Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Ironman Cozumel: A race with an after-party


George and I flew down to Cancun on Tuesday. Since it is literally 1/3 the price to fly to Cancun instead of Cozumel--that's what we did! Unfortunately, we had a 3 hour delay in the Atlanta airport! Oh well. We flew down, took a bus to Playa del Carmen, and a ferry to Cozumel. What a travel day!

We stayed in Hotel Cozumel, which was about perfect for us. We chose the all inclusive version of the stay, which meant that we had all of the food/drink/sodas we wanted. The food was simple, but it was also convenient, which is perfect for Ironman week.

We met people on every stretch of this trip! From the Atlanta airport all the way to the after party! It was wonderful to be there for a week. Since the race is literally on an island, everyone is talking about it, and everyone is friendly. We met so many amazing people that I never felt like we went there "alone." Also, being there so early before the race gave us the time to soak the place in. We swam, rode our bikes, ran, swam some more, took naps, went to bed early, sat by the pool, and put our feet up a ton. I think it was the perfect pre-race week. I was very nervous about getting sick, so we were extremely cautious with food. Kudos to hotel Cozumel for keeping us healthy!

There are not many pictures because, well, we forgot our camera and we were both racing!

Swim: 1:11:31

This must be the most beautiful swim in the world. Seriously. It was incredible. Warm salt water. No wetsuit (which I prefer--I just want to swim!). I am very happy with this time. I know that it is faster than it should be, but I am not sure why! I know that there was some current, but the buoys were mostly above their anchors, so I didn't see the current that way (which I had earlier in the week).  I was able to stick in a pack pretty well for most of it. The beginning was physical, but the beginning is ALWAYS physical.

I could see fish, and down at the bottom, there were scuba divers! How cool is that!?! If you are nervous about the swim, this is a good one, since if you sink, the scuba divers will see you! Ok--that was morbid....but really helpful if you are scared!

At one point about an hour in, I looked down and saw a school of Dory like fish.

I know it is some other fish, but it still made me happy! She is the one who sang Just keep swimming just keep swimming just keep swimming swimming swimming, what do we do we swim. swim. swim!

Anyway, I was enjoying swimming over her look-a-like crew. But I was getting tired of course. And then I realized that they were going the same pace as me, and they were BARELY MOVING! It just didn't seem fair that I was killing myself to stay on pace and they were just cruising along not even trying.  Yes, you heard me right. I got mad at some fish for swimming.  Low point..... :-)

Out of the water T1: 4:45--tried to be fast, but there was a long run and some people to move around. Decent.

Bike: 5:54:45

I am naming this the "deceptively hard" bike ride. It is three loops around the island, thus my report is in three parts.

Loop one: 
Yeeehaw! So fun! Take off and I am feeling great! Cruising along and feeling wonderful. Then I hit that ocean side of the island, and it was SCARY! The cross winds hit my beautiful Sram s80's that All3 sports hooked me up with:

Yeah, they are REALLY pretty, but they are like a parachute in those crosswinds! I was hanging on in aero for dear life! Seriously! Then we came around that side of the island and had an incredibly tailwind. I was having a blast! Then George passed me, and yelled that his swim time was 1:20 (we planned to yell swim splits to each other!). I was PUMPED! George literally learned how to swim in June! What a rock star! 

So then, as I was coming into town, the entire town was out cheering! It was amazing! I felt like I was a Mexican soccer star! Here in the US, people yell, "good job" "looking great" "keep it up." I Mexico, people yell, "VIVA MEXICO!!!!" and they MEAN it!

After having people yell "Arriba!" "Andele" "Vamos" "Chica" and "Mexico" I was living a dream of being a soccer star and I was starting to imagine that I WAS speedy Gonzales! It was Amazing. Best crowds!!!

The town clearly likes having the race there, and they get INTO the sport of it all.

As I was living the dream, I hit a bump and dropped my precious garmin 705. 

I wasn't leaving that gem. So I got off my bike, handed to to a guy on the side of the road, and dodged some serious bike traffic to get it. Then I ran back to my bike, and the "gentleman" holding my bike suggested that I put it down my shirt. WHAT?!?! I told him that it was my computer. Then I realized that the clock was ticking while I was talking to this dude. But I did get my Garmin back!

Loop 2:

Feeling GOOD still! Took the curve to the crazy crosswinds and I saw a guy who had been bloodied by being blown off the road from the wind. Then, the ambulance came for him. I realized that this was not about strength but about GUTS. When we ride in the gaps, I am WAY better at descending than climbing, because I have some guts on the bike. I realized that if I can just surf the wind and the gusts, I didn't have to fight it or slow down. BAM! I flew through the hard part on the second loop and I had a BLAST!

I come back to that lovely tailwind and I am flying into town. Up ahead, I see a stray dog, so I get out of the way. Then a fan shoo's the dog out of the way, and it runs RIGHT into my leg. OUCH! For both of us!! We both made it out fine, I didn't fall, and the dog ran off. But really--who hits a dog during and Ironman? This girl.

Loop 3:

So in loop three, I am getting tired, but excited to "surf" the wind. Turns out that the wind changed. That meant that the beach stretch was ALL headwind, and we actually missed the part of the island that would have been tailwind (the last loop is 6 miles shorter than the others). And it rained. And I got a flat tire. I took the wheel off, and as soon as I was putting the wrench on the tire, the mechanics pulled up on a scooter, took the wheel from my hand, didn't say anything and just started changing my tire. Ok dude! Go for it! Gracias!

