Sunday, December 1, 2013

Ironman Cozumel 2013 Race Report…

First off as always I get right to the point for those wanting to know how I did.

11:18:22 – 62st in Age Group (about 300 plus) / 517 Overall (2500 plus)

Swim - 48:16 (1:33 per 100 meters)
T1 - 7:49
Bike - 6:00:01 (penalty / flat / little long -31.4 without mishaps)
T2 - 3:50
Run -4:18:02
Total 11:18:22

Now, I suggest you get a big cup of coffee and cancel your morning meetings, this is my typical blow by blow race report. I had to do this right after the race...I have work in the morning....#realironman

As many of you know this was a “cram training” race for me. Since starting my new job about 2 years ago I put on near 20 lbs and although I did Roth last year I was soft and I’ve gotten softer.

I was entered to do Ironman New Zealand this year that I had to drop out for medical reasons. I was then signed up for Ironman Mont Tremblant and dropped out because I couldn’t get to the registration in time, Vegas induced and it was probably for the best I had a pelvis injury for months that prevented me from running. It was so bad I thought it might be career-running ending.

In October I decided to sign up for Ironman Cozumel December 1st. It was the last race before the end of the year and there were still registration openings, which is rare for Ironman.

Only problem is I lost most all the fitness I gained over the summer training for Ironman Mont Tremblant. I also went on a Ketosis diet which sent my heart rate through the roof and all though I was losing weight I had no energy do have any decent training sessions.

One day I decided I needed to relocated my office and train in the Southern states for a month. So long as I have my laptop and cell phone I can work from anywhere. 5-days after that decision, a condo was rented and I was in Scottsdale Arizona for 30 days on a work-train-cation. I worked hard, I trained hard, I ended up doing 83 hours or 1500 plus Kilometers of Swim, Bike, Run while there. I showed up in pathetic shape. I ended up losing about 8 lbs and gaining probably at least 5 lbs of muscle and ate like a Champion, total healthy. I also took supplements, whey protein, Beta Alanine and Recoverite after every session.

If I didn’t go to Arizona I was humped. The weather in Burlington was in the 50 F’s and it’s hard to be motivated to train and do long rides in cold temperatures. Arizona was just what the doctor ordered. Four weeks of heavy training and two weeks of taper training.

The final results all came down to today’s race.

I’ve been in Cozumel since Wednesday and had great long sleeps leading up to race morning. Last night I had my worst, but I got to bed at 8 pm with a 4:15 am wake up call.

This week has been weird. Everything has went off without a hitch, I’ve been prepared and on time for everything. No drama. This morning was the same.

I woke up at 4:15 am. Showered and had some breakfast in my room. I bought a loaf of bread and peanut butter yesterday and that was my breakfast. They don’t have bagels in Cozumel.

Then it was off to the busses waiting outside to take us to the swim start. This was the first time I started to get nervous. I felt something was wrong because things were going to right. Did I have all my gear? Had I missed anything?

On the ride to the site I met a guy Scott Roberts, from Miami who was sitting beside me. We had a nice chat. I find it’s all part of the Ironman experience to introduce yourself to the guy or girl next to you and talk Ironman. They are always good chats.

Got to the race site. Got the water bottles onto the bike. Met my bike neighbor, a guy from Germany. Then it was off to drop off the morning clothes and get some sunscreen on.

I didn’t realize the sunscreen was so strong and “white”. I put it on in a big handful and my arm was as white as a ghost. No mater how much I rubbed it, it didn’t help. It was white. I was taking and putting on the other arm, the legs and it was still white. Then I grabbed another one that went on much better, it wasn’t white. Then I looked closely and it was “bug repellent” not sunscreen. DOH.

Next it was on to a bus to drive us 3 km up the road to the swim start. Do to bad weather of late they changed the swim course and it was now 3.1 km versus the normal 3.8 km and it was one way with the current. Turns out they didn’t need to change it, the water was beautiful and calm today. I personally was fine with them moving it. Swimming is worst event of the three.

First off, the water was great. It was crystal blew. Reminded me of Kona. You could see to the bottom. I could see why Cozumel is a big scuba diving destination.

The swim start was funny. People started entering the water and the marshals couldn’t keep them behind the buoys and no one would move back. They were probably 100 meters past the start line. I was up there and started to swim back to the start. I figured what the heck, lets do this right, and I’m only racing myself.

I got about halfway and they shot the gun off. Early. I guess it was best as people kept creeping even more from the start line.

