Race Recap: Clásico Triatlón del Coco

On Sunday I competed in my first triathlon event. Let me qualify that statement by saying that what I really did was:

  • Wake up obscenely early.
  • Wait for a couple of hours in the hot sun.
  • Cheer for my teammates and the other competitors, especially the kids.
  • Run 8 km at a very moderate pace.
  • Enjoy the new experience!
After Saturday morning soccer practice in Matapalo, Derek, the boys and I traveled to Playa del Coco, a town just over an hour from our home in Tamarindo. We stayed in a small but adequate and inexpensive ($90 including taxes and breakfast) hotel room at Coco Beach Hotel. We spent the day eating and trying to get my race package.
As far as we could tell, Playa del Coco is a fishing and party town, popular because it is easy to get to on paved roads.  This description from the Frommer’s website seems accurate from our experience,

The crowds that come here like their music loud and constant, so if you’re in search of a quiet retreat, stay away from the center of town. Still, if you’re looking for a beach with a wide range of inexpensive hotels, lively nightlife, and plenty of cheap food and beer close at hand, you’ll enjoy Playa del Coco.

By the time we had eaten our early dinner, we were all hot, cranky and tired so we crashed.
The run itself was somewhat anti-climactic. It was hot and humid (about 27C and 75% humidity at 5:45 am start) and I knew there was no way I was gonna put in any type of PR so I just ran it to enjoy it.
It was three loops of:
  • beach boardwalk
  • down a few sandbags onto the beach for about 40 m
  • onto gravel path (past the very smelly overflowing garbage cans)
  • onto a paved road.

My favourite spot along the route was the guy with the hose on the paved road and his companion with the ice water sponges.

Within the 2.6 km loop, there were four official aid stations with either water or Gatorade and many other bystanders handing out water.

Notable differences between a Canadian race and this one:
  • Registration was not fast.
  • Water freezie tubes (not frozen, just sealed like a freezie) instead of water cups. I loved this – way easier to consume at will.
  • Many more bystanders invoking God’s name in their cheers and well-wishes.
  • Many more participants crossing themselves and praying as they set out.
  • Possibilities of tripping all over the place (mats not taped down, pot holes, sand bag steps, etc.

Not sure if this is a Latin-American thing or a triathlon thing, but everyone wore their favourite race shirts, brightly coloured training shoes, Garmins, and visors to registration. You don’t see this as much at an Ottawa run expo.

I get the impression that there is a lot of gear comparison/discussion going on in this sport. The bikes (and helmets) were insane. My lasting impression was that triathlon is complicated and expensive. I’ll stick to running.

My friends Cristina and Maria Fernanda did amazing jobs at swimming and cycling. Cristina did really well in the swim (she is an experienced ocean swimmer but hadn’t done a race in a few years). Maria Fernanda did a great job cycling the 30k on a mountain bike amidst multi-thousand dollar road bikes. It was all of our first triathlon experiences.

Quick Funny Story: At registration we had to sit through a 15 minute presentation about the course and the rules. The race director kept talking about the four “muertos” along the course. I was convinced he was talking about the four individuals who had died on the course in previous races. I was completely baffled on why he kept discussing this and trying to scare people into being safe.

My friend tried to explain to me during the presentation what “muertos” were and I waved her off saying “I understand what he’s saying”.

After the presentation, I said to her, “In Canada, they would never tell us over and over about the four dead people on the course. They would do something about it or change the course, but they wouldn’t keep bringing it up.”

Later, I started telling Derek about the four dead and Maria Fernanda started laughing hysterically.

The four “dead” are actually four speed bumps (they bring traffic to a dead stop – hence the name “muertos”).

Overall Self-Assessment: I give myself a B on this performance. I waited. I ran. I had fun. I stayed hydrated (I met the random goal I set for myself at the outset (under 44 minutes at 43:58). I know I had a ton more in me still because I had zero muscle-soreness the next day.

Overall Race Impressions: This race was better organized than I anticipated. There were plenty of volunteers and aid stations. Registration was slow and hot but what I expected for Costa Rica.

Some photos:

Cristina in the yellow cap at the start

Maria Fernanda explaining to the security guard that her son had kicked her bike over the night before and she needed to pump the tires and readjust the twisted seat. He did it for her.

M F waiting for Cristina to come into the relay area for the timing chip hand off

Running by too fast to be caught on camera

Guess what this fruit is. We enjoyed it post run. It's hard to see, but it has a green bumpy skin and seeds that are slightly larger than the ones in watermelons.

Next up:

June 17th: Alterna Ultimate Run for Mens’ Cancers – maybe if I have energy two days after we get home.

July 1st: Canada Day Road Races 5k and 1 k with the boys

August: 10k?

September: Army Run half-marathon

October: Toronto Waterfront Marathon

I’m curious to know how people get into triathlons. I’m wondering if people generally go from cycling or running to triathlon or if they get right into triathlon from the start?

I, at this point, have no desire to get on a road bike so this sport is just not for me.

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