I got off and biking and right away my Garmin is showing 87 heart rate. I adjusted my strap, moved it around a little and waited for the Garmin to pick it up. Once it did it said 170…oh my lanta! Get that puppy DOWN!
I relaxed, got in some nutrition, and tried to simmer. It took a good solid 10 minutes to get down to 160 (still too high) and another 10 to see 155. My goodness, high numbers I haven’t seen in some time.
The IM Cozumel bike course is three loops. The first loop is just about 33 miles, and then then next two are 39ish. You ride the only road around the island and T2 is about 6 miles away from T1. Does that make sense? I always try to be detailed here because I know many of you read through these race reports before you do the race in future years.
So the first loop you get to see all the terrain you will pass through two more times. Apparently the winds this year were much worse than last year. They were tough! I cruised along through the bushes for several miles and then hit the coast. It was gorgeous, but I barely enjoyed it because it was race day and because it was quite windy. I was able to stay completely aero the whole time, but the wind was a sort of cross head type of situation. There was a 22 mile section of the loop that I rode between 18-19 miles per hour. SLOW!
Once you hit an orange building you make a left hand turn and then are treated to a “Weeeeeeeeeee” huge tail wind. The road is good here and I flew at 24-25 miles per hour through this entire section. On this section there was an official that had been driving around near me for about 5 miles. Being my 6th IM, I’m pretty used to the drafting situations that you see in an IM.
There are basically two kinds. The pack dynamic, and the blatant solo drafter. The pack is where people see others drafting and they sort of hang around amongst it, not particularly trying to draft, but not working towards staying legal either. These are the ones who fly by in the group and they are coasting. It’s an unfortunate dynamic, and I understand that it’s hard to physically go backwards and watch your HR drop in order to stay legal, but sometimes that’s what you have to do (to stay legal…it’s a choice). It’s a lot of drafting by association that tends to create the packs that are so despised.
Then there is the blatant drafter. This is the person that sees someone go by them and literally and purposefully gets on their wheel. I saw quite a bit of this in the windy sections of the course, especially on the third loop. I see how it happens, people get tired, someone goes by strong, the officials haven’t been seen for hours, and in a moment of weakness they jump on the wheel and ride it for awhile. It happens. I had this happen a few times out there (people get on my wheel), sometimes (most the time) you don’t even know it. Usually I just turn around a give a sort of half evil look and they back off. It’s not my job to police anyone out there, but sometimes it’s just not cool.
Anyways, I bring this up because it’s always a question with a flat course…how’s the drafting? And the truth is, yes, it’s there. We had an official doing a great job the first lap, and then I didn’t see anyone on laps 2 or 3. There is drafting there, however, like I have always maintained, if you want to stay legal, it’s completely possible to do so. You aren’t going to get caught up in anything you didn’t consciously decide to get caught up in.
Okay, onwards! So coming into town we still had the official with us. He was writing red cards when needed and was doing a smashing job in my opinion. At the end of the loop you come into town. This was awesome, lots of cheering, I think everyone in Cozumel comes out to the course to support the athletes. Lots of noise makers and the kids will run forever to try to catch your discarded bottle. Super cute!
Still photos are a poor representation of reality when it comes to drafting, there is that foreshortening effect. People were actually staying pretty legal through here and you can see the official in the red shirt just up ahead.
I saw Troy through here and that lifted my spirits.
Loops 2 and 3 were tough. My heart rate was running much higher than normal. I knew I biked 1:40 for the first mini loop and I was hoping for a couple of 1:52 or so loops to finish it off. If I had a shot at the 10 hour mark, I felt I needed to ride 5:25ish. It was tough. I think I over biked just a tad here, and I definitely rode the knife edge a lot closer than I have in any Ironman. It was just a super windy day and you had to fight that. The end of loop 2 it rained a bit on me on the east side of the island. On the fast section I wasn’t seeing the 24-25 mph, but only 22-23.
Loop 2 ended up in 1:55 and I worked quite hard just to make loop 3 a 1:55. I hemmed and hawed about stopping at special needs on loop 2. I wondered if I would regret stopping and wasting that time at the end of the day. They always say Ironman is a long day, but I felt like it was all going to be so close, and I couldn’t waste any time. I stopped anyways, knowing that using my nutrition (First Endurance EFS) and getting some cold bottles (I froze them the night before) would help my run if anything.
Special needs was great, they did a good job with it, helping me big time, grabbing my bag, opening it for me. They were awesome and supportive.
I had an interesting exchange with a guy who was pretty peeved about a drafting pack that went by. I had a really nice chat with him about how staying legal is a choice and it’s doable. He said “well those are the guys who are probably going to get the Kona slots.” There was a woman in the group and I said “well she is in my AG and I’m racing her for a slot but the run will decide it all and I plan to keep it legal.” After that he dropped back and he continued to ride legal. We passed each other throughout the last lap and it was really nice to have him go by every once in awhile.
As I came in on lap 3 I was computing the numbers and I thought I would be 5:27…maybe 5:26. But then I hit 112 and was just turning into town. I watched the minutes click by. The bike came in at 112.89 on my watch, and that took me over to the 5:30 (5:30.39). I had my work cut out for me on the run.
As I came to the dismount line I was out of my shoes and totally ready for a perfect dismount. The dismount area was very narrow, with room for one person. The guy in font of me (who I had the conversation with prior) stopped literally 20 feet before the line….and then I ran into him. I was not expecting him to stop so far before the line. Our bikes got tangled, we were stuck together. It was awesome (NOT). We untangled and I ran into T2, handing my bike off along the way.
T2 was awesome, very short, very easy to get my bag. I was the only one in the tent. I put my shoes on, grabbed my hat and watch strap and was out of there so crazy fast (57 seconds).
In retrospect the bike was quite a bit more challenging than I expected. I thought I would be able to ride a similar time to Kona, even given the wind. This is indeed a flat course but depending on the conditions, it can be a rough time out there. I felt mentally prepared to handle the task at hand, I flirted a bit more with the edge than I usually do, and had no real way of knowing how much it would come back to haunt.