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Ironman Cozumel - Triathlon

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Cozumel, Q Roo
Ironman Mexico
85F / 29C
Total Time = 12h 04m 36s
Overall Rank = 527/1547
Age Group = M50-54
Age Group Rank = 38/155
Pre-race routine:

Feels like I've not written a race report in.... forever. Probably because it's true. I write these more for my own purposes, to be able to look back on prior races in the same venue, or for past ironman races, and this is no different.

Arrived Wednesday before the Sunday race, the earliest I've gotten to an Ironman. Flew through Cancun as it's cheaper and faster than through CZM from LAX, but by the end of the car - plane - bus - ferry - taxi day I was still exhausted when my head it the pillow. I was able to get a quick :30 shakeout run in after unpacking, which was good to get rid of the travel cobwebs.

Staying at our usual place Blue Angel, on the bike course about a mile from the finish.

But getting there early was super helpful, as we were able to ease into the week, and allowed me to get the admin crap out of the way and at least a little bit more heat acclimation. Thursday we got up and did a couple boat dives, then lunch, then checked in, got the bike from Tri Bike Transport, then got a little ride in. As a result Friday was all mine, just a nice swim in the morning and then a day of relaxation. Saturday had a little more work to do to drop off bike, bike bags and run bag. But also got a quick shore dive in at the hotel as well.

Skipped the mandatory meeting. I typically go more to get into the swing of the event rather than for any race purpose , and the meeting was a half mile from my hotel, but to be honest hanging out by the pool was a better choice. Didn't have many questions, there's an active facebook page so any questions were answered there (the proverbial Do I Have To Wear Race Number On The Bike being pretty much the only one). Saturday night just had noodles at the restaurant and hit the sack about 9:30.

4 am wakeup call, for a 5 am departure. In 2016 I had stepped out of the hotel to walk to a host hotel, and a cab picked me up within a couple minutes. This time I asked them to arrange a 5 am cab. A little more expensive than a random pickup at $15 US to Chankanaab (probably $3-5 too much), but knowing that was handled has some value. Also asked downstairs to put the coffee on at 4 instead of 5, and through my broken Spanish and their broken English, it seemed to work out and got a couple cups in the system to do their magic. PB&J sandwich in the quiet on the deck, and noticed the wind was up slightly.

Cab was there just before 5. As it turns out, was there within 15 minutes and transition was not open until 5:30, so hung out and spoke to a couple Mexican guys there for their first Ironoman. They'd only been in the sport a couple years or so. It made me realize how much experience I had at this sport, but still doesn't mean I don't get nervous (always nervous dropping off bags... "Did I put all the right stuff in there?? I don't have two left running shoes in the bag do i???" that kind of stuff...) . But being so early was nice. When they did open the gates, about 5:20, I was in, at my bike, and done by 5:30.

Walked out to where the bus to the swim start was and by that time it was like salmon swimming upstream, so I was glad that I had made it on the early side. Bit of a miscommunication on where to pick up the bus, but it all worked out (if there is one issue I have with this race, it's a lack of communication, but the locals tell me "Well that's Mexico...")

Was one of the first busses to the Marina, met up with Tony, Monica, Jamie and his wife, all former BTers. Quick potty stop and then just wait for the start.

As a side note, I also decided not to race with any time knowledge. I don't know what time I started, didn't take a swim split, and although I had elapsed time on the bike, without those other two metrics it didn't mean much. Philosophy was stay the course, doesn't matter what you've already done (i.e. swim time) as that part is over. Focus on the right now.
Event warmup:

In 2016 I started in the front of the 1:00 - 1:10 group and went 1:01, but having been working on the swim so decided to start in the under :60 group. Got about 15 minutes of dry land warmup in,
  • 54m 11s
  • 3800 meters
  • 01m 26s / 100 meters

They build a purpose built dock extending through an opening in the jungle near the marina entrance for this race. Funnel through the chute, walk down the ramp, jump in. Years past there were issues with the dock and it was too low in the water, some people hit their feet on the rocky bottom. 2016 was fine, and this year people were diving head first, so I thought "what the heck?" and did the same. Coulda been a disaster, as it was just made my goggles, that I had just loosened, come off down to my neck.

