Thursday, December 4, 2014

IRONMAN Cozumel Recap

I'm sitting here trying to write this and I am not real sure what to say. I'm not sure how to put my feelings down....

Cozumel was 100% different than Florida. I wasn't half as nervous going in. I was actually very excited about it. I was excited and thinking that I would take this as a fun, long "training day". The days before, I was not really into it. I felt a little unprepared since I had not done any hard training since Florida. It was Saturday morning, after our practice swim that I finally knew I was ready. The water there was crystal clear and my practice swim (on the course) went great.
We only swam about a half mile, but it was a perfect warm up.
Towards the end of the practice swim (at the very end of the 2.4 mile swim course) I was swimming and saw this sign at the bottom of the ocean.

This has been my moto all year. No matter what, so to see this was amazing and I loved it.

Sunday came quick and we were up bright and early at 3:30 eating our huge breakfast and getting ready for the day. Cozumel's set up was way different than Florida's. In Florida everything was in one place. Transition, bike in and out and run in and out. In Mexico, we had to take a taxi to the swim finish, drop our stuff off and catch a shuttle to the swim start. It was a little hectic but we made it!

The swim started in waves instead of a mass start. I was very happy about this because I tend to get really nervous about starting in a large crowd. We swam out to the start line and treaded water until the horn blew... and just like that we were off. The swim course was supposed to be with the current, but; me and oceans seem to have a love hate relationship. For the fist half mile to mile we were swimming against the current. Then the silly ocean changed its mind and sent us sailing the last mile or so. It was absolutely beautiful. So clear and warm. It was not wetsuit legal so I swam only in my tri kit. I didn't have the extra buoyancy from my wetsuit but I felt amazing during the swim. I got punched a few times, some man pulled my ankles (so I may have kicked him in the face in return) and I got stung by a jelly fish in my armpit. Overall - AWESOME and I'm so glad I was able to conquer my fears and rock that swim. I was expecting it to take me 1 hour and 40 minutes or more, and I finished it in 1:26. Getting out of the water felt amazing... and my face tells it all. (I hijacked this picture from the race website...) 

Jason and I met up at our bikes and started our 112 mile journey. We had 3 laps around the island to go! The bike started out awesome. We had a bit of a tailwind push us and it was great... UNTIL  we turned. Once we turned down the east side of the island and were biking along the coast, the wind hit us like a brick wall. WOW! I knew there would be wind, but was not expecting it to be this bad. That side of the island was a 13 mile stretch that took well over an hour. Anyone who I have talked to that did IRONMAN Florida agreed that this was much worse conditions than we faced in Florida. We had to hit that side of the island 3 times and it was miserable. A normal time for me on the bike would be around 7 - 7.5 hours. Florida took me 8 hours and Cozumel took me 8.5 hours. It was brutal and I wouldn't wish those conditions on anyone. We could feel the sea water sprinkling on us and I was covered in salt. The humidity was also a factor and through the second lap, both Jason and I started to feel a little sick. I started to slack on my nutrition but did all I could to keep everything down. 

 FEELING GOOD - Lap 1....
FEELING NOT SO GOOD, Lap 2 or 3....

We finished up the bike with about 30 or 45 minutes to the cutoff. Felt so good to get off that bike!

The run started off ok. I was completely tired but we finished up the first lap of the run (about 9 ish miles) in 2 hours. That pace would have given us plenty of time to finish strong.  However, my body had different plans. Lap 2 started to go downhill fast. I quickly started to feel very weak and could not take in any of my nutrition. I was trying to eat food off the course aid stations (pretzels and bananas mainly), but my body was not taking that in very well either.  I started to do the math and it looked like at the pace Jason and I were going, we would not have made it. Jason kept trying to encourage me to try and run, but I could not even get a slow jog in. I told Jason that he had time to finish and told him to go on. Of course he said no, but I told him I was going to drop out at the end of the second lap. 
Hardest decision I've made. At the time, nothing else mattered to me but to just STOP. So, I did. I stopped at mile 17 with a little less than 2 hours to go. I quit and I am so very sorry that I did. I can't tell you how many times I have regretted that decision. Regardless of if I would have finished on time or not. Regardless if I might have been crawling those last 9 miles. I stopped and I gave up. I made it 132 miles in a little over 15 hours, but didn't get my 140.6 this time. 

Jason finished up the last lap and crossed that finish line with time to spare. He is such an amazing man, He started this journey for me - for my support and was with me 100% of the way. 

I can't stop wondering the "what ifs". What if I just kept going, what if I just kept trying to push out a jog here and there. I am 100% disappointing in myself. I let myself down and I let Denver down. I wish I could go back in time, and just make myself do that last lap. Just finish the race no matter how long it took me. I know I will most likely feel like this for a while and I just need time to heal my heart. I will NEVER give up again. NEVER.

I don't think I'll be 100% content until I fulfill this journey. I'm toying with the idea of doing Florida in 2015, and most likely that is going to happen. Jason will only be my support from the sidelines, so I'm going solo on this one. It's not a final decision yet, but a very big possibility. If this does happen, I will be on that course for 140.6 miles. I will not stop unless I am carried off on a stretcher. This is a big decision for me and prayers are much appreciated. In the meantime, I am going to enjoy recovery time and a lot of quality time with the family. 

My many, many thanks to every single one of you for your unending support. Words and prayers is what helped me through this. I hope you'll stick with me to the end of this journey. Until then, know that you have my most sincere gratitude and love.