Adjusted Reality

“Reality can be beaten with enough imagination.” – Mark Twain

Month: October 2018

Waco 70.3 Pre-Race – The Precipice of the Unknown

It’s race week!  Again!

Four days out, I’m finding the emotions and the machinations to be different this time.  For various reasons, anxiety as of right now has overshadowed the excitement, and uncertainty has replaced the utter SWAG I had last time.  That’s fine, that means I REALLY CARE about this, and while my sneaky little soul is trying to hide this by manifesting it in a million other things right now, I appreciate this feeling.  If the spark is there, I can fan the flames towards excitement in the next few days.  Fear of failure is much closer to courage to try than the typical unbridled apathy I’ve found in racing for the last few years.

Feeling all the things and practicing being brave has been a little tiring – literally – I haven’t been sleeping as well as normal.  Giving a crap is weird and squishy and while some of the side effects are unwelcome, this is some positive personal development.  I hope I find some peace on the other side of the finish line on Sunday.  However, now that I have been practicing things that scare me a little to get comfortable at courage, I have a few OTHER things in play that I’m going for, so I may just sit here constantly reverberating like a nervous chihuahua until my heart explodes.  Stay tuned.

My head and my heart also haven’t had enough time to forget how much these things HURT.  Cozumel took every ounce and the only reason I actually still existed afterwards was massive amounts of caffeine until the epic crash crash crash that literally incapacitated me.  I intend to start a little slower on both the bike and the run, but my intention is to put forth the same or more effort OVERALL.  It’s fun to be all confident about seeking the man with the hammer… once.  While that’s what I want with all my courage this time, part of my heart feels like it’s just pure masochism to thrust myself into that fire walk again so soon. 

Also, this whole “giving a shit” thing also comes with the baggage of wanting to race well in front of people I know.  I’ll be on the course with a TON of BSS teammates and some of the Wattage Brigade.  While logic dictates they’ll be wholly absorbed in their own races, there’s the performer in me that wants very badly to do well on the closest thing to “home court” right now.  I also want to show myself that PR’ing in Cozumel wasn’t a fluke.  This race has the potential to have perfect conditions (as in NOT AS HOT AS THE CENTER OF THE SUN) and the only thing that would hold me back is my head, heart, legs, or lungs.

Putting aside sports and racing psychology – the race conditions are also incredibly uncertain.  I’m told we’ll know tomrrow if we have a swim or not, currently the water is dookie brown, fast flowing, and full of debris.  The current transition area is underwater.  I don’t know if I’ll be racing a 70.3, a 69.1, a half marathon, or just heading up to Waco to camp and drink beer for a weekend.  I know what to do – I need to be prepared for anything and everything and stay adaptable, but between the unknow and the constant crappy weather, it no longer feels like triathlon season in the slightest and another reason my excitement is waning.

Here’s the good news – the legs and lungs part of the equation seem to be willing.  The sludge I was experiencing post-vacation is mostly gone.  While it’s been PULLING TEETH to get myself to train, when I show up, the magic happens.  In the last week, I’ve PR’d my 1.2 mile swim and ran an 8:36 mile off a race power (read: not easy) bike.  This does not suck.  As long as I can summon the motivation to strap on my armor and pick up my axe, the odds seem to end up ever in my favor.  I’ve had no spectacular blowups, which I kind of expected on the way back to being whole after Coz, just solid days pushing the numbers I’m aiming for without too much strife in my grey matter, at least during.  It all feels so much less magical than last time, but the foundation is there.   That’s a big building block in the confidence to try again.

So, the order of the week is rest up.  Psych up.  Show up.  Make the magic happen!

For the record – here’s all the gory details I’ll want to look back on later.

Oct 15-21 training.

  • 35 min and 30 min race power trainer practice
  • Fastest swims in a while – 1:55/100m at the longer Lifetime pool and 1.2 miles in about 38 minutes. 
  • 1 hour race pace run (5.7 miles)
  • 1 hour race power bike/5k faster than race pace brick (9:30/mile)
  • One kettlebell session

Oct 22-28

  • One bodyweight session with a nice long stretch and roll
  • Short brick (20 min race power/1 fast mile)
  • Pre-race swim/bike shakeout (if we swim, if not… meh)
  • RACE!

