Wednesday, May 13, 2009

DNF: Kinetic Half Ironman

Nobody starts the first race of the season with the intention of a DNF (Did Not Finish), certainly I was more worried about being pulled off the course for not making the time cutoffs but I made some mistakes with my nutrition early on in the bike and when it came time to start the second loop of the run - I felt that my body had done enough.  As my husband said "Recover and Live to Race Another Day..."

So that is exactly what I did - time on the course 6:35. No Regrets - A good training day.

THE REST OF THE STORY:

Kinetic Half Ironman - 1.2m Swim / 56M Bike / 13.1m Run
Time until DNF: 6:30

Short Summary: DNF after the first loop of the run (4.0 miles completed of 13.1) - serious nutrition issues - gas, nausea, diarrhea - not much fun...

We started out right on time at 7AM with Wave Swims starting every 3 minutes. I swam in Wave 4 with the 45+ women, Athenas, and Relay Swimmers.

SWIM: 59:35

My first open swim of the season. Two Loop Swim Course. My new wetsuit fit perfectly - no tired arms, no neck issues, no calf cramps from too much kicking, face in the water even though it was too murky to have anything to look at. I am happy to say there were no real freak outs about being in the water - just the typical sighting issues and stroke mechanics. I did freestyle the entire time but often found myself stopping to sight instead of just breathing "tarzan-style" to sight while still swimming. My pool swims have been around 45:00 for a mile and I was hoping that I would come in around 45-50 minutes but all the stopping and sighting took too much time.

SWIM: Lessons Learned/Issues:
1.) As much open water practice as I can get over the next 12 weeks will be very beneficial.
2.) I would be "satisfied" if I could get my 1.2 mile time down to 45:00 in the open water for IM USA
3.) Keep up the drills and keep going to Team Z swim practice - no matter how ackward and uncomfy it makes me feel

T1: 4:44 - About where I expected Transition One to be. That is fine for a long race day.

BIKE: 4:12:30

This was a beautiful bike course, long rollers and some long but easy climbs - plenty of time in the big chain ring - even after the headwinds kicked in on the second lap. This was a two loop course with 3 water stops and no port-o-potties. WHO HAS A 56 mile bike course with NO POTTIES? That is my biggest race organization complaint.

LAP ONE: I was not last out of the water - at least 2-3 people behind me. Even so, I only ever saw one other person on the Bike Course until around Mile 20 when the front of the race began to lap me. All the fast folks were super friendly and encouraging, which was nice of them. I was riding blind, without a bike computer or my Garmin so I relied on the watch to tell me where I was in terms of pace. I hit the 15 mile course marker at 50:00 minutes in, right on target for a sub 4:00 Bike. Nurition was fine at that point, I had been eating Cliff Blocks and drinking Gatorade and Water with the occasion peice of Power Bar.

Bottle exchange at Mile 18, I picked up water, mixed my second bottle of Gatoraide & a Nuun Tablet - opened more Cliff Blocks to snack on and continued on. Winds started to pick up at this point. Mile 30, another bottle exchange of water - about 2:15 into the ride. I was frustrated to have lost some of my early pace and having started the second lap, was all alone on the course and my stomach was feeling rather full and sloshy so I backed off the fluids for a few minutes - just chewing on some more power bar peices and hoping for the best.

Around Mile 35 - a white motorcycle with a side car pulled up next to me and very man with a big smile said "Are you in the triathlon?"

"Yep, am I the last rider on the road?"

"Yep"

Internal Dialog: "F*#% Me, Damnit!"

What a blow, to be the last bike on the course AND to now have an escort and headwinds. You can imagine the thoughts that started flying through my head. All of them very negative but I would counter each thought the best I could before it could turn into more by telling myself "You are having a bad moment, bad moments happen - let it pass" or saying "You have a personal escort, you don't have to worry about traffic" and FINALLY I just said to myself "Hey, nobody had taken my chip, nobody has told me to stop and I am just passed the 40 mile mark at just over 3:00 on the clock - I have time." Unfortunately, my stomach issues were getting worse - I had a serious case of belly slosh and had switched to just Gatorade, Water and Cliff Shots for the last 16 miles.

Around Mile 45 and the last Bottle Exchange, my motorcycle escort left me and was replaced with a Sag Van that had picked up the one rider that I did pass, who had a mechanical around Mile 40. By then, being followed no longer bothered me, I had become immune to the thoughts of quitting or feeling sorry for myself for being last. Not long after I passed Mile 50 - my watch alarm went off - It was NOON. 5 hours into the race start - as far as I knew, I had missed the Bike to Run cuttoff and my day was done.

I had decided that I was going to finish my bike and if they pulled my chip at transition - then that was it - but I wouldn't know until I got to transition so I was not going to "give up" or slow down because my overall elapsed bike time was 3:50 and I was less than 6 miles from Transition and a freaking Port-O-Potty.

I pulled into transition as the last official bike on the course - and apparently - I had come in well under the cutoff because it was based on the start of the last swim wave getting started. I was free to start my 13.1 mile run. The question now was - could I run?

T2: 3:58 - Could have saved myself 2 minutes if I had not felt so sick and unsure if I should even start. I futzed around trying to decide what to do. Reaching T2 with nobody taking my chip was a shock. Another fellow Athena who had come in a few minutes before me and was on my same rack and on Team Z told me her day was done - she was not getting out on the run. That was a temptation for me - especially feeling like I did. I ran to Jim before heading out on the run and told him that I was really hurting but I was going to try a lap of the run and see if finding a damn "Port-O-Potty" might actually help alleviate some of the pain. I knew I had 3 hours still on the race clock and nothing to loose by continuing on, so I got a kiss from my husband and headed to Run OUT.

