1st place Female Pro
I think a race is either set up for success or failure the 10-14 days before so I will start there.
I left 10 days before the race and got there 9 days beforehand. This gives me enough time to make sure my bike is in working order and not lost by the airlines, time to adjust to the time zone, and time to get oriented with my surroundings. The goodbyes to my family seem to get tougher and tougher each time; I thought it would be the other way around.
They didn’t have home stays for this race so I found an Airbnb-type place to stay for the month. I happened to luck into the perfect arrangement. The person who owns it works for the race hotel and knew many of the race organizers. He was so helpful with everything! The place was right on the beach and about 10km from the race site in a smaller costal town. I really enjoy being out of the hub bub of the race and big towns.
Because I got to the island so early, I was able to bike the climb and descent of the bike course the weekend before. I was able to bike the rest of the course on race week Monday. I was out on the course Wednesday trying to see how fast I could take a roundabout when my wheel slid out from under me and I went down hard. My speed went from 27.5 to 3mph (sliding on the road). I am truly blessed with the circumstances around the crash. A woman (who had to slam on her brakes to not run me over) got out of her car and moved my bike to the side. Eventually I got up, hobbled to the side, and called Scott (who thankfully was working late at night so he was still up). I was 20 min into a 1:20 ride and thought I’d just ride home but ended up riding the whole time so I wouldn’t stiffen up. I caught up with my coach and he said “we’ll just see how you feel tomorrow!”
Thursday I woke up stiff and hurting in places that didn’t hurt Wednesday, but things could have been much worse. I started with an early morning swim in the sea (ouch on my road rash) then a bike ride to the physio to get released and massaged. My Airbnb owner (Miquel) set me up with some awesome bike mechanics to look at my bike and double check that things were ok. My Qbox had come off (designed that way as to not break the frame) so I contacted them for help to know how to reinstall it.
Friday we had the pro meeting and bike/gear check in. Races outside the states are always so different. For example, there were about 1/3 the number of volunteers compared to USA races and 95% of them were school kids. You could have outside assistance hand you things at special needs on the bike and run. Transition areas were open air tents and you didn’t have volunteers helping you get undressed/dressed. I asked if they were going to have sunscreen in T2 and they said “we are very relaxed here so I’m not sure, you should pack your own.”
Scott arrived in Alcudia around 2:30 and we went to work getting my bike ready to check-in (putting my Qbox back on and replacing worn-out aero pads). After a fail the first time, we got it right and checked my bike in with 15 minutes to spare. We covered my bike with trash bags Miquel got us since it was supposed to rain that night. We went home to relax and got Scott some dinner on the beach while I ate chicken and rice. It was early bedtime for me at 8:00pm so I could wake up nice and early race morning. I woke up once in the middle of the night but went right back to sleep and was supposed to wake up at 4:00am but ended up sleeping in until 4:45.
I ate my breakfast of applesauce, whey protein, a banana and some XRCEL! We got ready to go out and said a prayer for safety for me and the competitors as well as my back, arm, hip, and foot to be ok during the race.
I got to transition around 5:45am and started with a checklist of things I have developed to make sure I don’t miss anything. Each race also has some other things added depending on what it is. This race I had to get things squared away with my Qbox. My other things are: zero my power meter, pump tires, check that the brakes aren’t rubbing, make sure I’m in a good gear for leaving transition, put my nutrition/salt on the bike, and clip my shoes on the bike. I always put orange duct tape on my transition bags so I know which one is mine (especially on the handles). I was just getting done with my run transition bag when two men came and told me I couldn’t do that and had to take the tape off. I was bummed because even though it makes me look like an amateur, it really helps me spot my bag.
Scott and I headed down to the beach while I listened to some pump up music: Hall of Fame, Superheros, and Don’t Let Me Down. After IMTX Don’t Let Me Down became my theme song for my next race since my body had let me down in TX (or maybe I let it down). Boulder 70.3 was an embarrassing performance for me so the song stayed my theme for IMMallorca. I went out to warm up right around 7:12, came out and took a gel around 7:22 and practiced running in then back out and went to the start line. Everyone was there already since I got to the start four minutes before our start time!
