The lead up to this race had been Ok. I'd been training hard from early January and had put in more hours than ever before. Training sessions throughout the season had shown especially on the bike that I was also stronger and faster. My swimming had come right just in time for the end of season finale and my run had more consistency than last year. However all season apart from a couple of low key sprints for one reason or another I hadn't got the results I'd wanted. I was beginning to feel that 2016 just wasn't going to be the year for me. Perhaps the fact I was working full time hadn't helped. It had worn me down and left me little time to recover and relax.
I flew out to Mexico 6 days before the race so that I could get over the travel; a 10 hour flight, a night layover in Playa del Carmen and a taxi & ferry over to Cozumel; and to give me a couple of days to acclimatise and relax before the big day. Everything went really smoothly. Cozumel was a beautiful place with good facilities, in the morning I go for my little training session, a 45 min spin on the bike, or a 30 min run and then chill out in the shade of a beach club. The public pool was a joy and it felt awe inspiring to be swimming with the Olympic Champion on one side Gwen Jorgensesn and one of the men's favourites Mario Mola on the other!
The Swim; 21:16 (5th out of the water)
The swim had been shortened to 1250m because of a strong current, this was annoying as it benefits the weaker swimmers. They weren't going to shorten the run because it very hot & humid! I lined up on the pontoon with the Mexicans (they had been chatting to a race official about the current etc in Spanish so I thought they might know where the best place to start was). The current was noticeable when you jumped in as you had to hold on to the pontoon or get swept away. The gun went off and I put my head down and swam. The water was beautiful, crystal clear and it wasn't too punchy a start. I had seen a group go off to my left but I didn't want to alter my course to try and catch them. At the second buoy you turned and went against the current but it was alright and not that bad. Unfortunately I hadn't found any feet but I could see an American a few meter to my right so I push on past her. I did have someone on mine,slapping my feet all the way round. I tried to get rid of her but to no avail. The furthest buoy came and I turned too quickly and got stuck against a rope for a second or two. Pushed it away and swam to the exit ramp.
T1 was a fairly long run across the marina and into transition. My feet slapping friend, a Mexican girl, was running alongside me and she said thank you. I replied "Good Drafting". As I grabbed my bike my helmet visor came off, so I had to stop and grab it and then I jumped on my bike at the mount line only to find that my gears weren't where I'd left them! They were in the hardest gear possible which made it difficult to get going. Unfortunately this made me lose sight of my Mexican friend.
The Bike; 1:08:30 (27th out of 69)
It looked like a lovely straight forward course that would suit me. One lap (so I couldn't mess that up) flat and non technical. I tried to settle into a rhythm and start drinking. But soon other ladies were flying past me. First an American, I fought back and past her. Then another, I fought back again but she was too strong and she past me back and shot off into the distance. Then a group of 3 ladies plus a couple of guys past me. I put my head down upped the pace and past them but didn't have enough to really break free and they soon past me back. I was annoyed that they were drafting and dropped back to a safe distance behind them. Where were the draft busters when you needed them! I tired not to get upset and rode my own race. But unfortunately a few more past me. At this point I was beginning to realise I wasn't strong enough on the bike and maybe it wasn't going to be my day. However I didn't get upset just pushed on and knew I'd have to run like the wind. I concentrated on pushing hard, drinking all my fluid and breathing, but I lost 5 places on the bike and came in to T2 12th out of 69 athletes.
The Run; 49:24 (a personal worst)
The first thing that surprised me was how awful my legs felt. I could barely walk let alone run. I tried not to panic and hoped my run legs would come back soon. Man it was hot! Some of the sprint athletes who had raced a few days before had said how hard it was going to be and my coach Michelle had also said that it was going to feel more like a half ironman than an Olympic distance race. But I was surprised at how hard it was. There was no spring or speed in my legs like normal. It was like running through hot, sticky treacle. As part of my hydration strategy I had decide to take on water, ice and whatever I could at each water stop. The organisers had put one every km. This is something I wouldn't normally do but with no experience racing in these conditions I thought it was sensible. It broke up my rhythm as the longest stretches without a water stop was where I was able of pick up the pace. However I didn't want to do a Johnny Brownlee! I managed to make up one place on the run but it was hard going.
Coming into the finishing strait there was a Mexican girl just ahead. I didn't know what age group she was but I put my head down and sprinted for the line. Yes I beat her but unfortunately she was in a different age group. I wobbled sideways and fell to the floor breathing hard. A lovely official put a cold towel over my shoulders and stayed with me till I could stand. It was over, thank god.
After an ice bath and a massage I cycled back to my friends apartment. Disappointed that I wasn't strong enough on the day but pleased I'd given it my all. You win some, and you lose some.
Now for two weeks of reef & rainforest in Mexico & Belize. I won't be training much but you count on me being active; hiking through the rainforest, swimming in tropical rivers; zip lining through the jungle; diving on the tropical reefs and running on the beach.