No announcement yet.

2011 Ironman Cozumel Race Report

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • 2011 Ironman Cozumel Race Report

    Last year, the doctor told me I had MS. 679 days later, at about 10pm on Sunday, I crossed the finish line of my first Ironman. I wanted to share a quick summary of how it went for me.

    My wife and I arrived on Cozumel on Wednesday and got settled in to the house we rented. If you plan on doing this race, I highly recommend renting a house/condo. It's basically the same price as a hotel, and you get to cook your meals, enjoy more privacy, and have better accommodations.

    On Thursday, I didn't even really have time to think about missing Thanksgiving because I was picking up my bike, getting groceries, and buying all the stuff I forgot to pack.

    When my alarm went off at 3:45am on Sunday morning to get ready to head to the start, I couldn't believe that the time had passed so quickly. My wife and I headed to the transition area, and before I knew it, the race started.

    Swimming in open water is something I really enjoy. I also enjoy a little contact from my days playing football and basketball. So the open water swim in an Ironman was perfect for me - lots of contact! The first mile of the swim was kind of like driving in Mexico City. You just go and don't get too upset if somebody bumps you. I learned in my half-ironman races this year to stick close to the buoys. Yes, you get clear water to the outside, but on a 2.4 mile course, if you swim too wide, you will add an extra half mile to your swim. I was sighting the buoys every few strokes, but it was challenging - someone decided to give us all swim caps that were the same color as the buoys! So it made finding your way a little more challenging at times. I drafted off of a few folks along the way and stayed out of the current. The water is crystal clear. You could see all the way to the bottom in about 60 feet of water. Really pretty. When I hit the swim exit, I took some extra care. My MS seems to kick in during transitions. Was a little wobbly coming out of the water, but I know if I just pace myself and don't try to run right away that my body will recover.

    I found my bike pretty easily. Walking from the changing tent to my bike a few times before the race made it easy. I saw my wife just before I mounted the bike and got an extra boost from her cheering like a person gone mad. As I got going on the bike, I felt great. Then a weird "pop" came from my rear hub. Everything seemed okay, but whenever I coasted on the bike, the familiar freewheeling clicking sound you hear was gone. Just complete silence. I decided to treat this particular issue with the strategy of "hope and pray that it just stays together long enough". Mechanics on the course are hard to find, and even then, they can't do major overhauls on a freehub. Apart from the mechanical, the bike leg was beautiful. Riding along an empty beach with crystal clear water made the 15-20mph crosswind more tolerable. Coming into town for the last 8 miles was an experience I will never forget. A rainstorm started. The tropical kind, where it rains so hard that you might as well be underwater. There I was, riding my fancy tri bike through some areas that literally had 12 inches of water, in a street in Mexico, with people cheering for you like crazy in the driving rain. When else would you ever have the chance to do that? So I make it to T2, hand my bike to a volunteer and head to the changing tent to put on my run gear. I was really glad I packed different clothes for each transition. I was soaking wet from the rain, and even a brief moment in dry clothes was welcome.

    I start the run at around 3:30pm. I saw my wife again (how does she keep finding me?), gave her a kiss and started the last 26.2 miles. Running is hard for me. My legs don't work quite right after transitions, so I walked for a mile to get my feet back under me. Started to run and then my stomach cramped like a son of a gun. It's funny- you plan all this time thinking about what you'll do if your vision goes funny, or your legs go numb, or you can't move your left arm quite right - basically all the MS stuff. And the one thing that kept me from running for a good portion of the Ironman had absolutely nothing to do with MS! Stomach cramps. I guess there's a lesson in that somewhere. So I walked, and ate pretzels and drank pepsi until after about 8 miles, the cramps went away. I started to run/walk, and I felt great. We were running through some sections that had about 5-6 inches of water, so after about 15 miles, my feet were hurting pretty good from blisters. Again - nothing to do with MS! But I just took my time. At the start of the run, I knew I had 9 hours to complete the run portion. I knew I could do this just walking if I had to. There was no stopping me. No rainstorm, no puddle, no MS symptom, no stomach cramp, nothing was going to stop me at this point.

    The experience of the run was incredible. I met a few people wearing MS Society gear and thanked them. The crowd support was amazing. I will always remember people chanting "Si te puedes!", "Vamos", "Animo!" all along the course. The people of Cozumel know how to cheer, that is for sure!

    When turned the last corner to the finish line, I saw my wife again, and thought how lucky I am to be able to have experienced this. I thought how fortunate I am to have friends and family that support me like they do. And as I ran across the finish line, I heard the announcer say what I had been waiting to hear for a long time - "You are an Ironman!"

  • #2
    Felicitaciones Ironman! Well done! I really enjoyed reading your inspirational story. It just goes to show - where there is a will, there is a way! It's stories like yours that makes me feel like there is hope and one must strive to make their dreams come true. Thank you for sharing your story.


    • #3
      That's pretty awesome Banshee, congratulations and thanks for sharing the experience. It means lot to see others with this condition able to accomplish so much. Enjoyable piece of journalism too, take care,



      • #4
        Jim, incredible write-up. I was right there with you flailing in the water looking for buoys! There's one. Nope, swim cap! Ack! The potentially failing bike. The cramps. I'm sore just thinking about your effort. Kudos x10. You are an Ironman.
        Dave Bexfield


        • #5
          Amazing story... congratulations.

          You give me hope - I am toying with the idea of a baby triathlon.

          Thank you so much for taking the time to share that


          • #6

            Jim you are an Ironman!
            Awsome story. You give me hope that I can be an Ironman too. Thanks for sharing your story.


            • #7
              Ironman COZ

              Congrats Jim! What insane conditions you had to deal with and you tackled them head on. That is a huge accomplishment and you should be really proud of yourself. I had a few friends racing and they all said it was a day of attrition... so many dropped out or cracked... HUGE props to you for sticking it out! All worth it for that finish line. Rest up & enjoy your achievement.


              • #8
                Thanks to everyone for the nice comments!

                Some of the comments got me thinking - wouldn't it be cool to get a group of us together to do a triathlon? I am signing up for next year's IM Cozumel, and will be doing two IM 70.3 tris in 2012.

                @Marinadca - go for it! The hardest part is taking that first step. After that, it gets easy.

                @Jill - How is the training for Lake Placid going?

                @Kelly - Honestly, with all of the great crowd support, it was really fun.


                • #9
                  Wow, very inspirational. If you are are Facebook, would you mind sharing your story on the "Athletes Fighting Multiple Sclerosis" page? I'm sure eveyone there would be equally inspired.