Plan was to go out hard for about 500 yds and settle into an 80% effort. Got to 200 and figured that was enough hard. But I kept the pressure on. The wind was slight but out of the northwest, so that caused some wind chop, which added to the chop caused by the swimmers. I've since heard that people thought it was very choppy, but doing a lot of OW Swimming this year I didn't find it an issue. Although I did swallow a good bit of salt water, which is slightly unpleasant. I also have to comment - they say how beautiful the swim is over the reefs, and it's nicer than Tempe Town Lake, but as a diver that's done a couple hundred dives here, they aren't really reefs, and all the color is removed due to the lack of light, so the reefs are really rather "bleh" when compared to diving the nicer reefs with a good dive light. Anyway...

Got the goggles sorted, and off I went. Didn't find any feet immediately and was a bit in the wilderness, and tI could see from the seafans below and the buoy lines that the current was *sort of* in our favor. Diver bubbles were going straight up for the most part. This followed suit for several buoys, and at one the current was even against us for a bit.

I was able to find a group swimming my speed though, and attached myself to his/her hip and stayed there for quite a while. Rotated through various other people, on their feet, on their hip, and at about the halfway point the current shifted in ur favor and was ripping in our favor, seagrass laid completely flat. I kept the pressure on and kept up the 80% effort. The buoys sort of swung to the right, and I could see the finish pyramids ahead of me. So while my ride went right to the buoys I kept on a straight shot (no idea if there was a buoy to the left or right rule but would have been impossible to do), I looked back and there were four swimmers behind me. I thought I might prefer to be back there but my effort level was fine and was happy to set my pace.

Only real mistake I made was at the last red turn buoy . Perhaps a little meeting info would have come in handy, but Michael Lovato did say at the start, "there's one turn at the end to shore." So I hit the red buoy, but for some reason I wasn't sure if there was another buoy, and I followed some people ahead of me that swung out wide, while the guy behind me made a hard left beeline to the exit. Eventually we hit the stairs, me a half second behind him, to start the run to the changing tent, which I would need......

As above, I did not know what my split was. Although suspected it was decent
What would you do differently?:

Running in transition I decided to try to save time and get the skin off and trisuit up. My 2016 T1 was over 8 minutes, and there's no need for that. But... I noticed that there was no zipper. fuck. Put it on backwards at 4 am and never noticed. I swim with it rolled down under my skin.
Transition 1
  • 08m 27s

So, I entered the tent and had to do a full change. Take off the suit, turn it around, figure out where the leg openings were, ever try pulling on a wet kit in a hurry? Doesn't work. So much for saving time, and the mechanics of getting that thing on affected my efficiency elsewhere. Whatever
  • 5h 16m 42s
  • 112 miles
  • 21.22 mile/hr

Headed out on the bike, trying to put all the pieces in place. HRM, arm coolers, water bottle... I had sunscreened up int eh morning, but not in T1, was hoping that was not a mistake (it wasn't). Settled in on the bike with a slight northwest tailwind. Plan was to go 185-190 for the entirety, but I looked down and at or near that power, my HR was already 147. And it wasn't even hot yet. I knew from training that 147 is where my HR ends up after several hours in the saddle with hot weather, dehydration, effort, etc. Not where it starts (usually 120-130).

So I decided to spend whatever time it took to get down to at most 140-145. But even backing off a bit speed was still up so I wasn't too worried (don't usually race with speed because it's so condition dependent, but it is available on one screen) . Eventually HR worked its way down and settled nicely into the 130s by lap two, which was perfect

The times reflect the epic conditions. There was no wind on the windward side, the ocean was flat as glass. This lasted all day. Speeds on the "slow" side were as fast as anywhere else on the same effort. First loop was also nicely uncrowded, although that changed slightly for laps 2 and 3. Not too much drafting that I saw, although there were a couple notable exceptions, and 3-4 folks in the various penalty tents.

Not much really to report as conditions were static for the whole ride. Speeds were 21.7, 21.6 and dropped slightly to 21.3 for the three laps. Power was 180. 178, and 169 for the laps, the drop i think caused a bit by fatigue and a bit by having to slow and adjust to avoid drafting issue. NP for the ride was 176 which was just slightly lower than planned. So while I could tell it was a fast ride, didn't feel like I was overbiking it, even though that was a concern in the back of my head.

I didn't realize what the split might be until about mile 100, which was a good bit under 5 hours. Thought maybe I'd go 5:40, so the possibility of 5:30, which is where I thought I would end up, was exciting. Then 5:15 ish came as a possibility, which both excited and worried me - Did I go too hard? I really don't think I did as I felt mostly great throughout. There were a few moments I had to pick myself up with a little self talk - "You are the baddest motherficker out here today!!!" But followed with "easy tiger, you ain't done shit yet." I did have 4-5 power surges to pass folks, and every time I'd say "that has to be the last one, don't have that many matches!"

