Wednesday, October 1, 2014

IMChoo. Sometimes you finish. Sometimes you don't.

I debated whether to even write a post.  Not because I didn't have anything to say but because I have left this blog hanging for three months.  It doesn't have the instant gratification of likes that instagram or facebook have or the favorites of twitter.  I am not much of a twitterer although I do log in from time to time when Dancing with the Stars is on to see what people are saying about the contestants.  (LOL and sad but  true).  And while it might not get instant gratification, sometimes you have a story to tell and this is the perfect place to do it.  So here goes...

IM Chattanooga was on Sunday.  I did not finish.  The end.

My finish line for the day. I kind of love that Rick got a shot of that exact moment.

Totally kidding...  I have a story to tell, remember?  I won't bore you with my details of checking into the race and how much I love the backpack SWAG.  (which I do love, BTW).  My story actually goes back to a half iron race I did in August and you could maybe even trace it even further back to Louisville.  If you recall, back in Louisville I basically walked the last 13 miles due to nausea.  That race has been in the back of my head for the past year.  Not entirely sure what went wrong there but had pretty much chalked it up to the heat.  Flash forward to Toughman Alabama.  Blazing hot as you would expect from Alabama in July.  Ended up getting sick there too.  Gah.  Again, I assumed the heat but also started to pay more attention to the nutrition just in case there was more to it.  I wasn't all that worried about it but was definitely praying for cooler temps in Chattanooga.

Saying bye to Rick and getting on the bus to the swim. For some reason this always chokes me up.

I got my cooler temps at IM Choo.  Got up race morning and tried to eat some yogurt and a banana.  I knew I would be waiting in line for a while at the swim start and had a PBJ with me to eat a little closer to the race.  I could only get down about half of the yogurt which was kind of odd.  I mean, they are little cups not like a I was eating a quart of it.  Later on, in the swim start line I tried to eat the sandwich and could only get down half of it.  I was a little worried at that point because you really don't want to start the day with that little food in your system.  Jumped in to the swim and was on to the bike.  Felt GREAT on the first loop of the bike.  I was on top of eating, drinking, keeping the pace where it needed to be, etc.

For some reason, I associate the beginning of the end with special needs at mile 53.  I don't know why.  In past races, I have taken my bag gotten off to the side, mixed my bottles, port o potty, etc., and move on.  This special needs felt crowded.  Spectators were screaming for the participants, bikes were whizzing by, there just wasn't a lot of room.  I was handed my bag and proceeded to go through it while still holding my bike.  Tried to mix my bottles while holding my bike and my bag and it was just a bit of a mess.  Nothing that would have ruined the day but WAY more chaotic than I had experienced in previous races.  It rattled me a little bit.

Got to the start of the second loop and felt great.  I looked at my watch, I was on pace to be done with the bike leg at about 6:30.  Was super pumped but it didn't last long.  Not long after making that turn, I got that feeling in my stomach.  Again.  You feel like if you eat or drink anything you will be sick and as much as you KNOW you need to figure it out on the fly, you aren't sure what to do about it.  In addition to my infinit, I had bonk breakers which I was eating along the way and had brought some Huma gels with me just in case.  I decided to take a gel drink plain water give it 20 minutes and see how it went.  Nothing really changed all that much so I kept on with my infinit and a couple of bites of bonk breaker every hour.  As the miles wore on, I knew this was not going to end well.  I was fighting back tears because I knew how much walking that last 26.2 miles would hurt.  I passed aid stations and debated whether or not to stop and ask them call race support.  This went on for 50 miles.  I kept going because I wasn't sure how Rick would find me if I quit early and didn't want him standing out there at the bike finish wondering where I was.  So I kept riding.  My 6:30 finish had long since gone out the window.  I was just riding along making plans to sell my bike and cursing myself for buying a new helmet because what would I do with it now that I am selling the bike.  Duh.
This is me finishing. Smiling because I am glad to be done!
Finally made it to the finish and saw Rick screaming my name, taking pictures and being the super fan he always is for me.  (He even scoped out where my Run bag was in the pile so I could get to it quickly - he was trying to tell me where it was when I was handing off my bike - love that.).  Anyhow, I grabbed my bag and was trying to run along on asphalt in the bike shoes.  Recipe for disaster. Rick yells "how are you feeling" and I just look and shake my head to keep from crying.  I keep running.  Darn shoes, I thought, I should just take them off.  I get to the tent and met a lady who was somehow affiliated with my tri club, she asked how I was feeling and I told her I was going to stop my day here.  She sat with me for a bit and then told me to just sit for a bit and decide.  I changed into my running shoes, took of my timing chip and handed it to a volunteer as I was heading out of the tent.  I ran into a couple I sort of knew from the gym who chatted with me for a bit and helped me get my race bags.  I ducked out the back entrance which felt perfect and odd all rolled into one.  I mean, I didn't want to make a big production but at the same time it made it feel even more like a failure of sorts. Rick had been watching and met me around back and we headed back to the hotel.