I lost some time from stupid things out of my control. My garmin was on auto pause, and I actually had a ride time of 5:45, so I literally lost 10 minutes to those things. But who plans for hitting a dog? No one. In an Ironman, you have to take things as they come. I could still break 12 hours, but I had to have a great run.

T2 time: 3:07  There were port-o-potties IN the change tent, so I took a minute and used them!

Run: 4:21:38

After that crazy ride, I was excited to be running. So excited that my first mile was an 8:20 mile. NOT something that I am trained to sustain in and Ironman marathon, so I had to keep calming myself down. "Slow down Kacie. Relax. Calm down. Take it easy." I saw George and he was hurting, so I started to worry some about him.

The run is a three out-and-back. The aid stations are under these little tents, which ended up getting on my nerves because it was crowded. 

I am going to be honest and say that I ONLY took in coke and water for the ENTIRE marathon. Was that a plan? No! Did it actually work for me? Yes! Can't argue if something is working in and Ironman Marathon. In my experience you go with it if it works. 

The first out and back was 1:25. Too fast. I was hoping for 3 x 1:30  for a 4:30 at my very best. Then the rain came. And it was REAL tropical rain. Huge raindrops. It literally left a river on the course. And the river smelled like sewage. "Don't think about it Kacie. Walk through the sewage and get the job done." Ha! We got to cross that river many times, since it was an out and back course times three. Haven't decided if I am keeping those shoes yet. After the race, my feet looked like wrinkled zombies. You're glad we forgot the camera now, aren't you!

Loop 2 was right at 1:27. Nice! Considering I didn't have a stupid first mile in this group, I'll take it!

Loop three was dark. I don't really like that because I can't see people anymore. At this point the course was crowded. The really fast people are done, and there are lots of people walking or going slower than me, so I have to dodge people. But I am pretty tired too, so I can't talk much. I just want to keep pace. "Don't slow Kacie. Keep the pace. Keep the pace." And I practically did (with a couple extra stops for water), and did 1:30. I will take a 4:21!!! I have never run that! It was awesome!

Data: 11:35:55

I am VERY proud of my time. I loved sharing this race with George! I wanted to break 12, and I had plenty of time! I feel great about this!

Here's the data in espanol!

In the past two years of results, I would have been 4th place. I did learn that you can't control who else comes to the race, you can only control your times, and I am proud of them (though I did want to be higher than 13th). 

 After party!

We got cheeseburgers and fries (mine was veggie) after the race at Margaritaville. We cheered for the last 2 hours of finishers, which I love to do. I always want to go back and sleep, but I am always glad that I didn't.

The next day, we had a HUGE breakfast, second breakfast, lunch, snacks, chips, dessert, and dinner. There was literally an after-party for the race, and we went and enjoyed some good times!

I really enjoyed this race, and I would do it again. It was tough, but I am very happy with my results!

When I get some pictures...I'll post them!

Monday, November 21, 2011

IM Cozumel Tracking!

Okay, everyone!  After all of the work, it's time to race!    

We are leaving for Mexico tomorrow, 11/22.  Ironman Cozumel is next Sunday, 11/27.  The race starts at 7:00 a.m. local time, which is one hour behind Atlanta time.  My race number is 1759, and George's is 1760.  You can track our progress at    

It will show you our progress throughout the race, including our place in our age group.  

We'll have very limited access to phones and internet, but we can text to our hearts' content on George's phone.

Thanks for your support!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

They really know me!

Today, I told my students to be patient, there is only one of me.

But then I started thinking about having two of me...

Then I said, "It would be pretty cool to have two of me. I think I would have one of me being a serious triathlete and the other one of me would be eating cupcakes."

At the end of class a kid gave me this:

Yes, it does say, "Ms. Darden's Split Personalities."

They know me WAY too well.

Taper Time

So I haven't posted too much about my training, but man, I have been doing it. It has been exhausting.

So it is officially time to taper. I still have work on my schedule (particularly swimming work), but I am supposed to use "fatigue levels" to guide me and communicate a ton with our coach.

This weekend's training was fantastic. I feel like I nailed my swim, bike, and run. I actually messed up my nutrition on my run because I was having so much fun talking with my friends out on the trail! I'm sure that is effecting my recovery from the end of the big training cycle.

Yesterday I was tired. Like--cant get up tired. As in, daydreaming about rest tired. Such as finding excuses to sit down tired. Everything hurt. My muscles were tired, my bones ached, and I ended the day with quite the headache. Fantastic.

That means the work is done. My body has been pushed to new limits that I have never done before. As long as I honor that work in the next 2 weeks, I am ready to have a fantastic race, and I know it. I am sure that in the next few days I will do a ton of doubting that I did that work, but really, I need to remember how much my body was feeling last night as I tried to sleep.

That being said, I skipped my morning run. I cancelled on my friends and I let George go out of the door without me.

I think it was the right choice. Normally, if I made that choice, I would spend the rest of the day beating myself up about it (my specialty), but I CAN'T do that today. Rest and recovery is so important, and I need to give my body the space to heal and bounce back.

For good measure: A Tapir!

George posted up a really cute tapir. And he makes stuff up :-)

I want to have a great race next sunday, and I need to have faith in my taper.