What a day yesterday was! And talk about not having your dream race!!
Leading up to the race, I felt really prepared as I have been hitting awesome paces in each discipline and felt like I was set to set a personal best in all three sports since doing Ironman Texas last year. I have significantly improved my times in all other distances, so it just seemed logical.
I flew in Thursday (Thanksgiving) on a plane full of other Ironman Cozumel participants. Actually that morning, I had to make a slight change of plans as Delta sent me a message that my first flight was delayed so much that I wouldn't make my connecting flight. So they rebooked me for Friday. I told them this was unacceptable so they gave me my money back. And I found a nonstop flight on a united that morning for the same price, so I flew United.
Cozumel is a beautiful spot to be. The beaches and water are beautiful, there's lots of shopping and tons of nightlife. So much to tempt you to not take it easy before an Ironman. I think I did good by taking a cab to lunch one day and briefly walking the shops. I stayed at the Hotel Cozumel & Resort and would recommend it to anyone looking to do this race. It is 2.5 - 3 blocks from the Mega (grocery store), athlete check-in, T2 drop off, is a host hotel so you have the Ironman shuttle perks and it is right near the finish line. Lower in price with an option to include breakfast and dinner for not much more.
Race morning I was up and ready to do just after 4. My oatmeal didn't turn out good so I had some granola instead with a banana and a beet shot. The bus to take us to T1 was already waiting at 4:50 when I walked down to the lobby and off we all went. I brought just my morning clothes bag which had everything I needed.
I walked over to my bike and immediately went to find a tire pump. They won't let you bring your own unless it is miniature sized, so you need to find some to earthier take it for you or loan you one. I found the official bike pump area that the race provided and waited my turn. On my bike, I had my deep 80 wheels and the back one was not taking in air. So a fella came over and worked the valve extender to get it to take in air. Not sure what he did honestly but he messed up my race. More on that later.
After that I went and put my bottles on my bike. Then at T1, they wanted us to drop the morning clothes bag, so I grabbed my Blue Seventy speedsuit, goggles and cap and walked barefoot to the bus to take us to the swim start. Got there pretty early as there was an hour before my wave.
Sat around the swim start waiting for it to get closer to the start. Put on my speedsuit and took a picture with my JSC/SBS friends and then it was our corral's turn to go. We went down the pier and jumped off to swim to the start. They bragged online and prompted this race to be the fastest swim with the current at your favor. Let's just say I felt it, but it surely was as fast as it sounds like most people anticipated. Anyways, I lined up like the second row in. The air born goes off and so do we. I drafted off the front people for a whole 30 seconds and then they dropped me. But I can say a couple things about this start. No anxiety at all, which tends to be an ongoing issue. And I didn't have girls swimming over me and held my spot. So 2.4 miles of swimming seems to take forever! Strange to me that even though the time in the water is so much less, it feels to me that the it is so much longer. Anyways, we were the third wave and a couple other things happened this race don't not all happen. I passed people in the wave before me and the wave before them! And not just a couple of people, but a lot! And, get this, I had people actually drafting off of me. I guess I can't say that I am that bad at swimming anymore. :) The two waves behind us were some fast men, some caught me but I latched on to some for the last 600 meters, which they said was the section against the current, which I didn't think was that bad. The results say I swam a 1:08 but, I started my Garmin like 20 seconds before and stopped after I exited the water and mine said 1:07 so not sure what happened there. My last IM swim was a 1:32 also in a speedsuit so obviously, current or not, I have improved at swimming.
Ran and grabbed my transition bag with my helmet, sunglasses and shoes and had the two greatest volunteers in transition. They opened my bag, helped me put my stuff on and put it back in the bag. Problem was they weren't too clear on where it went (this wasn't covered in the athletes meeting) so I took it with me as I grabbed my bike. One main volunteer lady said leave it where my bike is. By the way, their numbering system had different age groups racked near each other. Nevertheless, it was nice to see all the neighboring bikes still there. I take my bike, run almost to the line and put on my shoes. I hop only bike.
And notice that something is wrong. I have a flat. I yell some sort of bad word and pull of the side to fix it. And watch a lot of people pass me, as in like a hundred. There goes my good bike position. So this is illegal, but where I pulled off, a guy had a bike pump and so as I changed my tube, I used his pump to put air in it. I of course, since I was just out of transition, yelled for a bike tech but there wasn't one there. So took care of the tire and off I went.
