Monday, December 9, 2013

IM Cozumel Race Recap ~ The Bike

So going into the bike I had a real solid game plan.  I knew what 70% of my threshold was and I was going to ride my Garmin to that number no matter what.  If it was a easy section, I would eat and or drink but I'd keep my power meter from moving.  If it got tough, No powering through it instead, I would drop down my gears and keep those numbers constant.  Trust your training and believe.

Pulling out of the swim/bike transition
I got out of the transition area and felt great.  What a beautiful swim.  My right hamstring felt a little tight and I immediately started running through the roledex of my mind of what to do how to do it and when to do it.  One of the great surprises for me in this race was how Cerebral it was.  I was constantly thinking and analyzing and checking in and making decisions that I knew would or could effect me 10 minutes, or 10 hours from that point.  Some of those turned out to be great decisions, some I was not so lucky.  What's next??? was something that was always on my mind.  I decided there was nothing I can do about my hammy at that moment but keep checking in.  See if it would loosen up and perhaps try to stretch it out while riding.  About 5 minutes into the ride I came across a female rider, without any shoes on.  I had to look to see what kind of peddles she had. maybe like running, barefoot peddling was a new craze.  Nope, she undoubtedly forgot her shoes.  Hotel room? Car? Who knows...I never saw her out on the course again.  I kept thinking about her along the course and was sending her as much good chi as I possibly could.  I realized again how the slightest wrong decision can dramatically change the entire outcome of this very long journy of 6+ months training and the race.  I felt really bad for her and peddled on.  Vamos, vamos, vamos cried the locals.  We go, We go, We go.  The community on the island was soo supportive and came out in droves during torrential downpours and blazing heat and humidity, in remote areas and blasting salsa music in their driveways and dancing in the neighborhoods.  Whenever I heard Vamos I fist pumped the supporters.  Then I wondered, they are not going anywhere it is me that is going.  Should they be screaming Vas, vas, vas.  You go You go You go.  Hell, if they want to come they can but they need to push or peddle or do something to help me along.
The fist pump!

Riding the southwest section of the Island was my favorite.  A slight favorable wind and never a bad experience for me on this side of the Island.  I had to ease off at times as it would have been easy to over peddle and ride harder than I was supposed to.  Many riders were drafting.  It got crowded on the course at times but I always seemed to managed to ride wide or get out of others way.  I definitely didn't see this from everyone and drafting seemed to be a way for many racers.  I felt annoyed at times and then I felt sad for them, having to cheat or flirt with the rules to attempt to finish their goals.  I would have nothing to do with this and am proud no matter what, that I did this race completely on my own.  Mistakes and all.
The "You da Man" point.
The race then turned gentlly south and east.  Lush green covered the road like a canopy at times almost luring you into a false sense of security because soon therafter BAM you were at the southernmost part of the course, became completely exposed to the elements and WIND.  This first pass saw a very heavy rainstorm.  I was pleased as it cooled me off and wondered how much of the day would be like this.  Riding the island for a few days I new that it could be raining like crazy in one section and absolutely beautiful in another.  I thought of my feet and how wet they were.  I hoped I had dried and put enough glide on them.  The first lap flew by and I was right on my numbers and feeling great. I was singing along to the Star Friends...Heeeeeyaaay baby, I wanna know oh oh will you be my girl?"   Chatting it up with other racers and just loving being a part of this great event.  Vamos, vamos, vamos.  Fuel...yep.  hydration...yep.  Head down through the wind...yep.  Make funny faces at the cameras....yep
The "Rock On" Pose

Then it happened.  The moment, in my eyes, that makes an Ironman race the daddy of triathlons.  And what separates those that cross the finish line from those that don't.  I had peddled 3.5 hours approx. 65 miles into the 112 and was turning into the north east stretch of the race where the wind felt a bit insane.  I watched riders huddle in packs to try and protect and shield themselves from the wind and I crashed...........       Hard.           I didn't hit anything or get hit like Katie (fellow boulderite racing here) but something inside just stopped.  I had nothing.  The needle was well below E.  I went from crusing at 70% threshold to like 25% in one second with no gradual decline.  And I didn't know where it went or how I lost it.  I mean I had nothing.  Zip, zero, nada, niente, nichts, ništa, גאָרנישט.  I tried my thinking, my checklist, my what's next and there was nothing.  I had despair because I had no clue what was happening or why it had happened.  I couldn't peddle fast, I couldn't peddle slow.  I dropped all the gears to make it easier.  Nothing mattered.  I had no answers and I thought....I'm just over halfway on the bike there is no way in the world I can ride another 10 minutes like this let alone another lap and half in this state.  This is the separator and I am cooked.  Oh wait, then you have a marathon to do Mister.  How did I get here?  And how am I going to get out of here?  The only answered seemed to be to wave the white flag and call it a day.  My Ironman journey has ended.  I'm done.
I thought that my hotel is closer if I turn around and peddle back.  I could just go and hide in my room for the remaining 6 days of the trip.  No one has to know.  No one except your family and your friends and yourself has to know that you are a quitter.  Perhaps I could get off the bike and walk it.  Though I'd never make the time cutoff walking my bike another 45 miles or so.  At least I wouldn't quit and I can tuck my head between my legs a little more respectfully.  No one would be too upset.  "Hey it's your first Ironman, you just started training a few months ago."  "What a gallant effort!"  I could see the sympathetic stares and hear the words ringing through my ears of those that I care about trying to consol me.  But under it all I would have quit and nothing can make that better or go away.  Nothing.  The Goblins, as Coach E would have described to me, have caught up to you.  He says it is not a matter of if they catch you but when they catch you in an Ironman. AND you better hope it is later in the race so you can muscle it through to the finish and grin it out.
We got this Newbie!

