Wednesday, September 26, 2007
I just got home from Cancun so I guess it is time for the Race Report. Here it goes. Feel free to skim over my ramblings about things that hold very little interest to you, but were outstanding in my recollection.
I met up with my tri chica Lori at the airport last Friday morning with a few of my other tri buddies. In all there were 6 of us. Our group also included the amazing talents of Geoff P. who is in his first racing season as a triathlete, Tri-babe Lauren L., Ryan "Passion" P. who all planted the idea for us to do this race back in March, Ryan T. who had to cheer rather than race due to a stress fracture that he developed at the Ironhead race back in July, and Lori. At the airport we met up with HRTC members Beau, Theresa, and David as well as seeing a number of other triathlets who I did not recognize. The flight was quite comfortable for me up in First Class. Getting through customs was quick and we were able to rent a passenger van through Payless Car Rental to hold all the bike cases, gear, and people. Payless is not on the airport property so we ended up saving almost $80 in taxes. Bad news--Continental has upped their bike transport fees to $95.
We had a short drive to a beach-front villa that we had rented. It ended up being the best digs that we could have asked for. It was 3 miles from the Wet n' Wild water Park where the race was being staged. It was on the quiet end of the Hotel Zone, but the bus stop was just outside. We had a full kitchen, washer/dryer, maid service, and 4 bedrooms with private baths. The pool area was quiet and the beach was clean and private. We are already in agreement that if we do this race again next year, we will try to reserve the same villa.
Cancun has a Sam's Club, Costco, and a Super WAL-MART so we were able to go buy groceries and extra water. I have to get out of the mind set that there are places that you can buy stuff with out having to haggle at a local market in Mexico. It was a pleasant surprise.
On our first evening there, one of the gentlemen who worked at the villas, knocked on our door with a bucket in his hand urging us to come with him. I was the only one in the group who spoke enough Spanish to figure out what he was asking but he told us to meet him at the beach to see the turtles. When we got to the beach, he offered up the bucket that was filled with 30-35 brand new baby sea turtles. He pulled one out of the bucket and placed it on the sand and we watched it quickly make a bee-line for the water and then the wave pulled him into the ocean. We all started getting the babies out on the sand and we watched them instinctivly follow the sound of the surf as they made their way to their new home. The worker from the villa showed me close to 30 other nests of Sea Turtle eggs that he had fenced off and marked with the date the mother laid the eggs, how many eggs were in each nest, and names that he had given to the mothers.
O.K. enough about the reptiles, you wanted to read a race report...
The race expo was surprisingly small. Speedo, Zoot, a local shoe store, Power Bar, Senor Frog's, and a local bike shop were there with things to purchase. There were two nice tech shirts and two different race hats that you could purchase, but that was it. I got a shirt and went back the next day to get a hat and they were all sold out. Even getting to the race expo early, they ran out of size small for the nice fleece embroidered jackets that we got. The drawstring race bag is a little small but it has a nice large zippered pocket. The bag contained a race water bottle, a Power Bar, and the other race stuff you normally get from vendors. There was a nice race photo packaget that you could buy for $50 that included a 5x7 swim, bike, and run picture and an 8x10 finish line photo. It was raining cats and dogs when we went to the expo and I was a little concerned but I also knew that the rain would keep the temps down during the race.
On Saturday there was an open water swim session that we skipped on because of rain. There was a race meeting in both Spanish and English. Mandatory bike check in was at the Wet n' Wild from 3 to 6. Pasta dinners were held in shifts at Carlos & Charlies, El Shrimp Bucket, and Senor Frog's. Nothing to write home about, but it saved me from having to cook for the crew.
Race morning looked like the rain might hold off, but I was taking no chances and used some the plastic bags that had been covering my bike to cover up my shoes and other gear in transition. It was a good thing that I did this since we had tropical deluges several times during the race. We had a tent for bag check in the transition area. No transitions bags were allowed to be left by the bikes. This ended up being a great deal since they were dry under the tent.
