Friday, March 22, 2013

Ironman Los Cabos Race Report! The luck of the Irish!

One week post IM Cozumel in November I decided I would like to open my race season with IM Los Cabos!  It sounded like a great idea! Besides it was a few days before my birthday so where better to celebrate! All winter while clocking countless hours on the trainer I would dream of racing Ironman in the hot Mexican sun! 

I arrived in charming hot beautiful San Jose Mexico. Ironman Los Cabos stage would be one that I won't easily forget and will put up there as one of the most beautiful courses I have raced for sure! 

The 2.4 mile swim set in the cool waters of the Pacific Ocean from Palmilla Beach. A place where there are local fishermen,stand up paddle boarders, rich tourists,  pelicans hang and of course the whales impress!


The 112 mile bike is set along the tourist corridor between the relaxed San Jose del Cabo and the  vibrant Cabo San Lucas with a grueling section that a friend described as equivalent to the energy lab in Hawaii but on bike!
Lastly the run would weave it's way through downtown San Jose, past a Mexican rodeo and busy tourist shops to the finish line at the city hall!


I was feeling excited to race. It was hot and the course beautiful. The days leading up the race I felt solid. I was relaxed although a little nervous about the distance. Even after 23 IM the distance of the race scares me.  I respect the distance but the goal is not just to finish, but to race as fast as I can given my fitness! I was feeling good for March...but their is always doubt in the back of my mind on how the winter training has gone and if I have done enough... 

Race day was to be on St Paddy's day! I kept saying to myself and others I hope I have the "luck of the Irish!" race day! Hoping for some good luck! Well apparently up until this point
 I have been misinformed about the saying!  Luck of the Irish is actually bad luck! Who knew??? I must have jinxed myself but I will get back to that...

Morning came with my usual not a wink of sleep. I do feel so much better when I sleep before a race but I was ok with it and despite some jelly legs I headed down to the race start. Once I walked down into transition the tossing and the turning of the night was forgotten and I was 100% ready to race!
Not only was I ready but I was loving every minute of the energy of the morning. The sun was rising over stunning Palmilla beach. The ocean calm with a light breeze.

When I lined up there was no fear! 

At 6.43 I sprinted into the ocean in my suit and swam as fast as I could. The ocean felt great. Even though I was one of the first girls in the water the lead girls pulled away quick. So I settled into what I felt was a good strong swim effort. The current seemed to be at our back and I could feel someone on my feet. At the second turn around buoy I could see that I was pulling a group of 4 or 5 girls. I tried to surge and push to catch the girl infront of me but there was no bridging the gap and noone seemed to want to pass me to help! So I continued to just push as hard as I could all the way to the finish.  I felt like I was going to have a really fast swim split as I felt great the whole way but I have to say I was slightly dissapointed when I saw a 1.03 swim split.   I do think the course might have been a touch long or swimming into the current on the way back a bit slower.

But that thought left me as I sprinted up the beach to get a lead on the girls that were trailing close behind me. 
Running through the T1 tent the girls offered to strip my wetsuit. Here is when the day started to get a little shaky. It seemed that as hard as 2 then 4 girls seemed to yank they could not pull my wetsuit off. It was bizarre but by the time they got it off all the girls were leaving T1 without me. 

Next crazy thing...riding up the hill out of T1 I hit a bump while trying to put my bike shoe on and the whole shoe came off my pedal forcing me to stop and put it on. Ugh! Ok now the group had pulled away from me and I was a little annoyed but quickly setteled into the ride once on Highway 1 heading towards Cabo San Lucas.  Coach Jesse had given me a power number to hit no matter what!!!! I went out just above that number and felt great. My heart rate was super low and I had a big smile on my face.  I could see all the girls that had passed me and I was feeling great!
I loved this course...despite the endless lights, cracks and bumps in the road.
BUT 22 miles in and my third obstacle hit me.  It seems all my asking for the luck of the Irish was indeed happening but not the way it was meant to! I was about to have the worst string of bad luck I have had in Ironman in a long time. Nothing major but just enough to be distracting!

