Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Ironman Los Cabos 2013: It was the worst of times, that is all.


Hola amigos! 

 What a week it's been. Mexico has been absolutely beautiful. My trip started out with a bit of a hiccup. My 5pm flight was delayed because of a blown tire in Ft Mac so I got moved from the Air Canada 5pm to the United midnight flight. This meant a few things.

1) I paid a $75 change fee in December to get off the midnight flight and on to the earlier one...
2) I paid $50 for the desirable seating...
3) my pre-paid hotel in Houston would sit empty
4) oh, and United charges $200 for a bike to Air Canada's $50

The Air Canada agent's response.... So you don't want to go? AAAAAHH!

Fortunately at the airport the (rather attractive) ticket agents took pity on me and waived the bike fee entirely. Sweet, my good looks and charm FINALLY get me something.

So after flying to Houston and getting no sleep on the plane I managed to grab 90 min off and on, on the floor of IAH airport. 

Finally get to Cabo and things are looking up. Got paired up with a cool firefighter from LA that's also doing the race. Dude is 25 and the ultimate Cali boy, accent, dress, everything. We hit it off. In line we also ran into a South African bank exec doing the race and the 3 of us became thick as thieves. 

Registration was in my hotel so that was sweet. Just a few steps from my room and into the line ups. This went smoothly and the "gift" was a really nice running jacket. I then went to the pre-race meeting and stayed until the stupid questions started. You know the ones, "Uh, will the water be chilled or will it be tepid?" QUIET DOWN YOU!
Saturday was bike check in. This was very confusing for everyone as they did not include a list of which bag was what (bike, bike special, run, etc). To get to T1 you took a highway bus but you took you bike ON the bus, so a full bus only took about 15 athletes. DOH! After getting there things went smoothly and it was a great day to chill out.

SUNDAY: It started with a 4am wake up, light breakfast and bus to swim start. It was already warm and the nerves were high. After checking my bike for the 11th time and checking out Hillary Biscay for the 20th time I put on my wetsuit and headed down. The pros went off and we herded down. It was at this time the Incan gods decided they were not so happy with all the Gringos invading their water and decided to get nasty. Just as the horn went off a series of 3 swells came smashing into the start blowing some athletes off of their feet and along the beach. (YOUTUBE Ironman Los Cabos 2013 Swim Start to see it!)

The swim was choppy and slow. Because it's a bay the waves seemed to come from everywhere but behind you. Additionally, the small beach meant everyone was funneled into a small stream and it was after the 3000m buoy that I finally found a spot away from people. I took many kicks and even a slap to the face. One doofus in front of me would do 3 crazy karate kicks if someone touched his feet. These were not propulsion kicks, he was trying to hurt people, so I entertained myself by touching his feet about every 15 seconds for 10 minutes or so. Got out of the water in 1:25 very upset but after talking to some others was happier with this result. 
T1 was across a beach and up some steep stairs. I spent quite a while in T1 because of the sun, I coated myself in sunscreen and got ready.

The bike course coming out was a steep climb for about 500m including a few cobblestoned sections then leveled out for a km. After this IT WAS ON. This course was always a climb or a descent. We started west to Cabo San Lucas along the main highway then returned and did an out and back to the airport. 2 loops. It was 20mph winds and 96 degree heat all day. There was plenty of water and Gatorade but the bars were a Quaker cereal bar that were REALLY dry and crumbled when opened. Poor choice of food but we were all in the same boat. My first stretch went really well, I was pedaling hard and riding out the hills well but the heat and wind and hills broke me. There was one hill going to the airport where the wind was so strong I was doing 34km/hr uphill but 27km/hr down. Before the last airport loop (140km in) I saw a mother of some students I teach whose husband was racing. I pulled over to talk to her and just started crying. I was so damaged. I mercifully got off the bike in 7:09:59.

T2 was ok, some sunscreen, some Vaseline and a pep talk and I was off. It was a 3 loop course which was mentally fatiguing because it was always the same stuff. Not a challenging run except for the fact that I was cooked, literally. I ran fairly well for the first 7 miles but then I had to walk.... for 19 miles. I hooked up with some cool people and talked at them until they decided they should run away, I suppose they owe me for a faster finish time. There was never any doubt I would finish, just when. And it was a while. 

The people lining the streets seemed to be impressed by my stature and as I ran by they kept yelling "ANIMO!" and I was like, "yeah, I am an animal, GRRRRRR!" This went on for 5 or 6 hours and I was jacked that I was getting this kind of response. I finally crossed the line at 10:48 pm with a just under 7 hr marathon. I got my medal and just started crying, I knew I had just done the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. I got to the recovery area, sat down and just cried for about 5 min. Then I ate pizza. T2 was about 500m from the finish so I headed back to my bike and collected my stuff. As I walked down the street my little angel, the mom that let me cry on her shoulder, spotted me and called me over to the cantina that she was sitting in. She immediately got me a beer and a chair and I was in heaven. By this time her husband had been long finished and was sitting there was another couple who were waiting on their daughter to finish. I was giving them a recap of my race and started telling them that the people were so impressed by me that they were calling me "animal." Carlos, the husband and Cabo native, looked at me sideways and in his Mexican accent said, "No mang, Ani-MO. It just means keep going." My face dropped and we burst into laughter at the ridiculousness of it all. They were so great that they carted my sorry carcass back to my resort and even got me to my room. I will never forget their kindness.  

Many of you know my mission is to get to Kona via the Legacy Lottery and I know that when that day comes it was because of my perseverance in this race that I deserve it. I was very unhappy with my time until I looked at the results and I was 810/1336. How did this happen? Over 400 athletes DNFed because of the conditions. 39 just in my age group of 181. 

I don't get too much time to dwell on this one as I'm back at it in3 months in CdA. I really would hesitate to recommend this race unless you are willing to train stupid hard on a bike trainer all winter. Maybe just come eat and get drunk like my Monday to Wednesday has been. 

See you all soon!


  1. hey i was there, and can vouch for you--no exaggeration about the conditions: it was definitely a challenging day! Congrats on soldiering on and finishing. Fyi, i was one of the Legacy Lotto folks who got to go to the BIg Dance in Kona last october, and all i can say is, keep logging those IM's, 'cause it's worth experiencing at least once!! Cheers, lisa
    ps. my Kona experience is here if you're interested:

    1. Lisa. Your race report is AWESOME and only steels my resolve to do this thing! My heart was racing just reading it. Thank you so much for reading!!!

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