The upside with the spread out start was the amount of hitting, punching and kicking in the swim was less. There was still some but not to the same degree.

I decided to do this swim in speedos and not triathlon shorts. I figured I’ve been swimming in speedos, they have less resistance and when I get out of the tent and change into my tri shorts the tri shorts will at least be dry.

People looked at me. One other lady triathlete was talking to a friend and I caught out of the corner of my eye her pointing to me. I think she liked the crazy colors of my shorts. In the triathlon world if you show up with speedo, whether you are skinny or fat, people naturally think you are a fast swimmer. Which is not always the case, like mine.

In the water I got hit three times in the “boys”. The first two were pretty hard the other was a nice gentle brush, quite nice really. I’m not sure why, maybe it was the speedos?

I enjoyed the swim. Before hand I was self-talking that I’m going to enjoy this swim and look forward to it. It worked. I also sighted the buoys really well.

The swim is scary, especially when you have a larger cycling type triathlete beside you thrashing and not knowing direction. They are dangerous because their legs are so strong. I’ve been “donkey kicked” once and had bruised ribs for 6-weeks. I know how seriously dangerous being by these guys can be.

The entire swim I was cautious. I had some chest pains but wasn’t sure if they were phantom pains because of my blood clots. They were quick come and go, kind of felt like my blood clots, or muscles. For sure it was muscles.

I was not taking anything for granted. I was swimming cautiously, expecting the unexpected. When we got to the finish it was a bit of a chore pulling yourself up to the stairs. You can’t stand on ground, you treaded water and had to pull yourself up. No one was giving you a hand. It was a bit of a challenge. 

I got out of the water and my heart rate was only 129 bpm. It’s primarily because I’m a lazy swimmer. I don’t go to hard. I do more of a relaxing swim.

Next was change tent. First thing I do is find a seat as close as possible to the exit. That way you don’t have to run through the tent in your cycling shoes. I can just get dressed and in steps I’m out of the tent.

I felt strong running too and from the tent. Got on the bike. Felt strong and I was off and it was a FAST pace. I felt so good that for the first 20 km I was averaging over 40 kph / close to 25 miles per hour. My heart rate was around 145 bpm. Too high but the allure of having such a fast bike kept me going, even though I knew it could be at my peril if you go hard on the bike, blow up and can’t run the run and have to walk it. I’ve been there, it hurts physically and mentally to walk a marathon.

My bike was in rough shape from the beginning it was squeaking and didn’t sound healthy. People heard me coming. I passed a lot of cyclists. I was Pac manning them. It felt like old times but faster. Who averages 40 kph during an Ironman? Only pros. My heart rate was too high at times, hitting 150 bpm. I knew I could be on a disaster course. Probably was I didn’t set a game plan. I was on the “lets sell how you feel and make the game plan up as you go along” plan.

The bike started off with no or very little wind and then it picked up big time. On the backside of the Island it was a fierce headwind. Speeds slowed up considerably and the drafting was insane. There were big groups and no one was hiding it, myself included. The difference is I got busted by the officials, was given a red card, which means I need to stop at the next penalty tent. My penalty is a 4-minute wait.

In a way it was a blessing in disguise. It got me away from the fast group I was hanging with and got me back on track to ride conservatively so I don’t blow up. I was actually concerned if it wasn’t too late already, my legs were somewhat sore. In the box I was accompanied with a women from Argentina and a guy from U.K. Needless to say for the rest of the ride I did everything I could not to draft and get another penalty.

 The penalty hurt. It showed me that the time I gained I lost and the energy I expended could come back to haunt me if I end up blowing up because of it. I tried to make the best of the penalty box and drink my Ensure and have a banana and Gatorade.

It then went from Windy with an added measure of rain. It rained pretty good. Enough that my socks were soaked. Problem was I didn’t have a dry pair in my run bag and running with wet feet is the worst. That’s what causes blisters and stuff. It was really bothering me I didn’t have dry socks. I realized that I could solve this by taking them off when the rain stopped and put them on my aero bar handles and let them air dry. Which I ended up doing. That cost me a little time.

For about 3.5 hours I rode with two socks on my aerobar stems. On girls saw it and started laughing as she rode up beside me saying, “you must love your socks”, I said, “nope, I just like dry feet on the run”.

Then I had my second mishap. I got a flat on the second loop. It was a slow leak and happened when I sat up to drink another ensure. I drank and ate a lot on the bike. I didn’t want to come close to bonking. When I sat up I wasn’t looking at the road closely and it put more weight on the back tire and it picked up something.

