Monday, December 5, 2011

On the road to Cozumel

Day 143 – On my journey to the Ironman

Thursday, November 24th

On Thanksgiving morning the alarm began its melodious tune at 3 AM (One of my favorite birthday gifts was an alarm clock that brings me gently into the day, with a slowly brightening light, aromatherapy beads and a soothing sound of my choice. Much more pleasant way to start the day than with a jarring noise blaring in my ear.) We were on the road to the airport by 3:50.

It was smooth sailing on our flight from Baltimore to Atlanta and our good fortune continued when we discovered we were seated in business class on the flight from Atlanta to Cozumel. While the rest of the plane was munching on pretzels and water poured into a plastic cup, we dined on spinach salad (me), chicken sandwiches (my husband) and fresh fruit with real utensils and water (or any other beverage) served in a glass. Not too shabby for airline food.

Our “front of the plane” seats had us first in line to get our bags through customs and we quickly located our ground transportation, a shuttle provided by Apple Vacations. Unfortunately, we were not the only Apple customers on the shuttle and were left standing curbside for an hour in the Cozumel heat and humidity (let the acclimating begin!) while we waited for the rest of the van’s eight passengers to arrive, clear customs and collect their belongings. As luck would have it, we were the first ones on the shuttle, and the last ones off. By the time we were deposited at our hotel, a bit sweaty, hungry and grumpy, we’d been traveling for nearly 12 hours and I’d developed a headache that Advil couldn’t touch.

Migraine illustration.

We checked in at our resort hotel, Iberostar Cozumel, peeled off our jeans in exchange for a pair of shorts, and grabbed a taxi for the 20 minute, $20 ride back into town for the Ironman check in and packet pickup.

Iberostar Cozumel

Packet pickup was a breeze--no lines, no waiting—and our swag included a really nice Ironman cycling jacket. Score! The expo, however, was not as easy to navigate as it was surprisingly sparse on vendors and space, yet densely packed with people. In addition to locating CO2 cartridges, I was on the hunt for a new running visor, a 140.6 magnet and a Cozumel Ironman t-shirt. I ended up going one for three. Found a visor I liked (though later wasted some energy second-guessing my choice) but there were no magnets and no shirts available in my size. (A common occurrence at these male-dominated races.) I had my eye on a gray, women’s-fit tee (the only one, it seemed, that was a women’s specific design, cut with shorter sleeves and a more narrow waist instead of suited for SpongeBob Square Pants) but I was told I’d have to wait to purchase it as it was for “finishers only.” I considered a triathlon necklace but decided against paying $30 for the cheaply made item and also admired some triathlon art, but could not fathom a way to easily get it home intact and settled for the company’s business card instead.

Race packets, CO2 cartridges and a visor in hand, our next stop was the TriBike Transport tent a few blocks away (this was, at first, a bit difficult to locate) to pick up our bikes that had been shipped a week in advance. Starving, we stopped at a market along the way and bought a box of granola bars and bottled water. We each ate three granola bars, polishing off the box, as we made our way to TriBike.

TriBike Transport - Hassle free travel for your Ironman bike

Our “matching” Felt bikes (this a result of the bike shop where we bought them giving us a great deal for purchasing two) were quickly located, the pedals were re-installed and we found a larger cab to take us, and our bikes, back to the hotel.

Finally back at Iberostar, we stowed our bikes and headed to the resort’s Mexican restaurant for dinner. Still on the wagon, we sipped a Dos XX and were surprised to find the Mexican food at the Mexican restaurant in Mexico, was not all that good. A bit bland. But our bellies were full and our eyes were drooping and we called it a night, knowing our 7 AM wake up call the next morning would come way too soon. A very busy first day, indeed!

Ironman in three days . . .

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