I did focus a bit on time in the last 5-6 miles as I knew 5:15 was in range. But still don't feel as if I overcooked it. But you know what they say, no such thing as a good bike and a bad run in ironman :)
What would you do differently?:

Nothing, as it turns out.

Nutrition was two 2 hour infinit bottles (1200 calories), king sized payday in thirds (440 calories) and two gels (220 calories). 1850 ish calories, also got two cold bottles every aid station and kept the cooler beanie and arm coolers as cool as possiblle
Transition 2
  • 06m 35s

Not really much to report here but there's always that "OK I just rode 112 miles well and now I have to run. A fucking marathon." Took my time, got water, a little sunscreen, sorted everything out, portapotty stop (only two out of the day, which is odd for me), and went out into the light...
What would you do differently?:

Was 2 minutes faster than 2016, so that's a step in the right direction
  • 5h 38m 41s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 12m 56s  min/mile

I hired my current coach specifically to deal with the last 13.1 miles of an ironman run (among other things of curse). One of his focuses is the mental game. What you do when the chips are down. While I initially thought i may have failed him, on reflection it was actually (maybe) the opposite.

Because there was very little wind, the run was hotter as well. The run is 3 loop out and back, north and south. Typically the north wind keeps that first leg actually cool. But I got off the bike a good hour earlier than 2016, and it was hotter. Pretty uniformly reviewed as running in hell. I was running 10 m.m and while the initial plan was to walk every other aid station--they are every kilometer so point 6 something miles-- that quickly changed to walking every one.

Hit the first turnaround on pace-ish, but the turn into the oven, running with a tailwind in full sun, did me in by the 6 mile mark. A bit dizzy, pretty nauseous. It all added up to a good walk. I had been taking in salt, but also water and feeling a bit sloshy. Trying to eat their gross Acai gels, get anything down, but stomach shut down for a while. Walked almost the entire three miles back to the "finish" turnaround, but the crowds were very supportive, even though tI felt like shit mentally and physically. Told Wendy that my stomach was not cooperating so it is gonna be a long day.... But I wasn't quitting.

Turned back into the wind, and it was slightly cooler, with the wind and an hour less sunshine. Decided to run 2 minutes, walk one. But not looking at the clock, just counting to 120 and 60 in my head. For the most part. Still probably walked ore than I had run. Hit the north turnaround -- halfway -- and back into the heat. Tried to keep up the 2/1, but about halfway back, I saw Wendy who had walked over two miles to give me a message from my coach.

"You can still hit the goal."

My "goal" was anything with an 11 in front of it. I had thought by that point it was out of the question, but this message both inflated and deflated me, I needed to try to find a way to carry on and not completely give in. Kept up the 2/1 (adjusted to aid stations), and completed lap 2. I vowed to return to running station to station. I was somewhat but not completely successful. Found myself walking and giving up a little -- again. But I skipped special needs (mouthwash- yum!) and kept on, thinking maybe I can do it? At some point I think I looked at the clock and figured I had 1:30 to "run" 7 miles. That seems really easy. It wasn't

I would be running station to station. Slowly, but running. But then fuck it, find myself walking again. Didn't really hurt all that much less, but enough to want to do it. Fuck the goal. No, dammit, run. Sorta like that over and over. Finally hit the last turnaround, and thought yeah, only 7 aid stations left.... Still found myself repeating the above pattern.

Finally ended up down on the main street - Melgar - and knew 2 miles left. there were mile markers every few miles. when you see mile 25 on your first loop and think how far you have still to go to get there, it sucks. when you see it at mile 25, you just want to kiss it. I knew all I had to do was get to the cruise ship bridge - about 1/3 of a mile to the finish - on my own power. From there the crowds and music were large and loud and that would all be adrenaline. Still, I found myself walking a few feet in miles 24 and 25. I did have one other goal. There was a guy in a zoot kit, also struggling early on, but he was doing a little better and had pulled away. In the last three miles I saw him again, and I was doing better than he was. I had to beat this guy. Passed him while "running" and knew I couldn't slow down. Gave me the extra motivation to get to that bridge.

Finally hit that sign - loops 2 and 3 left, finishers right. I went RIGHT. Turned the corner, and just like 2016, no one else in the chute so I had it to myself. Looked for Wendy - So many races I want to see her at the end, and miss her, or see her too late. Found her on the front row and stopped to give her a kiss, then crossed the line. Sign above me said 12:06. Damn, that was close.

Felt so good to be able to stop.

