Ironman Cozumel: The Official Report
My last race in Cozumel didn’t go exactly as planned but I am glad that it’s now in the past and I am enjoying my off time after a long and successful season.
My final race was supposed to give me at least a minimum of a Top 4 in order to “validate” my IM requirements and earn the necessary points for the Kona qualification system. I am at around a 1500 points short and that result would have taken care of it (Just to mention it again, that I think if you win an IM, or you place Top 10 in Kona, you should not have to qualify…. I mean how much more do you have to prove that you are one of the top guys out there?).
My swim went pretty well despite the tough current and waves, I still managed to get out on front and took the lead right away after T1. Regardless of the other competitors, I just put my head down and stayed on target, hitting my numbers and constantly moving away from everyone. Three laps later I had a 6.5 min lead and 9 minutes to the runners in the field. I kept the pace pretty comfortably I thought, but then I started to get some issues in the last 30k on the bike. I started cramping a bit and reduced the pace, focusing on nutrition intake and position.
I knew the first kilometers after T2 would be hard and so I sucked it up and waited till my legs loosened up again, which they did to some degree. The very hot, windy three lap run course made up for an honest race. Again, I held my splits and moved along till my legs really gave up on me. No clue why but I was simply unable to run, so I stopped and stretched and took heaps of nutrition in with no change. I tried again and then had to pull the plug. I sat down and watched the guys run by. Pretty sad feeling after I had animated the race for so many hours. Oh well. Alicia called coach and we decided if I somehow was able to, I should finish to validate the IM for my qualifications. I can tell you, this was a tough decision at that stage I was in, but I slowly moved towards the line and made it happen. A weird mix of feelings hit me along the way; everything from shame and embarrassment to pride for actually making it. The interesting part for me was to see how what life is like when you are that far back and meet up with guys that are doing their first or second lap when you are about to finish. This time I had time to chat and actually got heaps of encouragement from others. Sometimes I had to laugh when I heard repeatedly: “Come on stay with me, you can make it. You still look good. Keep eating. You are young and fresh brother.” That was simply amazing and cool and I started to understand why so many amateurs are so proud of completing an IM. Of course it’s a totally different ball game for them and I would be proud as hell too. Maybe I wouldn’t tattoo the logo on my leg, but still proud. For me personally, and I am sure the same goes for most pros, it’s a bit different. Some love the IM races and some don‘t. Either way, it is a necessary task to get to Kona and that‘s what our sport is about. Kona counts more than anything in our world.
I have decided to do the necessary to get to Kona but really have no intention on racing small money races that require big investments on my end. Out of the 50 pro guys racing in Kona this year, just 18 athletes were returning from the previous year—I think this says a lot about how uneven the risk and return is for professional athletes who are sacrificing their own livelihood to get to race at the World Champs—for a lot of people sometimes it isn’t worth it.
Now, finally I can put my legs up and rest for a bit—dedicate my time to fishing and doing things I like (that don’t involved some form of Lycra). I only have two weeks off this year (thanks coach!)—I am trying not too gain much weight this year and therefore I have to start running again soon—so I better make sure I can enjoy it.
I am off to buy some chocolate now. Enjoy your break and stay warm and healthy over the cold months- wishing you guys all the best.
PS: The photo above shows me in our rental car in Coz–it was interesting trying to fit all of our luggage and the bike in that little VW bug…