Thursday, September 26, 2013

Cozumel HIM 2013 recap

So I really thought I had no chance.  I had convinced myself that my lack of swimming the past few weeks and complete lack of run and huge decrease in bike the last 2 months had doomed my chances.  I had trained well in the beginning of the year, up to about July, but July and August sucked in training due, no doubt, to dengue.  I was hoping my early season training might get me through the race in a respectable time but I had very little hope.  It was the first time I'd not visualized a race at all - I was very meh about the whole idea.

Last year I had the same time goal but with more bike and run training;however fell quite short and had a didn't do the time I thought I should have.  I was really avoiding thinking about the race and had no expectations.  I think I finally got into the race about an hour before it started.  We took the longest ferry again.  The ferry on the Friday before a race must always run a couple hours behind schedule and be loaded to the brim.  We finally got over to the island about 5 hours after we left the house (5 km up the road and 10km across the water).  This picture is from the ferry line.

Pike and Jamie went with me to package pickup and then we just hung out at the house the rest of the day.  We invited one of Ellen's friends over (and she took the ferry over by herself!) and she and the girls decided to skip the swim start so race day it was just Jamie and the boys to accompany me to the swim start.  We left much later than usual and found out a very important piece of information.  Most all the street closures happen between 530 and 6 am, so leaving at 6am will have you in a bit of a panic trying to get out onto the malecon.  I got to the start with about 10 minutes at transition before we headed out to the water but frankly, that was about all I needed.  Maybe next time I'll leave a little bit more fudge time. 

 rooftop view from the house we stayed at.  definitely a 10/10 especially with FIVE beds!

Again, like last year, the oldest of the farts started first, right after the pros and we were off pretty quickly.  I snagged some feet and a hip for the first time in a long time and pushed the pace.  I had to keep reminding myself that this was the half, not the full, and I could afford to go harder, though I honestly had no game plan other than to push as hard as I could but still be able to hold on for the run.  I didn't feel like we had a current-assisted swim this year but neither were we against teh current.  It was super tranquilo and flat seas. 

I was All Over the course though.  I kept choosing the wrong person to follow.  I noticed that only one wave had caught up and was somewhat encouraged by that but had no idea how I was doing.  At one point I rounded a buoy and had empty seas ahead of me until I popped up and realized I had started swimming BACK across the course and had to reverse and come back to the course.  Empty water rounding a buoy is a great clue for me now to make sure I'm actually on course.  :)  I was shocked that the end had come up so quick as I had expected a much longer swim but was very happy to find the steps and exit (not before completely missing them and starting to swim under the pier).  I was definitely  direction challenged today.  I found out later that most likely the swim was short, so my most excellent time was likely not quite so excellent after all.

I had not seen any of the boys or Jamie before the swim, coming out of the water or heading out on the bike.  I figured something must have happened or the boys had to leave early (they were volunteering at the finish) so off to the bike.  For the entire road across the island to the East side, my legs were just gone.  I was doing 25-27kph and my heart rate was in the low 140s and high 130s.  I was really worried that my legs had forgotten to show up for the event and my goals were were quickly disappearing.  I was getting passed by group after group and at one point identified a lady in my AG blatantly drafting off 2 of her compañeros.  I was getting very discouraged.

Luckily, I came upon an aid station and upon realizing I had inadvertently left my planned bike nutrition at transition, I added a bottle of gatorade to the 2 bottle of Skrach and very shortly, just after turning onto the windy side my legs woke up and I started to ride.  I remember being SO GLAD they showed up AND that it seemed we actually had a tail wind on the East side (rather than the usual howling cross winds) and my speed climbed to 31-34 and my HR fell to the very low 130s.  I kept looking down at my legs and thanking them for showing up over and over almost the whole ride.  I then lived off the course to ensure I had enough sugar to keep me moving.

I found another lady in my AG who was being very blatantly drafted off by another lady in our AG and thanked my legs again for showing up to the dance and decided to hang back from them about 7m (legal draft).  Watching them, it seemed like the lady in front had no idea of her little leech but she also wasn't against sitting on a guy's wheel for a while.  I passed her a few times but she always made a point to pass me back so I figured she just liked being in front and let her lead.  I also let her decide the pace.

They say to always race your own race and not your competitor's race but she had a good pace, I could hold it, I didn't want to lose my placing (thanks legs AGAIN) and my HR was okay.  I managed to jump in front of her just before the timing mats though to keep my placing.  Just before T2 I saw the whole famdamily and I had to stop and greet them which resulted in her beating me to T2.  I hoped she wasn't a strong runner but I wasn't about to just ride by my family and yell out a greeting.  They deserved hugs and kisses so I stopped.

