I’ve been fortunate to have pretty smooth races in terms of mechanical, nutritional, or any other sort of major errors. Los Cabos 70.3 was my first race that had some mechanical hiccups, and honestly, I’m glad I finally experienced some problems because it’s good practice to work through things you can’t control.
Our first night in Cabo, Matt talked me into setting up my bike before going to bed. I started setting up my bike in the condo and quickly realized that I was missing the wedge that holds my seat post in place. ENTER IMMEDIATE PANIC AND SICK TO MY STOMACH FEELING. I was so annoyed with myself because how many times had I packed my back and this DIDN’T happen?? I knew this wasn’t going to be the end of the world and I would find a way to make it work, but it is never ideal to have something automatically wrong going into a race.
I immediately called Jeff (the bike whisperer) and tell him I need help. We talked through the options and scenarios. He told me to shake my bike because sometimes things fall in the frame if you take your seat post completely out. Matt shook my bike frame while it was still attached to the mount it goes on in my bike box. We heard rattling and thought “HALLELUJAH, it’s in there!!” but then the rattling stopped. Ugh, must have been something else. Jeff and I talked through every option we had in the next three days and spent the next morning doing everything we could. I reached out to people who I knew were coming to Cabo, I looked at shops online that had the part that I could possibly have ship the piece, Matt had our neighbor go check our garage and driveway where I was packing up my bike to see if the piece was left behind – all possible solutions were considered. This was Wednesday night, and the race was Sunday. Something was going to work out.
One option was to have Jeff find the missing piece or a replacement somehow and have it shipped overnight to Mexico. Not ideal as it would likely cost a lot of money, but better than riding uncomfortably and not being able to push power as well because I’m sitting on a loose or low saddle. Jeff found out that no one would overnight the piece because if it didn’t get there until the weekend, Mexico would not process it (so if you’re going to lose something, lose it at a U.S. race :)) I took a deep breath and accepted that I would probably be riding on my saddle about 1 cm lower than I usually do. Not terrible, but definitely not ideal. I decided to take my bike out for my scheduled ride anyway – I shoved a plastic grocery bag in the space where the wedge should go so at least my seat wouldn’t wiggle around, and it worked pretty well and looked pretty ridiculous haha.
It’s a good thing I’m stubborn and generally don’t let people/things stop me from doing what I want to do, because going out and riding on my low saddle is what solved my problem! The bumpy roads of Mexico SAVED THE DAY and loosened “something” in my frame. Bikes aren’t supposed to rattle when you ride, so when they do, you know something is wrong. In this case, though, something was very, very right. I heard the rattling and knew that my wedge had to be in there and it had just been stuck in my frame somewhere. Matt and I spent a lot of time trying to shake it out without success, so that’s when I called Jeff and he said to just take it to the nearby bike shop and have them take my crank off.
I wasn’t excited about taking my bike apart even more right before a race, but it was the only way. Sure enough, one hour and 300 pesos later, the bike shop took my bike apart and we got the wedge out of my bottom bracket! WHAT A PAIN, but I was SO SO glad that the racecation of the year could go on in peace now :).
This race was awesome. It’s not every race morning you can show up in exactly what you plan to race in and not need a jacket or sweats to keep you warm. The sun would be rising JUST in time for the race to start, and it was beautiful thing to watch. There is a half and full ironman that goes on the same day in Cabo, so all the half ironman athletes went off starting at 6:20am, and then the full started one hour later.
Swim – non wetsuit, WARM ocean swim. I’ve learned the importance of going hard at the beginning and staying with a pack that is moving fast enough, but also a little faster than maybe I’d comfortably like. I stayed on some feet after going out hard (probably one of the more physical swim starts I’ve had), and felt like we were moving pretty good. I wasn’t always just easily hanging on to the girls ahead, and I could see girls not too far ahead of the pack I was with. I was expecting to get out of the water and to see a much better swim time than I did, but after the race I learned that everyone’s swim times were a few minutes slow (including the top male pro swimmers, past ITU athletes, etc.). No excuses – but it made me feel like I didn’t just blow the swim. I’ve been working hard to be more part of the race coming out of the water, and sometimes a swim time doesn’t truly reflect ability or effort.
Bike – I knew I was in for a hilly course. Lots of rollers and plenty of false flat/gradual uphills. It was one of those courses where if you weren’t grinding slowly up, you were flying down. I enjoy a challenging bike course, and bike course elevation gains don’t scare me. I made several passes on the bike and could tell I wasn’t TOO far back from some of the chase girls, so I stayed positive, even on the slight uphills that felt like forever to climb. I focused on making sure I felt like I was pushing hard enough. The watts definitely weren’t coming easy for me this day, but I was still making passes and holding my ground, so I focused on that.
Around mile 40 is when I started to wonder if my tire was going flat (I’ve NEVER flatted in a race before). If you ride a bike and have had a flat, you know the feeling. Sometimes flats go really flat really fast, and sometimes it’s a gradual thing and you feel a weird wobble in your riding. I could feel that my tire was getting low but I also didn’t want to believe it, until I couldn’t deny that my tire was flat. About mile 42 is when I finally stopped and got off my bike. I was on my race wheels which are tubular, and I had my Pitstop handy, so I hopped off, squirt the Pitstop into my tire (mix of air and sealant – very convenient for flats), made a quick check to make sure the air was holding and my tires were at a respectable PSI, then got back on my bike and took off.
During my flat, at least two women passed me which wasn’t great, but it’s part of the game. I caught one more female pro in the last 10 miles, and was eagerly looking forward to finishing the bike so I knew I was free of any flat tire problems!
Run – pretty flat, a couple quick, steep hills, GREAT support, and hot! I really enjoyed this run – a two loop course which makes it easy to see your competition out there on course. I focused on the moment and didn’t think about the miles I had left, and that helped mentally in a major way. I didn’t run what I felt ready and wanting to run, but I put in my best effort and felt like I stayed mentally committed the whole time. Sometimes you can’t have it all, but there are lessons and victories in each race :).
I finished 7th – not what I was hoping for or felt capable of, but I’ll take it. The whole experience in Cabo was awesome, and I would definitely go back and race it again! I was able to watch some of the Ironman athletes as they were on the run later that evening. I felt so inspired by this because I knew how hot I was out on the run hours earlier, and these athletes were still out fighting and pushing through ALL. DAY. LONG. It was also neat to watch part of the full Ironman because I knew I would be taking on my first full in three short weeks (now we are down to a week!!). I am excited to be officially ending my season in Tempe, Arizona racing my first FULL Ironman next weekend!