Not sure what happened first but my gears were not shifting correctly and on a uphill climb I dropped my chain. I tried to pick it up while spinning but it got lodged in the crank. Ok off my bike for the second time...hands all it out and back in action. But no sooner had I started to ride when I realized that somehow I lost my aero bottle straw! You got to be kidding straw would leave me with only one water bottle cage which meant no room for error on grabbing a drink at the aid stations. But I reminded myself not to panic as their where plenty of aid stations. 
It also became very apparent that my gears were no longer working correctly. This was first evident on a long descent where I had to spin at cadence 130 and then coast as I had no power. This course is rolling and with no power on the downhills you lose time and your watts drop. I figured I had exactly 4 gears to ride in. We have a saying at QT2...Control what you can control on race day! Well it just seemed like things were coming apart. But I was still keeping my focus. I could just try push harder on the uphills to make up the power and time. Focus Jacqui Focus! Be smart and just do everything else right!

It is so funny while most people were focused on the heat and hills and even the wind that picked up quite heavy on the second loop!
 All I could think about was my hydration so sorry if I spend a little too much time reflecting on it! But the way you hydrate on the bike sets up your whole marathon so it is key!
Without an aero bottle my goal would be at each aid station to grab a sports drink and put it in the only holder I had...then I would grab a water and dump it all over to keep cool.  
But something was going on with the fueling bottles. 1) They were small so they would fall out of the holder without you even noticing! 2) The tops were not allowing the gatorade to flow so all I would get was a trickle of fluid.  3) I could not believe my luck when at various times 3 bottles were handed to me with their seals on! 
 It was HOT and things were not going my way. I could not get enough fluid!!  I would hang tough to the next station which was only 6 miles away. But the same thing would happen at the next station.  At this point my mouth was so dry and the course so hot. I was so thankful and appreciative to my Costa Rican friend Milton who took a minute to try help me by twisting the cap hard with his teeth even though he was racing for his Kona spot.  The second loop was a blur of dehydration as twice I lost my gatorade bottle and rode with no drinks for miles at a time.

The view from the bike course
Despite my legs feeling good I just had one goal and that was to finish the bike without damaging myself too much!  My breaking point was grabbing a bottle near the last aid station after riding for 6 miles without a drink in the hottest part of the course and I am talking upper 80's/ 90 degrees. I went for a big sip of gatorade and the seal was once again was still on!  My chest closed and I started to panic and have an asthma attack. This is when I know I am pushing my body too far. I had to stop and have a little cry and regain my composure. I opened the seal and drank the whole bottle.  

There are many obstacles you can deal with on the bike and you have to learn how to think rationally when they happen. You have to be able to deviate from a plan! This was a first for me in an Ironman!

By the time I pulled into T2 I was very unsure about running. I was in 16th place and so far from where I was hoping to be. My stomach had been cramping on the bike and I knew I would have to jog the early miles and spend some time at the aid stations just hydrating if I was going to get through a marathon.
It crossed my mind to pull out for sure. Save myself for my next Ironman in 9 weeks! But I was all the way in Mexico and I came to race an Ironman. To that is what I did.
One mile at a time...At one point I thought I might beable to get a PR run as I was holding 7.20's and my legs were feeling good.  But the lack of sufficient hydration early on in the bike caught up to me and I had to jog the last 10 miles. Good enough for a 3.34 marathon! 

So I tried to cheer the other athletes on and appreciate the beautiful mountains and the crowds of spectators.

I crossed the finishline in 10.34 Good enough for 16th PRO. 

I will remember this race for pushing through...keeping the focus when all seemed to be falling apart! When the luck of the Irish was thrown my way but I did not give up. I am thankful for having a strong body that allowed me to finish even though I probably was in no position to run and a strong mind for allowing me to not beat myself up but instead face what I was given like a champ!

