Sometimes you have a great race, sometimes a decent and sometimes you find yourself in the center of Shitsville with nothing left to give and the choice to be a coward and redraw or pull your socks up and finish however embarrassing and humiliating your finisher time will be. I’m talking Age Group participants here – not PRO’s – who can be strategic and redraw from a race that is not going great to save the legs and pick another race 2 weeks later. Ironman Cozumel became my trip to Shitsville a struggle to finish and the worst aftermath that I have experienced to date.
NOTE: My disappointment is based on the simple equation of my individual Invested training time + Recent performance at races + Recent performance in training = expected outcome/finishing time. The result can not and should not be compared with other peoples equation as their factors likely are different and might include additional components and substances. I’m not judging or comparing my results to other participants – simply reacting on the delta between what I should be capable of and what I actually was able to perform in this race. My disappointment is by no means meant to judge the actual finishing time which for someone might be a real achievement (again – based on THEIR PERSONAL equation).
”The mind is stronger than the body”
After Ironman Italy I was really excited to finally – after 1,5 years of operations, antibiotics, rehabilitation and frustration – be back in a race. My goal at Ironman Italy was just to complete a race again and I was quite surprised to run a 3:23 marathon and set a PB – not that I didn’t think it was possible, but I was not ”going for it”. When I signed up for Mexico I did it with the intention to finish with a similar feeling and result as Italy – not overextend, not pushing the limit – but to have a controlled and decent execution of the distance. The time to push and go for the limit is in Lanzarote 23rd May 2020. For someone with my training motivation and discipline this was a difficult balance and in retrospect I realize that a week of reduced training before I started to train for Cozumel was a bit short – in all honesty, I probably need to admit to myself that I’m not 50 anymore and perhaps need to have bit more recovery.
Training build up from July to Ironman Italy (September) and Ironman Mexico (November)
Getting ready for the race
Even if I am very comfortable racing in hot condition I flew in to Cozumel 10 days before the race and had a great time on the island leading up to the race. I have got to know some really wonderful people on the Island and it was great to catch up with them. Bike arrived one day later than me with the usual TSA tag in the bag that shows you that they have been messing around in the bag. Nothing damaged and all in good condition for once. I did a few rides on the course and ran the run course several times. Swam once in the ocean and got stung (as usual) so I spent the rest of the week in the local pool.
”Taken to school” by the Swedish triathlon superstar Patrik Nilsson (he made me look like a drunken manatee in the pool, I can’t understand how he – who is half my age – can be so much faster).
Project clean (parts of) the beach:
Walking back to the hotel after the morning swim I saw all the garbage on the beach. I can’t ignore it so I start to clean up with three purposes:
1. Make the cruise ship tourist walking by to think about where their plastic cups ends up when they let them/throw them overboard.
2. Inspire others to join (which actually happened – got two Mexican cleaning friends).
3. Clean a 50 meter stretch of beach today – fill two garbage bags.
It didn’t change the world or have any greater impact – but at least there is a 50 meter stretch of beach that is now clean. And maybe, just maybe someone other than the American woman, who asked if I was picking corals – when I was picking up styrofoam plastic – actually GOT IT. I’m no extreme environmentalist but I believe in action and even small actions can give reactions!
Second clean up – perhaps not the best thing to do the day before the race – but very satisfactory to contribute and show the locals that not all Ironman participants are ignorant assholes that just come to the island and care for themself and litter the environment with gel and bar wrappers.
Race day – swim:
Great morning with a bit of chop and wind but mostly currents in a favorable direction. Got in and had someone on my feet giving me a foot massage for the first 1500m, don’t care anymore. Swam mostly alone as usual and enjoyed the clear water and wildlife. Finished the swim in 49:24 which is a new PB. Course might be short and I don’t really care – all courses are different. In Hawaii they recently had to adjust the anchors for the swim turning point as they had drifted over the years.
Got out on the bike with 2 x 750ml bottles with Sports2 electrolyte mix and a 500ml bottle with 15gels. First lap was in accordance to plan and I felt fine and on target pace. Second lap I noticed that I never dried up – my legs where constantly wet from my own sweat. As I had the amazing ORCA RS1 speed suit – I felt cool and comfortable – but, I made a mental note to increase intake of water to ensure that I (as I usual do) drink so much that I have to pee at least once before the bike leg was over. Unfortunately the aid stations were getting really busy (3 lap course) and many were not ready with water and in some bottles there was more ice than water. As I have been training a lot in the heat and don’t really suffer from it, I didn’t really care just kept pushing on and thought – ”I’ll get water on the run – there will be an aid-station every kilometer so it will be easy”. Unfortunately that is not the body works and as soon as you start to really get dehydrated – your performance start to slip and it’s not something you fix ”on the run”. Finished the bike in 5:08.
