Ironman Los Cabos 2014 – Race Report

Finish 1Results: 

140.6 Miles

Time: 10:50:39

18th Place M30-34, 112th Male, 134th Overall

The entire experience of Ironman Los Cabos was very different than my first two Ironman’s (both at Ironman Arizona). In terms of preparation, especially in the final days leading up to the race, I was much more calm. Prepared. Knowing what to look for and what to expect. The expo, check-in, athlete’s meeting, and other pre-race events were much less eventful and this one just didn’t have the “feel” Ironman Arizona did (does). On race day, I was again more calm and prepared for the day ahead. What started out as a great day turned into a brutal struggle and a reminder of why exactly they call it IRONMAN. In the moment, this one had plenty of points that were no fun and even felt not worth the pain. But, by the finish line, it became a great Ironman story, a big learning experience, and an accomplishment I will always be proud of despite the result that did not meet the expectations I had for myself.


Pre-Race

Jackie and I arrived in Cabo on Thursday afternoon, giving me a few days to acclimate to the temperature and surroundings before race day. The immediate feel of warm air mixed with the outdoor airport bar buzzing with flip flopped vacationers,  made it hard to want to think about racing at first. However, once we got to our condo and shook off the plane ride with a late afternoon run, I was getting there.

Our condo was perfect. We found a rental through Tripadvisor.com/Flipkey.com for just $85/night. 2 beds/baths, full kitchen, and beautiful ocean view from two patios. It was just over a mile from both the Swim Start at Palmilla Beach and Finish Line in San Jose del Cabo. (For anyone interested, here’s the LINK to the condo rental.)

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On Friday, we woke up to an incredible sunrise and headed to Palmilla for the Practice Swim. The water was clear, warm (69-70 degrees) and pretty choppy. Overall, it felt good to get out there. I swam about a ½ mile and called it good.

We headed down to the check-in, pickup my bike from Tribike Transport and go to the expo. This was a pretty dull experience compared to IMAZ. There were about 6 vendors in the expo and just as many official souvenirs in the Official Merchandise area – Weak. Sauce. (Quick rant – I expect much more from IRONMAN in this area. People are willing to pay for the brand and they should expect it lives up at every venue in every country. Otherwise, don’t slap your logo on it. Another example – the race backpack from was lame and a zipper cord even broke before we even got down the street. Again, for $700 in race fees IRONMAN… get your shit together! The other brands are coming after you know. The logo alone isn’t good enough anymore.)

DSC00107After the race prep checklist was done for the day, Jackie and I went out to dinner a Flora’s Field Kitchen. This place was a great
experience. Amazing food, beautiful setting, and all of their food is grown or raised there on their farm/ranch.

Saturday was all about final preparations. This gets easier every time. I had all my stuff ready to go and got it dropped off at T1 and T2 throughout the afternoon. That night, my amazing wife and race meal chef, Jackie, made the usual pre-race tradition, shepherd’s pie. Though it was with white potatoes since we couldn’t find sweet potatoes there. I passed out at 8pm.

I got up at 3:30am. Made some coffee and spent some time rolling out while staring at my race plan, visualizing the day one last time. We headed down to hitch a taxi ride to the swim start about 5:00am. I got my stuff prepped in plenty of time and was ready to go well beforehand. Plenty of time to take a few pictures and survey the swim course.

Swim 4Swim – 2.4 Miles  0:56:49 (75th of 871 Overall, Top 9% / 10th of 72 M30-34, Top 14%)

Strava 

I envisioned the swim to be much different than the IMAZ one. I had never done a 2.4 ocean swim and while I was comfortable and prepared, I wasn’t sure how it would go given the choppiness the other day. On race day, the water was calm though. We started on the beach and ran in at the gun. I was in the first three rows of swimmers at the front left side and was able to get into the water and get into rhythm pretty easily. No big bumps or swimming over/around others really. From the start, I was feeling strong. By half way I knew I was doing pretty well, but was starting to feel some fatigue and hoped my effort wasn’t too high at the start as I could tell my HR was up higher than it probably should have been. But, that’s normal in the swim start. After rounding the turn and coming back I started to shore, I noticed some green caps of female swimmers passing. This was the first time I saw them so I figured it meant I was doing pretty well because they were clearly the faster female swimmers.

When I got out of the water I figured I was close to my 1 hour goal. Jackie was along the edge and yelled to me that I was ahead of schedule. I looked down and saw 58 mins on my watch, which I later found out was actually a final swim time of 56:39! I am extremely happy with this effort. It’s nearly 8 minutes better than IMAZ and shows that I have made great progress in the last 13 weeks in the pool.