Once on the run course I checked my watch and realized my bike MUST have been under 3 hours and that knowledge kept me going strong. I pushed the pace as much as I could on the run with the only goal being to hold off the rest of the old ladies from passing me, run the entire run (no walking) and keep the rubber side down.  The 2nd lap the skies opened, DUMPED, lightened up and then dumped and dumped and dumped to such a degree that we were running through water up to our calves in normal and deeper at other super flooded areas.

I got SO MUCH energy from the crowds on the first lap, this course is like none other.  The fans are AMAZING and they make the event such a great experience.  I couldn't help but think, however, how hard this was and the full is double.  At the finish the clock was not working and I didn't start my watch until the bike, so I had no idea of my swim or finish time, but seeing my boys at the finish, working as catchers, pushed any idea of a clock out of my mind and I grabbed the both of them and we headed towards pizza.

Even though I've done the full twice before, today has really scared me for the full.  This was hard for me - I pushed in all 3 events - and while I know I can't hold these paces for the full, I'm worried I'm just not up for the full this year.  I'm stiff, sore, feet are like hamburger and I'm hurting tonight.  I hate to think what that means for the full....but I am Very Proud of this race.  I was racing it, not just doing it.  I was checking the calves of any female coming near me (checking for AG identification) and other than 3 aid stations where I took on Pepsi, I never walked AND I kept the pace up (for me). 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

off road triathlon. how hard could it be?

Earlier this year when I saw the rise in sprint prices from $500 to $1000 and more I realized I wouldn't be doing too many triathlons.  When I started a couple years ago I was doing the first edition of triathlons offered and the sprints ran around $500.  I figured that was reasonable.  However, the sport is exploding.  This year we got a state organization and sprints are popping up all over the place but the kids aren't going to put themselves through school, so I knew I'd be backing off the races this year.

I was intrigued enough, however, to sign up for an off-road triathlon that couldn't quite get enough participants the year before.  I just needed a mountain bike.  Well, I figured I did.  I thought it was likely that the event would be just on gravel roads versus paved roads but figured I might fall with the road bike.  Boy, was that an understatement of thought.  I liked the distances - 1km swim, 21km bike (how hard could that be?  we do that in around 30 minutes on our road bikes...) and an 8km (ish) run through the jungle.

I had seen mention of a beach finish and figured people were just being pussies and bellyaching about the sand run.  At any rate, with no concrete to run on, my hips would thank me as well as my complaining ankle.  So I signed myself up and tasked Jamie with cludging a mountain bike out of spare parts.  And he did.  It was more steel than rust (pretty much) and the gears decided what gear they'd be in, not me, but the wheels rolled and the handle bars steered and the seat stayed in place.  After all, it was only 21k; how long could that take?

I looked up the finishing times the night before and was floored to see women finishing in the 3- to 4-hour range.  This was very confusing.  I figured I'd take some gels and Skratch (electrolyte mix) and see what happened.  I found out that there was no water on the bike course so I decided to take 2 large bottles on teh bike and 1 small in my jersey.

I had a GREAT swim and came out first woman (it was a small field).  I threw my bike jersey on and headed out on the bike only to find it was a ride comprised of slabs of rocks, giant boulders, tree roots, logs crossing the path.  I figured it was likely hard at the start but it HAD to get better/flatter/more like a road, RIGHT?  ah, no.

I caught trees in my handlebars, waddled through deep sand I couldn't ride through and kissed a lot of slabs of rocks.  Towards the end of the first loop I was so done I was just going to quit.  I was having No fun, it was Sissy's birthday and it just didn't seem worth the trouble to be away from family on an important day doing something that was so NOT FUN.  Unfortunately I was on the 2nd loop before I knew it and figured I may as well finish the thing.  I thought I was muddy from spray from the course until I took a bath in a rancid mud puddle after one of my many falls.  then I KNEW
I was muddy.

I was never So Glad to get off the bike.  The run was back out in the jungle, on the single track, and much more manageable when you only had to dodge trees with your body and not bike.  The run ended with about 750m of deep sand run because apparently the event needed to make it just that extra bit harder.  I'll never do one again.  My hands were full of blisters, cramped into claws from holding the handlebars and I had a hard time locating the blood and bruises under the mud.

Punta Venado is a lovely location though and the organizers are putting on a run there in October.  That just might pull me in, especially since there will be NO bike involved!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

here we go again

so i guess this is getting to be old hat now - I'm a grizzled veteran of the triathlon circuit after only 3 years.  Go figure.  I guess if you keep doing the same ones over and over and 2 of those 3 same ones are on the same course, you get grizzled in only 3 years.  I've done the full twice and this will be my 2nd half here on Cozumel, so this will be the 4th time on this course.  In November I'll have #5.  It is a GORGEOUS course and that really helps.  Not having the $ to go anywhere else even though Cozumel is a "destination" triathlon for so many might be another reason for my lack of excitement. 