Nutrition plan:

  • Friday night camping food: hot dogs and a carbtastic side
  • Saturday breakfast: bean and cheese breakfast tacos
  • Saturday lunch: turkey bacon guac bagel sandwich (trying for a little more calories than normal)
  • Saturday dinner: grilled chicken, baked potato, pre-made salad
  • Race breakfast: two caffeine beans, earl grey tea, english muffin with sunbutter and honey, coconut water, watermelon, sip on gatorade before the race
  • Race day nutrition on the bike: caff gel ASAP and every 45 mins (alternate caff/non caff), gatorade handoffs at every bottle stop (or as necessary depending on the temperature).  Cocktail of salt pills and 303s halfway through (possibly one more dose of salt pills near the end depending on the weather). 
  • Race day nutrition on the run: One more cocktail, probably about mile 3, bring a caff gel, non caff gel, and a pack of spearmint blocks, and try to consume at least two of them.  Take in all the gatorade and coke (yeah brown ponyyyyy!) possible for that sweet sweet sugar and caffeine high!

Race plan:

Feet up as much as possible Saturday, get to the race EARLY Sunday since parking is up in the air and I’m in one of the first waves.

Swim the same effort I dialed in on Saturday.  Just an inch past comfortable.  Concentrate on either finding some space or some slightly faster feet.  To do that, I need to have confidence to seed myself properly (for a race like this, probably not front pack but at least first half) and concentrate on long, relaxed strokes.  Around 40 minutes would be ideal, give or take depending on the conditions.

Transition 1 I plan to roll the same as Cozumel.  Wetsuit off, helmet, glasses, shoes, go.  This is a single transition race, so I should save some time not having to bag everything up.  The goal is motivation for quick locomotion without pure seething rage, like last time.

Biking during this cycle, all my really successful training rides involved a slower start and then chasing a power number.  They also involved elevation, pace, and effort changes, not a constant effort.  I’ve got a plan to make sure my race goes this way as well:

  • Hour 1: 130-ish power.  This should feel like holding back.
  • Hour 2: work up to 140 power average.  This should feel like a good ride.
  • Hour 3: try to work up to 150 power average, if it makes sense.  I don’t want to be gassed at the end, but it is allowed to feel like work at this point.
  • Every 15 minutes, stand up (or at least sit up) and push out 30-60 seconds of 200-250 power if I haven’t had to do anything similar recently.
  • Also, be advised that my power is not 100% dialed in, it’s my first season really tracking it, so perceived effort can trump this, especially in the later miles.  It’s a target, not the arrow.

It would be nice to break 3 hours, but I’m not going to tank my run to do it.

Transition 2 is lava.  It will be slower than T1 because I have to put on socks and tie my shoes, but the goal is a minimal amount of time of effing around.  Socks, shoes, race belt, hat, go.

Running has been going well, but is always the wildcard.  My one confidence building workout didn’t do quite so much as I was hoping, but it was a nice, solid, race pace double digit run off a not-so-easy bike.  So, I’m going to start this one a little more conservatively than Cozumel.  Frankly, the first trek up the hill on the way out, I plan to sandbag myself a little bit.  I find when I PUSH UP THE HILL SUPER HARD it bites me in the ass later, so taking a little extra time on the way up the first time based on how I feel may pay divedends later.  I plan to ENJOY THE HECK out of running the downhills and push THOSE fast.

I want to run the whole thing as long as it’s the fastest means to the end.  The marathon I ran every step of the way was a proud accomplishment, but not my fastest.  However, if I’m just steadily jogging 12 minute miles, I know that suuuuuuuuper sucks for me and I’ll get more out of myself if I strategically alternate walk breaks and faster running (Coz average, with LOTS of walking, was 11:30-ish).  Plan A is to start out running 10:30-ish minute miles and stay there (or speed up) until death or the finish line.   I’d like to see approximately 2:15 here, whatever that looks like.

Overall, that looks perilously close to 6 hours with some decent transitions.  I know total time was REALLY motivating in Cozumel, so I will probably switch there sometime in the second lap and work on busting ass to hit the closest even number.  I would be over the moon if that even number I was striving to beat was 6:00:00.

I’m not entirely sure why race weeks also end up being the craziest in work and life, but this one hasn’t disappointed in that regard.  I’m more than looking forward to wrap up doing about 20 different nerve-wracking and brave things (we are what we repeatedly do) and spend the 36 hours before the race in the woods, in the peace and quiet.

