IM Coz ~ THE RACE
Rarely researching the courses before actually signing up and often not even until just prior to racing, I learned that the 2.4 mile swim was a point to point swim with a current, early on. Terrified of an ocean swim with no wetsuit, the favor of the current helped make my decision to sign up. To my dismay, for over half the swim, the favor was not with us…
On Friday morning I got in the water to feel, taste, and experience what was to come in 48 hours. My good buddy Clarence joined me and promised he’d stay right with me. We swam out 100 meters and it was enough for me to know I don’t like it. I felt very heavy in the water, weak, and the anxiety of how in the fuck am I going to do this for 2.4 miles resonated. He tried so hard to ease my worries and give me encouragement. I’m pretty sure I just grumbled at him. I put it all out of mind and continued with my preparations. Mom arrived Friday evening.
Saturday morning came and sitting on the edge of the bed I whined to mom, “What am I going to do?” She advised me that I was going to swim and bike and run and finish my 12th Ironman. Truth was, yeah, that is what is going to happen; I’m going to at least try. SIGH. I’m here, there’s no not racing at this point. Preparations continued…
The logistics of Ironman Cozumel are a bit crazy. We actually have 3 key locations: T1 which is where the swim finishes, the swim start which is 2.4 miles up the road, and T2 downtown. While mom went on a Saturday morning dive, I prepared for Sunday by dropping my bike and bike gear at T1 (add anxiety for missing the swim practice time frame) and dropping my run gear at T2 downtown. With all that complete all there was to do was relax. And then race… Ha. “Relax” (eye roll).
Fast forward to Sunday morning I’m awake at 0345 (an hour before my alarm is scheduled). It’s okay, I feel well rested. I spent the hour somewhat meditating and somewhat praying. I always shower before a race because wet hair is easier to braid than dry hair plus I like to wash away the sleep. The oatmeal at breakfast was terrible so I only got a few spoonfuls down but forced a mini bagel with peanut butter in (a note for future Lisa, I need to up my Ironman morning calories). Mom and I take a shuttle bus ^ to Chankanaab Park. I quickly check my tires and gears, fill my water, load my nutrition, and place a piece of chocolate (chocolate absorbs salt so after a salt water swim, it’s perfect!). A quick pee behind a van (hey don't judge!) and we take the next shuttle to the swim start.
With plenty of time, we check out the water’s edge and of course this prompts the need for the potty (again). Got that done and still plenty of time. I’m standard nervous plus all this new anxiety for a no wetsuit swim. Feel the fear, and do it anyway. I’m allowing this chant to repeat over and over in my mind. I seriously have NO strategy. I seriously have NO idea how I’m going to survive this swim. Everyone around me looks so at ease. Am I the only chicken shit!? Deep slow breaths; you can do this. Your words permeate my mind. I don’t want to disappoint you.
*you refers to myself, my guy, my pup, my athletes, my family, my friends, all the “my’s” in my life.
There might have been a moment of excitement and confidence but it was quickly replaced with WHYYY do I keep doing this to myself?! Followed by voices of encouragement and more self assurance and doubt. With tears in my eyes I hug mom (who I’m SO glad was there) and the rolling start of athletes is moving. With a 0730 start, I was in the water by about 0745. I waved to mom on shore and jumped off the dock (belly flop, ugh, really Lisa!?). Just start swimming…
I expected the swim to take me 90-100 minutes (per usual). Most of the athletes I had chatted with expected a PR swim. Not me. Not without my security blanket. I wasn’t counting on the current making me faster since I didn’t have a wetsuit on. What I also wasn’t counting on was NOT having a current. And I realized this within the first 100 meters when I seriously was swimming in place. I might as well have been in one of those endless training pools. The buoys, ropes, and under water foliage was //// < this way (against me instead of with me)! What the!? Just keep swimming…
The buoys are 100 meters apart but so hard to site. Why is there so much chop!? Where are these waves coming from!? There would be times I’d raise my head to site and I see only water. It would scare me so much that I’d just throw my head back down and keep swimming. I had no idea if I was on course or not. One time I came up and the salt water attacked me. Skipping that breath I threw my head back down but when I went to breathe again, more salt water. It mauled the back of my throat and I coughed and choked. Surely I will drown today ~ carve on my tomb, she died in vain.
Wasn’t this supposed to be an easy swim!?
