Cozumel can be reached by ferry (30 min) from Cancun/Playa del Carmen, but if you are shipping a bike, your only choice is flying American Airlines direct to Cozumel. Expect to pay $300 for the bike. (ed. note $150 each way) The island is beautiful, scenic, and a world class diving destination. Do not go to a nice spot for a race and expect to enjoy it at all. I was constantly thinking about scuba diving and alcoholic beverages with little umbrellas – and instead was forced to go on practice rides and avoid drinking. There are numerous hotel options, but I went with a VRBO that turned out to be fantastic and I’d recommend it to anyone going there for any reason. I grocery shopped, cooked, and actually ATE before this race, so I went into it feeling pretty good....
My first experience with 2 different transitions was a logistical adventure. The day prior is a huge waste of time shuffling from bike drop off to practice swim to T2 drop off etc etc. – not like just showing up race morning and setting up your transition. This was new for me, and a good experience.
Excellent, self-seeded rolling start so you don’t have to fear faster people behind you clobbering you. That said, I still got clobbered, but I finally seem to have mastered the art of not giving a sh*t when people are touching me in the water. I wore a swimskin for the first time, and I don’t know if it was the hydrophobic material or the salt water, but ocean swimming turned out to be awesome and a PR for me at 37 min. The water was a phenomenally warm 82 degrees, with incredible visibility: seeing scuba divers below you at 30 ft while you’re swimming was a really cool experience. 37:17 total.
A long-ish run from the water exit to bikes racked in a jungle-like setting. It was not yet too hot, and I was pretty psyched to be out of the salt water.
I had driven the course so I knew it was almost completely flat the entire way – which turned out to be good for me and I made the most of the early day temperatures and convection. The entire course is closed to traffic and circumnavigates the island – and is really lovely. There are legendary winds on the east side, and disc wheels are not allowed – but it was totally mellow while I was there, nothing compared to riding in north Boulder on a windy day, and I really enjoyed the ride. I should have noticed my shot Bloks melting all over my frame and the fact that my hands were too sweaty to shift as a sign that the heat was getting bad, but when I finished that bike ride, I felt ready for a run. 2:48:16 total.
This is in the basement of a supermarket, and involves racking your bike in one spot, then running to find your Run bag in another. It was relatively smooth, but not short given all the steps. I was too hot to eat anything. Big mistake.
….And then all hell broke loose. I left T2 thinking I was a little wobbly from the ride but otherwise fine. HAH. Within 2 miles of an unshaded run on pavement in 85 degree temps with 90% humidity, I was hurting from the heat and never really got back to normal. Towards the end of the first loop, my lips and hands started to go numb, and despite dousing myself with ice and water every kilometer, I still felt hot. I walked as much as ran on the second loop, and even took a 3-minute break in the shade to cool down before dragging my sorry butt the last 2 miles to the finish. Which was anticlimactic to say the least. My slowest 1/2 ever at 2:34:15. And every step hurt.
Despite a PR swim and a solid bike, this was my slowest 70.3 overall, at 6:08:01, 20th overall in my AG. I learned that heat and humidity are not to be underestimated, that multiple transition areas are logistically and mentally exhausting, that shot bloks melt pretty easily, and that I really should pay more attention to what Jeff Sankoff says (e.g. Timberman was hilly so don’t come out too hard on the bike, and Cozumel is too hot to race in).
Next time I go to Cozumel it will be for scuba diving and relaxing, but overall this was a lot of fun and I was impressed with the race organization and loved the local volunteers and crowds. A fast, flat course – if you can stand the heat. Apparently, I cannot. Next year I’ll avoid racing in the tropics.