Earlier this year, my mother-in-law (oh, by the way, I got married in October) called and told me she had decided to race Ironman Cozumel in November. She has raced triathlons for many years now, but had yet to take on an Ironman. So at 58 years young she signed up and I booked a couple tickets to Mexico to come watch. I wasn’t sure whether or not I might race myself, but I knew we were at least going to Mexico in a support role.
I never wrote about my race in Hawai’i. I did a lot of things right going into the race, but didn’t really do things so well on the actual race day. I approached the race as a learning experience, but I still wanted to have a successful race by my own standards. I managed to get the learning part accomplished, but that was about it. All that is to say, I decided to go ahead and race in Mexico after my race in Kona.
The last time I went to this part of Mexico I lost a lot of brain cells. I was a senior in high school celebrating the liberation of the Mexican drinking age of 18. I never would have imagined that my next trip, 11 years later, was for an entirely different purpose. I always enjoy looking back in the past and realizing that I am so far from where I thought I might be. It makes the next ten years seem a lot more exciting. I never enjoyed things that were predictable, which is likely why I enjoy racing so much.
ANYWAY, I traveled down to Mexico on Thanksgiving day (for a Sunday race). We had a delay from taking off because Frontier had to load 48 bikes onto the plane. I got a pretty big kick out of hearing that. I’m sure half of the plane wasn’t particularly impressed by this delay, but people are more easy going when you’re traveling to Mexico. If we were on a routine flight to Toledo there might have been a riot (no offense Toledo).
Most of the athletes racing in COZ were staying at one of the all-inclusive host hotels on the island. This really sounds like a good idea, but in my opinion, I think its overrated. I didn’t particularly take the the food and the grocery stores in town are first class. If you go down to COZ to race, I would stay at a hotel of your choosing and do some local shopping. The groceries are cheap, fresh and you can get anything and everything you need. (FWIW, I bought some groceries one day and it was cheaper than an IM Cozumel coffee mug I bought for a friend back home).
The race is a point-to-point with two transition areas. The swim start is south of downtown; followed by a three loop bike that finishes in downtown (so the third loop is a few miles shorter). The run then goes North from downtown along the west side of the island.
The swim is (obviously) in the ocean and the water is quite warm; much warmer (and shallower) than Hawai’i, for example. Even though I don’t have a background in swimming, I prefer the non-wetsuits swims (particularly in the ocean). For whatever reason, I’m just more comfortable swimming straight up and I seem to do better as it relates to my position out of the water.
I felt good getting into the water on race morning. We didn’t have a lot of time to warm up, but I did some accelerations and some fly strokes and my arms, and body, felt great. This was really encouraging because I wanted to redeem myself after such a disappointing swim in Hawai’i.
I lined up left of the group and got clear water at the start. This worked out better for me as I could make my way over and see my position relative the masses. A group of very fast swimmers were well off the front (Potts, etc), but another group of five was sitting about ten meters ahead of me as I came together with the majority of the swimmers. I figured this would be my ticket and I made a move to go across the gap. This turned out to be a good move for me as I separated myself from the (bigger) pack and caught a good draft for the rest of the swim behind a group of five.
I exited the water at the front of the group so I could move through transition quickly. I managed to get through T1 in front of my swim group and was out onto the bike course in 7th place. Brooke told me that Michael (Lovato) was up the road by 90 seconds so I set out to try and make contact with him. Eventually Sturla, Galindez, and Beke rode up on me and I did my best to stay in contact with them through the crosswind section on the east side of the course. I felt really solid and I was very pleased with the way things were working out. I had assumed I was going to have to chase all these guys on the bike, but I managed to actually get out onto the bike course before them. Perfect.
Then we turned into a tailwind and I got dropped. Damn it.
I wasn’t too concerned about it at the time as I thought I was still in a good position, but then something wasn’t right.
I’ll avoid being too descriptive about ‘things’, but lets just say my stomach was a bit out of sorts. It was to the point where I was debating whether I should stop or not. However, I really wanted to keep my position in the race so I decided to back off and drink water for a while. I seemed to be able to cope with my situation and I thought I could make it to T2 without stopping. I knew I was going to have to make a pit stop in transition, but I thought that would be all I would be faced with.
After a slightly-longer-T2-than-usual, I got out onto the run course in 8th place. I was really looking forward to trying to run fast, but unfortunately my stomach situation did not seem to be under control. What followed was a series of pit stops and attempts to keep racing, but I was only getting worse. After a while, I really couldn’t even jog any more without beelining it for some privacy. Eventually, I thought it best to call it a day. I wasn’t eating or drinking anything and I was as swollen as an Oompa Loompa (to quote Torrenzo). I have never had to pull out of the race because of my health, but there’s a first time for everything.
At first, I assumed I made some errors with my nutrition on the bike (though I was feeling sick before I had hardly taken in any calories), but apparently there were quite a few other athletes with a similar story to mine. At any rate, it is what it is.
I’ve been asked if I’m disappointed/sad with Sunday, but I don’t really feel that way necessarily. I feel a little frustrated to end the season this way, but that’s pretty much it. I would love to go out and smash a run, but that’s going to have to wait for another day in another year.
HOWEVER, my mother-in-law stayed the course all day long and finished her first Ironman in 14:55. I think she felt very satisfied with the experience, but she also voiced her opinion that this would be her first, and last, race of this distance. As a result, she will retire with a 1-0 record against her son-in-law.
Until the next one,