IronMan Cozumel - TriathlonFull Ironman

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Cozumel, Quintana Roo
78F / 26C
Total Time = 12h 29m 3s
Overall Rank = 464/1928
Age Group = M45-49
Age Group Rank = 48/224
Pre-race routine:

I met a fellow triathlete who was also there alone, his family arriving on Saturday as well, so we got together on Friday to check out the swim conditions, drive the bike course, register for the race, athlete meeting, etc. The Friday swim practice was actually canceled due to rough water, but we did get in for a short informal swim just to convince ourselves that we could handle the swim even if the water conditions did not improve.
Event warmup:

Woke up and got to the race site without incident. The host hotels provided buses to shuttle us to the race start, and that worked out nicely. The first thing I noticed was that the water was much, much calmer, which helped my mental state of mind quite a bit. I then went about setting up my bike to make sure everything was ready, trying to keep myself busy and calm until it was time to head down to the water for the race start.
  • 1h 02m 9s
  • 4156 yards
  • 01m 29s / 100 yards

It took quite a while to get everybody into the water - I think some people were still getting on the dock when the race began. I jumped into the water and waited for the start closer to the beach myself, since that would give me a fairly straight line to the turn buoys without being right in the middle of the swarm. As soon as the swim started, I was thrilled with the BEAUTIFUL clear water. It was amazing how much that helped, you could see everyone around you for quite a distance, which really helped you to swim your own race, avoid traffic jams, and find good feet to draft off of :) It was also pretty cool to be able to see everything, including the marine life and the scuba divers positioned at the bottom near each buoy. After a short distance to the turn buoys, we turned around and headed back past the docks for the long section, which was with the current. A final turnaround, and then we headed back to the other side of the dock where they had set up wooden stairs for us to get out. Due to the clear water, I actually was able to see my watch a couple of times and knew I was doing well, but still was very excited to see a swim time of 1:02 as I got out! Wow, that was fast for me, and ended up being a fast swim for most people I talked to later (most likely due to swimming with the current on the long section).
Transition 1
  • 05m 37s

I stayed very calm and deliberate for T1. First we ran across a carpeted walkway, and then grabbed our T1 bags with our bike gear from the racks. Including the run out of the park once we had our bikes, it was a fair amount of distance to cover, but I went through it smoothly and got on the road with no problems.
  • 6h 17m 7s
  • 112 miles
  • 17.82 mile/hr

After that fast swim start, I was feeling very good about things; and that continued as I started on the bike course. The first 10 miles or so were nice smooth, flat roads; and we were well protected from the wind. Even being conservative and keeping my HR down, I was doing great. Then the road started turning towards the back side of the island and I started feeling the effect of the winds. Nothing too bad at that point, but a noticeable drop in speed. When we hit Punta Sur and turned along the coastline, though; that's when I really knew the day was going to get tougher. There is no protection from the wind on that side of the island, and it was really howling! Plus, the road itself turns into the chipseal pavement that Texans know and love. That combination lasts for a 12 mile stretch, and every mile of that I watched my avg speed drop further and further. And, by the way, this was only the first of 3 loops - so I'd be doing this two more times! Oh well, nothing to do but stick to the plan and try to keep the HR in the right range, keep hydrated, etc.

Things improved a little when I finally took the left turn that took us back towards the city, and especially as we got into the city and all the crowds were there cheering us on (the roads were closed to traffic, so there were very few spectators on the far side of the island). Going through the downtown area, we passed the second transition area for the first time and headed back towards the swim start at Chankanaab park. That was a very nice stretch of road... too bad we would only be on that section twice!

The second loop I tried to just maintain the same type of effort and speed as the first, not wanting to overcompensate and end up blowing up completely later in the day. I did try and get in as aerodynamic of a position as I could on that backside, but it didn't seem to make much of a difference. The winds were coming mostly as a crosswind, hitting on an angle on the right front side; so there really wasn't much I could do about it.