Last time, I needed to bring all the noise.  This race, I need some quiet, to center myself, and to prepare myself to race once more with renewed feeling.  I know in my heart, if I do it right, I’ll toe the line with my heart, head, legs and lungs ready to do battle, I just need to spend a little time in bubble wrap to get myself there.


For now, I’ll skip over the vacation parts of vacation.

Spoiler: it involved SO MANY TURTLES!!!

Believe me, it was epic, and I posted some tales on Instagram when my phone decided that it would hold a charge and also connect to wifi (which was rare).  My soul feels very recharged after a week under the water and in the sun, and the amount of pictures I have to process and edit is both daunting and exciting and I can’t wait to share them.

The transition was quick.  Sunday at 1pm I was hanging out in a hot tub in Mexico.  Monday at 9am I was back in the office.  Monday at 6pm, I was in the gym throwing around kettlebells.  Less than 48 hours after my plane landed, I was (barely) holding race power on the bike and trying to shake the sludge out of my legs with some faster running.  If I’m going to race Waco, there’s no rest for this triathlete.  Y’know, besides that week where I had a very heavy training load (10+ hours underwater, more weight training hauling tanks and gear) but absolutely no specificity.  And actually, not pushing too too much because that would be counter-productive.  Let’s just say, back to a (sane) training schedule I went!

I’ve never raced two long races this close back to back, so this is a new, fun experiment of ONE (ok TWO since my husband is also doing these crazy things with me) that could fail miserably or perhaps produce race day magic. Considering my success with a lot of back to back racing weekends earlier this year, I’m hoping for the latter!

This Tuesday was a lot different than last Tuesday.

Here’s where I’m at right now:

  • Officially, I should be back in taper.  I had planned to do a little more last week, but it actually worked out to be about 6.5 hours.  This is fine.  I’m a little cranky I skipped my wetsuit swim but everything else went well.
  • Back in June when I laid out the full season’s training plan, I set October 13th to be a CONFIDENCE BUILDING workout.  I knew I’d have ONE shot to rectify whatever was the biggest chink in my armor at Cozumel, and I’d tailor the workout to that.  Two weeks out, I’m not going to be building much endurance, so the purpose of Saturday’s workout was 100% mental.  That workout was a 1 hour trainer ride at race power (result was a little low but also my power meter kept dropping out :P), and then a 2 hour run at race pace (a shade under 10:30/mile for eleven and a half in conditions not dissimilar to Cozumel – hot and muggy with a few sprinkles).  I haven’t done any longer runs off the bike and that may be part of what broke me on race day (and, also, the ridiculous heat, but let’s focus on the things I can control).
  • How I feel right now at this moment: a little sludgy, both mentally and physically.  I definitely feel like I just raced and gave it a lot but it’s coming around.  I’m confident I’ve got what I need under there, but I’m just not SHARP right now like I was before Cozumel.  Maybe that’s good.  I expended a LOT of nervous mental and physical energy that I had in excess over the three weeks of taper last time, maybe this cycle I’m destined to be calmer and have things come together at just the right time.

Here’s what I feel like I could improve from the last race (and what I’m doing to fix it):

This is the last wetsuit pic I have… from 2016.  I own 3 and I don’t like any of them, really…

I had too much time on my feet before the race.  We had originally planned to get to Waco Saturday morning, but now, we’re taking a quarter day off work on Friday and plan to get there in time to hit packet pickup, mayyyybe athlete briefing, and set up the camper the day before the day before.  In theory, all I should need to do on Saturday now is drop off my bike and do a practice swim, and the rest of the day is lounging in and around the camper.  Pefect!

I will get up early enough race morning to not be rushing to the swim start in the back of the line.  I swim about 40 minutes for this race, that’s where I need to seed myself.

This swim will likely be a wetsuit swim, and I take a little bit to get used to swimming in my sausage casing.  I will be hitting a lake at least THREE times before race day (even if I have to swim in 50-something degrees air temperatures).

The elevation change for Waco is about 1k feet over the 56 mile bike.  Still very flat, but not quite pancake like Cozumel.  I need to work out a schedule to have some forced intervals in there (with easier sections) so my legs don’t get stale.  Maybe 1 minute 200+ power, 1 minute ~100 power every 15?  I also plan to go out a little more conservatively – every training ride I would start at lower power and build over the three hours.  I’m going to make that my goal (build to 130W hour 1, 140W hour 2, 150 or as close as I can hour 3 or something like that) instead of heading out of transition like a rabid squirrel on speed.

