Thursday, December 5, 2013

IM Cozumel Race Recap ~ Pre Race

As I sit here about to put pen to paper or finger to keyboard as it is today, I find myself almost more nervous or unsure about writing this race report then I did going into the race.  OK perhaps a slight exaggeration but there is so much that I had experienced the few days leading up and in the race itself that were valuable learning lessons to me.  This is an Ironman for goodness sake, I have to do the write up justice and make my words worthy of the race itself.  So I sit here in the lobby of the hotel at 1am with a cup of chamomile tea pondering where to even begin.

A pre race thought....I feel like I am in a good place mentally to be here.  I always wonder if I could be in better shape, be faster, be stronger, have better technique and the answer is simply yes to all of them.  But I am here today with what I got and I hope to enjoy myself the best that I can.  I know it'll be tough and I know I wont be the smiling idiot the entire race.  I know I can't look around at the other athletes and compare and contrast myself to them.  I'm not in the same ballbark as most that I have seen thus far on the island, but I am not racing against them but rather racing for myself.

The race begins with the swim so lets start arch rival in the water (Demons ~ Page 1 written in August).  I've managed to avoid Nokk the last few swim race sessions by sitting back and allowing the field to take off and then beginning my race.  After much mental debate this was my game plan going into the mass swim start for IM Cozumel.  I was thinking perhaps even waiting 5 minutes.  Allow the whole damn field to take off and get far away from myself and then I'll start my race.  After all this first Ironman, I also decided is about me vs me not me vs the field.  So what if I finish 5 minute later perhaps 14:30 rather than 14:25.  Time was not supposed to be my motivation nor my telling factor of how I did.  It is all about Marty staying ahead of goblins, marty facing his Demons, Marty living his life and taking in new experiences, Marty completing what only a few in the world's population ever attempted to do.
Slight winds and waves kept us out of water for a few days.
Back to Nokk.....the 2 days prior to the event the practice swim had been cancelled due to strong winds and waves.  All harbors around the island had been closed and no boats were allowed out of dock.  I felt the pressure of the winds as I had went out for a spin on Bella a few times.  But the water????  Was Nokk going to have his way this time??  I had just read about a friend who did IM Arizona with busted ribs from being kicked in the swim start.  Nokk was present in my head for sure.  I wanted.... I needed to get into the ocean and see what it felt like and face Nokk.  What would salt water taste like when swallowed?  How would it affect me to see fish swimming around and being hit with waves and current?  These cancelled swim session added to my self imposed pressure and fear of Nokk being in the Caribbean.  The second day I decided to go for a swim even though the "official" race practice swim was cancelled.  Glad I did.  I was knocked around, at times silly.  But I was able to keep calm and understand and learn from my brief experience.  I realized that I could only breath from the shoreline side of my body as the waves quickly filled my mouth with every attempt of a breath.  I practiced cutting through the waves rather than trying to swim over them and most importantly I was able to feel confidence in what was previously an unknown to myself.  I wasn't going allow Nokk to get me.
Nokk ~ The Demon on Drowning

Then that night I got this letter....

Dear Ironman competitor:
After a few days with strong winds and changing conditions throughout the day, the port authorities and the Ironman Cozumel organizing committee have agreed that the swim portion of the race will have to be modified in order to make it safer for all competitors. Weather conditions tomorrow morning are expected to be similar to this morning and will calm down during the day. 

These changes are made for everyone's safety and we appreciate your understanding of these unforeseen circumstances, however we are positive your Ironman experience will be memorable. 
Good luck to everyone!

This was actually good news as during the race briefings there was discussion of possibly canceling the swim portion of the race all together and creating a duathlon.  So a few very last minute changes to the race course, start location, prerace preparation time and all logistics surrounding the cannon going off.  I had walked the start area several times and was prepared for this and now had to go into an unchartered area.  Is Nokk coming at me from a different angle?

Running around at 4am to leave for the race.

I can now understand why so many folks say to go to an Ironman race with lots of support.  The logistics of cars and driving around and getting your stuff to various locations and registration and packing and lists upon lists that should be made and gettting souveniers and following timelines.  Oh yeah and a 140.6 mile race.  I felt relatively confidant the night prior and morning of the race with all of my organization but it was a tad stressful.  I was just hoping I was "doing it right", not forgetting anything.  As an Adventure Racer in a past life, you carried 30% of your body weight in a backpack around with you on the course, you had mandatory gear lists and three other teammates plus a support crew. All things to help you along the way and to check and double check everything.  This time it was all on my shoulders.  This was something that I guess I didn't anticipate. An added stress.  I was so focused on my racing game plan, logisitally  I hadn't given a ton of thought to.  But I made lists and I reviewed and I packed and I unpacked and packed again and I went to sleep and actually slept well the night before my big day.

