I was kind of hoping this race report would just write itself while I relaxed on the beach earlier this week, but alas, it did not 🙂
Coming into this race I admit that the logistics made me nervous. Having chosen not to rent a car, I was just going to wing it in terms of getting everywhere I needed to be – check in, dropping off my bike, and most importantly the race start. The fact that our condo ended up being directly across from the host hotel was a huge blessing. The race was providing shuttles from the hotel to pretty much everywhere we needed to be, so that solved most of my worries. On race morning April and I walked across the street and within 20 minutes we were deboarding and walking down to transition at Palmilla Beach. I was able to find coach for a last minute chat – in which we also learned this was going to be a beach start, not an in water start as advertised. Not a huge deal but I do have some apprehension on mass beach starts after CDA, so that added to my prerace nerves. I decided to line up all the way on the far right and that ended up being a great decision. The energy I saved from not having to fight the crowds of men was much more valuable than the handful of meters extra I may have swum to that first buoy. The beach was fairly calm but as we were starting a few swells were coming in, making that start quite a spectacle I’m sure for those watching!
As I began swimming I felt that there was a crowd pulling away from me but I also felt like I was at the front of the next pack. I was able to find some feet here and there as I was pulling some of the stragglers in, but I did spend most of the longggg way back in to shore without any feet. It’s hard to say if it was a long swim or just a slow swim, but when I came out with a 1:07 on the watch but still plenty of bags and bikes in transition, I wasn’t worried. There is a short climb out of T1 before it pops you out onto the coastal highway and you head down to Cabo San Lucas.
By the time race day rolled around, I had accumulated 6 hours of riding that stretch of highway, and I was well prepared for the ride ahead. I already knew that winds would be a factor, and that the “rolling coastline” which was advertised would have been called quite hilly if I had written it! I had a plan which was to ride comfortably for the first 50k or so, at which point the course turns onto a tollroad which was closed to bicycles so I had not seen it yet. However, one look at the course profile tells you that is where the hills really begin. After Tucson camp, both Hillary and I were very confident with my bike fitness right now and we knew that it would be advantageous to capitalize on that. As I turned onto that road I kept the old Blue in her big gear and began to pedal past large groups of riders who were spinning more lightly up the climb. I was able to spot a few girls that I knew would have been out of the water a handful of minutes ahead of me, so I was pleased I had made up that time. After the climb you are rewarded with a nice long decent. Having my 808s in the wind was a bit tedious but I kept focused and relaxed and had no real issues…..until a bee flew into my tri top! Yep, heading down at 35 mph a bee took the opportunity to just get right in there. As panicked as I was, I think he was more scared and stung me 2-3 times. I had popped out of my aero bars and after not being able to scoop him out the top of my shirt, I had to just grin and bear it, lifting up my top completely and thereby flashing any lucky rider coming in the opposite direction. I mean…..it IS spring break, right?
I was a bit distracted after that but soon was pushing back to Cabo for lap 2. By now the winds had picked up considerably making this much more work than it was just a couple hours before. The one thing keeping me going was that even though I was going slower, I wasn’t get passed much at all (only one girl caught me the whole ride), and I was making good ground on those ahead of me. Because you have 3 turnaround points, this was a great bike course for being able to see the competition. When I saw Hillary coming out of the Cabo turn she yelled that I was catching “them” — and I knew who “they” were: the girls leading the race. This was good motivation and I was able to keep myself in 5th place throughout the last portion of the ride. There was plenty of cold water on course and the volunteers were amazing. The crowd support along the bike route was also pretty great. Very few sections of the course left things to just you and your thoughts.
T2 was in the heart of San Jose del Cabo and after I handed off my bike I realized I made a mistake by leaving my shoes clipped into my pedals. There was no carpet over the asphalt on the way to the changing tent and it was far from smooth. I basically had to tiptoe slow-walk my way there, but again the volunteers were amazing and helped me get changed quickly for the run. Heading out onto the course the first thing I noticed was that my legs felt good. Not great, but good – and I can work with good, especially coming off what I was hoping was a fast bike split. The run is 3 loops and is really well contained within the town. Again, this is phenomenal in the sense that you are only without support for maybe a mile of the whole loop. The rest of the time you have a ton of spectators, or are in an out-and-back portion so there are plenty of other runners around. I was also super lucky to have Hillary out there racing as well….before I could even see her bright orange and pink shoes she had spotted me and was passing along encouragement. And a huge shoutout to Jordan Blanco must be given – this woman had her hands full all day tracking not only her husband, but several friends as well. She is the one who was giving me updates on my place and trying to sort out the mistakes within the results on Ironmanlive. Thanks JB!
This was also a very hot run – there’s no way around that. I think it ended up being about 85 degrees around this time an there was a lot of direct sunlight (would love to know how they got away with advertising the average temperature is 68 degrees in March!). Again though, plenty of agua and ielo (apparently when I run Ironmans I’m fluent in Spanish because I was even passing along my bib number at the check point in Spanish!) The only downside of the run here was that the coke was passed out in these tiny plastic shot glass cups – wide brimmed and totally impossible to drink from on the run. I’m not even sure I was getting 20 calories out of this when I was taking it.
As with any ironman marathon I had plenty of peaks and valleys. The heaviness set in around halfway and I also realized I had stopped eating off the bike with a sensitive stomach. Thank goodness for Powerbar gels on course as those were a lifesaver and I was able to contain the damage of my slowing pace. The places shuffled around a lot on the run too – a lot of the girls who biked hard ended up falling off on the run, while some of the girls who held back maybe 15 minutes on the bike were rewarded with a solid marathon. This is most certainly a course where you should take those factors into consideration, along with the heat. Certainly no “gimme” finish, and quite honestly I’m not sure you could get a course that is more comparable to Kona!
Holding myself together with a 10:53:30 was a fantastic day for me. Going into this race Hillary talked to me about stepping up my game and thinking of myself as a competitor across all age groups. I was going for the age group win but I was also competing for the overall race – never before had something like that quite been within my reach. I’m really proud of the fact that I did go for it – and I think it shows in the fact that the next girl in my age group was almost a whole hour behind me. I have a lot of work ahead of me this year, but having this race under my belt and it’s only March puts me right at ease. I know we’re on the right track.
After the race it was time to celebrate with a beach rave (okay, so we had drinks at the restaurant next to the beach rave, but still). I was lucky enough to be staying through Wednesday so I even got in some quality sun time the past few days too.
Thank you and congrats to my Cabo BFF April, who had a HUGE breakthrough race, looking strong the entire time and was 8th in the pro field. It was super fun to share not only the condo but also the race course with you. To my Team Rev3 Sponsors who kept me going this winter at a time when it is most people’s offseason, thank you: Blue Seventy, Powerbar, NormaTec, Biotta, TriSlide, Compex, and Pearl Izumi. To the ladies at Oiselle, who remind me every day to go fast and take chances.
And of course, for coach Hillary. Thank you for continuing to push me to be my best and make my dreams come true.