I’m so frustrated and I feel like I’ve been swimming for a long time, surely I’m half way. I look at my watch and I’m devastated DEVESTATED. I’ve swam only 1,027 meters. Are you kidding me!? But my time is 37 minutes. That can’t be right. My GPS is off. It’s not reading properly, I’ve definitely swam farther, just keep swimming.
I swim a while longer and I’m concerned again about how far I’ve come. I look at my watch again, it reads only 1,500 meters and my time is 57 minutes (I’m usually at 1,500 meters around 32-35mins). This CAN’T be right!? Impossible! I’m convinced my GPS is off and I just keep swimming. I even think at one point I can see the finish arch so I’m probably 800-1000 meters away; which means my GPS is definitely off. I got this now, I felt confident.
But not for long, I actually WAS at only 1,500 meters. And we really did have a current against us. Oh my gosh. I was crying inside my goggles, I’m not going to make this swim.
But of course I am! What are going to do Lisa, QUIT!? You gonna flag down a boat that BY THE WAY there isn’t even one around! You going to swim to the edge and walk out!? You gonna hang on to a buoy like a little bitch!? NO! JUST KEEP SWIMMING. I’m mad! I’m furious!! I’m screaming at myself for being so weak! Who do you think you are coming out here like you’re some kind of bad ass athlete and feeling so defeated! FUCKING SWIM! And just like that, the water is suddenly calm (as calm as ocean water ever is anyway). I’m staying afloat and we seem to have picked up a current. I see other athletes around me again, kayaks nearby, and I’ve been on course. I’m so worn out but I feel calm; get this !#F&! swim done already!…
The water visibility in Cozumel is 100%. I can see to the bottom. The foliage is swaying with me now. The buoys and ropes and anchors are with me \\\\. HERE’S the current. It took 2,000 meters to get there, but here’s the damn current. I’m now laughing (perhaps a bit hysterically). Does it seem like we’ve been swimming for hours now? Yeah, it’s because we HAVE been!! I FINALLY see the dolphin area (the swim finish). The buoys turn from orange to yellow. Five yellow buoys to the turn. That’s 500 meters. The current disappeared again but I knew I was alright now even though it was SO hard to finish that swim. I was ACHING to get out of the water. I reach the stairs and I was so scared to look at my watch. I knew it was long, did I even make the cutoff!? 1:55. PHEW!! I made it, but how pathetic. It took me about 35 miles on the bike to shake that disappointment.
OFFICIAL SWIM: 1:55
Interesting, reviewing my Garmin data, my MOVING TIME was 1:30 while my ELAPSED TIME was 1:55. So I actually did have a 90min swim, but what was I doing for 24mins!? Dean asked, were you chatting with the marine life? Ha ha! I think I was napping! So weird.
Okay so I’m in and out of transition. My BEST part of any triathlon ;) It’s my favorite and I pride myself on how fast I’m able to get in, get my shit, and get out. I read FB comments later and I’m happy that it’s also impressive to friends! Maybe I’m average at the 3 disciplines, but I’ll kick your ass at transition every single time! HA!!
OFFICIAL T1: 6:15 (this one was actually a bit long, hey, it was a lengthy run!!)
The bike course is 3 loops around the island. 39, 39, and 33 mile loops. It’s known to be a windy course on the back half and it was truly brutal. BUT, it’s only for about 15 miles (and some of that is crosswind). According to my Garmin splits I was averaging 14-15 on those sections and 16-19 on other sides. I ended up with 16.6mph average. But here’s a few notable moments:
Mile 35 I finally got over my swim.
Mile 45 is when I finally got some sunscreen on (oops!).
Mile 61 was half way bag and that mini bagel hit the spot!
Mile 68 was my only pee stop.
The course was GORGEOUS. And closed to traffic. And perfectly paved. Mostly flat (few little tiny inclines on the back section that felt worse than they were because of the wind).
I did a lot of thinking and decision making; I don’t remember most of it but I’m certain I solved some of our world crisis. I reviewed all of my Ironman events in order of completion (Texas, Cabo, Rev3, South Africa, CdA, AZ, Texas again, Barcelona, Brazil, Vineman, Wisconsin, Coz). And I sang crazy songs in my head, you spin me right round baby right round...
The best part of this Ironman bike, I never hit a dark time. I stayed positive and mostly happy the entire 112 miles. My seat was uncomfortable for a while but eventually numbed.
And I knew all the spots I wanted to stop at tomorrow (Monday) with mom.
