04 December 2009

Tricia Cecil - You ! Are ! An ! Ironman ! [IMCOZ 09 race report]

WEDNESDAY 25 through SATURDAY 28 - pre race

wednesday november 25

J and I woke up early to pack the car and get to BWI. dark, rainy, and cold in Bawlmor, hon.

We had the bike case, my giant red suitcase [weighed in at 67 lbs] and J's tiny suitcase. We were wheels up at 4:40. Got to the airport without a problem, parked in the long term lot, and headed to the terminal. $100 to check my bike? $50 more for an overweight bag? Last time I fly U.S. Airways. Yikes. We got to Charlotte without a problem and then boarded for our flight to Cancun.Landed in Cancun [to rain - boo!] and took a 35 minute drive to Playa del Carmen to catch the ferry. Then: a 30 minute ferry ride and we're finally in Cozumel.

next time? we fly directly to Cozumel.

a short taxi ride later and we're at our beautiful hotel. here is the view from our swim up pool to our patio/ room: [this is living!]

thursday november 26

The following morning J and I met Saltz for breakfast. Mmmmm... breakfast. I had french toast, yogurt with coconut shreds, pancakes, bacon. And then more. Hey, a girls gotta get her fuel to race, right? After that feast, Saltz and I headed over for the pre-race swim at chankanaab park.

The current was crazy ! I couldn't even make it to the first buoy for the turn around. Yikes. I turned to head back to the pier, and could not believe that it took me 30 minutes to get out ... and 5 minutes to get back. Should be interesting on race day, I thought.

next stop: packet pickup / expo. it was held at the convention center and to my dissapointment it was not the thrill of an IM expo I had heard of.... hell, it wasn't anything close to the expo at Providence 70.3. There wasn't a lot of IMCOZ merchandise, and almost none plain IM merchandise. Oh well. Here I am getting my race stuff. Oh, except "we don't have the gear bags, you have to come back tomorrow at 4:00 for them." ugh, pita.

later on Cathy and Debbie got into town and I saw them at the hotel. well, I saw Debbie's race shirt from Diamondman and thought, hey, I've done that race! and then noticed it was Debbie. yeah.

My parents and sister + BIL got in that day, so James and I met them at dinner. They surprised me with GO TRICIA! tshirts.so awesome ! everyone had one, except for my dad, who doesn't do tshirts, so his was a polo with my race number in the upper left hand corner and the graphic on the back.

look, a good luck ladybug on my arm !

friday november 27

woke up early to go to the second pre race swim, only to be told on the way down to the lobby that it was cancelled due to high winds and big waves. I started to panic - what if they cancelled the swim?? I didn't want to do the bike and the run and not be called an Ironman.

I paid a bike mechanic at the hotel to put Bella back together and me, Saltz, and Debbie rode to the park [3 mi from the hotel]. Headwinds were crazy and we were avg 12 mi/hr ! yikes ! still, the strong headwind meant a strong tailwind, and we easily hit low 20s on the way back.

after the ride debbie and saltz went for a swim in the ocean, and I took a nap. I couldn't get in enough naps ! later on we met to go to the expo for the bus tour of the bike course, the rest of packet pick up, and the athlete meeting. after waiting around the front of the convention center for a while, I asked someone about the bus course. "Oh, it was cancelled." Gee, thanks for letting us know. I really hope the logistical/ communication issues stem from this being an innaugural race. Ironman is a big brand and they should know how to put on a flawless race. Then we had about an hour to kill, so we wandered around town and got some food.

Had dinner with my family and fell asleep pretty early. Oh, I should mention that my parents, sister, brother in law, and husband were very much enjoying the booze part of the all inclusive part of the resort. Drink orders for dinner: wine ! mojito ! cervasa ! dirty martini ! dos cervasas ! ... water.

saturday, november 28

to quote saltz: "we need to find something that eats up a lot of time but doesn't use any energy." I honestly don't remember what I did on Saturday, except for back my gear bags:

you need a lot of STUFF for an IM... especially if you did full changes, like I did:

oh, and then we had to drop off our bikes, bike gear, and run gear bags at the park. [location of the swim and T1]. fitting the bikes on shuttles was kind of hilarious. it made me kind of [okay very] nervous that we wouldn't have access to our gear bags on race morning. I was terrified I'd forgotten something major, like running shoes or my bike jersey.

the park was abuzz with activity. we first had to get checked in. then they took our photos [to ID the body later?] then it was to transition to rack our bikes. saltz and I had amazing spots! they were right outside of the change tents ! I kissed Bella and told her to get ready for the 112 miles tomorrow. then I got body marked by people with possibly the Best Handwriting Ever. I mean, it was calligraphy with a permanant marker on my legs and shoulder.We dropped off our run gear bags [to be transported downtown, where we would finish our bike] and hung our bike gear bags on racks:
cool sign at the park:

we headed back to the hotel and I got my Infinit ready... bottled water only !