I stopped to fix it. I was going to change it and then realized I have “pit stop”, a product that is foam that is compressed and you put into the tire. It’s supposed to repair the hole from the inside out.

I tried it and all I saw was foam coming out of the hole in the tire. I figured it wasn’t working and a scam. I’ve tried it before and it never worked for me, either operator error or the type of leak was too large for Pit Stop.

I was just getting out my tools and started emptying the tire of air when I noticed the tire was fixed. But because I was letting air out, it was low of air. DOH. I managed to get some more air from the can in and it was about ¾ full. I was going to try and top it with compressed air and decided against it. Normally I’m a risk taker. I only had one tire left, I used to have two but decided to take only one after all the Facebook buddy ribbing I’ve been taking for putting so much stuff on my bike.

I figure the flat caused me 3 – 4 minutes, the taking off the socks 1 min and the penalty box 4 minutes. It was a bummer because I was riding strong.

The second lap I started getting weaker, then the third lap I was even weaker. I think it had to do with going out so hard on the first lap. The wind on the backside of the Island got worse and even though it’s a flat course it’s still challenging with the wind and the fact that you’re constantly pushing your pedals. There is no downhill rest.

I passed a lot of people when riding into the wind. I’ve learned to like the wind and my power riding style works well in winds, and horrible on hills, other than rolling hills.

Thank goodness for the penalty and flat. It brought me back to reality and I settled into a much slower pace and my legs thanked me for it. As I was riding there was a LOT of guys fixing flat tires. With the rain it brings up a lot of sharp debris and causes punctures. I bet it was every one to two miles I saw guys. Seeing them makes you feel lucky it’s not you and lets you know your race could be worse.

As I was nearing the end, about 40 km to the bike finish, my bike was making weird noises, one’s I’ve never heard before. It was loud, others could hear them. There is nothing worse than riding your bike for 6 hours or so with a grinding noise.

I was counting down every kilometer and visualizing how long it would take me to walk / run my bike to the bike finish if it broke. Lucky it head up.

Although I did have a couple scares going around corners. With the tire not fully inflated it was soft and I like taking corners sharp and fast. I did the first one and could feel the back tire sliding. It happened so fast I couldn’t even get scared. I just realized, slow down and turn wide on corners. Good think there wasn’t many on the course.

As I was approaching the bike finish area I was wondering how well I’d run. Did I go too hard and exhaust my legs. You can’t predict until you start running. Sometimes you feel strong and go, other times you can’t go at all and it becomes your worst nightmare. A walk and run marathon.

I changed and took my time in the transition 2. Even took a pee in the porta potties. I did the same thing coming out of the water into T1.  I flubbed up my watch and had to turn it off so as I was running my GPS wasn’t working until I restarted it and reset it, which was touch because with my contacts in I can’t see up close.

I missed about 500 meters of my run on my GPS until I got it working. Good news was I was running solid and fast. I felt great. There is no greater feeling than coming off the bike and running fast and passing lots and lots of people who may have passed you on the bike. The run is the equalizer. Going an extra 5 or 10 minutes to fast on the bike can cost you over an hour on the run. It’s a balancing game of risk versus reward on your bike effort to you run reality.

One girl looked over at me and saw I had three watches on. Most people have one. I have one for every purpose and I find not one watch does it for all. The GPS watches I find do a poor job on monitoring heart rate. In Kona a young guy who worked for Timex came up to me after he saw the Captains had and told me that he recognized me from my finish line photo’s at other races. What? Turns out that Timex was developing and marketing and all in one watch and was checking out the competition from the photos and when they saw mine they went “WOW, look at this guy, three watches”. It’s my trademark.

I started running at a 4:30 pace and was low 5:00 per km pace until the 7 km mark. My heart rate was too high, around 150 bpm. It took about 8 miles but I settled down to a slower pace and kept it around 135 bpm for 2/3 of the run.

I passed a lot of people on the run. There is no greater feeling. Also, lots of people were walking or lying on the grass in pain. One guy wiped out on his bike and looks like he separated his shoulder. It was strapped to his body with nothing but bandages. He was walking. As I run by these people I feel badly for them but am happy for me that I’m not them. It keeps you motivated.

My run was as strong as I could do it. It wasn’t my fastest run but it was the exact same time I was used to in training, same on the bike. My training in Arizona was consistent times with my race times.

What I’m most proud of is I didn’t stop running other than to stop very briefly at aid stations to drink something. I didn’t walk one aid station. Even though it was painful I wasn’t mentally or physically shutting down and forcing myself to walk. That told me I was perfectly trained for this race. I wasn’t fast, but I was trained well enough that I didn’t have to walk. I could run it all.

