Ironman Cozumel 2014
After a solid, but not spectacular day at IM Arizona. I decided I would focus my attention on recovery and see if it would possible to race well again in two weeks. I knew it would take everything I have learned about recovery to have any chance of being ready to race again so soon!
After 10 days of focused nutrition, epsom salt baths, recovery boots, massage, streaching, meditation, easy recovery workouts, LOTS OF SLEEP, and a couple of hours in a hyperbaric chamber we were off to Mexico!
I must say it was a bit of an ordeal getting to Cozumel from Tucson with a drive to the airport, flight to Denver, flight to Cancun, bus to Playa Del Carmen, a CRAZY ferry ride with giant waves and people throwing up all around us and then a short walk to our hotel.
The first thing I noticed about the island was the wind. Having just battled through very windy conditions at IM Arizona, I realized this race might be the same. It is a strange feeling having an Ironman coming up and knowing the best thing to do to prepare is rest. In the 11 days since Arizona I had only swam once and it felt so so. I had biked 3 times and felt surprisingly good. I ran three times and of the three the run definitely felt the worst. I just had to not worry and believe by race day I would be ready! For whatever reason I felt very little pressure leading into the race and was, for once actually able to enjoy my surroundings. I rented a scooter, learned how to drive it(a little scary at first), drove around the whole island, and found several awesome local restaurants!
Race morning arrived and I felt good but not overly confident. My plan would be to go hard the whole day and if the wheels came off, oh well! I got to the swim start with little stress and time to spare. As we entered the water it was hard not to notice the beauty below me. Ok, focus, time to race! The gun went off and my streak of swim start debacles continued on. I started in the middle this time and the first few hundred meteres I took a real beating. Once again I watched the lead pack slowly swim away and there wasn’t much I could do about it. I ended up at the front of the second pack for most of the swim and exited the water in 15th place, ready for the fun part, the bike!
I was pleasantly surprised at how strong I felt right from the beginning of the bike. As I rounded the tip of the island and started north on the first lap(3 lap course), I realized why they don’t let anyone use a disc wheel at this race! The wind was absolutely howling, so I put my head down and rode as hard as I could. I was passing other pros left and right and by the end of the 1st lap I was in 4th place with about 10 guys riding behind me. I would like to say the group behind me was setting a good example for all the other people racing but that would be a lie. For wherever reason, about 90% of the of the bike there was no race referee with us(4-15 place overall in the race), so there were several pros behind me trying to draft – especially in the windy sections. Anyway, I would like to say I felt strong all the to the end of the bike, but that was not the case. With a still large but steadily dwindling group behind me I started my third lap. By this time I was feeling pretty tired and I watched my watts drop from 291w on the 1st lap to around 220w on the third. The last time through the windy section was surely going to be a battle of attrition. With about 12 miles to go one of the guys behind me put the hammer down and I decided I would follow(from a more than legal distance). I briefly felt strong and I was happy when I looked back to see that all the parasites had been dislodged by our surge. Coming into T2 I must admit I had the thought that I might not be able to run a marathon right now. My legs and especially my glutes felt extremely fatigued! I came off the bike in 8th place and no matter how bad I felt I was GOING to finish!
Anyone who has done an ironman knows it is like a being on a roller coaster, you feel good for a while, then bad for a while. Getting through the bad patches and staying positive is imperative for success! On the run I told my self, just make it to the 1st turn around. The more I ran the more possible the whole thing seemed. In the first few miles I passed a couple guys, then got passed by 2 guys. It wasn’t until the third lap that I knew I was going to be able to finish, in fact I felt the best from miles 20-25. I passed back both guys who had passed me and eventually one more. At mile 24 I felt like I was flying. I was so confident at this point that neglected the final aide station completely. Ouch, It became immediately obvious that I had only been surviving because of the steady stream of sugar I had been ingesting up until I choose to skip the last aide station. Images of the wobbly kneed finisher struggling across the finish line in Kona were spinning in my head. My fingers were tingling and somewhat numb and I suddenly felt like I was carrying an extra 100 pounds on my back. To say the last mile was a struggle would be a massive understatement! I eventually crossed the line, and man was I relieved. I had managed to hold on for 5th place, and at that moment I was very happy!
This race was the perfect end to a not so perfect season. I am happy for a short break, and then back to work! There are several area’s I will be focused on in the next few months to assure that next year I am stronger, faster and more prepared for what lies ahead!! Thanks for reading!!