Race Reports

Ironman Cozumel 2014: A Crisis Out Of Control

I planned my year basically around this race. I had a pretty good year. Lots of PRs and lots of AG wins and podiums. I prepared for this race like it was my job. I hit every workout. My running was at all time best. Few weeks before Cozumel, I did Rev3 Florida and had my best bike and run. A 5 minute PR on the run (1:35 for the half) That was a huge booster for me as running isn’t really my strength.

We started our trip to Cozumel on Tuesday. Spent the night in Dallas (wasn’t part of the original plan) and then on Wednesday, we took the plane to Cozumel.

Thursday, the wind in Cozumel was bad. They closed the beaches and all diving excursions were canceled. I took my bike for an hour spin around the island and headed toward the East side where the wind was at its strongest. I was barely making any forward progress going against the wind. The weather forecast said the wind will somewhat calm down by late Saturday and it did.

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I knew the wind can be bad in Cozumel and I was mentally and physically prepared for it. I was ready and even hoping for strong wind.

Coach Heath sent me an email with a plan before the race and how to tackle the wind. One thing he told me is ironman is a “crisis control”. That for some reason stayed in my head and kept repeating it to myself.

Everything from training indicated I should break 10hours on this course. With the bad conditions we had, I knew 10:15-10:30 was more realistic but didn’t really think about that much. I just wanted to hit each leg and give it my best. Ironman is a long day. Many things can happen and weather conditions and wind can quickly turn a fast course into a slow one.

My goals were:

Swim 45min- 1hr (depending on current)
Bike: 5:10 – 5:25
Run: 3:45 – 4hr

I was so ready for this race and couldn’t wait to get it started. Saturday, we dropped off the bikes and came back to the resort to rest. Right before dinner, I started feeling discomfort in my stomach. Visited the bathroom few times and just didn’t want to think about it or make anything out of it. I thought, it is just from the nerves and thing should settle by tomorrow.

Had dinner early and kept dinner somewhat light(er) than normal. Went to bed and barely had any sleep. Got up around 3:45am and quickly changed, and went for breakfast. My stomach was not doing good and again I continued to ignore it and think this will be the last bathroom visit. I asked for mint tea and drank it while we were on the bus to T1. Mint tea is usually my go to drink when having stomach issues.

Got my bike ready and got on the bus again to take us to the swim start. As soon as we got there, made another visit to the portajohn. Don’t want to go into much details but things were not good.

Headed to the swim start and put the goggles on, zipped the Roka swimskin, and then…. had to run again to the portajohn. That was 10 min before swim start. I think I PRed that portajohn visit.

Swim (55min) 17th:

Made it back to my swim wave and made sure I lined up in the front line. Noticed one dude who was adamant about being in front so stayed next to him. Swim started and from the start, I stayed with him and a group of 4 or 5 guys. Had no contact and was the best swim start I’ve ever had in triathlon. We were barely moving though and noticed we were all swimming against the current. I thought, this was supposed to be with the current… what the F?

Amazing photos taken by Delille Sports

Amazing photos taken by Delille Sports

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Amazing photos taken by Delille Sports

Kept swimming with the group until about .75- 1 mile in and the current changed in our favor. At that point I was already hitting swimmers from the previous waves and at that point I lost the group and was swimming alone.

Got out of the water and looked at my watch, it was 55min exact and had a big smile. The swim felt long for some reason and I was expecting better time when they advertised it as a fast swim. However, I knew it will be slower from the start because apparently the current decided to switch, and not be as strong as previous years. So I was very happy to come in under 1hr.

Bike (5:35) 13th:

Started the bike and targeted the low end of my watts. I wanted to do the full ride around 190 watts or less. Most of my long training rides were around 200 so I wanted to stay conservative to save my legs for a good run. Kept things around 185 until I got to the windy section. Picked it up a little there and made sure I took all my nutrition before getting there. I wanted to stay in my aero and not move and try to get out as fast I as I can. It worked well and those brutal 12 miles went by quickly. Made a left turn and got back into my nutrition and hydration and recovered. It took some serious work for me to keep the watts down and thought this is great. This is how I should feel.

Cozumel 2014

Photo by Anis Girgis showing the strength of the wind on the Eastern side of the island.

 

Went through town and started my second loop. Everything was good until right before we head back again to the windy section where all of the sudden I felt the urge to go to the bathroom again.0826_043498

I tried to get my mind off of things and maybe  I can trick my body. However, every time I tried to eat or drink my body reminded me that I might not make it to T2 without things getting out of control. I thought of stopping at the next portajohn by the aid station but there was none in that section. Should I stop I go in the bushes? Decided to see if I can just make it to T2.

At this point I wasn’t drinking and eating like I was suppose to. My power dropped by a lot and my energy was all gone. Made the last two loops and every time I passed by our resort I thought of just stopping there and end my misery.

0826_040089Kept going however, and made it to T2. Gave my bike to a volunteer and ran to the tent, quickly put my running shoes on and ran to the portajohn. It was miserable there but took my time.

Power data:

1st loop: 188 AP 192 NP 22mph (that was the plan)
2nd

loop: 173 AP 177 NP 20 mph
3rd loop: 145 AP 151 NP 18.7 (barely made it)

Full ride: AP: 167  NP: 175  VI: 1.05  IF: .64

Run (5:04) 56th:

Got out and knew I don’t have it to run a marathon in me but decided to start and see if I have anything left. I was so behind on my nutrition at this point and was a dead man walking. Ran for couple miles and kept pace between 8:17 and 9min. That was my original plan but quickly things fell apart and started walking and was breathing really hard. I knew I needed food and hydrate but the thought of eating anything made me want to throw up. I had 4 packs of power bar gels with me and ended up tossing them away.0826_013030

I ran/jogged the first two loops and finally saw my wife and kids. She yelled at me that I was 13th. I looked at her and was like no f’ing way I am 13th. It turned out that she gave me my split after the bike and that didn’t include the 40+ people that passed me on the run.

Oh well, knowing I was 13th off the bike made me run part of the 3rd loop faster.

When I hit mile 24, I thought let’s run the last two none stop. Quickly my legs completely stopped and didn’t want to move. A friend saw me and asked me if I was ok, and if I am going to make it. I told him not sure if I will. Might need to pull a Julie Moss kind of crawl at the end. Started walking, my legs were not going in straight line however, kind of looked like Chris Legh.

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Somehow I made those last 2 miles and crossed the finish line and dropped. They carried me to the med tent. I didn’t get any IV but they gave me Pepto Bismol. Yes Pepto Bismol. All I wanted was a Pepto Bismol.

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3 Comments


  1. Anne Callahan

    December 7, 2014 at 11:01 pm

    Tariq, one never ever knows what will happen on race day. Your coach is spot on…crisis control. You had a fantastic race and over came many mental mind games thrown at you! Well done! Cheers to recovery and making new plans for another successful season in 2015. Anne

    Reply

  2. Ruben De Jesus

    December 29, 2014 at 11:20 am

    Tariq, I did this race this year as well, as I was told the conditions were the worse since its conception 6 years ago. The wind was BRUTAL.It was very difficult to have legs after such a brutal bike with the wind. You conquered!

    Reply

  3. Ironman Louisville Race Report - Tri Nut

    October 18, 2015 at 11:38 am

    […] has be been a while sine I wrote a race report. Actually, since my last Ironman which was almost a year ago. I’ve been getting lazy with these reports but I do like to write […]

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