Thursday, November 29, 2012

An Escape to Paradise! Ironman Cozumel!

As I arrived in Cozumel my stress of the last few weeks started to disappear!  I still wanted to race as I had put the training in....even if the focus had not been there. I had felt my run improving and my bike and swim seemed solid.

With every beautiful sunset or sunrise I felt thankful and blessed!

I was staying with the QT2 system pro girls and they really motivated me and got me excited to race.

Trying to get a little tan before the race!
Cozumel is beautiful and the swimming in the turquoise ocean amazing. I felt so lucky to be there!

Coach Jesse had warned me that nothing about this course was going to be  easy...and to add to that, last minute, about 15 amazing girls had signed up on top of the already stellar field of girls. Every girl on the list seemed to have an IM title to her name! This was certainly not the ideal race to be racing when your head is not in the game.

But I felt so lucky to be there...doing what I love...with hot sun and beautiful sunsets, clear water and friendly people.   I can do this...

 I posted this picture and quote the night before the race..
"What would life be like if we did not have the courage to attempt anything?" Van Gogh

I was feeling very unsure...but as usual Coach Jesse reassured me I was fit and ready!!

Jessie Donovan and Stephanie Jones race morning!
Race morning I am always quite confident but I was feeling a little uneasy as my stomach was upset. All week we had been a bit paranoid about drinking the water and getting sick! I was not sure if it was nerves or if I was in fact getting sick! 
The wind was blowing as I knew it would and I was still a little concerned about my deep dish front wheel as it seemed to be blowing heavy off shore which meant strong crosswinds! Oh well there was no changing it now.

 Before we knew it we all headed down to the start. The ocean swim was meant to be into a current, then a long stretch fast section with the current at my back and then back into the current to finish.
The gun went off and I sprinted hard. I was with the group and I had feet to swim on. I was swimming hard and felt strong. I kept saying just push until the turn around buoy then you can settle down with the current at my back. But it never happened. The group turned and the girl in front of me stopped to sight. That was enough to lose the group and I surged by her trying to catch up but I could not. The water was still rough and it  was immediatly apparent there was no current behind me. Instead it was an offshore current that was pushing me ashore. The result was a slow long swim as you fought against the constant current to get around each buoy. As there had been no pro meeting I was unsure whether we had to go around the buoys or not. So to play it safe I constantly headed around every buoy probably swimming 2.8 miles. This was extremely annoying.  The last stretch back into the current took forever. I decided just to swim on the the girl behind me's feet and save myself for the bike. This would mean I would not have to site as much and swallow as much salt water.  I had already swallowed a gallon and the salt was burning my throat. I came out in a 1.07 which I thought was terrible until I saw after the race that over 300 people did not even finish the swim. 

Onto the bike. It was apparent right away that my stomach was bloated and felt upset but I tried to eat half a Powerbar and settle it down. Within 5 miles I could see three girls up ahead. They were biking in a line. I pushed hard to catch up to them as I knew it would be easier if I could have girls around me by the time we hit the super windy section.  But when I reached the girls it felt comfortable so I pushed to the front.  But they would keep passing so it became a bit of a game. It made the time pass quick but it was getting a bit frustrating after a while. It seemed that this race had no officials and the ones that came by did nothing. A pro girl came by fast directly on another guys wheel. Her blatant drafting was incredible. They were flying.  I did not realize that a group of about 6 girls were now like a big train behind me. On the second loop teammate Jessie Donovan passed me and told me and I knew I had to try breakaway from the group.   Another guy and pro girl were riding right on Jessies wheel and probably stayed that way the whole day. I could not stay with them for long but instead I kept pushing hard and when I turned to see if the girls were still there I could not even see them. I was now biking totally solo for the last loop. I was convinced they would catch me as the last loop was the windiest and toughest but I managed to keep a 3-4 minute gap by the end of the ride.  I was happy with my 5.11 and 8th fastest bike split considering how much time I seem to waste.

Things I will remember for next year if I do this race!
1)The bike is tough!!! Spend as much time as you can in the aero bars in training as this is how you will be for 112 miles. By the third loop I was uncomfortable  and constantly stretching my legs!

2) Peeing on a flat course is not easy!!! I always felt like I needed to pee and I kept trying to stand and ride but it would not happen so eventually I would have to just coast. This is not good for your avg power.

3) I don't usually take salt tabs as I don't have a high sweat rate. This race I carried mine in a Nuun bottle. Not a good idea as they all came flying out as I flipped the lid on the bike. I was left with 2 and my plan was to take one with every bottle as they only serve Gatorade on the course. On the next loop I saw a guy stopped picking them all up. Hah..those were mine!!!

4) The gatorade bottles are super thin and the first time I grabbed one and put it in my cage it slipped out and almost caused me to fly over my bars as it got caught in my wheel. From then on I could only grab one bottle and fill my aero bottle at each stop. Once again alot of time wasted in this process!

5) The course is spectacular along the windiest section..

One of the shrines you see on the run course

Onto the run...Coach Jesse had told me to go out stomach was bloated so that was a good idea.  I decided not to take my watch out  of my back pocket until the first turn around which was mile 4.  But when I got there I decided I would just run on feel (Another example of how I was not focused)  My stomach was acting up and I could not find a porto john so eventually I had to stop behind a wall. After that stop around mile 7 I started to feel a little better and could take in more fluids. The run is a 3 loop course that takes you along the waterfront area. It is very spectator friendly. As you head into town it becomes louder and louder and it really is an exciting mile.  The wind would be in your face going out which actually felt good and then it would get really hot in sections on the way back.  The craziest thing about the run was the aid stations would only have one person and one table handing out gatorade. In each cup was one sip so by the time it hit your mouth it was gone. This meant I would have to drink alot of water which was not great!  I heard there were some pro's who's coaches were handing them bottles of sports drink.....mmmm Unbelievable!  A lot of rule breaking going on!

By the second loop I did not feel bad but I just could not get out of the steady pace I was running.  I passed a few girls and a few passed me. Somehow I slipped from 9th place to 15th by the end of the day.  I would have liked to make top 10 but I did not put up a fight and for that I am disappointed in myself. Instead I just enjoyed and finished the race.  

I was happy to see a 9hr 55 min split as I finished as I had no idea what I was running. Last year that would have put me in 6th place but the field was so strong and deep with over 35 girls and a lot of solid runners.

Post race fun!

Post race Brunch and Pina coladas

Cozumel was a great fun race to end the season off! I definitely recommend it!

Big thanks as always to Coach Jesse from QT2 systems! I am always proud to represent Rev 3! Pearl Izumi,  Powerbar, Kestrel,  LG and too all those that help me along the way!!


Bre said...

love reading your race reports as always :) Coz looks beautiful and sound like it was an interesting but fun race...and a tough day! Given your last month, I'm totally inspired by you. With my pending move to Tucson in a couple weeks, maybe I need to see abt racing this one myself next year! ;)

Jacqui said...

Bre You will love it!!! It is such a fun hard race!!! It was especially nice going with a group or with family. I would like to take my family there next year!!! I thought you were already in Tucson. I just was talking to another guy on my team who is moving there too...Lucky! Enjoy

Heather said...

Love, love, LOVE this race! Can't wait to do it again next year. Last time was in 2010. Can't believe they still haven't sorted out the drafting problems. Considering how much it costs to do these races they should put much more effort into keeping it fair for all. I actually stopped dead in my tracks when I noticed a chain of 10-20 ppl drafting behind me - unreal.

Jacqui said...

Yes Heather! It is an awesome venue and a freat place to train! I would love to do a camp out there! Hope you get to go back!