We went off at 7:32. I had planned to swim with #67 but we didn’t have any numbers on our arms or caps and even though I looked at pictures of her I couldn’t pick her out.
We were sent off with a beach start and started running in. It stays shallow for a while so there was a mixture of people running in, porpoising, and just walking through the water. My original plan was to run/trot in, but it spikes your heart rate a lot so I ended up walking behind the other women, running, swimming, and porpoising. This kept my heart rate low but still allowed me to stayed with them. There were only 13-14 of us so it didn’t get very physical. I generally just try to stay out of the physical part of starts anyway because I feel like it uses extra energy that you don’t need to on a long race day. Being 1-2 feet to the other side of the buoy really doesn’t make a huge difference for the first buoy or two.
It thinned out and I thought I saw 1-2 women break off the front. I stayed with a pack of four including me. We did the whole swim together although the lead shuffled around between the other three women. I stayed in the back and enjoyed my drama free draft. We did a quick Australian exit (get out and run 100yds on the beach and get back in). I heard Scott cheering and it put a smile on my face. I really never felt like we were racing hard since I was 3-stroke breathing the whole time. I usually 2-stroke breathe during my races so I know that my swim must be continuously improving. I hope to eventually get my swim time consistently down to low 50’s since I think that is where it needs to be for big races.
It was great coming out of the water not feeling spent at all! It was a fairly long transition but I was able to get through it pretty quick for me. Natasha Schmitt beat me out of transition so I should have surged to get on her and legally draft, but didn’t try hard enough.
Theme Song: Hall of Fame
I decided to put in a little effort the first part to catch up to Natasha Schmitt, but she was with some men so there was little hope of me getting up to her. I figured there would be other pro men who would come by as well as age group men since the start times were so close together (7:30-pro men, 7:32- pro women 7:37- age-groupers). Not too long later a pro came by and I legally jumped in behind him. He was going the perfect speed for me as well! I passed a fellow female pro around 30 minutes in but around 45minutes in I shifted and my chain got lodged between my bike and chain ring. I think this was user error and not an issue with the bike because I downshifted climbing a hill when the strain on the chain was very high. I haven’t had an issue with this before, but I should avoid doing it in the future. I jumped off my bike and tried to wrestle it free as my free ride went on L. I was having flashbacks to IM Malaysia where this also happened. This has NEVER happened in workouts, only these two races. I called out to a motorcycle driving by “Ayuada me Ayuada me!” They said they couldn’t but they would call. I kept wrestling with it and eventually got it out along with two cuts on my hands. The pro woman that I had previously passed along with a bunch of age group men had gone by during this time. I hopped back on my bike and went on my way. It was a pretty lonely 30k until I had a guy pass me. I was going to go with him when another guy passed me. This went on for about 4-5 guys then I went with them.
It was so sad and embarrassing to see the drafting that went on during this race. I have seen people shorten the draft zone (12 meters) a little here and there but this was an utter disregard for any drafting rules! People were riding right on other’s wheels.
The first loop is fun since there are lots of longer ups and downs. You go through a little town named Muro where it gets not as fun since the roads are pretty bad for a little while combined with the steepest descent and 50 meters later steepest climb of the course. I was riding fairly fast down a hill when I hit a big bump. My bars went almost straight down and somehow I didn’t. I did, however, lose my salt and two gels. I somehow didn’t go down myself and managed to pull my bars back up, even if a little too high. I lost the people I was riding with again but put in a little surge and caught back up.