Or maybe it is the fact that I had hopes (where I get these ideas into my head I have NO IDEA) of placing top 3 this year.  Honestly, I just don't think I've put in the training to achieve that result, but just like last year's expectation of hitting a 6-hour time (that was unrealistic) again this year I have (what will likely be) the unrealistic goal of 6-hour time AND top 3.  I mean, if your first goal was unrealistic, why not pile another one in there too?  I can't even blame this on lack of sleep and being up since 3am as I've had this goal for a while. 

The ferry, as usual, took FOREVER (yeah, I'm jaded about a ferry ride on the Caribbean).  By now we should be used to this but rushing around to get the kids from school, pack the car, (one of these years I am going to make a LIST), get to the ferry terminal and then wait for 3 hours to board.  I always try to get the planta baja as it is so much easier than dragging the van's ass on the metal of the floor as we attempt to drive up the 45 degree (so it seems) ramp.  I got super luck this time but we were about the 3rd last on the ferry.  Ferry was so packed they turned one truck away.  Don't think I've ever seen that before. 

Course, last on = first off and while we were packed in so incredibly tight that the only door that could be opened was the drivers (and this was after a car was moved so we could get that one open) we probably got off about an hour before those waiting on the 2nd deck.  I really felt sorry for the folks waiting for the ferry going back across.  Last one of the night and we docked an hour late.  They will have had a LONG night.  These races are getting bigger and bigger here in Mexico and each one I see more and more athletes and bikes and fancy stuff on the trip over to the island.  Other than truck drivers, I think everyone on the ferry was coming for the event. 

We are LOVING this house.  I think we get a different house each trip and this is the best so far if, for absolutely nothing else, EVERYONE HAS THEIR OWN BED.  When you have 4 kids and not so much $, you tend to crowd kids wherever and the boys almost always end up on a couch IF they're lucky.  This place has THREE bedrooms and FIVE BEDS.  I can't remember the last time we had enough beds for everyone.  We didn't get here until after 9pm so no clue as to the rest but we're SUPER close to T2 and that's about as good as it gets.  I've been up since 3am getting some work done (I had no clue how early it was when I originally got up and tried to go back to bed but no dice) so I am sure I'll be napping later IN MY OWN ROOM!!!  Doesn't take much to impress me. 

I really need to start visualizing the race and preparing for it because I seriously have not given it a second of thought.  Goal 1:  A 6-hour race.  Goal 2:  Place in top 3 (likely 3rd if I get lucky enough).  Rationalization and/or training to achieve the aforementioned goals?  Um, well, that could be a problem.  If this race had been in July, I might have had a to come.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

the rest of bacalar

We had SUCH a good time in Bacalar we decided to really drag out the day coming home.  IIRC I let the kids take a day off school and we found a rancho I'd read about and the girls took us on a horseback ride.  They really wanted to run the horses but these were not jumping horses.  Both girls did, finally, coax gallope out of both their mounts but I think they had more fun running the horses in the ring than the lovely passage through the jungle to the laguna.  Jamie and I had a GREAT time watching but riding a horse is definitely Not My Thing.  It sure was fun to have them be the masters looking out for us and telling us what to do though.

Chilling at Laguna Bacalar after the swim

 the rancho had a pool also and we put it to good use

sissy getting her mount to gallope

almost at the laguna - took about 30 minutes from the rancho

sissy giving Jamie pointers

the laguna via horseback

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

three-quarters of a year.

I guess I somehow deleted the beginning of this...So Jamie and I decided to do a 40km time trial out towards Cancun in the spring.  I got lots of good advice from Slowtwitch along with warmup and training advice and thought I might have a chance in the top 5 to 10.  They were only paying out top 3 though and I really wanted my entry fee ($200 pesos) back, so I was hoping.

We had gone out the weekend before to get a feeling of the road and thought we figured out the start and turn around and found that while it is pretty easy to average 32kph here (with and against the wind) out there seemed to be a strange vortex of energy or whatever that kept our HR up high and our average speed pretty pedestrian.  Very strange.  After our pre-race reconnaissance we were rather worried we would place very low (if at all) and I was hoping against hope for more women in my age category as I didn't think I had much of a chance against the young women.  The same organizers put a team time trial on later in the year but we never managed to put the energy into finding a 3rd person for our team.

 I killed myself, averaging 148 HR or so and with 3 km left completely died.  When I finally crossed the finish line I could barely stay on my bike and actually just got off and lay down in the road.  At least I left it all out there.  I somehow managed 2nd in my age group (25+) and 3rd overall.  Beat by a teenager (IIRC) for overall position!  :)  Jamie took his category by at least 15 minutes or more.  Kicking some old man ass. 

We'll definitely be back for the next event they have though.  There were very pro-looking teams coming from all over the peninsula.  Apparently, quite the event. 

