A suffering party
The race in Costa Rica was a lesson in limiting losses. As I wrote previously, the bike didn’t go as planned. This was the best supported run I have ever been on.
Race morning we drove to the site from Playa Grande at 4:30AM. I had a couple of Powerbars, as I knew we had a while to go before the race start (pros started 30 min before we did). Set up transition (I had an end of the row, which was nice), filled up my water bottles and did my business. Note: I didn’t see ANY monkeys.
I was able to borrow Ryan (rev3 teammate) Oilar’s speedsuit (easy on with some TriSlide) for the day when he decided to wear his wetsuit (I hadn’t brought anything beyond my tri suit). In the past, the race hasn’t been wetsuit legal, but this year the water has been cooler than usual so it was wetsuit legal for us amateurs. During the practice swim on Friday, the water had been really choppy… not as bad as New Orleans in 2010, but very difficult to sight in and get a clean stroke. Come race day, the water was calm for the start. I seeded myself halfway back in the group (which was male and females under 40). Swims had been going pretty well lately, so I figured I would just either swim my slow ass 36+, or get a bit better start and pass some folks. A two loop swim, the first lap was uneventful. Getting into the second lap, the water started to get a bit choppier. I still had no idea where I was with regard to the main pack, but that’s the norm. Very nice to see that after that, I had a 32:50 swim. Happy about that.
Lesson learned: When swimming into the sun and unable to sight, use the sun as your landmark: you can avoid looking up and just use the reflection of the sun. The last leg of each lap was into the sun, so it was impossible to use see the swim out arch. But I knew I had to keep the sun just off my left shoulder, I’d be on target. And I was.
The bike started with a climb out of the resort area. A couple of punchy steep sections. And then we descended to the gate of the resort and at that point I lost one of my two feed bottles going over a cobbled section (though I wouldn’t realize this for another 10 minutes or so). So instead of having 3 hours worth of calories with me on the bike, I now only had 1.5 hours. The wind had picked up a bit at this point so we were blessed with a nice tailwind for 25% of the course and cursed with what felt like a headwind for 75%.
At the first aid station, the volunteers had tiny water bottles and tiny Gatorade bottles. Unfortunately, they hadn’t removed the caps yet at this point, so that was an issue. And then they didn’t fit in the water bottle cages. Well, shit. No water for the next 17 miles. A dual conundrum. My feed bottle was the only thing that had liquid in it, it was 90 degrees, and I needed to extend my feed bottle as long as possible.
The next time through the aid station, bottle caps were removed, so I was able to get some water in; third time through, I had both Gatorade and water. But still, not a great situation.
Coming back into transition, I flatted with 150 meters or so to go. No need to waste minutes on swapping out tubes, so I just ran into transition. Oy.
Lesson learned: Have a backup plan. I could’ve made super concentrated feed bottles, or had some gels with me. Also, in low humidity situations, check your suit for salt residue and make sure you’re not getting too dehydrated.
I was in a bad spot after the bike. I was dehydrated. I had been out in the sun for 3.5 hours. My goal was to limit my losses.
The run course started out with about 1.1 miles on the beach, then up the hill through Brasilito, then back into the resort with an uphill and a downhill. We did four laps. I think I tried 4 different lines through the sand but couldn’t find anything with a solid pack.
Lap 1 was all about getting fluids back into my system and cooling down my core. After that I tried to get as much running in as possible, but the speed just wasn’t there.
Lesson learned: Don’t give up. I missed out on 3rd place AG by 3 minutes. Definitely could have made that up if I hadn’t walked as much as I did. But then, after the bike I think I was on a pretty thin edge of being in bad shape.