December 2, 2011

Jason's IM Cozumel Race Report

Our raceday began at 4:00 AM in order to head down to the lobby to grab some coffee. With caffeine in my system, I was able to consume my usual prerace breakfast. At 5:15 AM we took a shuttle to Chankanaab beach, aka Transition 1. Upon our arrival I found my bike, topped off my tires and made sure my flat kit and bottles were in place. After one last trip to the restroom it was time to put on my swimskin and get ready to make the walk down the pier. After saying goodluck and “see you in a few hours” to Jennifer I weaved my way down the pier and jumped into the crystal clear water.

Swim- 58:29 (1:32/100m)
Goal- 58-60 min
Swim Start:

The swim venue for this race is like swimming in a fish tank. It’s absolutely gorgeous. I positioned myself in the water so that I could make a straight shot to the first buoy. This seemed to be a popular idea as I was shoulder to shoulder with other athletes as the one minute countdown began. And then…SIREN!! The first 400 meters was a controlled sprint to spread out and find some nice feet to sit on. By about the 800 meter mark (first buoy) I was in a good groove but was swimming solo as the feet I sat on began to lead me in the wrong direction. My open water sighting is the best it has ever been, so I decided to break off the group and find another swimmer. The only problem was that I had a hard time finding another group that swam a straight line from buoy to buoy. So it was time to be a big boy and swim alone. The rest of the swim was very comfortable but a bit annoying as my feet were being slapped every other stroke by some blokes who never wanted to take a pull up front. The same thing happened to me at Longhorn 70.3 in October. It was frustrating, but that’s just a part of the sport. No sense in surging ahead and wasting an effort. The rest of the swim was uneventful other than a few jelly stings on my arms. That was a new sensation… I hit the swim exit steps in 58:29 and was right on my target pace.

Transition 1- 3:33

Bike- 5:31:12 (20.7 mph)
Goal- 5:15 (21 mph)
I got on the bike energized from a solid swim and motivated from the electric crowd support. As I rolled out of transition and made a right-hand turn onto the course locals were blasting horns and screaming louder than I’ve ever heard in a race before. About five miles into the three-loop bike course I rode over a pothole and didn’t think anything of it. A few minutes later, as I was looking at my shadow, I noticed my draft box (storage unit on the back of my bike) was flipped open. This was suboptimal as my flat kit was perfectly packed inside and if it opened that meant that I may have lost something. I had to pull over to check that I still had everything. The verdict: Craptastic. I lost my CO2 and tire lever, but I still had two tubes and an inflator. I closed the draft box and hopped back on. I didn’t want to waste any time and was probably only off my bike for ten seconds. If I flatted, I’d just change the tube and wait for race support. The first lap of the bike went by rather smoothly. My watts and heart rate were steady and right on target. Miles were clipping by and the wind gradually picked up as we made our way down the coast. At the end of each lap you ride through downtown and it seems as though the entire island was out in full force cheering, banging drums and blowing whistles. I hit the timing averaging 205 watts and 21mph—spot on. The first half of lap two went by rather smoothly until I came across my first peloton of triathletes. I understand that congestion can occur on a flat three-loop course, but this was blatant drafting. I’m talking three riders across and thirty deep. Absolute chickens_it! As I rode by, I screamed at the pack of dudes and shook my head. I can’t even describe how angry I was, but I definitely made my point. Or so I thought… About twenty miles down the road, as we entered the windiest portion of the ride along the water, I was swallowed up by the same peloton. You’ve got to be kidding me! I didn’t want to waste any more energy screaming so I just let them pass. I put my head down and just worked. The stretch into town at the end of each lap was a great opportunity to stand up and stretch. With a flat course it’s easy to cramp up when you never get the chance to stand. I came through lap two at 21.3 mph and average 210 watts for the loop. The start of lap three is where I began to feel a bit flat. Over the course of an Ironman, you’re going to experience highs and lows. They will pass, but the lows are low and the highs are high. Unfortunately, I was entering an extremely low spot. I needed calories fast and I chugged a Gatorade and sucked down two caffeinated gels. After about twenty five minutes of suffering I finally came back to life. But it took its toll and I saw my watts dip well under my target pace. Just as I was getting back into a groove I saw this woman riding with one leg. Yeah, one leg and no prosthetic… Harden up Jason. I recovered from my low spot but the wind was definitely getting crazy on the last portion down the coast and I was ready to get off my bike and run. I pushed it to end of the ride to make up some time, but I didn’t want to hurt my run so I was cautious. I entered Transition 2 over fifteen minutes slower than I planned on riding. I was angry with myself as I entered the changing tent but knew that if I put together a strong run. I could still break ten hours.

