Friday, September 30, 2016

WORLDS! International Competition!


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International Triathlon Union

Draft-Legal Sprint Triathlon

 September 15, 2016


WEATHER:   Sunny / 87'F  /  94% Humidity

RESULTS:  11th (fastest bike split)


Oh my gosh!  Worlds!  I can't begin to explain the feelings I have when I reflect back upon that event.  To race with the best athletes in my age group from countries all over the world?  Simply surreal.  To finish 11th?  Unbelievable.  Throughout the week, I found myself shaking my in disbelief.  Four years ago, I couldn't tie my shoes and there I was on the "biggest stage in the sport," as my coach likes to say.  So many memories that I will have for a lifetime!  To finish 11th among the best triathletes sent to compete by their country?  To have the fastest bike slip j

Flying:  Flying to Cozumel was a challenge for me.  I am horribly terrified of flying and haven't flown for about ten years.  In fact, I've passed up several invitations to stay in friends' condos in various exotic locations because I couldn't fathom getting on the plane.  But for some strange reason, I was pretty calm this time on the plane.  Maybe because I was so excited about going to Worlds.  But in reality, I think was because of my developing relationship with Jesus.  I knew that whatever happened during the flight, it was in God's hands.  

We flew to Dallas and then to Cozumel.  Virtually everyone on the plane was traveling to Worlds.  We sat between athletes from Australia and talked to others from Canada and the USA.  So very cool.

Bike Box Purchase:  Getting my bike to Cozumel was interesting.  I am SO protective of my bike and didn't want it out of my sight so I decided not to use a bike transport company.  Instead, I purchased a bike box so my bike could travel with me on the plane.  Adam Zucco, owner of Training Bible coaching, suggested that I purchase a Scicon Triathlon Bike Bag.  The advantage of this bike bag is that, unlike other bags, you don't have to take off the handlebar, aerobar or pedals.  You just remove the wheels and put them in side pockets, clip the bike to the base of the bag, and zip up the bag.  Easy peasy.  

I was nervous that my Vector pedals might get damaged so I took them off.  I was a little hesitant because the case was canvas, but it had rave reviews online so I purchased it.  It was not cheap ($800) and American Airlines charged $300 for it, but the ease of transport was worth the funds to me.  At the airport, I found that 80% of the bike boxes I saw were Scicons.  Note:  I'm kind of proud that I did the disassembly and reassembly all by myself.  I even used a torque wrench to tighten the pedals! 

Packing:  Man oh man!  There was a lot to take to Cozumel.  We ended up taking seven items.  We had to pay extra because one of the large suitcases was over 50 pounds.  The other large suitcase was just under 50 pounds.
1.  Large Suitcase - My clothes, convection hot plate, scale
2.  Large Suitcase - Food
3.  Carry-on:  Suitcase - Brian's clothes
4.  Carry-on:  Transition bag - Everything I needed for race day (tri kit, helmet, bike shoes, etc.)
5.  Personal item:  Small backpack - Duplicates of my race day items and electronics
6.  Personal item:  Small backpack - Computer, Worlds notebook
7.  Bike

Making Sure it All Got on the Plane:  A very nice person at American Airlines told me that if the plane were overweight, they tend to leave off the "heavy" and weirdly shaped luggage.  In addition to worrying about my bike and luggage getting on the plan, I was concerned that with the full plane, I wouldn't be able to stow my carry-on luggage (which contained all my race-day equipment) in the overheads.  I didn't want my race gear to leave my side.  I learned that if I purchased "priority seating," 1) I would be able to board the plan early so I could grab space in the overhead bins before they filled, and 2) the airline would put a "Priority" sticker on my bike and luggage so it would not be removed if the plane were too heavy.  The priority status only cost around $25.  Pretty cheap to make sure my bike and luggage made it to Cozumel!