On the kid front, Sissy's school participated in the millon a pie (can't remember what the engish version was) but a world-wide event, which involved one of her newly found loves (thanks to school), dancing.  Apparently the moms were also invited to participate.  They held the event just off the beach and it was really fun to watch them.  Plus they got about 1/2 a day off school!

Jesse's school then put on their 10th anniversary concert at a local bar and we all spent the day at the beach (such trials and tribulations :)) and had a great time listening to the music, watching the dance and getting a sneak peak at their newest performance, Les Miserables.  I had been very skeptical of this musical as i didn't think they'd be able to touch their amazing performance of All Shook Up but the entire family really enjoyed Les Miz once the performance rolled around.  That school continues to amaze me with the quality of their performances.  The girls ran the Ak Lu'um 5k again this year which Ellen topped with a 1K for the kids as she still had energy left over.  The girls don't really race it, they just go to support Ellen's school and have fun.

I'm have so many pictures I'm just going to have to post them separately.  This is going to get long now... :)

I decided to race a 10K at Father's Day and Jamie and I spent a lovely day in Akumal afterwards snorkeling and hanging out.  I was pleased with my time (56 minutes) and will definitely do this one again and maybe next time be able to entice the family to come spend the day in Akumal.  Such a nice spot to spend a Sunday and The Best way to recover from a 10K run.

Both girls had a horse competition the day of my usual sprint triathlon so I consoled myself with a sweet jersey from this year's event and had a GREAT time with the girls.  They both eventually decided to compete both days (instead of just one) and Ellen just missed out on medals.  Sissy took home some great prizes (AI certificate and plaques) as well as a first place on the 2nd day.  Both girls looked GREAT on their mounts and, more importantly, cheered on their fellow competitors and had a great time.  The biggest disappointment was that the paleta cart had no corriente so we had to scarf down enough paletas on the first day to content us for the entire competition.

I then set my sights on Bacalar for their yearly open water event.  Last year I somehow missed the date and the year before I was wicked sick with a chest thing.  I've been wanting to do this event for 3 years (even paid one year) and this was going to be my year.  We found a house to accommodate the dog (it is a small town and this event completely fills all the hotels there, so it wasn't an easy task) and headed down.

(a 3-hour tour.  this is why we need a van - to carry our MOUNTAINS of crap)  Actually we had planned to do some riding in unfamiliar lands while we were there but Jamie got sick and I decided to just hang with the kids and had to be content with my swim and then outsmarting the federales trying to fleece me for $3000 for imagined infractions.  I finally broke down and did the stupid tourist "I no speak espanish" (having used the subjunctive tense previously, I miraculously lost all ability to speak Spanish and could only speak English) and it worked.  From now on i think I no longer speak Spanish when it comes to cops.  We left super early in the morning and it about killed me to bypass this place offering coffee, but I managed to survive.  Barely...

We actually stayed out of town by 5km or more and had a great time there.  We walked to the river (that feeds Laguna Bacalar) and had a great time paddling around in the kayak.  Jesse managed to cross the river but also to lose his snorkeling mask.  I think Pike was the only one uninterested in the river, but we had fast internet and a massage chair at the house and those were hard to compete with.

We all really enjoyed hanging out in the house with the lovely view of the laguna and fresh breeze.  The girl ran about the GRASS!!! in the backyard when we weren't in the water, running from the law or swimming 5k.  It was a GREAT vacation.

fresh from kayak and swim

the kids room.  one each to a bed, sissy in the hammock and pike made himself a bed in the closet.  worked for them!

I had just, about a month before, started increasing my swimming, trying for 10k/week but failing miserably but hoped to just have a good time.  The first lap wasn't that bad but that second lap was trying.  The water seemed to have a good chop to it and the base of the triangle of the swim seemed to be very difficult to swim against current.  But I've never done a 5K in the water before and figured it was par for the course.  When I got out and noticed my time I was severely disappointed.  I guess I get used to being a big fish in a small pond (what with the infancy of the sport here and my age, I'm usually a shoe-in to at least place in most all events) and this was a HUGE blow to my ego.

It is SUCH a pretty event though that I know I'll be back next year - even if I have to downgrade to the 2.5 K.  :)  SO worth it!

 However, it really caused me to look hard at my swimming and put a much greater effort into it.  Luckily, soon after the event, the triathlon message board I frequent started a swimming challenge which soon got me to 10k/week.  But I first had to get over dengue, which I must have picked up in Bacalar.  That really set my training back and after my saddle issues last year at this same time, I'm beginning to think I need to dedicate a rest month to July or something will cause me to have a rest month one way or another. 

I'm going to have to put this past weekend's race in a separate post and maybe that will keep me updating more regularly.  Can't hurt.