The run is a little hillier – double the elevation gain of Cozumel – though it’s hard to be as flat as FLAT.  There are two longer hills.  My goal is to NOT WALK ON THESE HILLS.  If I want to walk, it’s gotta be on the downhills.  And I feel stupid walking downhill, so perhaps with this mentality and some luck with the weather, I can goad myself into running the whole damn thing finally.  There will be a lot of people I know at this race, and I plan to ask them to literally BERATE AND YELL AT ME if they see me walking.  I don’t want encouragement or kind words, I want to be told to SUCK IT UP BUTTERCUP and GET A FUCKING MOVE ON.  I doubt I’ll get that because most people are really nice, but hopefully the FEAR of it will motivate me.

A week back from Cozumel and I feel like I’ve lost most, if not all, of the crappy inflammation and water weight.  I think, somehow, it all came off during Saturday’s run (I felt the extra weight hauling up some of those hills for sure), because since then I’m *about* back to where I was before I left (168-170).  Two more weeks of tracking calories and Snap Kitchen mainly and hopefully I can race Waco slightly lighter than Cozumel.  I’m super excited that my race prep will be 100% my own food cooked from the camper grill, that should help things immensely! 

While I wish two days of carb gluttony before the race helped me, because it’s SUPER FUN, I’ve never seen any sort of success with it, so I’m planning just to eat like a normal human with a few extra snacks (fruit, crackers, almonds, etc) the day before.  I think any benefit I get with slightly-more topped off carb stores, I lose with a super gross sloshy stomach and extra weight on race day.  I may look back on this in 3 years and do this…

…but it’s my current strategy.  So I’m documenting it.  I work differently than other humans, and I’ve accepted this.  My best 70.3 previous to Cozumel (2014), my only carb sources for the season were corn and potatoes the day before and I didn’t eat to excess.  I’ve found I tolerate some whole wheat now as well, and brown rice is back to being a homie, but I don’t plan on going crazy, just my normal sprint plan (normal breakfast, turkey sandwich on wheat for lunch, grilled chicken with potato and salad for dinner) plus extra snacks to be like 2000-ish calories vs 1500.

So, this week, I has plans.

  • Two weights sessions (today and Wed)
  • Four trainer rides practicing the progression to race power (today, tomorrow, Wednesday, Saturday) 30-60+ mins
  • One pool swim (tomorrow), one lake swim (Saturday)
  • 8 mile run race pace (Thursday), 5k brick run off the bike faster than race pace (Saturday).
  • Stretch  or roll every day.
  • Track food – 1500 calories most days with 2-3 slightly higher (due to workout load).

The unicorns and Wattage Cottage sock doping will get me through.  I hope.

Two more weeks of triathlon season.  While I’m not itching to be a lazy slob and sit on my butt, I am really excited for a few months of the plan pretty much saying “lift weights and do whatever else you feel like for the cardios” for a while.  Just 13 more days of holidng it together and being good, and then one more massive, herculean effort at another 70.3 PR to go!

Cozumel 70.3 Bike and Run (Part 2)

When last we spoke, I was spitting vinegar and dropping all sorts of f-bombs over every inch of T1.

While I would be reluctant to want that feeling more frequently, I wish I could channel that pure adrenaline coursing through my veins, at least in shorter races.  I do well on the bike when I feel aggressive and I was ready to cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war like nothing I’ve felt in competition yet. 

I had a RAD first hour, maintaining 20+ mph at around 150-160 power, just like I had planned.  I knew I’d have to pay for that pace somewhere along the course, but I enjoyed passing people, even if sometimes it took a few attempts for it to stick (things I learned this race: dudes with their names on the butt of their tri suit don’t like to be passed).  After a while,  the teeth-gritting seething rage wore off and I relaxed into a more normal cadence and started to race more within myself.

Suddenly, we turned from the nice, sheltered tailwind to the exposed east side of the island right into the fray.  This is fine, I thought to myself, I’ve got my power to watch.  150 watts are 150 watts at whatever pace the wind dictates.  And that worked for a while.  Then, for some reason, 150 watts sustained got HARD at any pace.  My legs started cramping and I started getting passed as well as passing other cyclists and that’s just WEIRD for me on a one loop bike course.