But surly sucking it up and muscling it out for 45 miles more on a bike and then 26.2 running isn't possible.  At the end of the day I would have to look myself in the mirror and to hell with everyone and everything else and I would have to sit with myself and reflect and ask myself, did I give it my all and did I take the easy way out my ending the race.  Those last two questions would haunt me.  My answer at that time would have been no and yes respectively.  There was more fight in me.  I wasn't sure how or where I was going to find the strength but I was not going to allow myself my own personal humiliation of calling it quits.  I was proud that I didn't beat myself up as that can happen.  I just needed to find a way to make this work.  So I kept peddling one crank at a time and I cursed the winds and I cursed the peleton of riders that stuck on  each others wheels flying by me and I wondered where those people were that were cheering vamos vamos vamos cause we aint going no where right now.  And I kept turning the peddles over and I wobbled and zig zagged not much unlike when you go up a very steep hill on a bike but there was no steep hill on this road.  Only the one I was fighting inside my head.  And then my neck started to hurt, I couldn't even lift my head to see when I was down in my aero bars and this was dangerous.   I could only look straight down on the ground.  And then I sat upright with my body acting as a flag or kite and riding into the wind.  I kept saying to myself that I was actually working harding by riding upright because of all the wind rather than down in the areo posittion cutting through it.  But I couldn't help myself even though I knew it was not the smart thing to do.  I tried to go back down in the tuck position when I noticed my black tri shorts were almost white.  What the????  SALT!!!!!  I had exhausted my bodies electrolytes and salts.  I had changed my food and water bottles around and was trying something new for this race.  (NEVER TRY SOMETHING FOR THE FIRST TIME IN A RACE)  I know this.  I knew this but I did it anyway.  Although I was ingesting plenty of calories and fluids, I had not nearly taken in the amount of electrolytes needed to compete in this heat and humidity.  After the race I had a conversation with Suzanne and learned that she had more than doubled her electrolyte in take then what I had.  I believe I had finally found the answer.  But was it too late??  I was carrying some endurolytes and nuun tablets on me.  I immediately swallowed down an edurolyte and dropped a Nuun in my water.  I still had another lap + to go and I was worried I may run out but needed to start filling up.  There was no tomorrow do the best to get back in the game now.    Soon enough I came to my special needs bag.  I got off my bike for the first time sat on the floor and I wolfed down a hummus on whole wheat, another salt tab, reworked glide on my soaked feet, stretched out my neck best I could and I was off.  My neck was still killing me.  So much so that I rested my elbow on the aero bar and forced my chin to sit upon my fist so that I can look up and straight ahead to see where I was going.  I started grabbing water bottles at every aide station and poured the cold water on my neck.  I grabbed the ice out of it and iced down my neck.  I tried everything I could think of because I was not quitting now so I better find a way to make it more bearable.  And so I went on.  Riding straight up and attempting every once in a while to tuck back down.

Swallowing Endurolytes.  Plopping Nuun tablets in my water.  Fist pumping to vamos vamos vamos This lap around I heard cries of "Tu Puedes, Tu Puedes "....."You Can, you can".  I started to feel maybe I just can.  I was gaining some power back now riding at 50% threshold.  I was in such a deficit and now I was starting to climb my way back out starting to get stronger.
The "I'm Peddling to the Gun Show" Pose
"Hello my Old Heart" seemed to be my revival song as I kept singing the chorus over and over.   I don't know why songs come and go but they always do whenever I race.  I also kept coming up with different poses for the camera guys. Such as left thumbs up or right thumbs up. 
 I rode passed the special needs bags area again but without stopping this time and made the left out of the wind for the third time. The last ride through town the heavens and skies above opened up and the torrential rans came down again.  The roads were extremly slick as we made a few tight turns.  I could barely see ahead as the rain was coming down so hard and fast.  But I knew I was almost home.  Moments later I handed Bella off to a drenched volunteer and gave thanks to her for carrying me through my lowest point of the race and for staying with me through it all.  I made my way into the safety of the changing area and T2.  I took my time a little more in T2 than I did in T1.  In T1 I almost left my gloves behind because I didn't heed the words to be smooth and slow, I wasn't going to make that same mistake twice.  I attempted to dry my feet as best as I could they were as white and as wrinkled as can be.  I put on a fresh pair of socks, downed a gu, put on my visor and hobbled out of the transition area and set off on the run.
Bike: 7:56:40
T2: 14:41


  1. WOW.. well written and I felt like I was there with you!

  2. Awesome Marty!! Well done!!

  3. Beautifully written! Brought me to tears... You should turn the blogs into a book. The journey to and thru a first iron man.

  4. Hitting the gym after this good read. Thanks for the inspiration Marty.

  5. I was waiting for you to say.... you almost left your blinking red light Of course you found the key to unlock the door to finish the bike of the Ironman. Never a doubt in my mind! xo


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