IronMan Los Cabos March 25th: Steph’s Overdue Race Report

Coming off a long race season, come November us A-types start getting ancy for the next finish line fix. I swear the guy and gals at IronMan know this and start advertising the warm weather IronMan’s, like IM Los Cabos in March. Beaches, warm weather, smiling triathletes (I don’t even know how they get those pictures). And us Canadians, with our lingering summer tans and summer memories, in a moment of weakness sign up for these races. We forget that we’ll be training solely on bike trainers, that the only sun we’ll see for months is out our office windows, that our runs will be done in snow suits and clip on spikes for our shoes, and that we will perpetually smell like chlorine. Yes, we forget this and pay our 700 dollars to the Iron gods for a chance at one more finish line victory. I am no different and apparently forgetting the torture of IM Utah in March 2012, I signed up for Los Cabos 2014.

So at the end of March, equipped with a long winter of indoor training behind me, I arrived on the shores of the pacific ocean in Cabo. I had no long rides behind me, no pavement runs, and no outdoor wetsuit swims to back me up… only a distance memory of the previous summer racing. I was fit, there was no doubt, but I had a terrible cold and was as white as they come.

My cold turned into a sinus infection and the nights before race day I was awake every few hours pumping in the pain medication. I thought a few times about pulling the plug on the race but thought, hey, it’s supposed to be hard right?

The swim: Usually I am pretty wary about the swim. It’s not my strong suit and I get pushed around and out muscled a lot. They had put everyone in corrals so it wasn’t possible to see the course so I wasn’t really sure where I was supposed to go. By the time I got let onto the beach it was 30 seconds to the race start. I was so drugged up with pain killers and antihistamines I wasn’t upset at all. I just got in the water and started moving my arms. I did get my goggles fully knocked off once but for an ocean swim it was very calm and the water was warm and clear. It was super hard to site so I just followed the pack in front of me, happy that I was in a pack at all! After a while I looked at my watch and it said 1 hour and ten minutes and we were turning for the finishing buoy. When I finally felt my foot hit sand, I looked up and saw 1:23 on the clock. This was ten minutes faster than my previous best IM swim. I should have been stoked but I just felt dizzy and sick. Luckily there were showers as we ran through the corrals and some of the salt water was washed away. All the stuff I swallowed would come in handy later!

IM Cabos Swim

The bike: This was my 7th IM and the first one where I had to run 300 meters through sand to get to my bike. It was nearly impossible to strip your wetsuit in sand and not have it everywhere. When I put my socks on for the bike my feet were still covered in sand. Later, I thought, I’ll get the sand off later. The bike, as advertised, was hilly and hot. It was three 60 km loops from Los Cabos to San Jose de Cabo. At once point I was so disorientated from the heat that when I was in Los Cabos I thought I was at the opposite end in San Jose. Usually I’m all for staying aero and suffering it out, but during this race I was so overheated and ill that I just pushed to finish the bike. I finished the bike in 5:50 which was a disappointing ride for me, but one of the fastest female age group rides of the day; it was a tough course.

Cabo Swim  Cabo Ride   Cabo Run

The run: Coming off the bike I knew the run was going to be a giant sufferfest and not just because my shoes were full of sand. There are some training days where I feel physically strong but my legs are like lead weights. Usually on those days I simply jog it on home and know I need a bit more rest in my crazy schedule. During a race, you just have to trudge on. At this point I was so sunburned and overheated. No matter how many cups of ice water I poured on myself I couldn’t get my core temperature down and my body wouldn’t let me run. You know that whole acclimatization thing? Well it’s true. Coming from -20 in Edmonton to plus 25 in Cabo and pushing your body to its physical limit adds a whole other dimension. And I wasn’t alone. The number of overheated, crispy northerners I saw suffering through the heat was high. Eventually, I trotted in just under 4 hours at 3:59.

Cabo Finish

My final time was 11:22, about half an hour off my personal best, which is great considering the timing of the race. I was 20th female age-grouper overall and 4th in my division. As a bonus I came out of that race with a whole new ability to suffer. Post-race I was weighted down with the fact that if I had raced similarly to my last IM I would have been 5 minutes faster than the person who took first in my age group. But you can’t dwell on the numbers. You race for that day alone and only come back stronger the next race. I can say there will be no early season tropical IMs in the future unless I spend the winter training in California. Interestingly, due to low enrollment, they moved the Los Cabos race for 2015 to October!


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