As I have been starting to really think about all the stuff that has happened on this Ironman trip I am still a little confused and trying to process all the wonderful and not so wonderful stuff. So I will start and progress over a couple of posts.
The overall trip to Cozumel from Vegas was non-eventful which is what you want when traveling over Thanksgiving Day. The airport in Vegas as pretty empty and I did have a change in my bags not being checked through to Cozumel which was fine with me b/c I was worried if they had to stay in the back of the airport holding luggage section and some how get over looked and then I would send up on a beach cruiser bike for the 112 miles, like some unfortunate female athlete, more on that later. So I picked up my bike and luggage in Houston and rechecked them on Friday without any additional costs, nice. Arriving in Cozumel was interesting.
You exit the plane directly on to the taxi way and walk into the airport to stand in line for customs and passport check. Once completed you grab your luggage and go through security where they x-ray it all over again in this huge machine, big enough for bikes to go through. Once scanned you are out front with hundreds of people welcoming Ironman racers. It was nice but a little confusing trying to figure out taxi's and transportation as they are trying to maximize the use of the van's and take as many people as they can in one trip. Luckily CoachLiz and I were dropped off first at our villa called Casa Deja Blue. Located in the part of town that the locals call Beverly Hills. Once at our villa we met the owner, Joni, who is just wonderful and so thoughtful to try and help us in any way she could. Our villa is a 2 bedroom, 2 baths, one located in each bedroom with a living/kitchen area in between the bedrooms on the first floor. Each room has it's own entry way, great closet space, bathroom, a/c unit and the pool is just outside the door. It was a good place to stay and gave the ability of having a kitchen and living room area to watch TV.
After getting all settled up we headed over to packet pick up only to walk into the Ironman store which had all ready been seriously picked over and ALL the XL everything was gone. I ended up getting a few things but I would have liked to get one of the other great tech shirts they had but no XL. I did buy a finishers hat, yes, you had to buy one, no give out at the end of the race but when I went to pay the took my hat and put it in a box under the table. He then handed me a little note book and told me to write my name and race # in it and when I finished he would give me my hat!!!! and if you don't finish I will give you a refund, CRAZY!
After buying the Ironman gear we then went to packet pick up which was pretty well organized. The downside of this was we got to pick up our ironman Cozumel jackets so when I got there I told the guy XL but guess what? They were all gone. He said they had some but they were out. Now I am not sure what the hell happened here because when you registered it specifically asked what size jacket you wanted and they should have had enough. Now the Large jacket did fit and I actually like how it fit more like a tight running jacket but the sleeves were a little short, cant win them all, huh. Once we finished this, we got some CO2 and then went to eat to return for the athletes meeting which overall wasn’t that much more informative but I did see my iron friend Christy from Coeur d’Alene and her dad. By this time I had also run into Iron John Tuggle and Iron Luke, here for their first IM’s. after we just went back to the villa and chilled.
Saturday morning it was up and rode down to Chankanaab park which was about 4 miles from the villa. We checked out the transition area and then did a little pre-swim. Also I first met fellow bloggers Great Times and Claire, Speedyspeedracer. Now this swim was something else. I have never swam in the ocean before so jumping in was quite interesting. First of all, you could see straight to the bottom, like 50 meters!! Amazing. Then you could see all the tropical fish swimming around. As I took a few strokes I was quickly introduced to the world of ocean salt water in my mouth and went into panic mode! I stopped and floated around for a minute or two dunked my head under water of couple times and took off swimming again. The ocean was a little wave but nothing more than Lake Mead but the salt was still freaking me out. After getting out of the swim I was wondering if being the water for the full swim and taking in bits of salt would upset my stomach for the bike, I was in pre-race anxiety freak out mode! As I was drying up I was saw Luke and Norma as they were just getting there to get in the swim. Oh by the way, the swim practices were canceled on Thursday and Friday because the ocean was really kicking some nasty swells and waves and talk was already going around that if it didn’t calm down there might be a swim issue, luckily there wasn’t. Once we finished up swimming we headed back to the villa for food and get gear bags and get ready for bike check in. we rode back down there at the required times and all was pretty smooth. My bike rack ended up being great because no other athletes actually showed up for the race so I was the only one on my rack! Once dropping off bike and run gear bags we grabbed a taxi over to subway for dinner and headed back to the villa for chill time and last minute race preps.
I woke up at 3:30 and went to make my pre-race PB&J and start hydrating. I was feeling pretty good and not too nervous b/c the palm tree outside the door was not blowing or moving at all like it was yesterday so I had a good feeling the water was going to be calm. Getting all ready to go I packed up gear bag with the special needs bags, which I was not actually using a bike special needs b/c I was carrying all my nutrition and I also had my pre-swim bag for the morning clothes. We walked up a couple of blocks to Clares hotel to catch a taxi with her to the race. Once we got dropped off it was port o potty duty in total blackness as there was not lights outside the park area where the first set of pots were. The gates opened up and we all went in to do our stuff. I got to my bike, checked my tires, all is good. I open my transition bag to get my nutrition and load up only to shuffle through the bag and not find it. What?!! No way where is it? I panic but look again and I realize I left it sitting in my room on this shelf.!! OH FUCK! I close my tri bag run over to Liz’s bike and tell her I have to go back, I take off running to the entrance, grab a taxi and tell the guy to go fast back to my villa and if he could wait for me to grab my stuff and bring me back as fast as possible!! He said sure no problema’. OMG, I asked for it and I got it. The speed limit on the stretch we were going was 30km/h.. we were going 90-100km/h!! I darted around this bus that I totally thought we were going to side swipe and end up under the wheels. At the villa I ran in, up sure enough!! Grabbed the bag and out I went back to the taxi where again we went 90-100km back to the race. It only took about 15-20 mins and I hooked the guy up with $20 and told him thank you very much!! He went to give me change and I said no, it’s all yours! Out the door, I went flying back to the transition area only to notice that they were now accepting special needs bags so I dropped off my run bag and went to the bike. Stacked up my nutrition, garmin, tires, check, check, check. Whew.. still have time to relax. I then found luke and liz but I quickly went to drop my pre-swim bag off and head over to the dock for swim start. I then found Luke walking around and so we just found a spot on the dock and waited. The Mexican national anthem was played, the dolphins were doing tricks and jumping in the water. Once that finished the pros started and then instructions were given to make way to the docks for athletes to start getting in the water. Luke and I headed to the left side dock and i went down the stairs and got in and started swimming towards the start area-ish. it was about 200 meters from where we entered so more like a warm up swim which was good b/c there was no pre-warm up swim allowed. Luke and I were right next to each other at the start floating along as the current was slowly pushing us backwards. We moved up a little closer to the starting line area and were a little wide right.. next thing i heard it sound of the front swimmers crashing and slashing as the horn went off!