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IronMan Cozumel - TriathlonFull Ironman

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Cozumel, Quintana Roo
80F / 27C
Total Time = 12h 56m 4s
Overall Rank = 641/?
Age Group =
Age Group Rank = 0/
  • 59m 48s
  • 4156 yards
  • 01m 26s / 100 yards

Hard to imagine a better IM swim venue or swim course in triahtlon period. The water was crystal clear, warm, beautiful scenery. The dolphins in the enclosure were out greeting you as you entered the water.

The small number of participants (around 1500 starting) made this a pretty tame IM swim compared to others and left plenty of room. The course was set up with about a 500 meter swim north to the first turn buoy, a long section south to a submarine/second turn around, and a shorter return to oneside of a very long dock/dolphin enclosure. A fairly good current was running north to south, which slowed everyone down on the first section but helped significantly on the long section between the turnarounds. The last northerly section was closer to the shore than the first, so the current was not as strong. Some have speculated the course was short, but I really believe the faster times had more to do with the strong current.

As far as my swim goes, this was a new PR for me. I did an excellent job drafting and swimming along the buoy line in both directions and felt great exiting the water. If I do this event again, it will be to do this swim course!
What would you do differently?:

Transition 1
  • 06m 9s

T1 required short run from the end of the dolphin dock to the hanging bags, changing tent, then to a spacious bike rack area spread out along the parking lot. The entire area was covered with artifical turf put down by the organizers. Most of my time was spent making my way from the water to T1 exist rather than changing.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing. This was IM number 3 for me - each time I cut out more of the extra crap from my chaning bag, which cuts down time. I probably spent less than half of the time changing, the rest getting through the rather large area.
  • 6h 30m 40s
  • 112 miles
  • 17.20 mile/hr

Beatiful, but tough course. The course is an almost entirely flat three looper with a couple of small inclines that allow you to stand to stretch the legs. The first section runs south through a typical Carribean vegetation - palm trees, tall shrubs, etc. This section as almost completely shielded from the wind and allowed for a good pace - I averaged around 20-21 mph here holding back. Around 6-7 miles or so, the road turns and runs southeast and eventually east into some strong headwinds coming from the east ocean side of the island. The size of the vegetation slowly decreases and the wind picks up the closer you get. So after a few miles riding into a headwind, you turn for a 13 mile ride north in a strong ocean crosswind. The coastline is absolutely beautiful - totally undeveloped beaches, blowholes, rocky terrain - something I appreciated less and less on my second and third lap compared to lap 1. Here, the road meets the sand and their is almost no vegetation whatsover to break up the crosswinds. Given that the course was closed to traffic, there were little to no spectators except for a handful of the beachside bar workers. On this day, the winds were easily in the 15-20 mph range, hard enough to where you could barely hear yourself think, slowing everyone down and blowing people across the road. I tested the wind a couple of time by spitting towards the west and cleared the two lane road easily - that's how hard the wind was blowing. After 13 miles, you finally turn right for a ride that takes you back across the island into town. The crosswinds helped a little initially, but I never seemed to push more than 20-21 mph. The crowds grew closer to town, mainly locals with kids cheering and watching the event. By the time I entered town on my first lap, the crowds were several people deep with lots of noise and cheers. After a few turns in town, the course turned turns left for the southboung leg along the internal shoreline towards T1. From T1, laps 1 and 2 were 39.5 miles, lap 3 ends in downtown after 33 miles.

As far as my ride was concerned, it was tough and took a lot more out of me than I had hoped. I really felt I had held back, but the headwind and crosswind sections were very difficult. Mentally, the three 13 miles oceanside sections were very taxing, particularly given the reduced speed and the consequential duration of the strong winds and concentration required to keep the bike upright and going straight. On my first loop, I thought the scenery was amazing, the second I thought it was OK, the third it started raining sideways and I was convinced I was riding along Hell's beach. Despite everything, I managed almost identical splits on each loop and finished strong.

Further, the flatness of the course proved to be difficult as well. One tends to think flat course are easier, but they seem to really zap your legs much more so than courses with some grade changes that allow you to stretch your legs out, adjust your cadence, and switch muscle groups. I train on rolling hills and certainly missed the rest and rejuvination of the downhills.