Cruising along and my heart rate actually was bring normal. And there was no crazy winds at that point so I was holding a good speed. And about 12 miles in, I thought I was working harder than I had to. And saw a bike tech helping another girl with a pump. So I thought maybe I didn't air up my tires enough. So I put more air in them and they seemed to keeping air. So off I went again. So on the back side of the islands and as you approached it, you got a good taste of shocking crosswinds and oh man crazy headwinds. One person I was talking to said 25 mph headwinds. For like 10 miles of each of three laps. Yay. Everyone else had the same issue there so that is what it is. As I was just starting my second lap, I noticed I was pushing too hard, pulled over and realized my tube wasn't keeping air. So at this point, I had a decision to make - change the tube or just keeping stopping every so often to put more air in the tire. I chose the later and not sure if that was the right call. I guess my valve extender is messed up. I don't know. I will have it looked at when I get back. In all, I stopped around 5 times to fill the tires, the last one being 10 miles from the end after pushing through the headwinds on a slightly deflated tire.
And I know it wasn't as hot as some previous years but the heat got to me. I was have cramps all over. My stomach cramps were "shocking" to say the least. I felt like I kept getting punched in the gut over and over again in the same spot and sitting up made it worse. And to make matters worse, I felt some tunnel vision and dizziness at the beginning of my third lap. None of this makes any sense as I have trained in hotter rather and consumed the same amount and type of fluids and fuel. In all, I drank 3 Gatorade and about (some water was splashed on me) 11 bottles of water, 8 salt pills, 11 Gu, 1.5 bonk breaker bars. Needless to say, with the tire issues and the wind, this ride took a lot longer than I thought it would.
When I got off the bike, I shuffled to transition with my bag with my shoes, socks, compression sleeves and visor and another nice volunteer helped me out as another rubbed me down with more sunscreen. And this was quite a process. As I eat there and put those on, I realized I was in for trouble. I had cramping in my feet, calves, quads and stomach. Anyways, I felt maybe it would go away as I ran so out of transition I went, streaked with white sunscreen everywhere. Can't wait to see those race pictures! Ha ha ha
So Muffy with SBS was in transition and I took off running. And the. She caught me. And said to run with her. I did for a little but that just want going to happen. I walked. A lot. My breathing was very rapid and my heart rate was way too high for the pace I was doing. So I felt like I was walk to an air station and then drink as much fluids as I could as it seemed like there was some sort of dehydration going on. And so I jogged again for a few seconds and my side hurt so bad it felt like my body was shutting down. So I walked again. And did the math. Obviously it was not really looking to be a PR day nor any sort of good day. So I figured at a 16 minute per mile walking pace with some occasional jogs of 10 minute per mile would get me there well before I needed to be there as it was like 3:30 at that point. And then I met Bob from Austin and we did two laps together of walking and jogging. I seriously considered quitting. But I figured I spent all that money to be here and didn't want to waste it. I didn't keep going to prove anything, but to not waste money. Ha! On the second lap, I decided to make a bathroom break and started seeing stars in there. I stood right up and got moving out of there while still pulling my shorts up. I will be darned if I am found passed out in a port o potty! So back to the shuffle jog. I have never felt so terrible In my life - it felt like my body was shutting down. But dammit, I was going to get that darned medal! Bob wanted to run the last 4 miles and due to my make you want to fall over stomach cramps, I couldn't. So I walked until there was just under a mile left. And then ran to just before the line. Did a nice buff girl pose and got that silly medal. This time I had a different last name as they called out "Claudia Smith from Houston, Texas - you are an Ironman!"
Surprisingly, I was only just over half an hour slower than my last Ironman. I will say a couple of things. First, while I stayed in my ideal heart rate range most of the ride (some was actually lower), my legs took too much of a beating! And even though I drank my ideal amount on the bike, I still ended up being dehydrated! And that wind was definitely a downer. I spent a year planning this as my A race and building up to it and was nicely prepared and it just wasn't meant to be. So if I do another Ironman, and that is a big if, it will be somewhere cooler with less winds. And if that means I get more hills, so be it!!
Next year I will be racing on the Wattie Ink team and am so excited to rock the W. Next up is USA Fit Marathon in two months. And I have some recovering to do!!