From about mile 20 on, I had one simple thought in my head, dear merciful and fluffy lord, let this ride be over soon.  And that’s an oddity for me so quickly into a bike ride.  My leg situation continued to deteriorate until we turned out of the wind.  My speed picked up but my power didn’t rally much.  My legs just felt DEAD.  I kept ping ponging with another girl, I’d get some oomph and pass her and then she’d just pass me back.  I couldn’t pass decisively like normal.

My husband caught me around mile thirty-five (he actually beat me on the swim by a minute but I blew past him in transition and cooked the first half of the bike harder than he did).  He told me he had the same problem on the windy side.  It gave me a boost to follow the lightning bolts on his butt (legally), so we passed back and forth for about 15 miles and then I got ahead the last few miles because THANK THE MERCIFUL DEITIES OF CYCLING the ride was over.

Bike time: 3:05:42. 18.1 mph. 38/85 AG.  Not the sub-3 hours I wanted, but still my best 56 mile race effort yet by about 10 minutes.  I’ll take it.  I was super excited for this course, regaling everyone that would listen that FLAT IS MY STRENGTH, but I’m revising that.  It’s my strength on a sprint, or even Olympic, but once you get much past that one hour mark, I need some elevation (read: speed/pace/power) changes.  I have some ideas on how to mitigate this on a similar course in the future (forced interval work), but it really threw my legs for a loop not to get any coasting breaks.  Nutrition note: I consumed about six bottles of gatorade, two of water, three gels (two caffeinated), four salt pills, and two 303 muscle relaxers.

Transition 2:

As soon as I got off the bike, the outsides of my feet cramped.  Of course, I was entirely on the other end of the transition zone, so I ran in my bike shoes shouting “Ouchie, ouchie, ouchie, ouch, ouch, ouuuuuch”.  I took a moment to sit down and put on my socks and tie my shoes and get mentally prepared to run.  This was it.  This was what I wanted to nail.  Sub-6 hours was still in my grasp if I had a stellar run.  I exited the parking garage and emerged into the daylight, ready to find the darkness.

Transition 2 time: 4:41.  I took a moment here intentionally, but this could have been better.  I also could have not had cramps and had a better rack position.  Life will go on.


Once I got my feet under me and onto the road my legs felt… good.  Not great, but I had some decent speed and turnover.  Okay, I thought, I can work with this.  My plan was to go out aggressively and see what happened.  I passed both Matt and Zliten in the first mile which ticked by at 10 minutes/mile exactly.  It felt like a comfortable effort and I continued on similarly for the first 4 miles, slowing only to shove as much gatorade and pepsi and bags of water in my mouth as I could without stopping.

I even had a triathlete first and peed whilst running.  If you remember, I had to pee on the swim (and didn’t), kinda had to pee the whole bike (but didn’t), and then someone hit me with a warm garden hose around mile 3 and my bladder just lost it.  Wheee, I peed in the streets of downtown Cozumel!  Party! Aren’t triathlons SO glamorous?  I was actually pretty stoked I saved time skipping a porta potty stop, but the happiness faded quickly after the turnaround.  The sun, my adversary, just backstabbed me when I hit a sunny stretch with no shade on the horizon.

It was the most frustrating thing.  My legs felt fine.  Nothing on my body was cramped up or really complaining in the slightest.  I was just way too fucking hot and I stopped.  Running a half marathon in the upper 80s and humid (read: feels like 100s when the sun was shouting at us, which was much more often than not) is no joke, especially when I’ve already been racing for four hours previous in said weather.  But, I trained for this.  I ran constantly in the fiery hot and hellishly humid conditions of the Austin summer.  And still it wasn’t enough. 

Zliten even passed me and I couldn’t muster the run to go with him.  That should paint a sanguine picture of my brain at that very moment.

I spent the next two miles feeling like I was having a pity party.  However, looking at my splits after the fact (13:01 and 12:46 respectively), they weren’t SO bad.  That’s not giving up.  That’s taking walk breaks to keep from keeling over on the side of the road and slowing through aid stations taking down two cups of gatorade, two bags of water, a cup of pepsi, and shoving ice down my bra so I could cool my core and take a stab at running another half mile before it all melted.  That’s still a fight, even if the battle looks different than imagined.

