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Ironman Cozumel - Triathlon

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Ironman Mexico
78F / 26C
Total Time = 12h 38m 26s
Overall Rank = 621/2500
Age Group = 35-39
Age Group Rank = 111/325
Pre-race routine:

Went to bed at 8:00pm, popped a Melatonin (greatest over the counter med ever). Alarm set for 3:30am. Woke up ar 12:30 am to pee...could not get back to sleep...that's ok...I slept pretty well Friday night and felt rested. My wfie and I, along with a few friends who were not racing, stayed at the Cozumel Palace, which is directly acrocc the street from the Cozumel Convention Center (where registration is) and a 3 minute walk to the finish line. If you think about doing this race and you are coming with friends/family, this is the ONLY place to stay. It is a little more expensive then some of the other resorts, but the convenience for my wife and friends was worth it. The staff is great, and treat the athletes very well.

Anyway, the resort had a special breakfast for the athletes at 4:00am. Top notch. Had 2 cups of coffee, two pieces of white toast with peanut butter, and sipped my EFS sport drink for the next 2+ hours. I like to get to transition early, so I grabbed a cab with a few others and they dropped us off at T1. Cost $12 USD. I could have walked to one of the host hotels, but the cab was much more convenient.
Event warmup:

Once in T1, got my bike, bottles, and Garmin set up and was ready to go. T1 is a bit of a zoo, especially with 2500 athletes from multiple countries, who speak multiple languages. Used the bathroom 3 times. We had to hop on buses to go to the swim start which was at a marina about 2 miles up the road.

There was no ability to warm-up in the water. They switched to wave starts which was great. Really cut down down on the contact and made the entire race more enjoyable. Took 1 Salted Carmel GU 15 minutes before our wave start.
  • 1h 07m 1s
  • 3800 meters
  • 01m 46s / 100 meters

This was the most beautiful swim I have ever done. There was a strong going with us, so that is why the times were so good. I expected to finish in 1:15-1:20, but I will take a 1:07 every day of the week. The water is crystal clear and about 20'+ can see all the way to the bottom. Absolutely gorgeous. Because of the wave starts, contact was pretty minimal.
What would you do differently?:

Possibly work on my drafting a bit more. It was a little hard to do because I moved into a few waves which went before us, so a lot of the time in the water was just maneauvering around people without hitting them.
Transition 1
  • 06m 49s

This was my first IM, so I was not sure what to expect in a changing tent of 500+ guys. Well, pretty much like a high school locker room. The volunteers in the tent probably saw a lot more than they were expecting, but someone has to volunteer.

Overall, things went pretty smoothly in the tent. I did not spend the $$$ for a swimskin, so all I had to do was dump out my bag, put on my gear, and pack up my swim gear.

T1 was HUGE! I saw plenty of people looking for thier bikes after they changed. I am not sure how it is at other IM event, but this race was a bit of a maze. I knew exactly where my bike was as I practiced running from the tents to my bike the day before, so I had no issues.
What would you do differently?:

Not too much. I was pretty happy with my transition.
  • 6h 32m 32s
  • 112 miles
  • 17.12 mile/hr

The bike segment was by far the most challenging for me...and I think every other athlete not named Michael Weiss (4:22:20...f'ing incredible).

Anyway, the roads in Cozumel are pretty smooth. There are a few segments where it was midly bumpy, but it was manageable. The biggest issue on the bike was the wind on the East side of the island. After we left T1 at Chankanaab Park, we headed south for about 5 miles to the southern most point of the island. Once you make the turn to head back north at the bar Rasta's, the wind just smacks you in your face. You then turn a little more to the West, and now the wind is a strong crosswind at probably 40+ mph for 12 miles while heading North. This is not an exaggeration. Every athlete I spoke with who raced IMCZ in prior years said it was the worst they have ever experienced.

This does not excuse my slow bike time, but the wind was no joke.

Since this was my first IM, I just wanted to take it easy to try to save my legs for the marathon. I talked to a bunch of people on the bike: Matt from Utah, Sebastian from New Orleans, amongst others and they were a great help with regard to pacing the bike & run. One of the best parts of the bike is that you have a chance to chat with people. You quicklt realize that everyone is facing the same wind. Everyone's lower back and neck hurt. Everyone is trying to hydrate and get their nutrition in, etc. So, you just push through it with everyone else.

Drafting: I read every RR I could find about IMCZ, and the constant complaint was the drafting. In complete honesty, I did not see anyone blatantly drafting. In all 112 miles, I never saw anyone in the penalty tents. The officials were very visable and I think the wave starts helped a great deal. The bigger issues I witnessed were people trying to pick up bottles at the aid stations. 3 crashes happened behind me at 3 seperate aid staions with people cutting over at the last minute to get a bottle....other riders could not stop fast enough, and crashes happened. All I can say is...slow down at the aid is a long race...a few seconds are not going to destroy your race.

