So, the Ironman experience is over for the year--for good and for ill. And it bears looking back to see those people and experiences that made the Ironman Cozumel experience what it was.
First, a tip of the hat to those parts of the race that were all awesomeness.
To Mrs. Greyhound and Superpounce who gave me the grace to go my miserable pace into the night rather than either quit or stress that I was taking too long because of any impatience to be done. Sometimes you just gotta walk.
Coach Kris deserves a tip of the hat for writing programs and answering e-mails and phone calls and guiding me through a year of training. He got me to the start line fitter than ever, healthy and ready to go. He wrote a program that I could complete while keeping my job and my marriage. I liked having a coach for the first time in my life, and I could not have had a better or more knowledgeable one. At times, he deserved a better athlete, but you git' what you git.
To the fine folks at Endurance Sports Travel: we tested your theory that Ironman travel can be idiot proof, and your theory held up. If you ever want to do a destination Ironman race, and you want someone to handle the details and take care of your family while you race and treat you like a rock star, even if you are slow, then Endurance Sports Travel is the only way to go. Owned and operated by Ironman legend Ken Glah, Endurance Sports Travel makes an Ironman trip worry free, at a cost less than what many of the athletes paid to make all those arrangements on their own. I don't know where my next destination Ironman will be, but I plan to pick the destination off of their itineraries. HUGE Tip O' the Greyhound Chapeau and A++ to them.
To bloggy peeps like Greyt Times and Coach Liz and Speed Racer and Kim and Johnny Tri, and The Artist Formerly Known As Iron Kahuna: People and friendships make this sport special, and all of you were a big part of why this trip has good memories for me. As I sit here in the house on a quiet Sunday afternoon with a profound case of the Ironman blues, I'm missing people like you. My only real regret is not having enough time on the island with each of you, and it will be a true disappointment if we can't share a race venue again some time in the very near future.
To Cozumelenos, you people turned out and opened the town for a bunch of weirdos in spandex with pointy helmets as if we were all rock stars. You cheered and chanted and applauded and offered hospitality never before seen north of the Rio Grande. Cozumel rocks.
To the race organization: Great spot for a race, very well executed overall, problems on the day were tackled quickly, the spectators were fantastic, and if you want a tough, tough (did I say effing TOUGH) Ironman experience, then this is the place to go. I say this, though, as preface to what I hope will be some constructive criticisms that will make the race even better.
The water bottles handed out on the race course were CRAP! As designed, one could not get enough water to come out the nozzle to pour down the gullet or over the head. Thus, people finally resorted to grabbing the nozzle in the teeth and ripping them off entirely, creating an open spout. Get a different bottle.
Mosquitos on the run course. Race organization needs repellent at the aid stations, and you best put some in your special needs bag or you'll be eaten alive.
Bike Aid Stations: Volunteers were game and friendly and eager to do a good job, but they needed training in some of the particulars--e.g., you have to take the inner seal off the Gatorade bottle so a cyclist can use it, and you have to keep the water bottles filled and ready to go. No water on the second loop of the bike course was not acceptable. This race will always be hot and you should anticipate needing twice as many iced water bottles because everyone is taking on cold water every 10k.
Special Needs Bags: the special needs bags were a clusterfuck. You can't do it on the narrow side of the island where there is no space. Do it before or after where the road is wide instead. Have someone down the road with a walkie talkie calling numbers so people can ride by and grab their bags on the run. This business of stopping and pawing through 2000 bags on the side of a narrow road was way below average.
Coastal rode: OK, so it is chip seal. It doesn't have to be washboard, bucking bronco, pound your testicles into your Willie chip seal. That road sucked--as did a notable section of the pavement in town--dangerously so. Obviously, this might not be the priority of local government, but if it could be resurfaced . . . . .
Ice and Coke: The organizers refilled it quickly when it ran out, but when it is this hot, you should never, EVER run out of ice, even for an instant. Ditto Coke later in the marathon. Never run out, and you must de-fizz the coke if runners are going to make use of it.
Medical Tent: if half of your participants are going to speak English, you must have someone in the medical tent who can tell an English speaking spouse that her husband is not there. Otherwise, Mrs. Greyhound will punch your lights out.
So, I would do this race again in a heartbeat, but I would do it for a Mexican vacation, not looking for a PR. It was a great experience, and I know it will be even better for the competitors who turn up for the second edition of Ironman Cozumel.