No alarm clock needed even though I set my alarm and had a wake up call scheduled.  I was up 15 minutes prior to my first noise maker.  I ate, packed and was out the door as scheduled.  I drove to where I needed to go.  Gave my buddy Hal a hug goodbye and I was off.  I was able to scramble around and visit Bella.  I was even unexpectedly allowed to get some stuff out of my post swim bag and attach to Bella.  This will same me time and more importantly, less things to do and remember during the race.  I walked the transition area several times pointing out and looking for signs and clues to be able to make the transition even smoother.  I was pretty stoked.  Thought I was holding it all down and well.  I saw so many people doing so many different things I kept reminding myself to stay with the game Coach Eric says all the time "Be the Distraction don't get Distracted"  so I basically ignored all these people even though as a newbie I was wondering if they were doing something that I should be doing.  And I was off for the bus to take me to the swim start.
Heading off to catch the bus for the swim start.  
So with all the planning and running and organizing, I wanted nothing more than to sit in silence with myself for a few minutes of the bus ride over to the start.  I had to deal with Nokk now and review for the 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 time what my swim strategy was going to be. Plan: On the cannon stay still and breathe.  Blow bubbles in the water and turn my head to inhale just as I would if I was swimming.  Do this 100 times and then take off.  This is my plan this is my goal and I feel good with it.  I get on the bus and sit.  Then she comes in and asks if she can sit beside me.  Sure I say.  I open the window to get some air in the bus and the barrage begins.  Question after question, strategy after strategy, stories of her son, her husband, her training, her history of Triathlons.  I get it she had nervous energy and that is how she handled it.  I was the unfortunately one who wanted nothing more than to Zen out and I became the therapist.
And then I thought I should wear the red swim suit but changed my mind because my lucky color is green but the green is a little too tight and I didnt want to chaffe but I bought body glide so that it wouldn't happen but I left it in the car so I had to stopp off to get some vasoline because I couldn't find Glide on the island....yadda yadda yadda.

We got to the hotel / race start and she stayed on me non stop.  My stomach started grumbling and I looked around for the facilities.  The Noise kept talking but at this point, I had no clue what she was saying.  There was noise but no words, no meaning.  There was a huge line for thebathroom in the lobby of the hotel and no other ones in site.  I went outside and the noise followed.  I saw the thousands of people lined up in the water and all around me ready to go.  I try to spot where I would stand and breathe and blow my bubbles and the noise continued.  I couldn't take it any more. "I want to thank you as I know I'm following you but you are so comforting to me before this race".  Sweet to hear but I had to let the noise loose.  I was polite and quick to the point. "I really need to find a bathroom, good luck to you out there.  I am sure you will do great.  Take care."  and I was off.  For the first time in 45 minutes my ears and mind had a brake.  I walked away and basked in the glory and silence of the mile long bathroom line.   "Do I hang out here for 5 minutes or return to the starting area but have the fear of the "Noise" finding me again or perhaps I go #2.  I'm here I might as well.  Race Decision:  Crap now, empty as much as you can this way you don't have to worry about it on the course later.  Sounds like a plan!  And there is much rejoicing.  Little by little the line inches its way forward.  Then the professionals gun goes off and the race begins.  Uh-oh.  5 minutes and we start, problem is 10 people stand before me and freedom.  The line continues to go forward.  I finally make my way into the bathroom and a race official pops his head in "1 minute to race start"  5 people and just 2 stalls stand in my way.  I get out of line and the bathroom.  I grab a woman housekeeper and ask her to check the ladies room.  It is clear and 3 of us enter the ladies room.  The two guys shoot into the only stalls and once again I am waiting. At least I am next to enter these God Awful Chambers rather than 5 people to go.  I remind myself to go with it, there is nothing I can do and relax.   Then the cannon goes off to signal the start of my 1st Ironman.   And here I am waiting outside a stall in the womens room of the Presidential Hotel in Cozumel.  I laugh out loud.  How friggin' funny in this and what a great way to start my race!?!?!?  I love it!!  Here's my bubble blowing time, no mass swim start, avoidance of Nokk for the intitial part of the race.  Waiting in the women's restroom quiets my mind, relaxes me and makes me laugh.  What a great start to such an impressive race.  Goes down in the history books as all time Classic Race start for me...In the Women's John. Ha!

My starting line for the 2013 Ford Cozumel Ironman

1 comment:

  1. Oh Noooooooooooo!!!!!!!! Too F*cking Funny Marty! I can't wait to read the rest.


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