So I did not find my pot of gold in Mexcio. But what I did experience was another opportunity to do what I love. To be a part of a new race! To meet so many athletes experience the hard working mexican people with their big smiles and warm see whales and listen to music and watch a sunset on a beach and celebrate with friends and family! 

Celebrating my birthday!
I loved my start to the season and am always thankful to beable to do what I do!
So time to get back to up is New Orleans and then Brazil! 

Another adventure awaits!

Big thanks to my sponsors for 2013! 
QT2 Systems/Coach Kropelnicki
Quintana Roo
Blue Seventy
Pearl Izumi
Fuel Belt
The Zone

Hanging post race with mates Jessie and her husband Peter and daughter and Doug 

The coolest rock face I have seen!

This is definitely a must do early season Ironman! I hope to be back next year for sure!

QT2 Pro camp

Before I post a race report for 2013 I find it shocking that I am yet to post much from my offseason. The last 6 weeks have been nothing but PANIC in preparation for this early season Ironman.

 The realization of an impending Ironman was enough to create a bit of fear so I would get down to business and focus on every single workout and my nutrition.
With winter weight lingering and motivation low due to crappy weather I had to step things up a notch!

First I had to go back to the Core Diet. The goal to lose 6 pounds in 6 weeks. 
I do not diet but the core diet is just going back to basics by eating lots of fruits and veggies and lean protein.

I find it awfully hard in the winter to resist the snack cupboard. It seems to be the first and last thing I open and close every time I enter and exit the kitchen. I don't believe in denying my kids of sugary nummy snacks but it makes me have to be super disciplined!

With weeks going by in the 20's I settled for the warmth and convenience of my bike on the trainer. Never a flat tire to worry about and a constant stream of tv or music.I did get a few cold snowy run days!

Long run , many layers , lots of cold wind!

Just another day on the trainer!

 Before I knew it a month had gone by and it was time for our first ever QT2 pro camp in Claremont Florida. I was a little nervous as I had not done any speed work of any kind and my training had been a bit slow in Dec/ Jan.

Camp started Feb 15th and it was just what I needed. A blur of insanely hard but fun challenging sessions. Coach Jesse made sure to touch on every aspect of what goes into being and racing on a professional level.

Track day at the end of a long day! Mile repeats!
My awesome room mates  Kim and Stephanie 

Loved this sandy loop across from our Vacation Village accomodations. Miles and miles of dirt! 

With days such as grit, endurance, chaos over confusion and intensity days! We were tested both physically and mentally!
One of my favorite pools at the NTC 

Thankfully we got some good recovery in there to absorb the huge workload.

I survived a 40 hour training week filled with intensity and daily long swims. I biked a ridiculous 350 miles in 4 days including finishing with a 6.30 hour hard bike in the rain. Following this was an epic night run where coach Jesse sent us a text preparing us to bring fuel for a 4.5 hour run. Only to learn in a quick minute that we would be running 20x1 mile descending repeats with a partner. If you failed to descend you would have a 15 minute penalty.  My run due to my partner being injured would end up be 8x1mile repeats and then 8 descending miles. Doesn't sound too bad...try doing it an 10.30 at night after 10 brutal days at camp!

I survived camp and was equally impressed by my team mates who got the work done day after day with both enthusiasm and a sense of humor all the while keeping up the intensity.

When a perfectly executed camp was over, I was sufficiently tired and ready for a taper into IM Cabos.
Big thanks goes to Coach Jesse who ran the camp with such organization and such passion for his athletes. I am always impressed by his ability to connect to each and everyone of his athletes and his attention to detail in training and racing!

Well sadly I returned from camp with the intentions of riding outdoors but a snow/rain/snow/cold weather once again got in the way of that.
So with great anticipation of some beautiful weather I head out to Mexico in a few days!

I got to spend a few days in Disney with the fam before camp!

So until my post race report I wish you all an amazing 2013 season filled with health, friendships, good races and balance!!!

Here is a cool video that team mate Pedro Gomes ( made from camp!  Enjoy!