Transition 1 – 04:24

I was shooting for 3 minutes here but will take it. I could have been faster but the experience in the changing tent was different. I had help getting the wetsuit off in the tent but it was hard with the chair sinking into the sand etc. Same goes for getting shoes on. I should have put them on after I ran to the bike.

Bike 4Bike – 112 Miles – 05:31:33 (112th of 871 Overall, Top 13% / 18th of 72 M30-34, Top 25%)

Strava

Immediately after the bike mount line is about a 1km uphill ride out of Palmilla Beach to the main highway. I made sure to have the bike in the right gear in transition so I would have no trouble getting my bike legs under me here. Once we hit the on ramp, the course was pretty much as expected – 6500 ft of elevation gain over three laps of nonstop rolling hills. I was expecting a couple big, long, slow climbs, however even the bigger hills weren’t too bad and as soon as I reached the top, it was usually right back down hill. I was able to stay in the big chain ring for the majority of the race.

I had a couple of mishaps in the first 10 miles – first a dropped chain, then my draft box popped open and I had to run back and grab a CO2 that flew out. Frustrating, but from there the rest of the struggle was all in the ride itself. It was a hot day (90 degrees) and I was sweating like crazy. I knew immediately that I was going to have to throw out the hydration/electrolyte plan I had and get even more in. I was taking 1-2 bottles every aid station and used all salt pills and Skratch Labs mix I had with me. Despite that, it wasn’t enough. By the third lap, I was noticing some cramping in my quads and was trying to just maintain pace as I headed to T2.

Overall, I am good with the 5:31 split, however, I know I was under prepared in my training for the effort I ended up putting out on such a hilly course. Throw the heat on top of that and I was 20-30 minutes behind schedule. In retrospect, had I ridden slower, I probably could have even net myself some time in the run. You’ll find out why in a minute.

Transition 2 – Time 2:14

Time-wise, I was looking for 2 minutes here, so 2:14 was pretty much dead on. As soon as I got to the dismount line, I knew I was in for a long run though. I felt cramps in my quads as I left my leg over the bike and again as I sat down in the change tent to get my shoes on. I got hit with some sunscreen, grabbed my flask filled with Skratch Labs and headed out on the course.

Run 7Run – 26.2 Miles – 04:15:39 (195th of 871 Overall, Top 22% / 26th of 72 M30-34, Top 36%)

Strava

As I started off the run, my plan was to start slow and shake out my legs while I found a rhythm. Unfortunately, I never got that chance. As I came into the first aid station around the 1 km mark, I slowed to stop and grab some ice. My legs immediately locked up with cramps. My first thought was “Perfect. 26.2 miles of this should be a blast…” I stopped and talked to Jackie at this point and tried to massage out the cramps, shake the negativity and get moving forward.

The run course was three laps and I was thankful I’d get to see Jackie at least twice on each lap as we passed in front of the bike shop in both directions. This was something that definitely kept me moving and kept my spirit up through the other sections of the course. As I made my way through the run, I just focused on running until I knew the cramps were coming, then switching to a fast walk to work some different muscles. I tried to take in as much water as possible, stuffed in my jersey and under my hat, and downed bananas, Skratch Labs, Salt Pills, 1-2 Gus, and Pepsi. Still, I was unable to completely catch up in nutrition in the heat of a 90 degree day.

A lot of thoughts go through your head in an experience like this. Quitting was never one of them though. Despite the suffering, I was able to run it in for the last mile and finished with a 4:15 marathon and 10:50:39 overall.

coconut IMLCPost Race

There was no post race celebration this time around. I was very dehydrated and cramping all over as a result. At one point as Jackie and I were sitting outside the finish, I ended up getting light headed and passed out briefly. That led to a short stop at the med tent followed by a couple hours laying down with my feet up and drinking bottle after bottle of water (and a huge fresh coconut with a straw in it!) By the time we got my bike back to Tribike Transport and made it home to eat some food, I was clearly not going to make it back for the finish finishers. I went to bed after one hell of a long day.

Monday and Tuesday brought some much needed recovery time – ocean view, beer in hand, Jimmy Buffett radio, and my beautiful wife by my side. Well worth it in my book!

Final Thoughts

Overall, I’m happy with my accomplishment – 3 Ironmans in 16 months, all under 11 hours, and all top 15% overall. While I don’t have any plan for another Ironman on my schedule at the moment, I know I will do it again in the future. When the training does start for that one, I will have some bulletin board material ready to go. For now, I’m taking a month or two to relax, do some Crossfit and lighter swim/bike/run volumes. Then I’ll decide what’s on tap for the second half of the year.