I got hungry, really hungry. I was stoked for my bagel at the half way point. Here’s where note to future Lisa comes in, EAT MORE breakfast!! I had 2 Gu’s, 6 waffles, 1 mini bagel, and half an eGel on the bike course. Also super happy to see momma each loop around. She’s always so happy and just cheer cheering; it’s cute. I wanted to finish in 6:30 but I under estimated the wind.
OFFICIAL BIKE: 6:55:27
OFFICIAL T2: 2:58 (hand off my bike and grab my run gear)
The run course is 3 loops (out and back). Flat. Fast. Mostly with lots of spectators. I really wanted a 5 hour marathon and I really felt like I was going to attain that. The first few miles were questionable with too much walking but once my legs arrived, I was running strong with a short walk at each mile. I had a couple moments of OH MY GOD how am I going to make it through the next 26 miles, but mostly I felt happy. I got tired, really tired (as in sleepy) at one point and I was hungry! They had some pretzels on course but only like every other aid station or so and I was over sugar. No more sugar. I didn’t want Gu or fruit, I wanted a sandwich! I started to feel my bladder spasms coming on too so I acted FAST, I was drinking Gatorade, Pepsi, and water like crazy. I will NOT have these damn spasms. Oh no Sir, not this time! And I was able to hydrate enough and get electrolytes in to keep them at bay.
The run course was fun even though at times painful. There were bands and music on the course and plenty of spectators cheering me on. Mom was all over the place and even offered me some of her margarita. Ha ha!! She has so much fun at my Ironman races! It's always fun to guess what corner she'll be at next. ^ pictured above the fun and the painful.
OFFICIAL RUN: 5:31:41
So my OFFICIAL overall time was 14:31:21. About an hour over what I wanted. But I’m satisfied with that and even more satisfied that Ironman #12 is done. There's nothing more rewarding than hearing "You ARE An Ironman!"
It honestly wasn't a horrible race but guess who WON’T be doing IM Coz again? If you guessed any one but me, you’re wrong, it’s ME! That box is CHECKED! Would I recommend it? Yeah, sure, I guess, but I’m going to be honest about every detail of it! It was not an easy race and it's only a fast course on paper. Despite, it's a beautiful friendly venue and Ironman always does a fantastic job. Rumor has it their contract with Coz is up though and negotiations for the future are not secure.
Cozumel is different than you expect. It’s not your typical beachy resort type place. It’s actually a big dive place. So there’s few beaches because it’s very rocky/coral’y. If you’re a diver, it’s FANTASTIC! Mom LOVED (and has loved all her) dive(s) in Cozumel.
I met THE Ironman couple. Combined they’ve finished every IM on the circuit and reached nearly 300 total. John and Elizabeth. They’re amazing and really inspired me. My goal continues to be to get to Kona and then to complete every IM on the circuit.
I met two other GREAT couples, Fred and Barbara and Matt and Tammy (never saw them again, I hope Matt did amazing though!!), but both couples entertained my anxieties and helped calm me.
The coolest bar on the strip has swings for seats and makes the best margaritas. Oh man, and the guacamole is to DIE FOR in Mexico. Seriously, how do they make it so good!?
Scooters are CRAZY fun! Oh my gosh, I’m buying a pink scooter with a side car for Jake!! And the back side of the island is WAY better to explore with a motor under me. Ha!
If you visit Cozumel, be sure to check out the San Gervasio Mayan Ruins (archeological site). Very interesting and unique history. Not to mention a place where Mayan women paid tribute to the goddess of love and fertility.
It's also a comfy peaceful place to take a quick cat nap ;)
The amount of support I get during and after my Ironman is incredible. It's hard to describe how important and loved I feel. You have to believe me too that your support from afar TRULY gets me through these long days. I'm not kidding, I can hear you and feel you! And I thank you so much for that extra motivation! I hope my determination is enough to motivate you too! I'm proving over and over that this is achievable, anything is possible!! If you want it, it's there; you fight for it, and it's yours! I overcame something HUGE with this Ironman. I got in that ocean and swam 2.4 miles without my wetsuit. 4 years ago I couldn't even swim across a pool. I was scared Sunday. Scared enough that I could have turned and walked away. Instead, I just did it ~ feel the fear and do it anyway. The fears we don't face become our limits. I don't know about you, but I don't believe in limits!!
Thank you to my Team and athletes, Team Zoot, my mom!!!, my guy for being so supportive, Dean and Phil, and all my friends that reached out with words of encouragement and congratulations <3