Thursday, December 15, 2011

Ironman Cozumel 2011 Race Report

I cannot believe I am actually writing a race report for full IRONMAN!  Even after 2+ weeks, it is still hard to believe that I am officially an Ironman.  Before I get any further, I want to thank my family and friends.  Without their love and support, I would never have crossed the finish line.  You are the best, and I am so lucky to have such amazing people in my life.  Okay, now that the sappy lovey dovey stuff is out of the way, lets get down to business.

After a crazy trip, I arrived in Mexico on Friday afternoon.  My original flight was cancelled (I didnt find this out until 4AM on Friday morning), the new flight I was put on was delayed and then my connecting flight to Cozumel was also delayed.  Talk about a long stressful morning! #NotTheRelaxingAndStressFreeFlightIWasHopingFor! I only had a few hours before pack pick-up ended, so I quickly checked into the resort and jumped on a scooter to go grab my packet.  As soon as my competitor wristband was on, I felt like a huge weight had been lifted.  I could breathe again. I spent the entire morning freaking out and worrying about missing the Race Expo, so knowing that I was going to be able to race as huge.

Lesson #1: Get to the race a day before packet up.  Although everything worked out in the long run, I would have been crushed if I didnt make it to the Expo in time.  

Other than a quick pre-race run and dinner with my family, Friday night was pretty uneventful. Oh wait, my friend and teammate KGo decided to grace us with her presence! KGo had raced IM Arizona the weekend before, and decided to make the trip to Cozumel to cheer.  Did I mention it was a surprise??  Yeah, KGo is a pretty rad chick!  J

Saturday was a complete blur! I woke up to find out my bike finally made it to Cozumel.  Long story short, my bike was supposed to arrive in Mexico on Wednesday; however, they didnt get there until Saturday morning.  Talk about cutting it close!  So my Saturday went like this- pre-race swim, picked up Miss Scarlett, dropped off my transition bags, finished packing my special needs bags, had dinner with the team, had my hair braided and then crashed.

The team the night before the race

Lesson #2:  To save yourself a lot of worrying, ship your bike with a service provider who has been to the race before.

Race morning:
My alarm went off at 3:45AM.  I had set out my race gear and everything else I needed the night before.  This was a huge help!  As soon as my alarm went off, I went into auto-pilot.  I did not have to think.  I just started following my race plan.  I had 2 PB&J sandwiches, 1 banana and a bottle of Gatorade for breakfast.  After breakfast, I changed into my gear and jumped on the first shuttle to the course. 

Lesson #3:  Plan every little detail of your race morning- from waking up to your last trip to the bathroom before you get in the water.  It might not help everyone, but it certainly worked for me.  It allowed me to focus on the race and not waste precious energy sweating the small stuff.

2.4 miles down. 138.2 miles to go! :)
I did not want to be forced to swim over/around 2,000 people, so it was important to me to start with near the front of the group. I ended up at the front of the pack, but to the far right.  When the gun went off, the calm water turned into a washing machine!  There were people everywhere. Thank goodness everyone started to spread out after we rounded the first buoy.  About 500 meters in, I found my rhythm.  A short hour or so later, I was rounding the last buoy and heading to the swim exit.  I felt strong, but I was definitely happy to get out of the water.  Right before I reached the steps, I spotted my family.  Mom and Fuzzy were going crazy.  That is just what I needed before I took on the bike course.  Total swim time: 1:05:30

Lesson #4: Have a plan for everything that you are afraid of i.e.: getting kicked in the face, your goggles breaking, leg cramps, etc etc.  My biggest fear for the swim was that I would get kicked in the face and lose a contact. To conquer that fear I practiced what I would do if that happened.  No- I did not have a friend keep me in the face, but I did try swimming without both of my contacts in.  It was not ideal, but I could do it.  Knowing this, put my mind at ease.  Plus, I put an extra set of contacts in my T1 just to be safe.  Thank goodness I did not need them.

As soon as I got out of the water I grabbed my T1 bag and headed into the women’s changing tent. The changing tent was 1 big tent with volunteers to help you out of your swimsuit and into your bike gear.  There was absolutely no privacy- I mean NO privacy.  Translation- Tushy and Tata Central! After 7 minutes of awkwardness, I was ready to take on the bike.  Total T1 time:  6:46

Smiling for the camera
Oh boy here we go. The bike portion of the race was by FAR the most challenging for me. Lap 1 went well.  No major issues or complaints. The headwinds on the back stretch of the island were pretty brutal though. I went from cruising right a long to feeling like I was getting pushed backwards. I knew I had to fight the wind 2 more times, so it was pointless to get frustrated so early on.  I forced myself to stay calm and to be thankful for the wind that was cooling me off.

Lesson #5: Ironman is a really long race.  If things are not going right, you have plenty of time to fix them. However, you have a lot of time to do something stupid! Even though my bike splits were not lightning fast, I tried to ride a smart race.  I knew that I had to run a marathon as soon as I got off Miss Scarlett.  If I would have let the crazy headwinds mess with my head during lap 1, I would have been toast by the time I got to the run.