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(In-Race Photos Credit: FinisherPix)

How to follow me on race day at Ironman Los Cabos 2014

Time is flying by here in Cabo and race day is almost here. After spending most of Friday checking in, picking up my bike, and getting in a practice swim, Today is much more relaxed. I’ve got all of my gear prepped and just have to drop off the bike and gear bags to transition this afternoon. From there, it’s time to put my feet up, hydrate, and get lots of food and sleep in before the early morning.

I will post an update after the race, but for now, below is everything you need to know to keep up with me tomorrow.

Follow me on race day.

Date – Sunday, March 30, 2014
Time – 7:00am PT (10:00am ET)
My info – Ben Coy, Bib #921, M30-34

Visit IronmanLive.com to check my splits throughout the day. There should be live video feed at the finish as well. I am hoping for another sub-10 hour day, which would be 5:00pm PT (8:00pm ET)

You can also download the app IronTrac if you’re interested in tracking me via iPhone.

Thanks for following. I’ll be thinking of you all as I push through the day!

MANA’O’I’O.

Weekly Recap, Mar 10 – Mar 16

There was still a decent amount of volume during this week and intensity remained. Overall, the weekday workouts were pretty similar to the last 2-3 weeks, while the weekend workouts dropped to what felt like much easier levels (4 hr bike and 2 hour run. 2/3 of last weekend’s versions). I replaced my Friday run with another ride on the trainer to put in a few extra bike miles in this last week before the taper as well. Turned out to be a good decision and I felt good through basically every workout this week!

I also finally picked up a replacement strap for my HR monitor which solved the issues I was having for the last 4-6 weeks with inaccurate HR readings. Now, if my Garmin would start showing accurate elevation numbers again, I’d be set…

Total – 14 hours / 174 Miles: I did 11 total workouts – 3 swims, 4 bikes, and 4 runs.

Swim – 3 hours / 6.2 Miles: It felt good to knock out another week of three full swims of around 3500m each. Tuesday I did a love/hate workout with the main set of 6 x (50-100-150) on RI of 15-20 seconds. The 50s were consistently 1:21-1:22/100m pace, 100s were 1:25-1:26, and 150s averaged 1:27.

Bike – 7 hours, 10 minutes / 137 Miles: As mentioned above, I ended up doing four good bike workouts this week, beginning with an hour during Wednesday’s brick, then 1.5 hours on the trainer Thursday night, and another hour Friday morning. On the trainer rides, I averaged 19.6 mph, 20.2 mph, and 19.5 mph on those rides respectively. I finished up the week with 4 hours on Saturday, getting in about 73 miles. I followed a similar route as last week and included plenty of climbing (as well as plenty of red lights, which slowed me down and threw off my momentum a bit). I ran into some interesting crosswinds going through Santiago Canyon too – glad I wasn’t doing the Canyon Time Trial that was set up out there. Plenty of guys were rolling disc wheels which I’m sure was tough with the wind.

Run – 3 hours, 56 minutes / 31.45 Miles: Dropping off the Friday run in favor of another ride was a good call. I had a decent 8.5 miler on Tuesday and was able to push hard during my two 30 minute brick runs (Wed. and Sat.). I felt fresh on Sunday’s 2 hour long run as a result, knocking out 15 miles in 1:55, a 7:42/mi pace. Having the new HR monitor strap that actually worked was great here as I could see my HR averaged just 137 through this run, only spiking above 145 a couple of times. This means I had plenty of room to push harder and still remain in Z2.

The taper has begun! I’m using the extra time to do all of my final prep and get some extra sleep. We’ll be in Cabo in less than two weeks… I’ll be ready.

MANA’O’I’O.

IMLC Manaoio 3

 

Weekly Recap, Mar 3 – Mar 9

The final big week of training before Ironman Los Cabos went pretty much as planned. I hit the majority of my workouts aside from one trainer ride. The weekend’s long days were a bit of a reality check for me as we had some hot, dry weather that really sucked my energy down. It put me behind on hydration on the 6 hour bike which resulted in struggling through the mid-Saturday brick run. I don’t think I fully recovered for my long Sunday run either. All in all, I’m happy with the week because I got a taste of the heat and I have another solid weekend coming up where I can dial in the hydration a bit more.

Total – 16 hours / 186 Miles: Total volume slightly more (6 miles) than last week and about 20-30 miles total short of what I figured I would have (-20 on the bike and -2 on the run).