It was pretty uneventful riding until the mountain climb we had. Special needs was right before the mountain climb and I knew I would see Scott there with extra nutrition and a frozen bottle of water (to dump on me) to keep me cool before the climb. It was so cute to see how nervous he was about this job of handing me two bottles but he was perfect. Since I didn’t have a working power meter Jesse told me to just let my HR go up 10ish beats. So my HR on the mountain was around 160. I reached the top and started my descent. On the second switch back I got passed by a woman pro who was bombing down the mountain like she had nothing to live for! I can only hope to one day have those handling skills! The crash on Wednesday definitely took some of the confidence out of my biking skills and I was passed by the population of Mallorca, or so it felt. I didn’t pass a single person on that descent.
Scott told me to just trust God and let him direct me and all would be ok. I normally would have freaked out that what felt like half the field had passed me, but with his advice I was happy that I made it down safe and was still in 3rd. I heard that that woman who had passed me made up 6-7 minutes on that descent. 20ish km later I saw Scott and the top two women who were only two minutes ahead.
The plan was to make my last 28 miles have the highest heart rate of the whole bike. This plan was soon shattered when it started raining like a good Texas summer rain storm. There are ditches on the sides of the road that are 4-5ft deep that were turned into rivers. The water flowed over the road and in places, was deeper than the depth of my back wheel. The lightning and thunder were concurrent and on top of us. It was by far the worst weather I have ever biked in.
I was taking the turns extremely carefully because in the words of the bike store associate I talked to “When Mallorca roads get wet, they are death traps. They actually will not allow you to ride out in the rain.” Even with my conservative riding, I passed Natasha and moved back into 2nd place. It was getting extremely windy and she was riding a disc wheel and looked a little unstable. I saw two people go down on turns but I was fortunate to avoid them and make it to transition safely. Scott was there and all I could say was “I thought I was going to die! That was crazy! I was going to die!” He said “well, you didn’t so focus on the run, one mile at a time!” I had a quick transition where I grabbed some sunscreen and slathered it on me as I was running out.
Theme song: Don’t Let Me Down
The run course is a 4.5 loop course that really is more like 4.75 loops. I had the 2nd place bike escort with me, which is the 3rd time I’ve had an escort coming out of transition. I will never get tired of the feeling I get seeing the person waiting outside transition for me.
There were a couple of places that were little out and backs where you could check your progress compared to the other competitors. I knew I came out of transition 2.5 minutes down and could tell I was already making up time. This was also one of the two times I checked to see how far back the next woman was, 2-3minutes. I saw Scott a couple times and he kept letting me know I was closing in until I saw her. It was an awesome moment (around 10-12k) when I made the pass into 1st place and Scott happened to be right there as well! It was unbelievable and also the highest HR of the run. I was still feeling good and had a smile on my face. When I passed by the finish line for the 2nd time I heard Paul say “Jocelyn McCauley leading the race! If you keep running like that you will be an Ironman Champion!” I could tell I was running well but wasn’t looking at my pace. I also knew I would possibly break the course record of 9:24.
The two most challenging spots in an Ironman race (for me) always come the last 20 miles of the bike and the last 6-13 miles of the run. It’s in these moments that I draw strength from other things and people then myself. I think of all my friends, family, fans, etc. tracking the race. I think of my daughter at home giving me “leg powers.” I think of all the time, sweat, and tears that I put into this race and that my husband has. I think of everything my sponsors have done for me to support me to get here. I think how God has blessed me to be here. I envision the finish line that I have envisioned in every one of my hard workouts. I envision that sweaty hug that is waiting for me at the finish line from my husband.
Then when I can’t even think about those things anymore I start counting. This happened after I saw I had won the race if I just kept up an ok pace. This was the second and only other time I looked to see how far back the next woman was. She was 5+ minutes back with about 4 miles to go.
I didn’t grab enough nutrition at the last aid station three miles before the finish and that’s when I just started counting my steps. I would count 100 steps with my right foot and then 100 with my left. I told myself I had to do that five times each foot before I could look at a km marker. You have to play those games with yourself. At about 2 km, I knew I had the race and eased up slightly just because I didn’t want to “let me down” and have a repeat of passing out.