The special needs pick-up was about 8 miles into the 13 miles stretch a was a complete cluster f*ck. All of the bags were strung out on several tables in no order whatsoever and there were only a few volunteers available to help. Fortunately, I found mine very quickly, but I shared a taxi back to my hotel with a guy who gave up looking after 15 minutes and had his day end with three IVs after having to changes his nutrition from his drink to Gatorade. This seems to have been one of the few complaints coming out about this race and one that I would shocked if the organizers do not sort out for next year.
What would you do differently?:

Not much really, which is odd given my somewhat disappointing split time. I really felt like I held back, though probably gave too much on the 13 mile stretches - physically and mentally. I probably should have trained more, but I always feel that way.
Transition 2
  • 04m 25s

T1 was big, T2 was tiny. Volunteers grabbed the bike at the line, a few feet later the bags were laid out numerically right beside the changing tents and a few feet from the start of the run course.
What would you do differently?:

Spray more mosquito repellant.
  • 5h 15m 2s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 12m 01s  min/mile

The run course was great by IM standards. The first 2 miles were through downtown with lots of crowd support and along the waterfront before veering behind a stretch of a hotels for about 2.5 miles to the turnaround. Running toward the lights and through the crowds along the last two miles coming into town was amazing on all three laps, particularly the last.

Not my best performance, but OK given the conditions. By the time I finished the bike, the humidity had really risen. My legs felt pretty good, but I was pretty tired from the bike. I had a decent first lap, walking through aid stations after the first few miles. I never really felt on top form and "ran" this very conservatively. I believe I negative split the last half after a lot of walking on the first part of my second loop and moving to a good paced run-walk routine. The mosquitos helped, as they came out in force around dusk near the turnaround - I was biten through my kit and am still covered all over in bites today. This provided good motivation to run instead of walk in order to get away from them.

The aid stations were good with some problems. Normal Gatorade was the drink for this race, not Endurance formula, though they had two different kinds on each segment. Water was handed out in small bottles and they had more than enough - my hotel was near the turnaround I saw several shipping crates full of water bottles where the aid stations were located the morning after the race. Cans of Coke were being handed out in mass on my first lap and they had completely run out by my second. The organizers got the message and as I started my third a scooter piled high with two liter bottles was on the course to restock the stations.

The mosquitos were unbelievable. The aid stations did not seem to have repellant, though many spectators were out spraying athletes down. By my third lap, the aid stations were stocked with repellant.
Post race
Warm down:

I had been craving ice cream for my last two laps after passing a shop near the finish and seeing spectators eating on the side of the run course, so my wife and I went straight there after chilling for a few minutes in the finisher's area. Massages were available, but the cue was long when I finished.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Fitness and conditions.

Event comments:

An awesome race with all of the unique intangibles of an international race, but only a short plane ride from the US. I would do this again tomorrow if I could. The entire event was pretty well organized with only a few minor issues that I am sure will be corrected next year. After having raced two new 70.3 races in New Orleans and Augusta this year, I was amazed at how well organized this race was in its first year.

This race, probably more so than many other IMs, is very susceptible to the weather. A cold front moved through the two days before the race and the wind was relatively sustained at 10 mph blowing north to south. Had this continued, the bike would have been an absolute bear. The crosswinds on the 13 mile oceanside were tough, but at least it was no headwind. Also, the heat and humidity could be a real factor hear. Conditions were almost ideal this year with low winds and cloud cover for most of the bike, but a humid run. I could see the wrogn

My advice for anyone thinking about this race or doing this race next year:

(1) Stay at one of the host hotels and book early. Transport was provided for bike check-in and to T1 the morning of the race. Bike mechanics were available at the hotel. These benefits made the whole process much easier. Book early, as in the day your register - many of the good special rates were booked up very early (winter/spring of this year).

(2) Fly in and out of Cozumel if possible. We flew in/out of Cancun, which is a 45 minute ride to the ferry terminal and a 45 minute ferry to Cozumel. It made the return trip a very long day. On top of this, someone had their bike fall off one of the ferry's on the way over to the island - she rode a fixed gear bike on race day. A small company called Mayair, I think, runs a shuttle service from Cancun to Cozumel - roundtrip around $120, though they offered a special the week before the race for about $100, including your bike.