Swim – 3 hours / 6.3 Miles: I felt like this week was complete in the pool. Tuesday, I did a main set of 20x100m with each 5 100m set increasing pace. It sounds like a repetitive workout, but I’ve done it a few times and really like it. Good mix of intensity and focus on maintaining a consistent pace and rhythm. Thursday I had 2x500m @ 1:30/100m then 4x250m @ 1:28 / 100m.

Bike – 7 hours, 14 minutes / 133.67 Miles: As I mentioned above, I missed a bike workout this week so ended up only riding twice for the week. I was supposed to have a brick on Wednesday with a 1 hr bike, 30 minute run but I had to run my bike into the shop and get the small chain guard plate removed because it had gotten pulled up on the corner and was rubbing against my chain. To get some of the missed workout back, I got up early and did a brick Thursday with a 1.5 hour bike and 30 minute run. I feel like I put in a better workout because I was frustrated for missing the Wednesday ride. On Saturday, I rode 105 miles on what was a hot, dry, and windy day. I got behind on the hydration, however, I still feel like it was a great day. I got in some good hill work and a learning experience for race day.

Run – 6 hours, 1 minute / 45.67 Miles: Not too much to report on the run. I’m still feeling strong overall. The runs during the week went well, mostly as planned. The Saturday brick run was tough though. It was 1:30 in the afternoon, over 80 degrees and I was dragging after the bike as I said above. Getting out on the run, I actually had to walk quite a bit. I cut it short to about 45 minutes (vs. 1 hour planned) and used it as a practice for race day by walking every 5-8 minutes as I will at aid stations. Sunday’s long run went well until around 15-16 miles. I started dragging at that point and decided to bring it home at 18.3 miles instead of 20+. No issue with this as I feel like I’d rather hit 18 miles and recovery than hit 20 and suffer later.

Coming into the home stretch I am looking forward to crushing it this week then really tapering and planning for race day. It’s almost here!

MANA’O’I’O.

IMLC Manaoio 3

Weekly Recap, Feb 24 – Mar 2

This was the second of three peak weeks before starting to back down the volume. I’ve been lucky to have a dry winter to train in this year as it has allowed me to get outside for all of my workouts without interruption. This week however, Mother Nature decided to give Southern California some much needed rain. Unfortunately for me, it came over the weekend, forcing me to try and run on the treadmill one day and spend 5 hours riding on the trainer the next. While that was brutal, the mental training should help me on race day. And, if nothing else, it’s a great minder of how great I have it here not having to do all of my training inside throughout the entire winter like many others across the country.

Total – 15.5 hours / 180 Miles: This week’s total volume ended up slightly down vs. the week before. I started out hitting everything the first few days, however, I cut the run short Friday (hate the treadmill!), skipped the swim Friday (sales close at work and decided to save up for the long indoor ride Saturday), and did 5 hours vs. 6 planned on the Saturday trainer ride. Despite that, I got in key workouts and feel like my fitness is peaking at the right time.

Swim – 2 hours / 4.3 Miles (7,000 meters): I had two strong swim workouts Tuesday and Thursday. 3500m each. The Thursday workout was a 3,500m straight swim which left me feeling pretty confident. I finished the 3500m (2.2 miles) in 53:29 or a 1:31/100m pace. My pace was consistent from start to finish and the second half (1750m) was actually slightly faster than the first half. I was okay missing the Friday workout because of this.

Bike – 7 hours, 12 minutes / 131.10 Miles: The trainer rides on Wednesday and Thursday both went okay. Felt a little slower getting going on the Wednesday brick ride particularly. The long ride on Saturday was the “highlight” this week. I had never ridden more than about 2 hours on the trainer prior to this one. I ended up setting up in front of the TV with a laptop and music at my side as well. I tried to break things up into shorter segments and got off every two hours for a few minutes. Still, it was tough! By the 5 hour mark (and 90 trainer miles) I had enough and went out for my brick run. While it wasn’t the ideal workout, it was a mental challenge at the least.

Run – 5 hours, 36 minutes / 43.16 Miles: I continue to get better on the run. After a week where I felt a few little issues in my legs, this week went better in general. I had a slow start on the Tuesday run, but was very happy with both of my brick runs. On Sunday morning, I went out for 2:45 in the rain. On that run, I got through 19.90 miles in 2:36, a 7:53/mi pace. While my feet were hurting, I felt like I could have easily pushed through 6 more miles at that pace in a race. With one more big week left, I am confident I will be ready for a strong run in Cabo.

4 weeks to Cabo… MANA’O’I’O.

IMLC Manaoio 3

Weekly Recap, Feb 17 – Feb 23

Last week was the first of the three “big weeks” where the volume of my training peaks.  In comparison to this point in my last two Ironman training periods, I’m definitely feeling like the time and distances I am putting in are much more “normal”. My body is definitely exhausted by the end of the week, but mentally, I know what to expect and there’s no surprise or shock. I’ll jump right into the breakdown as the week was pretty solid overall and there wasn’t any big story.