Around mile six, the torrential rain hit, flooding the streets in a flash.  You don’t walk another damn step until it’s sunny again, I told myself, you will make the most of this.  I passed the turn around, and started to smile a little for the first time in hours.  I stomped through puddles, took down a gel, and smacked my husband on the ass as I passed him around mile eight.  I was back, BABY! My splits were only about a minute per mile faster (11:45 and 11:58), but it felt more like conquering the run vs being conquered.  The glee was short lived, the sun started singing the song of it’s people again as we turned to the section with zero shade and it was once more trudging through hot soup.  Bleh.  Four more miles to go.

Miles nine and ten were pretty cruel, 12:44 and 12:53 respectively, though one of these included a short stop to hug my husband who was not yet to the turnaround and looked like he might keel over at any second.  He asked how I was doing and I replied stalwartly, “I’ve got a PR if I hold it together”.  I had been monitoring total race time for the last hour.  While I watched a sub-six hour finish slip away at mile four, I still had a sub 6:30 in my grasp… though it definitely wasn’t a given.   I couldn’t give up, in fact, I had to increase my pace a bit

I saw plenty of people giving up.  Triathletes were dropping like flies on the side of the road, either sitting on benches looking overheated or calling for SAG or medical.  I vowed to not be one of them.  I still found something inside that kept my feet turning over.  I still took walk breaks each mile, but the run segments got faster and faster with mile eleven at 11:50 and mile twelve and thirteen at 10:57 exactly.  By the time I saw the barricade at the end of the road, I was running nine, then eight minute miles, willing myself to get through the arch before the clock hit six hours and thirty minutes. 

Run time: 2:32:35. 11:42/mile pace. 49/85 AG.  While obviously this was not even close to my original goal, and not even a run leg PR, this is the hottest half marathon I’ve ever run.  I’m more than okay with my performance here for reasons I’ll explain below.

This is my face when I crossed the line.  This is someone who picked the important battles, maybe not the ones I expected, and kept fighting to have a shiny new half ironman PR, and possibly more importantly, to keep the house half ironman PR. 😉

Overall time: 6:28:01. 49/85 AG.

The aftermath:

Two successes to note: first, my new Roka kit is AMAZING.  I had NO chafing for a SIX AND A HALF HOUR HOT RAINY RACE.  I’m not sure if anyone but long course triathletes can understand how incredible this is, but showers after these races are usually among most painful things known to man or beast.  Not this time, no tears at all.  Also, I applied sunscreen ONCE, before the swim, and I can report that I had no sunburn the next day (skin was a little warm post-race but not lobster red) with many, many hours being exposed to the elements.  Heat acclimation success!

I finished right before 2pm and I was FLYING HIGH.  I got gatorade and my medal and shirt and then laid down on the grass in the shade to stretch waiting for Zliten and Matt to finish and then when they did, chattered away at them like a squirrel on speed, simultaneously stuffing my face with the best crappy pizza in history.  After we collected our bikes and stuff from transitions and walked the mile back to the hotel in the pouring rain (JERK WEATHER), I continued my face-stuffing at the hotel with a burger and some beer.

After our burgers, Zliten started feeling crappy and laid down, while I bounced around and posted incessantly on social media, answering replies in about .0215 seconds (THANKS BROWN PONY… ahem, I mean Pepsi).  I hit the first half life of the caffeine in my system around 6:30pm, collectively no more than a Starbucks coffee or two in total, but a massive amount for me, and started crashing HARD.

I began to feel cold outside in the 80+ degree weather, and when I climbed into bed, I started shivering uncontrollably while feeling hot and cold at the same time and my eyes wouldn’t stop watering. Every fiber of muscle in my legs and feet ached, and the top half of my body tingled. I felt incredibly nauseous and even tossed my cookies (I have an iron stomach, this is not normal for me) and eventually around 9pm, after he was feeling better, my husband had to bring me a plate of food to the room.  It took me another two hours and two sprites to be able to stomach more than a bite at a time.

I’ve had mild heat sickness before because I am an idiot triathlete who trains to do stupid shit in the heat like this all the time, but this was by far the worst go at it yet.  While it may sound crazy, while I was shaking and sweating in my blankets, it made me feel redeemed. I can’t much say I didn’t give this race my all, now can I?  Again, the fight may not have looked exactly like I pictured it even hours before, but I can’t say it wasn’t a valiant effort nonetheless.  I. did. not. back. down.