Feuling: I was not 100% sure how to properly fuel for an IM, so I google searched a bunch of plans that were not too complicated to follow. I found a plan by Pro Trevor Wurtele:

I adjusted it based on my size (6'2" 183lbs), to make sure I took in enough calories. I had 4 bottle cages on my bike: 2 for my concentrated EFS drink, 2 for water bottles. I probably could have gotten by with 3 cages, but it was convenient to have the 4th one for an extra water bottle. I drank a lot of water and hosed myself off quite a bit. I could see a lot of salt deposits forming on my race suit, so I knew I was sweating a lot.

In addition, I took 4 motrin before I got on the bike, and 2 satltabs at the top of every hour. So, 12 salttabs on the bike, 3 concentrated bottles of EFS (picked up one at special needs before the 3rd loop), probably close to 10 bottles of water (drank 5, poured 5 over my body), and an EFS liquid shot during hour 3 & 5. Additionally, at hour 5, I took 3 more motrin since my back was getting sore. Lastly, I peed 3 times on the bike.....well, not when I was riding...but, during the bike segment. There were guys peeing while on their bikes, but the thought of smelling pee in your bike shoes was not really that appealing to me.

All in all, the bike for me was just about getting through it. I was hoping for a 5:45-6:00 split, but the wind was rough. Each loop, the wind seemed to get stronger, but it may have just been a function of me being more tired each loop. The bike course passed the hotel we were staying at, so I stopped both times to chat with my wife and stretch my legs for a few minutes. The kep my morale up pretty well.
What would you do differently?:

I felt my training prepared me well to finish the bike leg, and it did, but I did the bulk of my rides in Zone 2. Throughout the entire bike leg, my HR never got higher than 145. This was probably because I did not try to "race" the bike portion, knowing I still had to run a marathon.

Regardless, my only goal of IMCZ was to finish.
Transition 2
  • 08m 45s

I was not 100% sure how I was going to feel after being on the bike for 6:30. I did quite a few brick sessions of 40-50 mile rides, followed by an hour run (about 7-8 miles for me), and felt good with those. But, noeone trains a 112 mile ride with a 26.2 mile run afterwards....

So, I got into T2, handed my bike to a volunteer and ran into the changing tent. As I sat down, I looked around and realized there were a lot of people in the tent that were far worse off than I was. I was tired, but not to the point that I had a medic attending to me. One thing I did forget to grab off my bike was my asthma inhaler. So, I had to have a volunteer run to the rack and get it for me.

Having sports induced asthma since I was 5, I knew it may come in handy to have my inhaler with me for the marathon.
What would you do differently?:

Not too much. Probably be more aware to grab my inhaler from my bike. I am sure I would have saved a few minutes...but again, the goal was to finish, not win.....interestingly enough, as I was running out of T2, I hear "Micheal Weiss, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!" That was a bit of a hit to my pride, but then I thought "Wait....triatholon is this guy's job.....I am doing this for recreation." At this point, my conscience said "what the hell is wrong with you?"
  • 4h 43m 19s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 10m 49s  min/mile

My goal of the marathon was simply not to death march it. I walked the aid stations and ran in between. I was able to basically keep this up for the entire marathon.

At each aid station, I took Gatorade, water, and ice. I put the ice down the back of my jersey, and drank the water and Gatorade. In addition, I drank an EFS liquid shot between miles 4.5 - 9, washed down with a TON of water. At the advice of a friend, he told me to forego Pepsi until the thrid loop. This would become valuable advice.

For the first 13.1, I clocked a time of 2:03. I peed once during the first half. After mile 13.1, my body told me that it was not kosher with an all liquid diet for the past 10 hours, and it was going to make me pay for it. I never had any stomach pain or GI issues, but a #2 was going to have to happen. As I passed people walking the entire marathon, stopping to do a #2 did not make me feel all that bad. Unfortunately, I had to do 3 #2's during the second half of the marathon. I still ran the entire time and walked the aid stations, but the pit stops slowed me down quite a bit.

Before I headed out for lap 3, I saw my wife and friends and told them I was out of Motrin. My knees were getting pretty sore, so I asked my wife to run back to the room and grab me 4. So, during this time, I chatted with my firends and some of the other spectators. It gave me a good few minutes to stretch out and relax for a bit.

Throughout the entire marathon, my HR never got above 145. Again, this was probably becuase I did not push myself as hard as I could have, but I just wanted to finish and stay out the med tent.

Starting the 3rd loop, I listened to the advice of my friend to start Pepsi. At the first aid station, I took my first cup and it DID NOT sit well with me. I stated to walk for a few minutes...and then a few more minutes....I started to question whether I just made a HUGE mistake....My body had been taking in EFS, water, and Gatorade the entire race and now I was changing up what I had been doing for the past 11 hours.