Customs:  When we got off the plane in Cozumel, it was like walking into a steam bath.  The humidity was so high that it was difficult to breath.  As each athlete deplaned, you could hear him or her say, "Oh my gosh!  It's HUMID!"  The airport was a little single story building.  We were told to pick up our luggage and then go through customs.  I watched as a million bike boxes were rolled into the room.  It seemed like forever until mine arrived.  Phew!  My bike and I were reunited!  Then we waited in line for customs.  When I got to the front of the line, a BIG black dog came sprinting at me from across the room.  It scared the daylight out of me!  Then he stood pointing with his nose on my leg.  I was terrified.  The customs officials were yelling something at me but I couldn't understand them because of their accents.  I finally understood they were telling me to "Drop the bag!" meaning the transition bag I was carrying with all my tri gear.  All I could think was, "Oh no!  They are going to take my tri gear!"  They asked if I had fruit in there.  I said no.  Then they put a sticker on my bag and told me to go to an inspection station.  They inspected my bag but couldn't find anything.  I asked if the dog could have smelled the Gatorade that USED to be in my empty water bottles and they said yes.  Amazing nose on that big black dog!  

I have to report that the dog also charged at Brian who was carrying my tri-duplicates bag (and scared him too).  I could hear Brian yelling, "Sue!  What do you have in this bag!!??"  Ha!

Bike Damage:  My bike arrived damaged!!  The handlebar had swiveled from left to right so it was no longer aligned with my front wheelPanic!  I thought it would just be a matter of untightening the cap bolt in the top of the headset, straightening the bar, and then tightening the bolt again.  But as I read, I found that there were bearings in the headset that had to somehow be adjusted in the process.  It wasn't simple.  And the Cervelo manual recommended that the bolt be torqued to a specific reading.  I had a torque wrench, but not the XXX.  I had a regular wrench but I was afraid to tighten it by hand.  I finally found an over-the-top nice person at Cozumel Bike Rental who had a torque wrench and would come to the hotel after work.  Relief!  But . . . he was running late and my coach arrived before he did, so after some convincing me that this wasn't as big of a deal as it seemed to be, my coach made the adjustment by hand - no torque wrench.  My handbar stayed on in the race and worked fine.

Food:  I didn't want to risk becoming ill from the Mexican food until after I raced so I brought food with me for the four days before my race.  I researched what we could bring into Mexico and learned that I could bring in packaged food (not fresh food) as long as it was in unopened packages.  That meant I could eat what I normally eat with these exceptions:

Yogurt - Replaced by milk protein bars
Bananas - Replaced by banana baby food
Apples - Replaced by applesauce
Egg whites - Replaced by freeze-dried eggs (Mountain House)
Microwave Rice - Rice in boiling bags  

I really struggled with how to heat the rice and eggs since there would not be a microwave in our hotel room.  I experimented with all kinds of possibilities and finally purchased a NuWave Portable Invection Cooktop.  Great purchase!  It wasn't too heavy and fit nicely in my suitcase.  We also brought a pan, measuring cup and measuring spoons.  I double-wrapped all of the liquids (Gatorade, coconut water, protein shakes) in zip-lock bags and put the liquids toward the middle of my suitcase so everything else would insulate them.  Nothing blew up!  I have to admit it was difficult to cook in the hotel room and then take rice mixed with eggs to the restaurant for dinner as my husband and coach ate yummy food in our all-inclusive hotel, but everything worked out well.  I never got sick and I was confident that my nutrition was "just right" on race day.

Coach in Cozumel

A year ago, I asked my coach to come to Cozumel with me.  I hoped he would come for a number of reasons.  One of the biggest reasons was that I was afraid that my bike would arrive damagedI knew he would know what to do.  That's exactly what happened.  I was also nervous about training in Mexico.  I had never swum distance in the ocean before and I was nervous about riding in the Mexican roads.  I also thought it would help to have him see the course first-hand and advise me.  I offered to pay his expenses, and hoped that the experience of coaching at Worlds would take the play of his hourly fee.  I also thought that the experience would be good for him professionally and as he marketed his business.  I was pleased that he agreed to accompany me (and my husband) to Cozumel.

Training in Cozumel

My coach arrived on Monday afternoon, three days before my race.  Around suppertime, we road a lot of the bike course.  It was an easy ride on a two-lane road that I enjoyed immensely.