(3) Pay careful attention to the information on the website. If it says Gatorade will be provided, that means regular Gatorade - not Endurance formula.

(4) Avoid relying on special needs if at all possible. I believe they will sort out the issues they had on the bike next year, but many people had their days ruined after not being able to find their bags and having to change their nutrition plans half-way through the bike.

(5) Get in the water early. Many people were still on the dock when the race started.

(6) Buy your spouse/SO a VIP pass. This allows access to the dock for the swim start and a catered area with seating elevated above the finish line. My wife (five months pregnant on the day) was very pleased and well looked after.

(7) Pray for good weather, be prepared for the worst. This course has the potential for being a bear. The weather was about as good as it gets this year, but conditions were still tough. If this race had been done on Friday, it would have been an entirely different course and probably would have had a lot more DNFs. One thing you can be sure of is wind, so practice your handling skills, particularly in crosswinds.

(8) If you do not know what you are doing, ask another athlete. This race was well organized IF you knew what you were doing, i.e. if you knew where to put your gear bags, if you knew where to go, if you knew this was a way out with no re-entry.

(9) Do yourself and your family a favor and do this race. I costed everything out and found the total cost to be about the same as flying to any of the North American races not within driving distance. Host hotels in the US run around $200 per night, which is about what you will pay in Coz for an all-inclusive. This is a great race, well organized, amazing venue, and incredible local support where nearly everyone is thrilled to have you on the island (as opposed to some of the rumored problems at IMKY, Lake Placid and IMFL where local opposition has been apparent). The only negative I foresee from having done this race is how high the bar has been set for M Dot races and the tough sell I now have to convince my family to accompany me to other IM venues when we could go to Cozumel.

Profile Album

Last updated: 2008-10-28 12:00 AM
00:59:48 | 4156 yards | 01m 26s / 100yards
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/?
Performance: Good
Start type: Deep Water Plus:
Water temp: 82F / 28C Current: Medium
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting: Good
Waves: Good Navigation: Good
Rounding: Good
Time: 06:09
Performance: Good
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
06:30:40 | 112 miles | 17.20 mile/hr
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/?
Even splits on each lap.
Wind: Cross-winds
Course: 3 loop rectangle, very flat with strong crosswinds, entirely closed to traffic. Surfaces decent with some bumby areas. Very scenic and great crowd support in downtown and hotel zone areas.
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence:
Turns: Cornering:
Gear changes: Hills:
Race pace: Drinks:
Time: 04:25
Overall: Average
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike Average
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
05:15:02 | 26.2 miles | 12m 01s  min/mile
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/?
Performance: Below average
Course: Three loop out and back along waterfront and hotel zone area, entirely closed to traffic. Aid stations every kilometer.
Keeping cool Drinking
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Average
Mental exertion [1-5] 3
Physical exertion [1-5] 3
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 5

2009-12-06 10:03 AM

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Subject: IronMan Cozumel

2009-12-06 10:58 AM
in reply to: #2545001

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The Original
Subject: RE: IronMan Cozumel
Great race report!  Smoking fast swim- way to break an hour!  I also think the current and drafting had something to do with faster swim times.  When I got out of the water I definitely felt like I swam 2.4 miles.

I don't know of anyone who felt exceptionally strong on the run.  I think the bike course zapped more out of us than we realized!  I totally agree with you- there were a few hiccups like the bike SN but besides that it went pretty smooth for a first year race.  I was very pleased with this race.  It was tougher than I imagined it would be, but it was totally worth it to vacation in Mexico!  It's probably not the best course for a PR (except for the swim) but still a great race.  Congrats on your finish!
2009-12-07 4:36 PM
in reply to: #2545001

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Extreme Veteran
Subject: RE: IronMan Cozumel
Nice race report, and eerily similar to my day   I agree with both you and runnergirl that the bike took more out of us than we realized; and that combined with the humidity took it's toll. I was a full hour slower than my time at Redman just 10 weeks ago, and felt like I was in better shape going in!

And yes, the vacation time afterward made it all more than worthwhile
2009-12-22 9:32 PM
in reply to: #2545001

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The Woodlands, TX
Subject: RE: IronMan Cozumel
Nice report! Great info for me as I have signed up for 2010. Thanks for all the great info.
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