As soon as I got out of T2 onto the run course I felt that it was over. Usually I have to hold back for the first few kilometers to keep the planned pace – but today I could barely move forward. I caught up with the young triathlete Cooper Bates that I had got to known before the race and I spent a few kilometers convincing him to stay positive and just focus on one step at the time. It was his first Ironman distance and I really respect how he whole heartedly invested in the preparation and spent the whole summer in Spain training for it. It’s refreshing to meet young guys that share the old school values.
After 10km I had to let Cooper go and start to walk as the street was starting to wiggle too much. I knew that if I didn’t slow down and got my hydration/nutrition in better shape – it would be ambulance rather than a slow finish. Walked and force-feed myself until I couldn’t get anything more down. Tried to run again but with liters of fluids in my stomach (that could not really absorb it) made it impossible. Finally after 32-34km, I had absorbed some fluids and the sunset made it cooler and I could jogg the final kilometers to the finish. ”Run” time: 4:24.
Finish with a smile:
Well, not really. Once I got over the line I started to take in everything that was available – water, cola, pizza. I felt in pretty bad shape but really don’t like to have to get IV’s after a race – it’s just not right. Felt a little better and went for the massage. After about 10minutes I started to cramp really bad and felt that I was getting really hot again and dizzy as hell. They had to get a wheel chair and get me over to the medical tent and after two IV’s the fever went down and I was in better shape again. My friend Sally who heads up the medical team looked at me and said ”you really don’t look ok at all” but as the doctor had cleared me I left, took taxi back to the hotel. Once back in the room I continued with electrolyte drink. After about 20min I stared to feel really bad again and realized that I was on my way to unconscious city – so I took two bottles electrolytes with me and went down to the reception where I asked the receptionist to keep an eye on me and call a taxi to take me to the hospital if I ”checked out” on the sofa in the reception. 10minutes later I was out and carried/supported to a taxi which took me to the hospital. Don’t remember much of the first hours in hospital but apparently I had high fever and they gave me 8 x IV’s (4 liter). New PB in IV’s – which I hope never to break…. The doctor wanted to keep me for observation for 24 hours but once I started to regain consciousness and strength I convinced them to release me after 6hours at 04:30 in the morning. I had to sign all kinds of documents to accept liability and that I understood that I left agains doctors advice. I don’t like hospitals.
Completing a Ironman in very hot conditions and instead of dinner getting a high fever and IV’s, staying up all night listening to the beeping of machines that you are connected to is not something I recommend. I was a wreck next day and didn’t make it out of the hotel. Sally took a pix of my friend Cooper who finished fifth in AG 18-24 -really happy for him. I heard from my friends that it had been a busy day in the medical tent and one case of death – that put things in perspective in many ways, both that you should be thankful for every finish but also that sometimes it’s better to listen to your body than your mind.
Cooper Bates (22) – 5th finishing at target <10hrs. Well done my friend!
Summary – key take aways:
I live to race another day, Cozumel was a bonus race and I had a great time with my friends. Here are the notes that I wrote down afterward (to remind myself) what to think about next race:
- Drink until you pee on the bike, take salts and electrolytes to ensure absorption – but don’t trust that certain volumes of liquids will be sufficient – it’s much better to use the built in measuring system (peeing) to ensure that you are hydrated.
- 3 x Gels per hour (330kcal) is probably a bit on the low side for someone my size (83kg) and I will try if I can get up to 440 or even 550kcal/hr before next race. The way to do it is to try it out on a long hard ride and see at what point you get that feeling of ”it’s coming up”.
- Do a heart check up – the Brazilian triathlete who died was only 44 years old and very experienced. Even if you are training and keeping healthy it is worth while to check the pump once in a while.
- Get the salt levels dialed in again. Read up on the tests that I did a few years ago and make sure that I actually get enough from the gels or if I need to supplement more – you CAN’T trust the cheep garbage energy drinks that IRONMAN provides at races as it doesn’t even contain salts and electrolytes in most cases.
Will I race Ironman Mexico again:
The friends I made in my two times in Cozumel are really great people and it’s likely that I will come back again and do Ironman Cozumel as a bonus race – for fun, for the sun and to hang with great people. I much rather do Ironman Cozumel as a season ender than Kona as it’s more relaxed and so much nicer training conditions around Cozumel compared to the awful Queen K Hwy on Kona. Can’t understand how people want to go to Kona more than once or twice, there are so many exciting and beautiful places to go and race in.
Now time for a few easy weeks and then the build up for Ironman Lanzarote 2020!