the hotel provided a pasta buffet for dinner, and all of us in our bright orange athlete wristbands were happy to partake:

I headed to bed pretty early - around 8:30 - and fell asleep around 10. Oddly, I wasn't nervous.. just excited. and ready.



morning + swim [2.4 miles]

I slept very well... I actually didn't want to get up when my alarm(s) [James' phone, the wake up call, and the alarm clock] went off at 4:00 am. I ate breakfast -- 2 chocolate poptarts, one banana, and a gatorade:
We headed to the hotel lobby and got on the 5 am shuttle to the park. It was totally pitch dark outside... dawn didn't look to be breaking anytime soon. We got to transition at, oh, 5:10, and waited around until 5:30 when transition opened. There was a lot of nervous, excited energy in the air !

Oddly, I wasn't nervous. At all. I was just excited and so ready to start the day.

When transition opened we all swarmed inside. James went to get a good spot at the swim exit, and Saltz and I headed to transition to pump up are tires [and oil our chains.. performance. it's the name of the game].

an overview of the park with transition and the swim area:

James and I took our pre-race photo:

me, debbie, and cathy:

Thumbs up and let's go !
The pros went off at 6:45 and we were scheduled to go at 7. Close to that the race officials started yelling "let's go! everyone in the water! we need everyone in the water now!" people started running and jumping off of the pier. It was madness! ... I have no idea where I ended up in the start... I didn't even hear a gun shot or a cannon - but once everyone started swimming, I started too ! I'm somewhere in that group:
it's like a giant school of fish !
The swim was pretty uneventful. Unlike the practice swim I did not meet any jellyfish ! I did see a ton of starfish on the ocean floor, which was awesome. The water didn't look very deep - mayb 10 feet - but judging by the SCUBA divers standing on the bottom - and waving! - I think it was probably closer to 90 feet. I didn't come into contact with a lot of other swimmers, except around the buoys - see photo above! it was madness around them. madness !

I kept glancing at my watch and was shocked to see it say 1:10 ish when I was so close to the exit. I finished strong and ran up the steps to T1. 1:14 and I was out of the water. awesome start !

It took me a minute to find my gear bag [I have no idea why - they were in numerical order!] and stumbled into the women's changing tent. I heard "Trish! Trish" It was Saltzy! She, of the "I will be ecstatic if I get out of the water in 1h 30m" was out in 1:13. My volunteer helped me change into my bike clothes and sprayed me with sunblock. I headed out of the tent and then panicked - where are my sunglasses?! .. and then the volunteer found them under the rest of my stuff. I headed back out, grabbed Bella, heard some cheers of "GO TERPS!", saw my family, and headed out on the bike course for a little 112 mile ride.

swim stats
distance> 2.4 miles
time> 1:14:21
div.pos> [F25-29]: 35/55
rank> 1040/ 1928

bike [112 miles]

as soon as I got on my bike I knew something was off. I felt like my aerobars were too high when the bike mechanic put them back on, so I lowered them. and then apparently thought it was a good idea to not RIDE it with the newly lowered bars. smart. it started bugging me and I thought "if you don't fix this now, it's going to irritate you for the next 7 hours." I hopped off of my bike, got my park tool, and raised the aerobars. it took 6 minutes. whatevs.

the bike course was three loops (well, 2 and 3/4) around the island. I started out pushing a nice comfortable pace of 20 mi/hr. Then we turned... then my speedometer: 18, 16, 15, 13, 12... yikes. Headwinds and crosswinds were really slowing me down, but I was okay with it. My main goal was to enjoy the day. The east side of the island is almost totally undeveloped - it has no electricity. And it was absolutely stunning [photos later in the rr]. Huge waves crashed into sandy beaches for miles and miles. Breathtaking.I finished the first loop and came into town - amidst cheers of Vamanos! Vamanos! and a lot of other things in Spanish. I was having a fantastic time! I was Hola-ing! and Muchas Gracias-ing ! all over the town. People had moraccos and all sorts of noisemakers. The whole city was out .. it was fantastic. I was smiling and cheering.

The second loop was not quite as great - I knew I had to face the winds again, and I had the most pain ... in my FEET. My shoulders, back, and legs felt fine, but my FEET - OUCHIE. It felt like they were asleep, only with more pain.. like they were hot and wanted out of my shoes. I came to bike special needs wanting a tylonel... and no one could find my bag. Awesome. At least I didn't have anything in there I really needed.. and another athlete gave me an advil. Moral of the story? Use your SN as "it would be nice to get it here, but if I don't I'll be fine." Here I am coming into town at the second loop, getting off my bike to tell my mom how much my feet hurt:

By this time some of the fasties were finishing their bike, and I was heading out to do my third loop. Boo. By this time I just really, really wanted to be off of my bike. my feet were throbbing. the last stretch along the water felt like forever. I kept thinking I saw the turn off ... and then: more water, and more headwinds.

