Thursday, October 6, 2016

ITU World Triathlon Grand Final Cozumel

Oh triathlon.  How I usually love you, but sometimes the nature of competing in three sports one after the other is very challenging.  Mostly why it attracts me.  Anyways, the Saturday and Sunday of the pro and amateur races were both very hot.  I watched the swim and a portion of the bike of the pro women's race, then Mike told me it was a good idea to hang back at the hotel to stay out of the heat.  We were both dripping with sweat just watching, not a smart thing to do the night before a race.  I had been drinking a lot of water in the days leading up to the race so I didn't think watching the first part would affect me much.

Onto race morning.

After my friend Daisy and I set up our transition, we warmed up with running as you couldn't take your bike out of transition or swim before the race.  This may have been a mistake for me because after a few laps around the transition area I was dripping in sweat and I wasn't even working hard.  I knew it.  I took a few sips of my water because I already drank at least 32 ounces with breakfast, maybe 48 I cannot remember if I had more with breakfast.  I ate my normal breakfast, a plain bagel and a banana about 2.5-3 hrs before my race start.  I took another bagel with me to eat half of it before I started, but my nerves set in and I didn't want to go to the restroom anymore than I already had....or have GI issues because of it.  It's so hard to figure out sometimes what will work and what doesn't.  I realize now that I should have been hydrating with my sport drink before the race and the day before to get in more electrolytes because of the heat and since I'm such a heavy sweater.  But I didn't, it was all just plain water except what I took in during the race. (I did add more salt to my dinner the night before, but it should have been more). You live and learn.  

The Swim
The swim was shortened to 1250m instead of 1500m because there was a strong current.  When my wave was allowed to jump in off the deck, I definitely felt the current it was crazy!  When I let go to take a few strokes, I had to work a bit to get back to the deck because the current had pushed me out. When the horn went off, it was a cluster like usual, girls kicking and splashing all around me for the first 500m or so until some swimmers died out and the faster swimmers swam ahead.  Thank goodness.  We swam with the current to the first buoy, then the majority of the swim was against that current.  At this point, I didn't even notice the current, everything happened like it normally does in a triathlon swim, I was following and trying to catch some faster swimmers ahead of me.  Halfway through, I felt pretty warm, the water was warm, and actually I think it was the warmest I've ever felt an ocean before.  Hawaii was cooler than these waters it seemed to me.  

Anyways, I got to the second to last buoy, which was a turning buoy to head back to the finish.  Well, all of a sudden, two race officials in a small boat or kayaks moved the buoy as soon as I and a few other swimmers got there!  It was extremely frustrating!  I looked up at the kayaker across the way and asked if I was supposed to swim further around that buoy or head back in.  The two girls I followed continued to swim to the finish, but I did not want to get disqualified so I tried to understand this guy's finger signals.  Finally I got it that we were allowed to swim to the finish.  So so so frustrating!  The only reason I can think of is that the current was no longer strong, so they moved the buoy back to where 1500m would be for later waves.  I wasted maybe 30-60 seconds with that, who knows it seemed like an eternity.  I let it go and decided not to let that ruin the rest of my race.  Out of the water and into transition.....we had to run up and down this large set of was actually kind of ridiculous.

The Bike
This was the best portion of the race for me.  It always is these days, and I am very thankful because with my pretty strong swim, and even stronger bike, I can get a good head start until my weakest, the run comes.   The 40k wasn't very technical.  Besides a few turns out of transition, it was an out and back course.  There was one, very tight 180-degree turn.  A super flat course, too.  Low wind.  I put 240 calories of electrolyte drink in my 40 ounce speed fill water bottle, mixed with water.  I saved the other 100 calories for my run.  This is usually enough for me during an Olympic triathlon.  Well, it wasn't.....and actually I'm thinking I might need a bit more calories during an Olympic.  I am still figuring out my caloric needs as I get faster.  It's hard, for some reason.  I don't want to end up with stomach cramps, either.  Anyways, the first half of the 40k was awesome, but I started struggling the second half.  Sure enough, when I looked at my power output after the race, I did slow down a bit the second half.  My watts for the whole 40k were 10 watts lower than what I usually do for a 40k.  I wonder if it was the heat, or not enough electrolytes and calories for the heat, etc.  I'm sure a combination of both.  The whole bike race I was near a guy from Great Britain.  During the second half of the 40k, I was near Great Britain and an Australian.  The Australian decided to race me, I believe.  When I caught up to her and passed her, she sped up and got in front of me.  It was like that the whole rest of the way to the finish.  It was a little annoying, actually, but it helped me finish strong.  This girl just wouldn't accept the fact that I would get in front of her!  After the race she came up and hugged me.  I know I helped push her too haha.  Anyways, I ended up running out of my 40oz of fluids with 5 mi to go on the bike.  That never happens.  It was very hot.....and I remember thinking it was the hottest ride I've ever been on. But with cycling, you don't notice it as much as you do running.   I was drenched in sweat, though.  When it came to the transition area, I sped up to the Australian and passed her while she was struggling to get her straps on her cycling shoes undone (that is why I just do it in transition, you can waste time trying to do that coming into transition).  I just had to beat her.