TL;DR – I’ll wear this shirt proudly.

The malady was short lived and I slept like a rock even if I did sweat through my pajamas (which was a WONDERFUL gift the rest of vacation ><).  For breakfast I ate fruit loop french toast, which is exactly as decadent it sounds, and proceeded to go drink beers and play in the ocean the rest of the day with my husband and Matt and family.  My conscience was clear, nothing heavy hung on my heart about race day, and it was time to play for a week!

Cozumel 70.3 – Pre-Race and Swim (Part 1)

I have said and thought and plastered all the words about this race race all over social media.

My name is here!

Subtitle – what you wear on the plane when you’re equally excited to race and also scuba dive on this trip.

Blogging about it feels like the continuous flagellation of a deceased equine.  However, in an effort to record my thoughts here for posterity, and also provide a path for improvement in the future, let me take up the stick one more time and the beatings shall commence!

Race prep in Austin went just about as ideal as ideal could be, minus the normal taper freakouts that I broke my heel (didn’t) and was getting sick (wasn’t) and that level of ease continued with our flight into Cozumel.  I didn’t have any crazy half-days without food, or flight delays that kept us from getting a decent night of sleep, in fact, we were able to hit packet pickup and engage in some retail therapy at the expo before we had dinner Friday night, built the bikes, and got a great night of sleep.  The only hitch was both of us had overlooked our check in date at Hotel Cozumel was actually SATURDAY, but thankfully, they had a room for us anyway and only rolled their eyes a little bit behind our backs at the stupid gringo tourists who couldn’t keep their ish straight.

My husband is the ultimate friend-maker.  Breakfast the next day was hopping at 9am and there was no immediate seat space.  Instead of waiting, he asks the first single person to share a table, and lo and behold, it’s pro triathlete Angela Naeth!  We follow each other on Instagram, and it was a really serendipitous experience.  She was super nice (and fast – she ended up getting third!) and it was fun to talk triathlon over pancakes.

Super shaky selfie but PROOF!

Even with so many things checked off the long to do list already, Saturday was SO busy.  After fueling up, we rode our bikes up and down the street next to the hotel, changing gears and resetting our sensors until we were satisfied they were in good mechanical order before riding the 5 miles on the main road to drop off our bikes.  I was really hesitant to do this, but I hoisted up my big girl bike shorts and within a mile, I found that riding bikes here was quite comfortable, more so than most places in the US, actually.  Everyone actually paid attention because there was always bikes or scooters on the road all the time, not to mention the roads are in great condition.

After getting the required bodymarking (? – that’s new for the day before) and nestling our bikes snug in their racks for sleepaway camp, we puttered around the docks a bit to get the lay of the land.  Then, we quickly realized we were getting zapped by noonday sun rolling around sans sunscreen.  Not ideal for the day before racing a hot, humid, windy 6+ hour race.

“Get a picture with both my Bicycle Sport Shop shirt and my Wattage Cottage socks!” “Oh crap, I’m wearing socks and sandals… socks only it is!” (sigh)

We boarded the shuttle back to the hotel, ate lunch, put together our run bags, and then hoofed it to transition two, about a mile from the hotel.  I had to pack light because space was at a premium, so once I dropped off my only pair of running shoes, I was left with my massage sandals.  Those walked another two miles through the grocery store and back to the hotel.  I sucked down a powerade in two seconds because I was dehydrated like woah by that point.  My legs and back and heel ached.  I clocked about 1o miles on my feet (not counting the bike and the quickie swim I had later) by dinner.  If I could turn back time, I’d spend less time puttering around swim start, and take the cruiser bikes the hotel so nicely offered for the rest of my errands instead of walking.

My pre-race nutrition wasn’t perfect, but it was as adequate as possible making use of the hotel buffet.  I drank plenty of water that evening and supplemented with nuun, had lots of carb options (though whole grain was few and far between), and got whatever meat looked reasonable and safe for protein (and backed it up with some protein bars), and there were plenty of veggies and salad available.  I didn’t overeat to uncomfortability (plenty of time for that later!) but I felt full and fueled.

The food is almost irrelevant with a view like that…

I went to bed feeling a little worried about being fatigued, but without a time machine, all I could do was sleep all the sleeps possible.

