Rocky Point Triathlon in Mexico
The town of Rocky Point (Punta Pen~asco) is a quaint fishing village
at the northern tip of the Gulf of California, on the mainland side of Mexico. There are many large fishing boats and it really reminded me of my home state of Maine. The host hotel, Plaza Las Glorias, at the time was the nicest in town and by far the largest with 5 floors and 4 separate buildings. We got lucky and had a room right on the deck with a patio next to the pool and a tiny view of the Sea Of Cortez. There is a long curved sandy beach with a tide that goes way out and exposes lots of flat wet sand for ATV's and other beach activities like drinking beer and playing with fireworks.
For the swim the water was 77 degrees and smooth. This is an Olympic distance triathlon. It is a swim parallel to shore and back of 1500 meters. There were 5 waves and I was in the last wave with 35-45 yr. old men. There were more wet suits than not and my girlfriend mentioned she would not respect me as much if I wore mine so I didn't. I don't like to wear one anyway and she was after all, just kidding.
There was a breeze going out on the bike and I thought it would be a tail wind on the way back but not so. At one point I noticed that everyone on the return leg was tight in the aero-position, my fears came to be. There was a head wind blowing about 25 miles per hour coming back. The road had a course tar finish and some pot holes which were marked with orange paint. It's a long stretch with no hills and not too much traffic. Aside from the corners of downtown there are no spectators or other visible signs of life on the course. It is after all, the desert.
However there were a few draft marshalls and it was made clear at the pre-race meeting there would be no drafting. I didn't see one pack or any signs of drafting. At the turn around there was an aid station with bottled water. I passed about 25 people and got passed by about 5. One guy was walking his mountain bike so I asked him if he needed anything and he said he just had cramps.
The run was the highlight of the event. As always, it's the only part of the race where you can actually talk to fellow competitors and really ham it up with volunteers and spectators. I like to get the crowds going by yelling things like, "way to watch" and "thanks for helping".
And being a runner, it is my strongest event. I love the feeling of propelling myself along naturally on foot after struggling with the bike and swim.
There's a hill at around the 2 1\2 mile mark called "Montezuma's Revenge", and it made the day for me. It's a rocky gravel road that winds up the highest peak in town from which you can see everything. I got a side stitch but just knowing I ran up it without stopping and then seeing the views of the ocean and surroundings took my breath away. It's the one part of the race where I could say,
"Man, am I smokin'!"
And it's that unconquerable feeling of strength, stamina and mental fortitude that we all seek which overcomes me only during a race when I push myself to the limit. I have pain, therefore I am. I didn't do the "Rocky" dance but I could have.
It was hot but having trained in the desert heat of Tucson I was prepared. I passed quite a few others and made sure I didn't get passed once. There was a young kid who challenged me at the 5 3\4 mile mark by trying to stay with me and then pass me on the inside of a corner. Knowing I don't have a kick, visions of him staying with me and then passing me just before the finish line in front of the whole crowd haunted me. When I turned to see how close he was at the finish, it wasn't the issue I dreaded. I burned him off in plenty of time so he wasn't even in sight.
The triathlon was very well run and the volunteers and support was superb. Although it was hot and windy, I did well with an early season 2:45 for the 3 Olympic distances combined.
We had a blast and the triathlon was organized very well. I have to thank a Dennis Freeman from Phoenix who let me borrow a tire for the race. I waited until Mexico to check my bike and found a large bubble in my rear tire. Luckily, Dennis was nice enough to let me use his as opposed to him selling it to me which I had suggested.
On the way down it was a bit un-nerving because of the poverty and bad conditions. It is so easy to take things like paved roads and running water for granted. It takes a day or two just to get comfortable in the new surroundings. The road was being paved with liquid tar and the small stones they covered it with kept getting thrown into the windshield. We kept getting more and more little dings and thought how unfortunate it would be if the insurance my significant other Mary made sure we had bought would not cover it. The next day the hot conditions caused a crack to develop that was 12 inches long. I saw the insurance adjuster down there and hopefully it's going to be replaced.
As always, everyone loved the hula-skirt that I wore on the bike
and during the run. I always get lots of positive feedback and in turn encourage most everyone I pass. I even got my picture taken with the Mexican woman's tri team after the finish. I hope they don't mind the rabbit ears I made with my fingers.
The banquet after the race at pool-side was a nice touch but the lines for food were too long. Naturally everyone was very hungry and needed two plates stacked high. The selection was more than adequate. The party after reminded me of Ironman with The Village People's YMCA and the Macarena flowing freely as a dance train completely surrounded the huge S shaped pool. We enjoyed our ringside seat but were too tired to indulge.
Hopefully this race won't grow too large for itself and the small town charm can remain.