My goal on the run is to get to the 13-mile marker as quickly as possible. In my mind the Ironman doesn’t begin until the run and if I can get to 13-mile marker running, then I know I’m going to finish even if I have to walk the rest. Walking the entire 26-miles is hell. Walking only 13 is only hell on earth.

As I ran I told myself to keep going for as long as I could and not to overthink it. Surprisingly I was feeling good. My legs were sore and exhausted, that’s a given, but I was able to keep running through it.

The strange thing on this race is I had NO “come to Jesus” talk. I was expecting the self-talk that would tell me I’m crazy to do this and tell me I should never do another one. Just think of this pain again and don’t do another one”.

I was wondering why I didn’t have this talk with myself as I ran? Best I could come up with is that I was mentally ready for this race. That I wasn’t over trained and mentally fatigued and just wanting to get this race out of the way. My current mindset was to enjoy this race. I also figured maybe Jesus gave up and was busy helping others.

As I ran I passed on guy who was sobbing. I don’t know why. Ironman races can do that to people, I’ve been there. They can be very emotion. My biggest was when I finished my first. I was in tears of joy. I was 19-years old and it was the first time in my life I set a goal and achieved it without quitting. It was a turning point for sure. It was an awesome feeling that’s hard to describe.

On the run I had my normal Captain cheers. I did hear some new ones…”Go Admiral. Go Captain Hook”, then the normal…”Go Captain. Go Captain Stubing. Go Captain my Captain”.  Seems like there is no Spanish world for Captain except “Captain” in a Spanish accent.

The run was a mix of weather. It started off extremely hot for the first 13 miles. At times unbearable and I was drinking lots of water and putting lots of ice on my hat. The sun was so hot that I got some severe sun lines. It’s way stronger than the Arizona Sun.

I’m always careful putting water and sponges with water on my head or letting someone spray me with the garden hose. It gets your shoes and socks wet and makes for an uncomfortable run. I try not to let that happen until the last half of the run to minimize the discomfort.

In this case it really didn’t mater. At the 13-mile mark it started raining and didn’t stop. I came at a great time and was nice and cooling. The downside was I was soaked and not just soaked but SOAKED. It rained so much that at spots the road was covered with water to above the ankle deep. It was cooling and it made it feel like your shoes were 10 lbs heavier.

At one point it was raining so hard it was amazing. I don’t know the Spanish word for it but I can tell you the English word is Torrential rains.

My plan on the run is to drink water as long as I can. I think many people make the mistake of drinking Gatorade and Coke way to early. The minute you start drinking Coke especially your body craves it and nothing else helps. You need to have Coke at every mile or you will start to bonk. That’s been my experience.

I started taking the Coke at around mile 18, maybe a little too early. But it tasted so good. Every station from then until the end I had to have some. Near the end I was starting to feel a mini bonk until I got some in me.

About 1/3 of the way into the run I was feeling discomfort in my pelvis again. Nothing major. I just relaxed and trying to take my mind off it and kept telling myself “YOU need to start doing some core work, especially at your age!”

The last 3 miles seemed really long, more like 6 miles. For the last two miles I decided to think about all the good things in my life and what I should be thankful for, I called it “Two miles of Gratitude”. The plan was to take my mind off the pain and suffering and also recognized that I’m alive and living life.

It was an amazing feeling thinking all the great things as the rain poured. I thought that if I had health issues like I was paralyzed or had Cancer I would die to be in the position I’m in now….living life to the fullest. It made me appreciate even more the situation I put myself in.

The finish line eventually came. There was no way I was going to have any sprint to the finish with anybody. I had told myself that about 5 miles earlier. Instead I did my customary high-fives to the crowd going from one side of the grandstand to the other. A guy behind me wanted to race it. I let him go. Why waste this moment to thank the crowd. When he realized I wasn’t going, he started to high five the crowd to, them finished ahead of me by a second. That was all cool by me.

I felt surprisingly good crossing the finish line. They have the volunteers to catch you. Many people cross utterly exhausted. The people who catch you are awesome. They are even over cautious and caring. They want to make sure you are okay. I felt great, told them so, they still look at you like “he’s he serious or lying”.

I was able to avoid one catcher and then another one found me. She was great. Older and lives 2 hours from my house in Canada and bought a place in Cozumel for the winter. She loves it in Cozumel and said it’s a great community of ex-pats. She was really nice.