Total – 16 hours / 191.5 Miles: This week’s total was actually almost identical to the week prior. It just fell in different workouts. While my long ride and run over the weekend increased, a few of the other workouts were slightly shorter and I had a recovery swim.

Swim – 3 hours / 5.75 Miles (9,200 meters): I had three swim sessions this week. The Tuesday session was excellent. It included a main set of 20 x 100m descending pace every on every 5 100s. I was able to average consistently increase the pace through all of it, from 1:29/100 during the first 5 to 1:22/100 during the last 5. I ended up swimming a 2500m recovery on Wednesday and another 3200m on Friday.

Bike – 7 hours, 26 minutes / 138.97 Miles: Pretty steady week on the bike. I felt strong on both of my trainer rides (Wed and Thurs) and was able to run off the bike in both of my brick sessions pretty well. The long ride on Saturday ended up being a little over 5 hours and 95 miles. I felt pretty good after this one. Definitely a confidence builder with another 5,500+ ft of elevation gain.

Run – 6 hours, 06 minutes / 47.77 Miles: I’m happy with where my run fitness is at now. This week I hit my total volume plan (45+) and had a great interval session on Tuesday of 4x6min Z4. Average pace over the total run was 7:24/mi. On Friday, I went out and ran 10 Z2. This one showed me where my fitness is right now because I was half asleep through the first 3-4 miles and still held a 7:45/mi pace. The Sunday long run was 17.5 miles at 7:54/mi pace, all in Z2.

5 weeks to Cabo… MANA’O’I’O.

IMLC Manaoio 3

Weekly Recap, Feb 8 – Feb 16

Immediately after sharing the news that I will be competing in Ironman Los Cabos, and my training mantra, Mana’o’i’o (See that post here: Mana’o’i’o – Ironman Los Cabos), my focus was tested. I headed out that morning (Feb 8) for a 5 hour bike ride and all I could think about was how crappy I felt and how I wanted to be done. I tried to convince myself to get through 2 hours, then maybe I would head home and get on the trainer. But, I just kept pressing on, knowing that at the end of the day, even a terrible day was money in the bank. So, I did just that. Not only did I have to struggle through the 5 hours, approx. 85 miles, but I wound up having my draft box fall off the bike about 75 miles in, then getting a flat tire, 5 miles after that. It was not my day…

On the plus side, while riding slow on the trails towards the end of the day, I had the opportunity to ride along with another cyclist who asked about my bike. He was probably in his 60s. We got to talking and he told me about how years back he rode across the country, from Oregon to Maine! The trip took them about two months and included some time riding through northern Michigan and Canada. I’m not generally one to ride along with others on my training rides, but on this day, I’m glad I pushed through to the end.

The following day, I went down to Corona del Mar to get in a few entry/exits in the open water and followed it up with a long run along the Pacific Coast Highway from Newport to Laguna and back (approx. 15 miles.) Overall, that run included about 1,400 ft of elevation gain and I was able to hold a consistent pace of around 7:45/mi. Great way to end the week.

During the last week (Feb 10-16), I felt improvement in my fitness across the board. Even on my weaker days, it felt like some things were starting to “click” a little bit more. Good sign considering I am entering the final 3-4 big weeks before it’s time to taper down for the race. Here’s a recap from the week:

Total – 16 hours, 45 minutes / 191.6 Miles

Swim – 3 hours / 6.36 Miles (10,500 meters): I’ve really been focusing on my form and tweaking my stroke over the last few weeks. By the end of the week, I felt like I was getting stronger and the 3500m workouts are no problem. I didn’t get to this point during IMAZ training due to the limited time in the pool, so I’m looking forward to building on this for another 6 weeks.

Bike – 7 hours, 30 minutes / 136.78 Miles: Definitely a much improved week on the bike. My Wednesday brick ride (1 hour) was average overall, but the 1.5 hour trainer ride last Thursday was excellent and the 85 mile long ride Saturday was 100 times better than the week before.

Run – 6 hours, 15 minutes / 48.52 Miles: I’m feeling strong across all of my runs right now. My right knee has been feeling a bit tight over the last few days, but no pain. I need to put extra focus on rolling/stretching these next few weeks and put more attention on form over intensity during workouts if things feel off, making sure I make it to race day ready to roll.

That’s it for last week. Look for an update on this week on Sunday or Monday.

MANA’O’I’O.

IMLC Manaoio 3