The final loop I just tried to enjoy the smoother, less windy part of the bike as much as I could; and then just get through the coastal section without driving up my HR too high. I had known since the first loop that any type of PR (personal record) was out of the question, so I was focused on keeping a reasonable bike pace and hopefully allowing for a decent run. I finally made it to the second transition area downtown with a 6:17:07 bike split, putting me at just under 7 1/2 hours total.
What would you do differently?:

Accept the slower bike on the back section as just part of IM Cozumel - not a PR type of bike course unless winds are abnormally light
Transition 2
  • 06m 35s

Looking back, I must have been a little disoriented and tired already, because I ended up leaving my Garmin on the bike when I handed it off to a volunteer. I thought about going back to find it, but decided that I could keep track of pace via the mile markers. I'd done that for plenty of races before the Garmin, and I always survived :) My goal at that point was to try for a marathon time of less than 4 1/2 hours; so I could keep my total under 12. Ah, the best laid plans...
  • 4h 57m 35s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 11m 22s  min/mile

The run was three out and back loops of about 8.7 miles each, similar to the three loop bike course. Three loops actually works well for me, as I go a little conservative on the first, gauge my condition on the second and pace accordingly, and then by the third loop I can tell how things are going for the push to the end.

My wife and daughter were at the back end of the loop right in front of our hotel, and it sure was a welcome sight to see them! I was running at a decent pace at that point, but I could also tell that I was fading, as I was having trouble eating and drinking due to nausea. I warned the family that things would likely start slowing down for the next couple of loops.

Whether the bike course had taken too much out of me, or the humidity was making me too hot and dehydrated (or the combination); by the second lap I could tell I was burning out. I had done some walking before I saw my wife and daughter again, and I told them that in order to finish I would likely have to do quite a bit more. It's very frustrating when your legs are capable of running, but the rest of your body is just too fatigued to allow it. Such is the Ironman... it is not just about the three events, it is about putting them all together in one day.

When I got to the last loop, Susie and Kayli had re-positioned themselves to be downtown for the finish. Susie tried her best to encourage me, including telling me that I actually had moved up a little bit in my age group. Really?!? I don't know how that was happening, as I didn't see any bodies on the side of the road :)

So, now it was time for the last loop. The first part of that last out and back was some of the hardest 4+ miles I've ever done; alternating short runs with walks and praying for the last bit of reserves I had in my body. The good news was that somebody had finally told me where to find the Special Needs bags, which contained some chicken broth that I really wanted (many people had that same problem, they did not have any signs or indication where the SN bags were - which turned out to be the parking lot of my hotel!!!). Once I reached the turnaround, I could finally sense the end and made myself a deal that I would run as close to 2 miles as I could, then walk a little before making the final run to the finish line. But whether it was knowing how close I was, the chicken broth that I finally found, or just wanting it to be over - I was able to keep on running all the way to the end! That's one of the things that I love about doing endurance events, finding out how much you have inside even when you think there is nothing...

Hit the finish line at last, with a time of 12:29:03, happy that my final run kept me under 12 1/2 hours :)
What would you do differently?:

If I decide to do another IM, I need to figure out better way to stay hydrated.
Post race
Warm down:

I knew that I was pretty well shot, and I had learned the wonders of the post-race IV at Redman earlier this year; so I didn't waste much time after turning in my timing chip and headed straight to the medical tent. After the IV and a nice hot cup of soup with noodles, I felt like a whole new person. How I wish that they'd allow me to do that at the beginning of the run! After leaving medical, I got my finisher's shirt and scarfed down some pizza; then left the athlete area. Once at the hotel, I ate some food and then crashed for some much needed sleep.

Event comments:

Great destination race, Cozumel is a blast. The winds, heat, and humidity make this a tougher course than you might think, so maybe not a great race if you're looking for a PR.

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Last updated: 2009-05-07 12:00 AM
01:02:09 | 4156 yards | 01m 29s / 100yards
Age Group: 45/224
Overall: 0/1928
Suit: skinsuit
Start type: Plus:
Water temp: 81F / 27C Current: Low
200M Perf. Remainder:
Breathing: Drafting:
Waves: Navigation:
Time: 05:37
Cap removal: Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
06:17:07 | 112 miles | 17.82 mile/hr
Age Group: 53/224
Overall: 0/1928
Wind: Cross-winds with gusts
Road:   Cadence:
Turns: Cornering:
Gear changes: Hills:
Race pace: Drinks:
Time: 06:35
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
04:57:35 | 26.2 miles | 11m 22s  min/mile
Age Group: 49/224
Overall: 0/1928
Keeping cool Drinking
Post race
Weight change: %
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Good race?
Course challenge
Events on-time?
Lots of volunteers?
Plenty of drinks?
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5]