There seems to be about 1 race a year that I pretty much want to erase from my memory. In 2017 it was Miami 70.3 with a death march consisting of walking/jogging most of the run after mile 1. In 2018 it was IRONMAN Louisville with my first DNF after succumbing to the cold and rain on the bike after being somewhat sickly leading into the race. This race seems to have come early in 2019 with Campeche 70.3 in Mexico a couple weeks ago. But just because was bad or didn’t go to plan doesn’t mean that I should completely forget about it. If anything, I should be able to take away as much or more from this race than one where things fall into place.
I’ll start with the lead up to the race, as I believe this had more of an effect on my race than anything else. Since I had neglected to schedule any time off from work for races in this contract, this left me busy getting in my hours the week prior to the race. Between that, prepping for my first International trip to Mexico, and typical dad/husband duties I was pretty crunched for time and sleep leading into my trip. A shout out to James Webster of Re-Cycle Tucson for helping me quickly fix my malfunctioning Di2 and getting my bike ready to go as well in this time as these things always seem to happen during race week! Eventually everything was settled and I was making my way from the Tucson airport, to LA, to Mexico City, and finally into the Campeche airport.
I arrived to Campeche Saturday night a little before 9pm and got my rental car and headed to my hotel. Everything actually went pretty smoothly for travel with some extra leg room on a couple of the flights. I built my bike up that night and was in bed before 10:30 pm. Luckily, the race was set to start in the early afternoon rather than the typical early morning start. This allowed me some time to organize all of my things in the morning and get some food in me before testing out the bike and heading to the race venue. Everything was made a bit more difficult since this was my first time in Mexico and my last time learning any Spanish was from 8th grade Spanish class. I managed to get on the correct shuttle to the swim start, though, and eventually seemed to be in the right place.
After some scrambling, I found the staff that had kept my race packet for me and quickly got my bike set up at the rack and handed off my run gear to a volunteer that was to take it to transition 2 where it would hopefully be waiting for me. The language barrier definitely made a lot of this process more difficult, but the race staff was very helpful in making sure I got everything I needed to be ready to race. Eventually, I had everything set and was walking to the beach to get in some warm up strokes before the race start!
Originally, I had thought that not too many Pros would sign up for an International race in the early tri season. I was wrong. After seeing the stacked start list, I thought, surely not all of these guys will show up on race day. Wrong again. I was feeling a bit small lining up next to some of these amazing athletes as the announcer went through the list at the start line just after the Mexican National Anthem had played. The announcer was then abruptly cut off and the race started!
I got a decent start with a couple dolphin dives heading out on the beach start. I had lined up directly in the middle right in the thick of things so that I would have plenty of options. The first right hand turn buoy was about 200 meters out so everybody was going hard to get good positioning. I found myself sticking right near Michael Weiss and Matt Hanson which is right where I wanted to be. I stuck right in the area in a good pack as we made the first turn which put us with some choppy waves at our back. The pace was fast but sustainable as we headed to the next left hand turn buoy. I stayed right near Matt Hanson which I was happy with, as a couple years ago he had dropped me in my first Pro races.
Things continued going well through the next 2 turns which is when we started heading into the choppy waves. This changed things up quickly. What had been a pack of athletes suddenly got completely broken up with everyone just trying to stay on top of the waves. I quickly lost contact with the group after some waves to the face and was having difficulty getting or maintaining a rhythm. I focused on trying to continue to swim strong and limit any time losses for the remainder of the swim, but it was definitely a fight. The final turn was a relief and I finally got back into a somewhat steady effort. As I exited the water, Lauren Brandon was coming out right behind me having a great swim starting after the Pro men.
I was feeling pretty gassed coming out the water, but attempted to transition quickly and hop on the bike to close the gap to the group. The way out of transition included a steep grade having me grinding in the small ring for the first minute or so. After the climb and a quick descent the road flattened out onto the highway. As I got into the aero position, I was just absolutely exhausted. I pushed anyways through the fatigue, but found things only worsening. My legs just seemed unable to push. Most of this section had a decent tailwind, so I was hoping that by the first turnaround I would be able to work things out and be able to push hard for the remainder of the ride on the 2 loop course.
Things didn’t get better. The fatigue only got deeper and I found myself barely being able to push power that normally would be ridiculously easy on any training day. I fought to keep things going and at times just to stay upright with the occasional strong crosswind. I felt weak, and was frustrated trying to figure out why nothing seemed to be helping. It was tempting to pull out after 1 lap on the bike, but headed out anyways to try to salvage something out of this race. I finally made my way into finishing the bike leg and began walking down the chute in transition 2. After arriving to my run gear, I made the decision to pull the plug. I couldn’t wrap my head around attempting to run/jog/walk 13.1 miles.
I had to wait a bit to be able to take my bike out of transition, but eventually headed back to my hotel to re-pack my bike for the early morning flight the next day. I was questioning everything that had happened leading into the race from the prior few months of training to that day’s prep. When it comes down to it, I’m sure there were a number of things that didn’t go right leading into race. But if I had to put my finger on one thing, it would be stress. It’s no secret that I’ve put myself into a position in my life that I have a ton of commitments. From working as a full-time travel nurse, moving constantly, trying to be a good husband/father, and attempting to maintain quality training, it is always going to be a fight to ensure that I am able to juggle all of these things while also getting adequate rest. With a tougher than average week and a ton of travel and logistic stress for the race, I was beat down and mentally out of it before the race even started.
This has left me wondering where to go from here. I have seriously doubted toeing the start line at my next race Oceanside 70.3 with probably the strongest Pro field outside of a World Championship race. I continued to stay in a funk for awhile after Campeche. While I believe I am now getting my fitness and energy back, part of me is scared to fail again and put myself in the same situation. One of my reasons for loving and competing in this sport has always been the humbling aspect of it. Well before I started racing at the Pro level, I craved the races that showed me where my limits were, on good days or bad. For this reason I appreciate the race I had in Campeche, though it certainly wasn’t pleasant to go through.
On a lighter and more positive note, though, my first trip to Mexico was amazing! I got to experience a number of things that really opened my eyes to a different culture. From driving around the city, quickly perusing a local mall, the delicious food, and great support of the local community for the race, I had a great time during the rest of my trip! I did miss being able to have Rebekah by my side, but her and Charleigh were able to have some fun back in Arizona while I was gone too.
Thanks for reading and following along on the ups and downs!