like ‘Just stick with her, you’ll settle in’.  First mile was ~6:30 and yep, then I knew I needed to not worry about this chica.  Maybe she would die and come back to me :)  After that first one the miles really just got slower and slower as the marathon went.  I was taking everything I could at the aid stations thinking something would get some snap back in my legs, but nothing worked.  I slugged it out, and experienced what it feels like to bonk and cramp during an Ironman.  I don’t wish this upon anyone!!  One false move, or running too fast and one or both quads and/or my right hamstring would just shut down.  Wow, it was tough.  I went through the 2nd loop still in 5th or 6th and knew it would take all the mental and physical gusto I had left to keep a run going for the last loop.  I was on the aid station to aid station plan, which soon turned into the walk the aid station plan, which turned into only walk once between aid station plan.  It was not pretty...and I know it never is toward the end, but this was a new version of the ‘Ironman shuffle’ that I really hope to never do again.  I ran (and walked) a 3:31 giving every single thing I had and managed to hang on for 8th place.  

Overall: 9:27, (swim 0.5mi short), 8th place woman

This race panned out much differently than I thought it would (obviously didn’t envision the run going that way), but I am very happy with how it turned out.  I love racing as much as ever!  There are lessons to learn at each race, and just because it doesn’t go as planned doesn’t mean it isn’t a success.  This was another lesson to me in racing my own race and another true test of mental toughness and motivations for finishing.  When your body wants to give out and stop so bad YOU have to be the one to make it go.  No amount of cheering, support, friends, or anything else can make you go.  The motivation and drive has to come from you.  How bad do YOU want it?  What are YOU racing for?  You need to be so strong in your conviction to complete what you came to do that you can’t be derailed, whether it’s finishing the race before the cutoff, reaching a time goal, or improving in a certain area, fully commit to it.  

ANYHOW!  I am excited for off season and to get back at it for another great year next year.  Huge thanks to everyone for the support throughout this entire year:  Mark (love you), Cliff English Coaching, Timex Multisport Team, Powerbar, Endurance House, Speed Cycling, Computrainer, Rudy Project, Powertap, Peak Performance Massage, and everyone else who had a hand in helping me live my passion.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.  

Thanks for reading!