At the next aid station, I took a Pepsi and 2 cups of water to dilute it...this was the right mix for me. The strength ot the Pepsi was too much for my stomach to handle, so when I watered it down, it settled better. On the 3rd loop, I also started taking in solid food (pretzels, bananas, and oranges). This did not seem to affect me one way or the other. I was hoping that the solids would "plug up" the #2 didn't...oh big deal.

At mile 21.8 (half way through the 3rd lap), I ran into my buddy from Utah I met on the bike. He was waiting for a friend of his, but started to cramp up, so he ran gradually for most of the 2nd loop. We chatted for a bit and decided we were going to run together for the last 4.4 miles. This was a great motivator. This was his 3rd IM, so it was great to chat with him for the next 45 minutes.

I was absolutely amazed at how bad of shape some people were in. Athletes who were in MUCH better shape then I was, but cooked themselves on the bike and first loop or two on the run. People were kealed over in pain, or dehydrated and just trying to make it to the finish line.

I kept up my 2 saltabs at the top of every hour, and ended up taking 8 on the run, for a total of 20 on the day.

With about a mile left, my stomach wanted another buddy, Matt from Utah said "They have bathrooms at the finish!" What a great way to make the final push to the finish. I let Matt run ahead and I crossed the finish line hearing: "Jeff Bittner from Rochester Hills, MI, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!"
What would you do differently?:

To be honest, probably work on my nutrition a bit on the run, but at the end of the day, I accomplished exactly what I wanted to...I became an Ironman.
Post race
Warm down:

I often wondered where my $700 went when I signed up for a WTC race...I found it in the finisher's tent. First of all, the medal is wicked cool. Secondly, the volunteers are amazing. They are there to help you with whatever you need/want.

I went over and grabbed a few slices of pizza and 2 lemon lime Gatorades. One thing that was cool was they have pools filled with cold water. Matt and I hopped in there for about 15 minutes to let our muscles relax.

I ran over and grabbed my finisher's shirt and got my picture taken.

Lastly, I waited for a massage which was wonderful. I felt bad that I did not tip them. but I had no money on me and I don't think they would have wanted one which was sweated on for 12+ hours....I may be wrong.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Probably a handful of things, but I was happy to have my 1st IM under my belt...can't wait for the next one.

Event comments:

I was very happy I chose IMCZ as my first IM. I know there are those out there who can not justify spending $700 for a race, but I will say, for your 1st IM, I highly recommend it. They put on a great race and there were no details which were overlooked.

Lastly, I have to say the local support was amazing. The entire island gets behind this race (the 70.3 earlier in the year too) and it was electric. If I do this race again, I will be staying at the Cozumel Palace again becuase convenience is everything and it was incredible.

Profile Album

Last updated: 2014-12-06 12:00 AM
01:07:01 | 3800 meters | 01m 46s / 100meters
Age Group: 93/325
Overall: 586/2500
Performance: Good
Suit: N/A
Course: Point-to-Point from Fortuna Marina to Chankanaab Park. Fairly straight.
Start type: Wade Plus: Waves
Water temp: 78F / 26C Current: Low
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting: Average
Waves: Good Navigation: Good
Rounding: Good
Time: 06:49
Performance: Good
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed: Good
06:32:32 | 112 miles | 17.12 mile/hr
Age Group: 120/325
Overall: 711/2500
Performance: Average
Wind: Cross-winds
Course: The course was 3 loops around the southern half of the island.
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence: 88
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Below average Hills: Average
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 08:45
Overall: Good
Riding w/ feet on shoes Average
Jumping off bike Average
Running with bike Good
Racking bike Good
Shoe and helmet removal Good
04:43:19 | 26.2 miles | 10m 49s  min/mile
Age Group: 111/325
Overall: 621/2500
Performance: Good
First half of the marathon, Garmin said 2:03
Course: The course is pretty much flat. 3 loops out and back. We ran North out of town to El Cozumeleno, and then back. Aid stations at every mile.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
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

2014-12-06 3:02 PM

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Subject: Ironman Cozumel

2014-12-07 11:55 AM
in reply to: #5072618

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Atlanta, Georgia
Bronze member
Subject: RE: Ironman Cozumel
Congrats on your day! Few things in life are memorable as crossing the finish line at an IM for the first time...
Good luck with the next one..
2014-12-08 9:20 AM
in reply to: alltom1

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Subject: RE: Ironman Cozumel
Thank you so much. It was an incredible experience.

Already planning my next 2: Challenge Atlantic City in June 2015 & IM Louisville in October 2015.

Ambitious, but I realize I enjoy long course more than short.

Thanks again.

2014-12-08 10:25 AM
in reply to: Jeff B

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Bronze member
Subject: RE: Ironman Cozumel

Great job ironman! Way to keep positive and have great race! 

2014-12-10 6:23 AM
in reply to: #5072618

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West Palm Beach
Subject: RE: Ironman Cozumel
Congratulations! Awesome race :-)

Cozumel was my first IM and so far my favorite, planning to go back next year, wind and everything nothing beats this island :-)
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