Thanks to Nick Morales for the photo

Transition 2- 2:22

I exited the changing tent and fired up the Garmin (THANKS COURTNEY). My legs felt great and I was determined to run smart and strong. My first two miles were under seven minute miles but it felt easy. I forced myself to slow to my planned 7:30 pace and got into a groove. I grabbed water and ice at every aid station to stay cool and keep my water levels topped off. My gut was full of Clif bars from the ride and I really wasn’t hungry. As I made my way to the first turnaround on the back end of the three loop course, dark clouds began to fill the sky. I settled into a groove with two other runners. I ran with them for the next six miles and we clipped off 7:30 mile after 7:30 mile. Jennifer was heading out on her run as I was heading into town to finish my first loop. I was so happy to see her on the run and looking so strong. Sidenote: I can’t tell you how stressful it is to worry about someone you love when you’re racing. I wasn’t worried about her ability to compete or finish, it’s just that there’s so many things than can happen during an Ironman, and when I saw her I knew she had made it through the washing machine, the windy ride and now she was in her element: the run. I knew she was going to be great. As I started the second loop our group of three runners faded to two and then to just me. My legs felt strong and I continued to shove ice down my shorts and suck on pretzels at each aid station. At about mile 14 I started to feel something brewing in my gut. A trip to the porto was in my very near future and I jumped into one at about mile 15. No problem, I thought. Now you’re even lighter! I got back into a groove and then I felt another urge to stop and use the porto. That’s weird. Maybe it’s just gas. Nope, crap. Hang on Jason. I trained too damn hard to let this slow me down. Sharpen up and run through it! But I couldn’t. Each time I ran at my race pace the stomach issues were ugly. I couldn’t keep any Pepsi down but I knew I had enough calories in me to make it. At this point the skies opened up and the streets began to flood. It was surreal. I was at mile 17 and I saw Jennifer. I was walking and I was in a pretty low spot. She looked so good and strong and I knew I had to pull it together. At this point I zeroed out my watch that had my overall time running. I didn’t want to know how far off pace I had fallen. After four or five more porto visits and a lot of shuffling I was at mile 20. It was at this moment that my stomach allowed me to engage in something that resembled running. By this point in the race my legs were fatigued but I had some strength left. I had 10k to go and I managed to hold onto 8 minute miles or so. Coming into town was pretty amazing. The drums were pounding and horns were blasting. Hundreds of spectators lined the streets the entire last mile. I felt like a kid splashing through puddles and high-fiving the locals. I had no idea what my overall time was going to be. It was getting dark and I felt like I had been running for five hours. But I didn’t let it get to me. I rounded the corner and saw the finish line. I had the whole finishing carpet to myself and I ran down the last stretch. I looked up at the clock at saw 10:33:xx and was actually surprised. I thought for sure I’d be somewhere over 11 hours after that pathetic run. I crossed the finish line and headed to the athlete garden for some calories.

Run- 3:56:54

Swim: Solid. A bit more pool time and strength and I know I can get faster and swim with a faster group. Also, I’ve never felt more comfortable in open water. I love Barton Springs where Jennifer and I do all of our swim training.

Bike: Pacing was spot on for laps 1 and 2. Lap 3 had a low spot that cost me my goal split. Also, I ate too many Clif bars on the bike. When I’m working as hard as I was, my body can’t digest all that fiber and it bit me in the ass (literally) on the run.

Run: Legs felt great the whole way. My stomach issues really affected me from mile 15-20 due to overconsumption of Clif bars on the bike. I must develop a new nutrition strategy for the Ironman distance bike.(i.e liquid calories.)

Special thanks to Endurance Sports Travel for making our trip completely stress-free and taking care of all the details. We won't do another international race without their help. Brazil 2013? Yes please.

Time for a week of relaxation and then get back into training routine on Monday


  1. Thanks, J, and congrats on the awesome finish! Glad you decided to give a detailed recap, it's always interesting to hear personal experiences, especially someone at your level. This was exciting to read and definitely provides a good picture of what an Ironman might feel like. Thanks again for writing!

    How did Jennifer's race go? Was she happy with her finish?

    Tim Murphy

  2. Great post!

    Unlike you, I tell my wife not to be a wussy when I cross her in races. Tough love.

  3. It's the power couples that always end up in "star tracks" PEOPLE. Keep gettin at it.

    Joe Bob

  4. Awesome, Jason! You had a great race despite the problems - can't wait to see what you do w/o the gut issues! I never even thought how it would be to race IM with Scott, but since you mentioned it, yeah, I'd be worried too! You guys are really going to do incredible things in this sport. Congratulations!

  5. I am so proud of both of you. Solid, strong, and inspirational. I'm faster just knowing you. Congratulations!

  6. What an inspirational report! It is so awesome to know that my daughter is marrying a man who just won't quit, who pushes through the hard stuff! Congratulations! You were amazing, despite the obstacles! And thank you, Jason, for your dedication to Jennifer's training.
    She (we all) appreciate you!

  7. Jason and Jennifer, Your stories are simply inspiring! It is great to be able to read your about your hard work and success. As you may know our son Zack is starting Cross Country and he now has someone to look up to as a "fellow racing family member". Watching his face as we read your blogs was a blast. He just could not wrap his 12 year old mind around the distances you just swam/biked/ran, but in the end he said "That was great, thanks for sharing that with me". I thought you should know you got a fan!!!! Congrats on your race and hope to see you over the holidays.
    Mark & Lynn Kolb

  8. I doubt you remember me, but I was part of the Boston Dailies threads on RW wayy back in the day. (Ok.. it was like 08/09.) But just wanted to say congratulations to you Jason (and you Jennifer!!) on two fantastic races!! Hope all else is well in life, and recovery is going as planned. :)

    Take care,