BIKE Lessons Learned/Issues:
1.) I increased the number of Clif Blocks that I normally eat and tried to take on more calories early on - THIS DOES NOT WORK FOR ME
2.) I can fight the "voices" in my head - and successfully tell them to "shut the heck up" when I have to
3.) Being last isn't really that big a freaking deal the important thing is to keep your eyes on the time and NOT GIVE UP
4.) Use the next 12 weeks of long bike rides to figure out what will work - KEEP RECORDS!

RUN: 4 miles of 13.1 miles (1 loop) - 1:15:05

I have raced and officially finished the Half Ironman distance 2 times before. I know what it feels like to get off the bike and be tired. I have NEVER until this race, known what it felt like to get off the bike and be in PAIN. My digestive system was a mess - my stomach was making noises that I have never heard before and the gas pain was incredible. I decided that I would power walk the first mile, because I knew that was where there was a Potty and a Water Station. First stop was the potty and emptying my bladder for the first time in 5 hours helped somewhat. Second stop - the water station where I took 2 Endurolyte Salt tabs and Ice Chips with some water. I was hoping the extra salt might somehow help me balance out my tummy issues or at least settle them down some. For Mile 2, I was able to do some run/walking - stomach pain would come and go - it came with the run and would go with the walking. As we came back around near Mile 2.5 and another waterstop and Potty and things changed - at first I thought for the better. I had to GO! So I ducked in and did what I could. My first thoughts: "Allright! Got that out - now let's get back to the work at hand." Sadly that was not the case...Instead it was the beginning of much worse.

For the next 1.5 miles, every time that I tried to run - I had the feeling that I was going to have a very embarrassing accident and my stomach would make sounds that made me think of scenes from the movie Alien. For 1.5 miles I did what I could - I sucked ice chips, I ate some chex mix, I stayed away from simple sugar (since I had so much on the bike) and nothing changed. The most frustrating part of all of this was that as far as my legs were concerned - they were tired but I definatley felt that I could have run. I just couldn't make my digestive system calm down enough to find a nice easy pace.

I hit the first lap, got my hand marked and passed the finish line to start the next lap up the steep hill. Jim was standing at the Aid Station - looking concerned but said " One Lap Down, you still have time to finish one more." It was when I said " Honey there are two more laps I need to do..." that he looked at me with some concern and said "What are you going to do?" I thought about it, knowing that it had taken me 1:15 to cover 4 miles. My digestive issues were not getting better and I had been out of the course for 6:30. This was a "training race" - there was no glory for me in gutting this race out (literally at this point) - there was nothing more that I was going to gain in training today. Clearly I was not going to be able to ingest any more calories. It was time to turn in my chip and declare myself officialy a DNF for this race.

Jim was super supportive and my good friend, Keri, who had come to watch me finish, was supportive and kept things upbeat as we sat down at the Team Z tent and I tried to get my body to relax a little. While it felt good to have stop moving, there was nothing that I could do to settle my stomach. I tried a little real food, I tried some soda water, I tried a few trips to the Ladies Room but the issues kept on. I finished the my race day at about 1:30 in the afternoon and when I went to bed at 9:30 - my stomach was feeling just as bad. I went to bed last night with no regrets on choosing to DNF. Clearly, my body was in distress and I will need to find out how to fix that but I have time still to get the nutricion mix right.

When I woke up this morning, I was feeling nearly normal, physically. My stomach is nearly back to normal and my body feels like it should have after a long swim and long bike - tired but not spent, none of this was "new milage" in terms of training volume. Emotionally, I'm not sad or mad or angry. I'm just doing my best to process this race day experience, figure out what I did wrong and what I did right and how to course correct my training to fix the issues before July 26, 2009.

While 12 weeks is not alot of time, I'm not as far behind as I thought considering the 2 weeks of illness that I had and my short "wedding break". I have work to do but I also still have time to do it.

3 comments:

Es --- IRONMAN in Training! said...

Sounds like you made the right decision!

Nutrition wise - I'm wondering if it was too much sugar. Both the blocks and Gatorade have 12g of sugar per serving.

I can't eat more then maybe 1 shot or Luna Moon an hour due to the sugar content. The Hammer Gels have far less (2g) and I get more energy from them. I also use PowerBar Endurance Drink mix which only has 9g of sugar per serving.

Never had stomach issues and have been training with these since Nov. I add in the PowerBar Gel Blasts during the run. And one of these days I will get to eat an Uncrustable during a ride!!!

Good luck at Black Bear - my next is Mooseman.

Catharine said...

Holly - you are such a trooper. I admire your positive attitude. You are such an inspiration.

As far as the race goes, look at it as a good opportunity for you to learn what *doesn't* work. better to do that at a "C" race than at IM. You'll get this figured out.

Any interest in swimming together at the Providence morning swims? It sounds like we're about the same pace.

Keep up the good work. You're amazing!

HEATHER said...

I'm wondering if it might have been too much sugar too! I think that's what tears my stomach up during races...I might have to try those hammer gels, thanks Es. Anyway, Holly, I'm proud of you for using your head and knowing when it was time to stop. I love you!