Thursday, November 29, 2012

the glory of the hair - IM Cozumel 2012 (part 1)

I must have suffered greatly in another life because this one is absolutely charmed.  Last year we hung out with the 4th pro overall at IMCOZumel and this year he and his lovely bride came just to cheer me on!  The kids were so excited to hear Kristin and Zach were coming back this year and we were all really looking forward to seeing them again.   Unfortunately he'd had a bad year and while he wasn't planning on racing, he didn't feel comfortable telling us that until we dragged it out of him.  He was worried (I think) that we would think less of him.  TBPH, I was totally bowled over by the fact that he would come to cheer me on and thought it was too sweet for words.  I guess the pro are human afterall - it is just their times that are superhuman. 

I have a superstition of always doing something new on race day.  Last year it was the race itself, a new bike seat and nutrition.  This year I went in having eaten (or kept down) virtually nothing for 2 to 3 days previous, plus new nutrition, brand new shoes and lube.  I have to laugh at all the RRs with folks setting alarms and eating in the middle of the night on race day.  When you get to the insomnia portion of old age, you NEVER interrupt sleep.  Considering I wasn't keeping food down anyway, I wasn't about to start a new practice of waking myself up to try to eat something.  I figured I'd go in like a bear does winter.  I have nice coat of fat to live off.  Should work in theory anyway...

I really wanted to do the Saturday swim practice as I'd been off the bike and run since the previous Sunday and had not swum since the previous Monday.  Pretty much I was screwed, but I wanted to see if I had anything in my arms.  Dayum, but the water was rough on Saturday.  Much worse than race day (at least to my recollection).  I did as much as they allowed (most of the course was closed except 2 bouys) and then waited for Zach to finish psyching out his competitors before heading home.  After the swim I completely released myself from any expectations.  I knew I was going to swim slow, and quite honestly, I wasn't sure I was going to make it.  Well, my ego would MAKE me finish unless I could not make forward progress, but I expected it could get super ugly.  After the swim while chatting with Jamie (an ex-teammate of Zach's) and Zack, Jamie suggested that if the conditions were the same the next day, he could see people needing the entire 2.5 hours (or whatever they give us; I have YET to attend a prerace meeting in any language) and I thought he was crazzeeee.  Those pros live in a different world and I figured he was pretty out of touch with we mere mortals.  Crow does taste pretty good after all! 

I had previously, before getting sick, hoped for top 10, but looking at the bevvy of fast old farts that entered this year, I wasn't sure that would happen.  Yes, I had the audacity to stalk their times of past IMs and HIMs to figure out what they would likely do and it seemed that the top 20 were sub 11-hour IMs.  Dayum, 50+ is getting competitive.  But I still hoped for top 10.  I also wanted to better my time from last year.  A lady who lives on Cozumel, who is responsible for getting me into the sport by simply inspiring me, took 1 hour off her time each year so I figured I should be able to do that too.  Course, she started at about 14 or so hours and is 10 years younger... details, details...

Race day morning I still couldn't hold down a GU.  I was, however, able to eat and hold down a banana so I radically changed my nutrition plan to (ta dum!!) BANANAS!  I figured in the old days they did all kinds of crazeee nutrition and I was just going to take some inspiration from old skool.  I had a banana for breakfast and a sip of Perpeteum and hoped I'd be able to drink it on the bike, ASSuming I made it to the bike.  I did a LOT of ASSuming.  Still do.  My sister, BIL, 2 nieces, my mother and father (83 and 77), my 4 kids (18, 16, 13 and 11) and Dearest Husband In the Free World accompanied me to the swim start. I was pretty bummed because I was sure I wasn't going to finish and I honestly wasn't sure I'd even finish the swim but dayum, you have to at least TRY, right? Water looked calmer than the day before. Ray of hope #1. I took it out SUPER easy. I didn't work hard at all, I really just wanted to finish around the same time as last year (denial again) and not get pulled out. I took about 15 minutes longer than last year but it seemed to go much faster than last year. Last year seemed to drag ForEver but other than the last stretch of however long (400-1200m?) that seemed to take 20 minutes or so, it went pretty fast and easy in my head. I did manage to swallow water for the first time ever and rounding one buoy someone placed their hand on my head and pushed me directly down underwater (that was confusing as hell) and I must have swum constant Zs after being pushed all over by the waves and current, but it was, at least in hindsight, pretty easy as I took it super easy.

All the way back on that last stretch (I have had it in my head it was only 400m but I've seen accounts of 1200 so who knows) I could only see waves and palm trees.  At one point I saw a bus stuck in traffic but the waves were such that I never saw a bouy.  I tried to stay to the shallow part of the course as I had been advised to do that previously but it sure seemed like this last stretch was especially rough.  The waves seemed to come from all directions and I couldn't hold a straight line to save my life.  I kept aiming for shore, sure I was headed all but directly AT the shore but never seemed to get there.  Finally I thought I saw the palapa roof that marks the end but first we had to avoid a boat that seemed to be directly in the middle of the course.  Maybe I was just WAY off course.  I never expected to be able to see family as I came in, but again, just like in September, I saw them and waved a couple times so they'd know I saw them.  I didn't even try to stand up coming out, just climbed up the stairs like a baby and wobbled down to transition.  

I ran to transition. Last year I was beat up by the swim and too tired to run to transition and honestly, for us old, slow farts, you gotta just wonder, WHY? Stroll and smell the roses! But this year I ran. And felt good. I had gotten hungry on the last stretch of the swim and hoped that would be a good sign. I asked the guy I was running with (at Cozumel the changing tents are a fair piece from the swim exit) what time he had and he very graciously hit buttons on his watch to figure it out. He had 1:28. I was a little bummed because that is really slow but the water was rough so I justified it that way. What ever works. Hey, I got out and made it through one event! I had a GREAT time in the transition tent - the volunteers were so helpful and brought me some Gatorade concoction I had remembered from last year that was like nirvana and this year did not disappoint either. I got 2 more and dumped the nutrition I had (chomps and bars) as I knew they weren't going to happen. Saw the family as I left and headed out on the bike.

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