My next test was not to bonk. I thought about this on the run. It’s easy to bonk post race if you don’t eat carbs soon after. My first stop was to the Pizza line. I got a couple pieces then sat down. The sitting down on the chairs was the hard part, especially when you are about 6 inches from the chair and have to let yourself go to touch the chair. Oh, that hurts.  I met a guy from New York beside me, last name Stephenson. I was his first Ironman and he did a great job coming in 11 hours something. Amazing.

I was really happy with my race. It wasn’t that I had a good and very respectful time. Anything in the 11 hours is very good. It was because I had a solid race. I went as hard as I could from start to finish and even though I had adversity I rolled with it from experience and kept going as hard as I could. The run said it all. I didn’t walk once, not even an aid station.

I didn’t tell anyone this but my real goal was to finish before 12:22, that is the best time I set at 19 years old. I did 3 Ironman’s by the time I was 23 years old that the 12 hour 22 minute was my best. After 16 years I got back into triathlons and have since done 8 Ironman’s and ALL of them, including this one now, have been faster than the fastest time I set at 19 years old.

As long as I can I’d like to beat that time. At 48 years old, 27 years older than my former self, I’ve beaten that time again. I can say I’m in better shape at 48 than I was at 19. Not many people can say that. It’s something I’m proud of. Mentally I’m still a mature 17 year old. My 19-year-old self and me are tied on that one.  

Essentially I came physically and mentally well prepared. Although I didn’t train as much as others or what my coach feels is acceptable, it worked for me in this circumstance. I think I’m an 8-week Ironman trainer at best if I start from a strong base.

Ironman Cozumel, the race itself is amazing. I think it’s one of the best-kept secrets in the Ironman world. The City is great, the people are great, and they shut down the entire highway both ways. They shut down the main street road and the locals come out to cheer big time.

The kids make there own noise makers by taking empty plastic Coke bottles and adding stones and shake them as you ride or run by. They are like homemade cowbells.

I also like the international flavor. The town is Spanish with pretty much all the Western conveniences. Many don’t know English. The fans were cheering in Spanish. Many of the Athletes were Spanish or other. It was really cool. It adds to the event.

Most of the athlete volunteer support is kids and they do a great job. Very organized. Very committed. Very caring. Very mature and they take their jobs seriously. It’s impressive. I’ll be back to race again one day I’m sure.

After the race I realized I must have done okay. I saw most of the bikes had not yet been picked up. It looked like 75% of the bikes remained. I was lucky enough to be one of the first out and catch a cab. The cab drivers in Cozumel are great too, very friendly and honest. I’ve taken 4 different cabs and they have all been consistent on pricing.

This was a big race for me. I had to get this number 11 Ironman off my back after missing two earlier this year. It’s also the first Ironman that I didn’t have beers afterward. I quit drinking mid-August.  In a way I found having the beers after a race sabotaged the physical gains I made during the race.

Instead it was back to the room. I shoot my customary Training Payne race report video from the bathroom. It would be uploaded by now but the hotel Internet is too slow, it’s 1 GB.

The hotel restaurants were closed so it was good I bought that bread and peanut butter. I still had half that was not eaten from this morning. Then it was shower, talk with Alice and do the Facebook thing and catch up on the well wishes.

It’s very cool how others seemed to be into my race as much as I was. There’s no doubt I used that as motivation as I raced. I didn’t want to stop on the run because I knew that people were cheering for me to see me get a good time. Or they wanted me to self-destruct and I didn’t want to give them that joy.

Next stop is Ironman Malaysia next September and visit and stay with Simon Cross. I promised Alice I wouldn’t sign up until I finished this one.

I’m thinking I might train 6 weeks this year and teach “Simple Simon” a lesson. I should be interesting I can hardly wait to hear the ailments he’s going to have race day and still persevere. I figure it will be black plague or a rare form of polio that’s making a comeback or something like that.  

In the end…it looks like I’ll keep my Ironman card for another year. And I’m really looking forward to building on this race from a health and fitness perspective. I don’t want to sabotage all the hard work up to this point.

By me just writing that I’m wondering, “what happened to the real Bryan?”

Finish Time – 11:18:22


  1. Nice job, B! Congrats on another great effort and smart racing (aside from the drafting, you dork!)

  2. Wow! Great work! 11:18 with a draft penalty + flat on 8 weeks of training, not for the faint hearted! Drying your socks on the aerobars - that's gold! Maybe that worked like sails in the tailwinds. So sign up for IM Malaysia already! Hope to see you at some of the local Ontario races.