The swim start was moved up the beach due to Hurricane Dean damaging the pier we were supposed to take off from. The start was in the water and the waves were only 1-2 minutes apart from each other. This meant that I passed a lot of men on the swim. It was crystal clear water so it was nice that you could sight along the bottom of the sea floor as well as looking up for the bouys. There were cool starfish and other sea life to divert your attention as well. The water temp was nice and the couple of gulps of salt water only caused me to focus on going with water rather than Gatorade for the first 30 minutes on the bike. The exit from the swim to T1 was a run up the beach, through a shower area to wash out your hair and clean off the sand and salt, through Wet n' Wild, and into the Transition. The distance was probably a 400 to 450 meter run. Lots of the Wn'W staff were cheering us on as we ran through the water park. Since I was in the last wave, most of the bikes on the other racks were gone, but on my rack I was one of the first ones out on the bike course! SCORE!!! I have to double check, but my swim time was 34 minutes.
The bike course was a long leg out, a double loop, and a long leg back in. The roads for the first 5K were pretty smooth but then it turned into a chip-seal type of surface. Nothing new if you are used to riding up in and around Montgomery Co. I knew that the road condidtions would be sketchy so I ran Continental Ultra Gatorskin tires with Tuffy liners. I was glad I did this because I passed up tons of people on the side of the road changing tires. One gal I passed up had 3 flat tires! That has to suck. About 10 miles in on the course there was dried lumps of cement on the road that you really could not get around. I had been doing well up to this point with my percieved cadence and speed. My computer was not working so I was going strictly by rate of percieved exertion. I was doing well passing people up and keeping my heart rate under control. Once I hit this cement, it was like I hit a brick wall! My power was gone and it felt like I was working harder. Everyone that I had passed was now passing me up and I could not keep up at all. Since I did not have my speed, cadence, or watts to look at I just muscled it out. At mile 13, the first torential down pour began and lasted for several miles. Nothing like getting rain and the crap off of someone's back wheel up in your face as they are passing you by. I was seeing LOTS of drafting and pack riding. It kind of pissed me off, but then there were not the officials on the course to keep it under control. One official I did see was telling the group to break it up. He was on the scooter by himself and there was no way that he was going to be able to take down all 30 race numbers in the pack. So as I was muscling it out there were guys with a lot more gut and a lot less bike than mine speeding past me in those packs. I even had some dude riding an old Iron Horse 10 speed with a floppy tech shirt, long shorts over bike shorts and running shoes in the toe cages pass me up and I could not keep up with him!!! WTF was going on!!??!! When a gal who out out weighed me by a good 80 pounds zoomed by and said "Sweet Ride" about my Kuota, all I could think about was, "And only if my sweet @$$ could pick it up and look like I deserve to be on this sweet ride..." (I would catch them on the run later). The aid stations were well run and they had water, Gatorade, Power Gel, and Power Bars. Road kill in Mexico is different than it is here in Texas. We have the racoons, armadillos, frogs, possum, and the occasional water moccasin. In Mexico you have the anteater, howler monkey, iguana, and blue crabs flattened along the road. I had to do a double take on the anteater and really think about what I had just seen at the side of the road before it sank in. On the way back in to Transition at mile 45 or so, my right calf cramped up so hard it caused me to scream. At least I did not startle anyone because the course was less busy since all the drafting pack riders, who thought that the race was ITU, were already off the course. Torential down pour number 2 began promptly after that and lasted all the way in to T2 and out on the run. My goal had been to finish the bike in less than 3 hours, but that did not happen. I have no idea what my time was since the rain caused the timing mats at the end of the bike course to short out and not work. Oh well, that horrible experience of having no power in my legs on the bike was over and it was on to thrash out my legs on the run.
T2 was quick. My shoes stayed pretty dry in the bag but that was not going to last long running in the rain. Lori and Ryan had gotten a picture of me coming in to T2 and they were back off to the VIP tent to watch the rest of the race.
