I just completed my second Ironman Triathlon in Cozumel, Mexico. An Ironman consists of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride and a 26.2 mile run.
We arrived in Cozumel on Monday which gave us plenty of time to acclimate and check out the island. We rented a scooter and took the one major road around the island to see all of the roads the race would be on. We were there for Thanskgiving so in order to celebrate our hotel thought it would be appropriate to put two live turkeys in a pen in the lobby. The larger turkey started getting a little too friendly with the smaller turkey so they tied little strings on the legs of the poor birds to keep them on their respective side of the pen. Most of the hotel guests were relieved to discover that the birds were still in the pen once the Thanksgiving dinner was served. [Most people were happy to eat turkey for Thanksgiving, just not turkeys they had met.]
Having a scooter was a great way to get around the island. It was about $15 each way to get into town so being able to drive ourselves everywhere made all of the difference. We effortlessly made it back and forth to town and 0n race day morning Andrew scootered me over to the start. We had a lot of time to relax and read and swim and hang out before race day.
The swim started at 7 am at Chankanaab park. It was a mass swim start which means after the pros take off, all 2000 of us jump off the dock and wait in the water for the gun to go off. I met up with my friend Susanne [who looked amazing in her Wonder Woman swimsuit] and we counted to three, jumped off the dock and treaded water while we waited for the starting gun. They started the day with music and dolphins leaping into the air.
The swim was an extended rectangle, parallel to the shore in 85 degree water with 100% visibility. You could clearly see 30 feet down. We started out swimming into the current. I didn’t get smacked, kicked or punched at all this time which was very unlike my experience in the Florida Ironman last year. I saw a few tropical fish but I suspect most of them hightailed it out of there once they heard the sound of 2000 swimmers. This was also good for shark deflection. I figured there were about 1999 other tasty people to choose from so I wasn’t too worried. I was stung a few times by jellyfish but it wasn’t so bad–it felt like a very mild bee sting. There were scuba divers at each buoy and I gave one a thumbs up and he waved. The long stretch of the swim went with the current which was much more comfortable and faster. Coming around to the last leg into the dock against the current was an entirely different story–it felt like forever to complete the shortest leg of the swim. I made it to the dock, climbed the wooden stairs out of the water and ran down the dock to grab my bike gear and head into the changing tent.
The bike was a three lap ride of about 39 miles for the first two and 33 for the last lap around the island. The north side of the island was stunningly beautiful, with the aqua blue water to the right and lush greenery to the left. I saw four bright pink birds flying overhead. It was windy for most of the course, headwinds and cross winds on north side and through town with a short section of tail wind leading back to town. It was HOT. It was probably 85-90 degrees with a 150% humidity and 100% exposure. I was covered in my own salt. I kept drinking water, eating cliff bars and gels and taking salt tablets. At one point I felt a kind of prickly heat thing happening and stopped to reapply sunscreen. The ride through town was great, all of the locals and spectators were cheering for us with noisemakers, vuvulezas, music and drums. By the last lap, the wind really picked up and somehow that nice tailwind section seemed to disappear. The third lap felt like the hardest by far. I made my way back to the transition, handed off my bike and grabbed my run gear.
The run was 3 laps through town of about 8.7 miles each. I started the run around 3pm and while I was in transition I heard the announcer cheering the first pro over the finish line. I was so spacey in transition that I was looking all over for my shirt only to realize I was already wearing it. I grabbed some bug spray, threw on my visor and started my run. I managed to keep “running” the entire marathon [I didn’t walk any part of it although I was running very slowly at times.] I started out the run sipping gatorade and eating pieces of bananas and then switched to pretzels [mmm salt] and Coca Cola, which I usually never drink but was loving at that moment. I stuffed ice bags into the back of my shirt and went down the road sloshing along. The ice really helped keep my body temperature down and alleviate the soreness in my neck from being in my aerobars for so long.
The run felt like a giant party. The street was overflowing with spectators. They had a Mariachi band in the downtown area, little kids were giving us high fives, people were yelling “Vamos!!!” and clapping each time we passed. I think the entire island was out on the streets watching and cheering.
On the back side of the run a little restaurant was blasting the Theme from Rocky, Eye of the Tiger and We are the Champions on repeat. I saw Andrew in town, waved for the camera, gave him a kiss and ran off for lap two.
I kept moving along on the second lap feeling the blisters forming on the bottoms of my toes. I passed Andrew again and told him I would
By the last lap I started to pick up the pace. By the time I hit last mile I was full on running through the crowds of people in the street. I passed Andrew for the last time and he ran behind me, riling up the crowd. Everyone was screaming and cheering and I ran through the finish to the words “Maria Scrivan, you are an Ironman!!!” where they threw a finishers medal over my neck and took the timing chip off of my ankle.
I finished the race in 13:35:57, about 20 minutes better than my first Ironman. I was 54th out of 100 in my age group. 20% of my age group did not finish the race.
After the race, I drove the scooter and Andrew rode my bike the 15 miles or so back to the hotel.
I loved the event and the venue and the people were amazingly gracious and helpful. All of the cheering and music and support was incredible. The multiple laps made it a great spectator event and the island was absolutely beautiful.