It’s been one week since Ironman Cabo and I have come down from my race-day adrenaline & caffeine high. In case you didn’t hear the great word: I WON!!! Holy freaking bananas: it’s not every day you get the opportunity to win an Ironman!
Truly, I am just so grateful to be starting 2014 on the right foot: healthy, happy, embracing some new changes (new town, new coach, trying some new things). Winning Cabo was the icing on the cake.
If you want the short version on my day: check out the race day video above to catch the highlights of the race.
If you want the nitty gritty version - read on:
This was our first visit to San Jose Del Cabo and boy am I glad I picked this race! I was looking to do an early season Ironman to ensure my slot to the Ironman World Championships in October. I do well on challenging courses, I prefer the heat and I really love the Ironman distance. Cabo seemed like a perfect match. We were treated to amazing accommodations at the Cabo Surf & Spa - this set me up for a great race. All week was spent relaxing and I was in a great mood. I had to remind myself I was racing on Sunday. We had a crazy nice room with ocean surf right off our balcony and amazing meals. The hotel was small enough that the staff knew us by name and we felt like family by the time we had to leave last week. Two thumbs up and thanks to everyone for making our week so special.
Race week came and went with the usual pre-race activities and then there I was - at Palmilla beach donning my TYR Freak of Nature getting ready to get the 2014 season underway. The race was started, the sirens wailed and it was time to put my head down and go to work. Swim swim swim, stroke rate stroke rate stroke rate. Things sorted themselves out and I was happy to be in with a bunch. I wasn’t sure of my exact place, but I could see my QT2 teammate, Caroline’s, goggles and figured I was in a good position. With about 500 to go, my mind started to drift to the marathon (rookie mistake #38 - stay in the moment, people!!!) and a few strokes later the ladies were gone and I was dangling just off the back. I was pumped to exit the water and see 52 minutes on my watch - this is the fastest I have ever swam at an Ironman, but I am not claiming it as a PR as that course had to be short! I was happy to hear I was only 5 minutes down to the lead though, that’s a great number (as a gauge of improvement, it’s been an 11 minute deficit in the past!).
Onto my trusty Trek it was time to get to work. The bike course at Cabo is 3 loops with lots of climbs. Nothing too crazy but nothing flat either. You’re either up or down and with either a headwind or a tailwind. My plan was to take the first loop out conservatively and build from there. My next goal was to take on as much hydration as possible and stay as cool as possible. I did a good job at both of these things and slowly moved my way through the field. In the past I have had a tendency to try and get to the front of the race as quickly as possible - so I really had to practice some self-restraint and stick to my plan. It’s harder than it sounds! About mile 56 I was happy to report to Chris on the side of the course that I had pee’d twice, a sure sign of being hydrated, and that meant it was go-time. Carrie Lester was riding so strong at the front of the race, she was really making me work to minimize her lead. I am not going to lie - after mile 95 I was ready to wrap this thing up and start the marathon. The bike got lengthy, I was hot and it was time to test out my running legs.
The marathon was the most challenging of the three disciplines for me on Sunday: it was very hot out, I wasn’t 100% sure of my run fitness this early in the season. I was going to have to work to get to the front of the marathon and there was no guarantees I could stay there. I started running fairly conservatively and just took it one mile at a time. You read Ironman advice articles all the time about taking it one mile at a time - well that was the name of the game on Sunday. It was a rolling buffet each mile of ice, water, sports drink, snacks and then refocusing on the next mile. I never let myself get too far ahead of what was happening out there. I was getting splits that I was cutting into the lead - so I knew I was in a good place if I could keep eating, drinking, and ticking it over. At the half marathon point I was able to sneak into the lead past Carrie - who had been out front nearly all day long. Then the mental tricks came into play: counting steps, trying to relax and run fluid, pretending I was on my favorite run route at home, pretending I was on a run route from training camp, making deals with myself, taking on caffeine, eat, drink, focus, repeat, counting down the miles to single digits, telling myself how awesome I was doing. One minute I’d have to tell myself not to be greedy and to hold my pace, and the next I’d want to pick it up so I could get to that finish line quicker. The course was fairly spectator friendly and the aid stations did a tremendous job of keeping us fueled and cool in the hot conditions. So many people took time to cheer for me - thanks everyone! I needed it! A big thanks to Saucony for getting me through another 26.2 miles!
The last few miles of the race seemed to drag on and on and on. I was holding things together but it was ugly. The wheels were falling off and it didn’t matter how many caffeinated gels or ice I threw at myself, I was going to be winning this race ugly! We ran through town to the finish and the bumpy road felt like I was running in an off-road triathlon. I couldn’t get to the soft finish carpet and feel that tape in my hands any quicker. I don’t think I realized how tired and hot I was until I crossed that line and all I wanted to do was have a sit. So, I sat. For the first time ever I was overcome with emotions and cried at the finish. Looking back - lets be honest: I was freaking tired. The other part was I was filled with relief: I didn’t have to run another step, before the race I was unsure about some pretty big changes I made and how they would play out. I think it’s safe to say: I was pumped that I had just won my 4th Ironman title on a tough day.
All day long I had thoughts of gratitude and opportunity. When I got tired, my thoughts went to that of gratitude to have the opportunity to be in contention to win Ironman Cabo. I don’t take days like that for granted. I had to problem solve and think on my feet several times out there - and I am grateful to have pocketed these lessons for future use. I have a large amount gratitude for the people that attributed to my win: Chris Corbin / Team “J”: Jesse Kropelnicki, Jay Dicharry & Jeff Troesch / My go-to training partners who continuously push me / Loyal sponsors / Everyone that cheers me on - these don’t go unnoticed or unheard.
I took a nice rest after Cabo and it’s time to get back to work. My next stop: St George 70.3 for the US Championships.
Thanks for reading along & being a part of my journey.
Until next time -