Nutrition - was sort of haphazard, especially when stomach shut down for a bit. Carried a hand water bottle, but had to be refilled from the little plastic bags they hand out. As I was struggling started the coke early, at mile 12, and kept that up every aid station thereafter. Pretzels and gels as I could stomach them. Base salt every other aid station or so (wasn't disciplined enough ,and probably led to the issues)
What would you do differently?:

Hmmm. I was a bit let down on the run, and it's the first ironman where my run time exceeded my bike time. I've always been able to avoid that. But not today. But also not my slowest IM run (Whislter last year in 95 degrees). And there was some good. It was only a half bour slower than Cozumel 2016. My takeaways here were (1) I was still top 50% of my AG; and (2) I negative split the run which has never happened in an Ironman.

Need to get mentally tougher
Post race
Warm down:

Was caught by my friend Dailene that owns Cabrilla's, so that was cool. I felt pretty good. heck I hadn't run all that much. But I did need quite a while t feel normal. Sat in a cold pool for about 10 minutes, found Wendy, sat with my feet on ice, got a massage.

Wendy eventually asked if I wanted to know my time, and I said yes. Damn, closer than I thought... 4 minutes off the goal. That is actually very common for me, to just miss my dream goal, and it does tell me that I am setting my goals appropriately. Also makes me want to work harder....But I always start thinking of all the places I could have gathered 4 minutes. the backwards kit. The special needs stop where I filled a new bottle. Dawdling in T2. Stopping, walking... but you's drive yourself crazy doing that. 4 minutes over a 12 hour day... And if you did X different then Y would have been different. Not something you can dwell on, and as long as you are doing the best you can *in that moment*, it's all you can do

Gathered all my stuff (they do a GREAT job here) dropped off the bike to TBT, got a pint of Haagen Dazs from the market, and went back to the hotel. Ate ice cream and had a beer by the pool.

Event comments:

Cozumel is a very special place to race. Of the three venues I've done it's currently my favorite. Helps that we know some folks on the island and we go there for vacation to dive as well

Last updated: 2019-12-08 12:00 AM
00:54:11 | 3800 meters | 01m 26s / 100meters
Age Group: 11/155
Overall: 0/1547
Performance: Good
Suit: Roka speedsuit
Course: Jump in swim south til they tell you to stop
Start type: Plus:
Water temp: 82F / 28C Current: High
200M Perf. Remainder:
Breathing: Drafting:
Waves: Navigation:
Time: 08:27
Performance: Below average
Cap removal: Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
05:16:42 | 112 miles | 21.22 mile/hr
Age Group: 18/155
Overall: 0/1547
Performance: Good
Wind: Some
Course: 3 loops
Road:   Cadence: 81
Turns: Cornering:
Gear changes: Hills:
Race pace: Drinks:
Time: 06:35
Overall: Average
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
05:38:41 | 26.2 miles | 12m 56s  min/mile
Age Group: 76/155
Overall: 0/1547
Course: Three 4.4 or so legs, out three 4.4 or so legs back. 3 loops
Keeping cool Average Drinking Not enough
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] 5

2019-12-08 10:25 PM

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Subject: Ironman Cozumel

2019-12-11 12:25 PM
in reply to: #5264581

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Sarnia, Ontario
Subject: RE: Ironman Cozumel
Great Race Report and thanks for the mention! Was a great day and you killed it. Good job.
2019-12-12 6:54 AM
in reply to: #5264581

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, Minnesota
Subject: RE: Ironman Cozumel
Good job!

I loved doing Coz in 2012 and will be there for diving in a couple weeks.

Here's a glimpse of the original swim course in 2012.
2019-12-12 9:56 AM
in reply to: #5264581

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South Windsor, CT
Subject: RE: Ironman Cozumel
Congrats on a fine job! S was outstanding, B was even better and the R was a relative success, so it sounds like a great day.

I was tracking you off and on throughout the day. I was stunned at the bike speed and consistency! Super job with that.

Rest and recover now-you've earned it.

2019-12-12 6:39 PM
in reply to: #5264581

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Albuquerque, New Mexico
Subject: RE: Ironman Cozumel

Nice job Dude!  

I know those "run" demons you speak of...

2019-12-14 10:05 AM
in reply to: #5264581

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Atlanta, Georgia
Bronze member
Subject: RE: Ironman Cozumel
Congrats on your day! I've heard Cozumel is just plain tough, esp. if hot/windy, which is probably pretty much always. Swim/bike splits are really impressive and I can completely relate to tough running in the heat. Way to muscle through..

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