Finally - finally! - we came in to town. I was so happy to dismount my bike. So happy. I was surprised to see James take my bike, and I think I said "no, no, you can't touch it - that's outside assistance." James laughed and said "I'm volunteering now." He, my mom, and my sister ended up as bike catchers !

distance> 112 mi
time> 7:19:54
pace> 15.28 mph
rank> 1107/ 1928
div.pos> 31/ 55

run [26.2 miles]
I was so flipping happy to be off of the bike that I would have gladly ran 50 miles. And who did I see in the change tent? Saltzy ! I just passed her at the dismount area of the bike. I changed out of my smelly bike gear - and bike shoes, tg - and into my running gear. At this point I knew that I would definitely be an Ironman by the end of the day. I had 8 hours to finish and unlike the bike, I didn't have to worry about mechanical issues or flats. Running is what I do. I was so ready to do this.

The runcourse was three out and backs - each lap 8.7 miles, each "out" 4.35ish miles.

I underestimated how hard running would be after the swim and the bike. I started at a 9:45ish pace, and slowed down from there. I didn't care, though. I made some friends - met a guy who lives in Mexico City and was recently at an arbitration in Washington as a CPA, a woman with three teenage kids, a man from England.

Here I am coming in from the first loop. My mom "you're almost done!" Me "I am nowhere near done." Mom "you are a lot closer than you were at 7 am." Touche, ma, touche. I was so happy to see them, but not so happy to make the turn around right in front of the finisher's chute, where some of the super fasties were making their finish.
The second loop was hard. I knew I had two more laps and it was getting dark and humid. The mosquitoes were out in full force, and even with the buy spray I doused myself with I was still getting eaten. The aid stations left something to be desired: all they had was gatorade, water, and tangerine and green apple powerade gels. barf. I mentioned this to some guy who kindly gave me one of his strawberry-banana gels - so nice ! I really could have used some cookies or crackers/ pretzels. I hit the halfway marker and wasn't sure how to feel. Yay - I'm halfway done! or Oh god, another 13.1 miles. I trudged on. At this point I was doing a shuffle run/ walk thingie. I was also laughing at my plan to keep a 10:15 pace ! I hit run special needs just after the halfway marker and grabbed my GUs ... and about 12 little pieces of paper I had forgotten about until that moment. James told me he was putting notes in my run SN bag. I stuffed the notes in my shirt, re sprayed myself with bug spray [and left it on the table for anyone else who was a mosquitoes dinner], and headed back on.

I opened one note every so often.. they were silly, touching, heartfelt notes from my parents, my sister, my BIL, and J. Some that stick out: "you'll never meet a judge as hard as this course!" [from dad] ; "don't worry about your hair!" [my mom, reference to me as a little one in an open top jeep, yelling about my hair getting messed up] ; "the longer you're out, the drunker we're getting" [james] ; "do it for the cats" ... they were so, so appreciated.

at the end of the second loop, I yelled to my family "see you at the finish line!!" and headed out for my very last loop. the third loop was definitely the easiest, mentally -- I knew that there would be no turn around .. just the glorious finish line. At mile 19ish I started chatting with this girl. We were telling stories about our days. I asked her for her name, and she said Janelle.. I said "RUNNERGIRL?!" .. she said "TRISHIE?!" It was my
bt.com friend! we had been exchanging inspires and chatting for several months, and to meet her on the run was a gift from the tri gods. we kept each other moving -- mostly running and only walking through the aid stations. When we got into town we started cheering and getting the crowd riled up.

distance> 26.2 mi.
time> 5:16:13
pace> 12:04/mile
rank> 956/ 1928
div.pos> 23/55

the finish - 140.6 miles
then: the finish line. the lights and the music and the screaming and cheering and yelling. I saw my family and James got this shot:

I was soaking it all in, enjoying the craziness and the thrill of the end of a 140.6 mile race.. although, really, it's the end of years of training, the culmination of 6am swims, of 100 mile bike rides on the eastern shore and 18 mile runs in the city, of countless orders of Infinit and packages from trisports.com, of exhuastion and 3 hour trainer rides and a little dream, the whisper that said I can do this.


and so I was. and I am.

OVERALL 14:12:29
RANK 956/ 1928
DIV.POS. 23/ 55

and here is my family - my ironsherpa, ironmom, irondad, ironsister, and ironbrotherinlaw.

