Monday, October 24, 2016

IM 70.3 NC: The Race that Wasn't

Hey Finisher Pix...I didn't finish. 

I'd like to actually.

I was SO READY for this race, what was to be my fifth half-iron distance race. I felt confident and primed for all three sports and was really looking forward to seeing what I might do on the run in the cooler fall temps. 

I went to bed the night before the race relaxed and happy. When I woke up in the morning my very first thought was something is NOT right. My stomach was churning and noisy, and things were moving fore and aft. I had no appetite but forced down most of my oatmeal and some coffee, took some Tums and Immodium and figured I'd shake it off.

My get-up-and-go had gotten-up-and-left. I went through the pre-race motions quietly and efficiently, and when race officials Mark and Lee Turner stopped by I blurted out I wasn't feeling great. 

However, I was still feeling positive and confident. I reminded myself that "you don't have to feel great to race well."

I burped my way through the swim. That was a first. It's more manageable than you might think. Toward the middle of the swim, one burp went too far and I lost my oatmeal (I hope no one was behind me). I got out of the water and headed toward the wetsuit peelers, knowing my friend Malin was among them. I sat down in front of her and said, "I'm not feeling well," to which she offered appropriate supportive encouragement and I continued on in some kind of brain fog, wetsuit in hand.

I headed out with my bike and noticed my heart rate was quite a bit higher than I expected. It remained elevated for about half an hour. I had a hard time hitting my expected HIM bike power. My stomach hurt to be in aero position, and my back hurt from my neck to my hips when I sat up. I had a hard time taking in any calories. By 30 miles in I was miserable. We'd had a nasty headwind and I hoped when I turned back southward that I'd find relief, but I didn't. 

I saw later in my Garmin data that my power faded impressively. The last 80 minutes of my ride I was riding at my "easy aerobic" power levels but it was killing me! I had begun to wonder in the last third of the ride if I should bail, but I also figured the quickest route back to T2 was on my bike and under my own power. 

the face of discomfort

I did absolutely NO hurrying through T2 and took a few moments to gather my wits. I was very happy to see Malin along the Run Out and I stopped to talk to her. Stopping OR talking is totally out of character for me in a race. I asked how do I know if I should bail? She reminded me there would be more races but I decided I would try a few miles of the run.

You'd think the decision to withdraw would be simple. But unless you have maybe a broken leg or severed artery, believe me, it's not that easy!

With one Port-o-John stop and some dry heaving in the first two miles, I saw a small group of EMS folks on a corner and told them my race was over. I laid down in the grass, they covered me with a jacket, and I proceeded to cramp and wait 30 minutes for transport. They said I was dehydrated and my electrolytes were out of whack (of course) and with fluids at the medical tent I'd be OK again. They were getting annoyed by the delayed transport, but I was happy to just lay down. (As I rested and listened, I discovered they had to go get and pay for their own lunch which hardly seems fair.)

The volunteer transport driver didn't know how to get me through the race traffic to the medical tent, so she dropped me off where she could. It was closer to the hotel than to medical, so I just went to my room, showered, and got in bed. Sleep didn't come - I hurt too much. I think that transport system could use a little refinement. A medical assist could have probably helped me feel better quicker.

While it certainly sucked to not finish, I know it was the right decision. I would rather be eager to come back for the next race, as opposed to being haunted by an absolutely miserable race and miserable run all winter long. I am disappointed for myself and for Coach Jim who didn't get to see how the training would play out on race day. It's like losing the last chapter to the book, except it's not the last chapter.

Coach Jim and I talked today and after reviewing the data with him, I felt even more at peace with it. 

During my training I make sure to check in with myself and ask, "if this race doesn't happen, am I enjoying this training for training's sake?" Aside from the occasional rough session, I always answer YES. I guess this is one of the true tests of enjoying the journey, and I surely do!

Did I mention it was "Restaurant Week" in Wilmington? It's quite possible I contributed to my own demise by my food choices, but I will never really know. For me part of the fun of racing is experiencing new cities, venues, and food. And over 7 years of racing, I've done just fine to this point. Working with professional triathletes, I've seen most of them have one or more DNFs and/or DNSs for various reasons. They happen.

The race was "just a thing" that didn't happen.