Race morning, I was up with the alarm pretty quickly, and thankfully, all my parts felt like they were in working order.  I spent the morning listening to my Confidence and Courage playlist and going over my race strategy.  Apparently, in Mexico, english muffins don’t exist, so we ended up with pre-toasted bread (!!!) and honey from the grocery store to go with the packets of almond butter we brought.  I drank most of a giant coconut water and also a gatorade.  I can’t eat a ton in the morning but I can suck down sugar water like a champ!

The bus quickly transported us to the swim start, and I finished up all the last minute prep has become rote to me as this is my eleventh race this year.  Getting my tires pumped up.  Setting up my three transition items (shoes, helmet, sunglasses). Resetting my stuff up under the bike clothes bag once the rain dumped on our heads.  Looking to apply sunscreen but finding it was actually Vaseline instead.  Wiping some of that lube on my unsuspecting husband (LOVE YOU), and then finding actual sunscreen and applying it.  The porta potty lines were long but they had a dedicated volunteer giving out toilet paper, so that was handy, and all too quickly I was stuffing all the carbs I had eaten over the last two days in my swim skin and merging with the mass of spandex-clad humanity.

Another “if I had a time machine” moment – I got in the rolling swim start line after they dropped the pace corrals.  By the time I realized where I stood, Zliten and I were about 200 people (out of 2000) from the end of the line and it would have been incredibly difficult (and rude) to shove my way further up the dock.  Que sera, sera, I thought… and kept thinking, and thinking, as I started the race 27 minutes after the first age grouper.  At least the Dolphins at Chankanaab Park kept us entertained with flips and tricks while we waited!

Dolphins back there!!!


I joked to Zliten that he should go first, since I was totally going to pee the minute I hit water.  Once I got going, there were just too many bodies and combat and fists.  I tried to find a line to draft, but since I was with people who planned to swim 10+ minutes slower than I was, I didn’t have much luck.  It was just masses of bodies.  Slow moving ones.  This was totally my fault for taking too long to poop, but it still made for a very frustrating swim.  The solace was when I finally found Wattage Cottage bolts in the water and figured at least I could save some energy and draft off my damn husband, who was going a *little* faster than the crowd.

It took 21 minutes to go out (maybe 900 yards), and then 2 minutes to swim about 10 feet directly against the current.  This was hilarious.  We were swimming at a 45 degree angle and STILL it was almost impossible not to be carried past the buoys.  We were like salmon swimming upstream.  I kind of had to hoist myself on top of the mass of human fish to save from getting swept away or kicked or punched too much.  Once we got around and swam with the current it was fairly easy breezy.  I enjoyed those 12 minutes.  Then we had to fight the current one more time to get to the dock and that’s about where I lost it when someone actually grabbed my arm to try to use me to pull them along.

I screamed all sorts of obscenities into the water and shook their hand off and sprinted quickly for the stairs… which took at least an extra minute because so many people kept cutting in front of me and squeezing through.  By the way – I still hadn’t peed.  I think I was too angry to pee.  That would be a good band name – TOO ANGRY TO PEE.  I defiantly hit my watch lap button at 39:42 while I was hanging onto the ladder waiting because I was frickin’ done swimming, but I knew my actual time would be slower.

Swim time: 41:08.  2:07/100m – 49/85 AG.  Not even my PR (about 40 seconds off) for what’s supposed to be one of the fastest swims on the circuit.  Not my favorite first leg of a race.

Transition 1:

I have never been so angry during a race in my life as when I exited the swim.  There’s a particular race picture (here if you want to dig through, I just can’t quite pull the trigger to spend 60 bucks on the set even though I was actually tempted this time) that made me LAUGH so hard, I’m shooting some mad daggers ahead of me.  I remember the full run through the parking lot (which was actually pretty speedy), I spent saying the F word, out loud even, a whole lot, about the people ahead of me and how I was going to absolutely destroy those stupid mother effers on the bike.

I was worried about taking off the swim skin under pressure since it’s tiiiight but it slid off in mere seconds, and since I’ve simplified my T1 to only include my helmet, sunglasses, and bike shoes, I was in and out and on with my life rather quickly.

Transition 1 time: 3:55 (and it was a rather long run from the water to the bike mount line – almost a third of a mile).  Happy with my efficiency here.

I’ll pick up next time when my feet hit the pedals.

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