I was pretty hot getting off my bike.  I grabbed my handheld water bottle (I never use one during a 10k, but it was super hot and figured I could use the extra fluids with me in addition to water stops).  

The Run
As soon as I started running fast, I immediately knew I wouldn't be able to go on like that.  My heart felt VERY strained.  I had never felt like this before.  I think right then and there is when swimming and biking in the heat got to me.  It scared me.  I drank everything in my water bottle and passed the first aid station.  I felt so weak and slow, and SUPER thirsty even though I drank all the fluids in my water bottle (even though I don't remember much of that part, it was empty).  So when I got to the second aid station (there was one every mile because of the heat),  I just stopped.  I felt awful, and very thirsty, so I stopped and took in 3 cups of water and dumped a bunch on my head.  Then I continued in.....and decided this run portion was just going to be about finishing, no matter how long it took me.  I felt disoriented, and if I pushed any harder I know I definitely would have passed out and it would have been a DNF, I felt way overheated, like I never have before.  Towards the end of the first 5k, I questioned if I should even finish because of how awful I felt and how slow my 'run' was.   But I decided to continue on, even slower, and walking some because I didn't want to DNF since I had traveled so far to be there.  It was very disheartening.  I trained hard for this.  It totally sucked to be out of control.  But I had to listen to my body because I didn't want to go to the ER, not finish the race, or die.  Sounds dramatic, but heat illness is real and you can die from it.  So the second 5k was a jog and walk, jog and walk.  I ended up getting stomach cramps.  This was the second time in a race I developed them.  The first time was at Mohican where it was a 90- some degree day.  I don't do well in the moving forward if it is hot during a race I signed up for I need more calories and electrolytes, and will be sucking up a can of salty chicken broth the day before.  When I was maybe two-tents from the finish line, I did speed up some.  I just couldn't speed up before then, haha.  I felt like I was going to puke during that push, though!  When I got to the finish, I about almost passed out from that little push to the finish.  But I didn't, some guy puked in front of me at the finish, passed out, then got carried away on a stretcher.  I was very disappointed in my run.  It was a whole 12 min slower than my PR.  I expected it to be a bit slower, but not that much!  Oh well, you live and learn.  I was actually surprised I finished 22nd in my age group out of 57, I thought I would be one of the last with my terrible run.  

ITU Worlds in Cozumel, Mexico was definitely an experience I never want to have again, haha.  It was just too hot.  Friend that was with us told me the heat index was 100 when we finished, around 9:15 am and the humidity was 100%.  No thanks.  Yuck.  No amount of training here could have prepared me for that.  It really sucks, because I was running in the heat.  But sometimes here in Ohio I had to stop my run because of the heat.  My body just can't handle high heat.  I ended up in the ER once when I was 18 after lifeguarding one day.  Oh well.  I will try my best to avoid races with high heat, but you can't predict the weather.  However, even though it was hot, I am glad I got to race at the World triathlon again, and it is an experience I will never forget, and have with me the rest of my life.  

What's next?  Well I took a whole week off exercise and laid around on beaches in Mexico.  When we got back, I started some exercise, and was exhausted the first week, now I have a lot more energy.  My volume and intensity is half of what I normally do, and I won't start swimming for awhile.  I signed up (while I was in Cozumel!) for IM 70.3 Chattanooga in May.  I looked up the weather before I signed up- mid to high 70s for the average.  I can only hope!  I signed up for this race because it's one more chance for me to qualify for IM70.3 worlds in Chattanooga later that year, in September (and if I do qualify, I WILL worry about the heat then!!).  Since I came so close to qualifying at IM70.3 OHIO, I am determined to try to qualify since it's close and in the US this year.  But now, time for some fall running, fat biking, and some strength training.  My mind needs a break from killing it, so I probably won't even sign up for any fall running races.  Fat bike on the other hand, maybe in early winter!    It is good to take a little break.  I am actually excited to start swimming again, I just wish it didn't wear me out so much!  But I won't start until December or January.  Yay for another year stronger!  I'm definitely very happy with most of my other races this year.  So even though Worlds didn't go well for me, I had a number of races that did this past summer.  Happy training!