The bike escort said goodbye and I started down the finishing chute! I have always heard to soak in the moment so I tried to see everything, feel everything, and hear everything, much like I try to do with those final hugs I get from Emi when I leave on a trip. There were so many people in the grandstands, there were kids sticking out their hands for high-fives, there was so much noise that it all ran together as white noise except for Paul announcing me across the finish line. To be honest I didn’t see, hear, or take in any of that. The most important thing for me crossing that finish line wasn’t getting a “good picture” or hearing all the screaming people or giving high fives. The most important thing was what I did as soon as I grabbed that banner and crossed the line. It was finding Scott and giving him the biggest, best hug ever! He was standing on the side but really deserves to have crossed that finish line with me hand in hand. Without his love, support, and unwavering dedication to my crazy dreams, none of this would have been possible. So, while most people would be able to tell you about crossing that line, I honestly don’t remember it or realize what happened except for the video that Scott took. I remember the most important and rewarding part of the whole day, which was finishing in the arms of my Forever Love.
I had several interviews with news stations, radio stations and newspapers. I informed the race director that I couldn’t do a Champaign celebration because of my religion. He was very understanding and nice about it. The next two women finished and we did the podium celebrations. I got cleaned up and we headed to the press conference.
We headed home and relaxed for a bit before going back to the “hero hour” which is from 11:00 to midnight. It was fun to hand out medals and dance in the finishing chute while the last people finished.
This was a truly amazing experience but I also know that the competition here, while great, wasn’t anything compared to what I want to go against and best in future races. I will enjoy this experience and appreciate it while also knowing that there is more fitness to be gained, more strategy to appreciate, and much, much more to learn and experience before I can accomplish all the goals I have in this sport! It was one of the many stepping-stones I need to be able to get where I want in this sport!
Thanks to all my sponsors Quintana Roo Bikes, XRCEL, AudioFlood, TriSports, Cantu Cycling Wheels, Beyond Exercise, Blueseventy, Bonk Breaker, Kiwami, Blueseventy, Buckeye running Company, Reser Bicycle, Impact Health and Spin Centers. Thanks to all my supporters. Thanks especially to all my friends and family who have done so much to make this dream a reality. Thank you Brooke, Diane, Vanessa, and Emily for taking care of Emi while I’ve been gone, this really wouldn’t have happened without having amazing friends that we know we can trust with Emi. Thanks so much to my sister Meredith who came up to Cincinnati to take care of Emi a full week while Scott was here (without having kids of her own). Thanks so much to my new Coach, Jesse, who taught me what some of my limiters were and helped me fix them (as much as I could in 6 weeks) before this race. Thanks to my daughter, Emi, who gives me more purpose, giggles, and love in my life. Thanks especially to my husband; Scott who makes so many sacrifices so I can do this. He is the reason this has happened. Thank you to all who have cheered and encouraged me along the way, you are all part of my TEAM and share in this win! Lastly I want to publically thank God for his hand in my life and the blessings he has given me to be able to do what I love.
· Get my power meter working/get a new one.
· Traveling with Scissors- so, so many times I’ve needed them!
· Travel with a small first aid kit- why I don’t do this when I hurt myself so much is beyond me!
· Travel with a small tape measure to double check bike measurements
· Get a sponsor shirt to wear to press conferences
· Travel with two large garbage bags to cover your bike in case of rain.
· Travel with your bike seat and pedals and shoes in case your bike gets lost
· Learn how to do a flying mount to get on my bike quicker and not get left in the dust
· Prep like I have to leave for a race 1 week before I have to leave- to realize what I need to go buy
· Flying the day or two after a race
· Crash 3 days before the race
· Visualize the PERFECT race happening at least 15 times before race day
· Sunscreen before the race AND in T2
· Know all the baggage rules for your flights- I was able to coherently discuss the fact that I didn’t have to pay for my bike because of my research before.
· Know the custom regulations for the country you are going to so you know what you can take- Spain=Almost anything, New Zealand=almost nothing