A couple of bright sides from the day - 1.  I went sub one hour on the swim.  The current was ridiculous.  2.  That was my longest bike ride ever at 116 miles.  (the IM Choo course was longer than the traditional 112).  and 3.  Despite my ever slowing speed on the last 50ish miles and the extra four miles on the course, my split for Chatt was better than my split at Louisville.  I'll take that.

And where does that leave me today?  well...  It is kind of a weird feeling.  I wasn't all that upset about things once I got off the bike and made my decision to quit.  I knew there was no way I wanted to gut out a marathon at that point and am not even sure that I could have done it had I made the decision to continue.  Had this been my first IM, I probably would have at least tried to keep moving.  I think the part that does make me sad is that I knew a ridiculous number of people doing this race.  Seriously, I could probably name 50 people off the top of my head.  Seeing all their pics and posts on facebook stung a little.  Not that I wasn't happy for them but disappointed with myself and sad that I missed all the fun of the spectators on the run course.  The run is my favorite part and I missed out.  The reality is it was one race.  it doesn't change who I am.  I have crossed that finish line three times already so am still an Ironman.  I mean, no one has called me to ask for my medals back or anything.   Yet.   :)

I won't say that it didn't leave me feeling incomplete.  All that training, you know.  Luckily, my favorite race of all time, Beach2Battleship is in three weeks.  I was planning on doing the half but upgraded to the full.  Two weeks to train and then taper.  Sounds pretty perfect to me!

So what went wrong Sunday?  Really, I don't know.  I am stepping into pre-menopause so it could be a hormone thing. I can no longer blame the heat so it makes it even more of a mystery.  For now, I am just going to be super careful about my nutrition, try some ginger chews for nausea and hope for the best.  B2B is October 25th so here we go again...




That Pink Girl said...

Nausea? Barfiness? DNF? Been there.
Sounds like your head is in a VERY good place and I like reading that! B2B has great memories for you and I am sending good juju from Texas that you have a STELLAR race, once again!
You should be proud of what you've accomplished, K! Sending hugs and love and high fives!

Kate Geisen said...

I hate that you had to deal with such awful nausea again. Sounds like you made the right decision but I can sure see how it would sting. I hope you get that figured out! Best of luck at B2B!

B.o.B. said...

I'm so bummed for you Karen but I think you handled all of this beautifully. You are a class act and a kick ass athlete. You struggled through nausea ON TOP of a tough course and that's saying a lot about the strength you possess. I look up to you as an athlete and I know that must have been a tough call to make. Although, ultimately the smart one. I hope you can figure out the nutrition stuff for B2B and have another fantastic ironman finish. I'm so happy to have you as a friend and role model. xoxo

Carolina John said...

I got a lot of that too. Soooooo many friends were out there and did so well that it made me feel bad about myself for doing so poorly at cedar point, relevant to my own expectations of course. it makes you want to walk away entirely.

So back to B2B huh? Good luck! I might just come out there and spectate this year.

ajh said...

It wasn't your day! You do a lot that you can be so proud of. Knowing to stop and not kill your body is not stupid.
Are you on IG? Follow me at anjaha