I cruised right by my special needs bag and kept moving towards the fun part of the course- the home stretch into town.  The locals were out with their families and pets cheering everyone on.  These guys were AWESOME!! I might not have been riding as fast Lance Armstrong in the Tour de France, but these guys were cheering like I was.  I spent the last 5 miles of Lap 1 smiling and fist pumping.  #ICanFistPumpLikeAChamp. J   As soon as I passed the T2 shoot, I saw Mom and Fuzzy.  I had made it!  Only 2 more laps to go. 

I carried the high I had from all of the fan support in town all the way back to the lonely and windy side of the island. Unfortunately, the high didn’t last forever.  Once I was 10 miles in to the second lap, I started to feel tired and hungry. I am guessing that I was pushing it a little too hard coming through town because I was excited.  But not to worry!  I knew that feeling hungry and tired was easy to fix.  I slowed down for a little bit and took down a bottle and a half of Gatorade and a Honey Stinger Waffle.  Within about 2 miles, I was feeling much better.  The wind still stunk, but I wasn’t feeling bonk-y (yes, I am now making up my own words).  Not feeling bonk-y equals a win in my book!  Over the next few miles I tried to focus on the ocean and the beautiful scenery. Somehow this worked!  Before I knew it, I had stopped to get my Take 5 candy bar at special needs and was cruising into town for the second time.  BRING ON THE LOCALS AND THE FIST PUMPING!  One lap to go!  

Here is where the real challenge started.  The first 2 laps were tough, but by lap 3, I was really ready to trade in Miss Scarlett for my running shoes. The high from town did not last as long as it did on the second loop.  I really wanted to be done! I spent the majority of my time positioning and repositioning myself on my bike because I wasn’t able to stay in aero. Who cared about staying aero on lap 3??? This girl didn’t!  I know it would have saved me a little time, but that point I didn’t care.  I was trying to do everything in my power to get myself through the last 20 miles of the race.  I stopped at special needs for a second time to grab another candy bar.  This stop was a huge waste of time!  I did not realize that once you got into your special needs bag you could not get into it again. Oops!

Lesson #6: Know the ins and outs of course and how things are going to work on race day.  I wasted a good 10 minutes waiting around for the volunteers to find my special needs bag the second time.

The last few miles of the bike course went by pretty fast.  I started thinking about the run- which made me VERY VERY happy.  It sounds crazy to be excited to run a marathon after 9 hours of exercising, but I was.  I was so happy when I made the last turn into transition.  Holy crap!  I did it.  Total bike time: 7:48:15

After handing off Miss Scarlett, I grabbed my T2 bag and heading into the wonderful changing tent. This changing tent was fully stocked!  I was so happy to see food other than Gu and HS Waffles.  I quickly changed, grabbed a banana and was out the door.  Total T2: 5:27Run:

I <3 Running!

Okay, let the fun begin!  For the first 3 miles or so, I was fighting a major case of lead legs.  Not to worry though- the cure for lead legs is finding a distraction. Any distraction!  So that is what I did.  I cheered for all the Zers I saw on the course.  I hammed it up for the Z cheering squads and I even threw out a few dance moves when I heard music.  This allowed me to forget about my legs and keep pushing forward.  By the second lap, I was feeling AWESOME! My lead legs had gone away and I was pumped up. This was the first time that I knew with 100% certainty that I was going to become an Ironman. As I rounded the corner to start my third lap, I started to get butterflies in my stomach. I had less than 90 minutes to go. 

To get through myself through the last lap of the run, I went fishing.  Fishing is a little game that I play when I race or run alone.  I find someone who is a little bit ahead of me and then I try to pass them. I also will find someone with a cute running outfit (I usually do this with puppies on my training runs) and when I catch up to them, I compliment them.  After I tell them how cute their outfit is or how awesome their puppy is, I move on to the next person.  Fishing kept my mind occupied until the last mile. This is when my quads and hamstrings had finally had enough.  They were screaming at me.  Determined to keep moving toward the finish line, I kept running.  The last ½ mile of the race was unbelievable.  I was tired and I was hurting, but I was incredibly excited at the same time.  When I saw Mom and Fuzzy for the last time, I lost it.  The look on their faces said it all.  I have never felt so proud.  A minute or so later, I heard the words I had been dreaming about for the past year- WHITNEY BLUME, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN! All the training and sacrificing was totally worth it!
Total run time: 4:24:22

The best feeling in the world!
Overall time: 13:30:20

Thanks for reading! Come back to see how I did in comparison to my Race Goals.


  1. AWESOME race report and FANTASTIC race! I like the "fishing" game you played on the run - I find the run to be where I struggle the most mentally during Ironman, so I can see how something like that would be helpful!

  2. Let's go fishing sometime soon. Super awesome that you talk to other people out there--it's mutually beneficial for sure. Great pictures. Love the intensity you bring out of the water. --Kgo

  3. Rockstar work, girl. Or Irongirl, more like. :)

  4. Of course you are awesome! I need to think about fishing more often--sounds entertaining. And I love the pic up top.

  5. Great job all the way around! I'm so impressed your hair stayed so perfect even after you took off the swim cap. Color me jealous. My hair looks like crap the rest of the race.
    I could feel the goosebumps all over again reading about your last few miles. It's an incredible feeling! I'm ready to do it again and again. How about you?

  6. Just happened across your blog and read your IronMan race report...
    You're a ROCKSTAR!!
    (But now you might need a new blog title!!)

  7. You are amazing!!! Congrats !!! You are a freakin' IM!!!!!