Sometimes when you go to a race expo in a foreign country things look a little bit different. The vendors are unfamiliar, the language is incomprehensible, and the general scale is smaller than what you might see in the United States. This was certainly the case in Los Cabos, but the expo for the Ironman did have something I hadn’t yet seen from WTC – inspirational posters. I’m almost embarrassed to admit how much I enjoy reading motivational quotes, so to say I liked walking around the expo would be an understatement. One of the posters featured the Vince Lombardi quote, “It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.” Considering the race I had a few days later, this inspirational poster seemed particularly prescient.
Sunday 3/30 – Race Day
My swim was great, there was just far too much of it. When I went for a guide buoy that had drifted out of line on the long outbound leg, I lost the pack I was swimming with. (You read that correctly, I was swimming with a pack. I was swimming well; I was in the thick of things and I was loving it!) Then… I had to be a hero and go for the buoy that had gone rogue and I lost them. Crushing. Adding insult to injury, the last leg of the “rectangular” course wasn’t exactly geometrically accurate. The yellow buoys were all over the place and it was very difficult to reconcile the actual course with the athlete guide picture I had in my head. It was not my best sighting day and I swam way more than 2.4 miles. When I looked down at my watch as I entered T1 I was disappointed with my time but looking forward to gaining some ground back on the ride. Little did I know the Baja Pensisula wasn’t done messing with me yet…
Once we got on the bike in Los Cabos we had to climb a hill out of T1 and then get on the Transpeninsular Highway. The problem with that? The asphalt on the highway and the asphalt on the entrance ramp were laid at different times and there was a large bump demarcating the two. When I made the jump up to the next level of asphalt, my aero bottle went flying as did my bike computer which was attached to it. I thought about leaving my now empty aero bottle behind, but my $500 bike computer had to be rescued. Stop. Unclip. Go. Backwards. On. The. Course. And retrieve my lonely bike computer. When my bottle went flying so too did the contraption that holds the computer in place. So I had a computer with very helpful heart rate, cadence, power, and distance metrics and I had no way of putting them on display. The computer sat in my pocket… for 112 miles. As I completed the first of three laps I focused on settling in and making up for the fact that I had lost a valuable nutrition bottle so early in the race. All went well until about mile 40 when I felt a change in the way my bike was handling as I sped down a hill at 30 miles per hour. When I looked down… catastrophe. I had a flat. Luckily I was approaching an aid station with some lovely gentlemen who came running when I called for mechanical. All told, the stop probably took 6 or 7 minutes. When I got back on the bike I was eager to make up lost ground, but I was also nervous about more road hazards that could sideline me again – especially now that my spare tube was gone.
At this point I just started to laugh. Could anything else go wrong? The whole race up until this point had been a comedy of errors and I started to consider DNFing. Was it too late to sign up for Ironman Texas? Could I get myself out of this ridiculous hole I was in or should I just throw in the towel and try again another day? Cue inspirational poster and James Earl Jones (who has a voice I imagine is something quite close to God’s) speaking Vince Lombardi’s words. So what if I get knocked down? (Over and over again…) It’s the getting back up that matters. IT’S THE GETTING BACK UP THAT MATTERS! So… I rode on – despite being way behind the eight ball, despite the scary road conditions, despite it all. I had 100 miles left and I was going to make them count. Not only did I get back the people who flew by me during the flat tire ordeal, I was even able to pick off a few pros before T2.
Coming off the bike in an Ironman is always difficult but the blazing sun made T2 in Los Cabos especially hard. I didn’t want to leave the changing tent. After applying a new layer of sunscreen and some serious coddling by the awesome volunteers I tore myself away. The run was a three loop course featuring a few short hills, one dirt/sand trail, five different dog legs and lots of sunshine. In other words… It was hard. It was fairly uneventful; almost comically so. Leading up to race day my teammates and I joked about the goofy things we would do as we passed each other on the run course, but when the hour was upon us, pirouettes and herkies were nowhere to be found. We barely had the energy to give a slight nod of the head. “Heeeey,” she said as if she were an angsty teenager who couldn’t be bothered with niceties like salutations. “Heeeeey,” he responded, sounding equally unenthused. So inspiring. In the end I picked off more girls as I ticked off 26.2 miles and came across the line as the 10th Pro woman – extremely happy to be done, but secretly wanting another chance.
The day after an Ironman I am always the best kind of sore. I am so spent that waddling hurts and the thought of stairs makes me want to cry. As I sat there looking at the Pacific replaying the race in my mind, one thought kept forcing its way in. I want a do-over. It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.
Thanks to Jeff and Matt for inspiring me on race day. Thanks to Niki for being the ultimate travel companion, race day photographer, and “sista from another mista”. Thanks to Debi for her wisdom, advice, and words of encouragement. Thank you to Cyrus, Mary, and my whole family for their support and love. And of course none of this would be possible without my incredible sponsors. Thank you Maverick Multisport, Argon 18, ENVE Composites, VO2 Multisport, Rotor Bike Components, Occupational Kinetics, Swiftwick Socks, Cobb Cycling, TYR, Champion Systems, 110% Play Harder, Infinit Nutrition, Primal Sport Mud, Smith Optics, TriBike Transport, and Vittoria.