Out on the run it was good to see lots of people again. The run course was 2 loops and went along Kukucklan Blvd. and past our villa with the turn around at the Bel Aire condos. There were only two bridges but my quads were twitching and wanting to sieze up so I took it easy going up the small bridges. There were good aid stations and good volunteers. The water came in pint sized sealed bags that you bit the corner off of to drink out of. Why don't we have this in the states??? It was so much easier to handle, get in your mouth, and stuff down your sports bra to cool you off and make you look like you had a Wonder Bra on. There were only port-o-cans in one location but you ended up passing them four times. I thought I might make a PR, but my legs were really tired and my walking breaks through the aid stations were getting longer. I finally buckled down when a guy passed me, gave me a pat on the shoulder, encouraged me that I could do it and also threw in a "GO TEAM!" since I was wearing my Team in Training gear. I ran the last 2.5 miles in and I looked strong going across the line. Total time 6:19:04. Not bad for a horrible bike and it was close to my 6:17 that I had for two other races that were PR's
I searched out the ice by the people handing out bottles of Gatorade. I sat down on a huge bag and laid a bag over my legs and sat there for 20 minutes. I had lots of people giving me smiles and the thumbs up when they saw me with my ice bags in place. There was Domino's Pizza, PowerBar protein bars, fruit, water, Gatorade, and something else to eat but I can't remember what it was. Massages were free and the line went fast. The only bad thing was that they ran out of small finisher's shirts. When I went to get my bike out of Transition I had trouble pushing it and it was making some noise. WTF--Part 2!!??!! My front brake pad was rubbing up against the rim of my tires!!! It had probably been that way since I hit that patch of dried and rocky cement on the road at mile 10. No wonder I was giving it almost all I had and felt like I was getting nowhere. Needless to say, I was a little more than hacked off. We all rode our bikes back to the villas and I promptly found the bottle of Jose Cuervo (...you are a friend of mine...) to take the sting off of my discovery of the dastardly brake pad. A shot of Cuervo with a little salt and lime was mighty nice. We hot footed it down to the beach and dove into the waves to let the cool water revive the legs a bit. The water was not really cool once you got in, but it felt great on the legs.
We got cleaned up and headed to the host hotel for the posting of the results. We were sure that Geoff's great finish time might earn him a slot at Clearwater for the World Championships. We were correct!!! Geoff came in 5th in the Men's 25-29 age group with a 4:54 finish time and is headed to Clearwater on November 10th. Congratulations Geoff!!! We hung around for the awards ceremony and the Roll Down meeting as well as several rounds of drinks. Heck, I knew that I was 26th in my age group and had no chance of going, but my buddy Mitch Evans got a Roll Down slot at Buffalo Springs with a 6:40 finish time. There was still a faint hope alive and I had my cash money ready to go. They did all of the men's age groups first and then got to the women. I saw a gal who finished in 5:30 not get a slot and I felt my stomach sink a bit. When they got to my age group and started calling names and no one--NO ONE-- was responding they called out,"Is there anyone in the Women's 35-39 age group who wants one of these two slots?" I jumped up and yelled out from the back of the ballroom, tripped over a table, spilled someone's drink, and ran up to the front with two other gals. I finished ahead of one of them, but most importantly...I GOT A SLOT TO THE 70.3 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS IN CLEARWATER, FLORIDA!!!
I had put that goal in writing and even after a crappy bike leg, I still reached my goal. Now I have only a few weeks to get the race arrangements in order, finish my small recovery and jump back on the training wagon. I have been very excited the past couple of days and eventually I will have to come down off of this high that I am on. Right now, my goal at Clearwater is to have a better bike leg than I had in Cancun. I have no other expectations. I know I won't place very high in my age group because I will be racing against the best people in the world at this distance. The important thing is that I got there with my training and determination. The post race party at Senor Frog's was FANTASTICO!!! Congratulations to my tri buddies on their great showing at their first Half Ironman!
HRTC Group Results:
Geoff P. 4:54
Ryan P. 6:10
Coach Liz 6:19
Lauren L. 6:28
See you in Clearwater, Florida on 11/10,