Saltz finished next.

and then debbie.
and here I am. it's almost a week later and I ended up with a nasty stomach bug that I still have but nothing can shake the euphoria.
a big big thanks to my twinnie-a, Andi, for keeping everyone updated throughout the day with FB updates and emails, and for the generous gift certificate to a local spa - waiting for me in the mail when I got back to baltimore.
and to my awesome family, who supported me not only on race day, but throughout my training.
and to my racing girls, for the group rides and swims and sharing in the agony, exhuastion, and exhileration.
and, of course, to J: my ironsherpa and husband. much love and thanks - more than I can express. onward and upward to the next adventure !


  1. i want MORE. i can't wait to

  2. I have been stalking your blog for this report! I hope that you are feeling better! I imagine you thought something along the lines of, at least the stomach bug was AFTER Ironman (I know that I thought the same about Hurricane Ida) ... unless you are preggers already! :)

  3. LMAO 'Anne". Agreed! Too funny too on the preggers things and I believe it or not; I wondered too. TRISHIE.... How amazing for you and congratulations over and over, and over! Now tell us what you were thinking all that time on the race, and what you did after; like snorkeling and and what are you doing NEXT? LMAO ... what is left?

  4. Great race, I'm so proud of you. Loved the little notes, how thoughtful! What a drag about lack of goodies at the aid station. you did great!

  5. Congratulations! You did it. Now rest up and feel beter! :-)

  6. Bery nice. What a fun and memorable course that must have been.

    You are an IRONMAN!

  7. way to go Trishie! You ARE an Ironman! Congrats! I really enjoyed reading this race report.

  8. loves! loved being able to do something for you on the day too! so, so proud of you twinnie t. i'm excited for your next adventure, and hope that you keep relishing in the glory of your acheivement at the same time.

  9. Congrats! As I'm looking at your pictures, I noticed that we were staying at the same hotel! What are the odds? AND, I was behind you in the line for the potties in the womens changing tent before the race! So funny! I don't remember seeing you around the hotel, but I was with the large group of drunken people...so you probably heard us and wanted us to die. :) I'm glad you had a great race! Congratulations!!

  10. Congrats, Trishie, or should I say Ironman Trishie!! I loved, loved, loved this race report, and am so glad you had a wonderful day despite the sore feet on the bike (so strange, btw) and the stomach bug. Now on to the next adventure!!

  11. brilliant brilliant read! more more more!

  12. runningesq - Congratulations. I enjoyed the whole race report!!

  13. Unfortunately for everyone else at the resort, yes, we were the ones with the portable speaker. I can't recall Snoop Dogg specifically, but that's just the margaritas talking! :) I hope you were able to drown us out!

  14. Perfect race report. I can't wait to hear more. What is next?

  15. Loved the rest of the report! The notes were a great idea, how sweet!

    My feet were killing me at the end of the bike too, and I didn't have that in training for the last 2 months (at least) so I am not sure where that came from!

    Looks like Coz has a beautiful course!

    Congrats again, Ironman! Let's see that finisher gear!

  16. Congrads and a great race report. I was there also, and many of us had issues withe our feet on the bike. Not sure why. Looks like you had a great first IM. It can only get better. What's next?? I am headed to Hawaii!

  17. Amazing. You are my inspiration. Thank you so much for sharing your journey!

  18. Congratulations!!!!!!! I know all about the pain in the foot thing. I actually ended up getting of my bike and taking off my shoes to see what was burning! I had put plasters on to stop blisters and ended up taking them off. It helped slightly.

    I loved reading your race report - good luck with your next venture!

  19. Great race report, I really enjoyed reading it! Congratulations Ironman, and goodluck with your next adventure.

  20. Stellar report. When is the next scheduled Ironman?

  21. I have bookmarked and printed out this blog post for future reference. Your account is so vivid. I felt like I was watching the Universal Sports IMCozy special of Tricia Cecil. Loving the report, loving your bike catching family and loving your mammoth bling. What an amazing journey for an amazing person! Till your next loco adventure...

  22. omg, you're so awesome. great race report. my favorite part was the notes. i cried. :P

  23. Oh, woman! You friggin' ROCK!
    That was fun to look at, I'm so glad to hear a great story, maybe in a few years I'll be up for following in IronWomen footsteps!


  24. Wow, that was quite the race report! I loved all the pictures. I cant say how much I'm excited for you and your hard work, celebrate well (after you recover from your bug)! I'm not sure what's next for you come 2010 but be sure to bring me along!

  25. SO FLIPPING AMAZING! I am all goofy smiles and "aaaaaaawwww"s over here for you!


  26. just stumbled across your blog as i consider IMCOZ...thanks for the great review of your experience.

    (in baltimore area as well.)