Tuesday, July 29: It was my husband's idea and as I climbed in the mid-morning sun, watching the sunlight bounce off the AuSable River, I found some peace and some comfort. I ticked off the climbs, one at a time - Little Cherry... Big Cherry... Baby Bear... Mamma Bear... Pappa Bear... and rolled down Main Street to Mirror Lake Drive to meet my husband (who ride stronger/faster than I), fill a water bottle and head back the 19 miles back to our rental house in Jay. 38 miles roundtrip from the turn onto Rte 9N into Jay and on up 86 into Lake Placid and back - I felt stronger than Sunday - but still pretty sore from the previous day's "wild horsey rides" (aka - Aunt Holly's Crazy Leg Lifts) with my 3-year old Nephew.
How do you wrap your head around a DNF for the biggest race of your year and one of the bigger grander goals in your life so far?
You cry, you talk, you listen, you rationalize, you wish you could go "back in time and start the day again" and finally, you simply accept the day and find the strength to learn something from it and let it go. Then you get on your bike and you ride part of the course again - to make sure that it wasn't all in you head, that your fitness and training were on track, that you did, in fact, give it all you had on that particular race day.
Sunday, July 26: Woke up bright and early at 3:00AM and fixed a big bowl of oatmeal, a bagel and peanut-butter and a glass of milk. Eating at 3AM is really hard but I choked down the entire meal and Jim and I got on the road at 4AM to head into Lake Placid. We got to the shuttle bus as just about 4:50 and rode into the Olympic Oval/Transition/Finish. Jim waited while I dropped off my water bottles at the bike and pumped my tires and got body marked and then we walked to Mirror Lake Drive and I left Jim at the Team Z tent while I walked my special needs bags down to the drop off points.
Jim and I sat and relaxed with fellow Team Z teammates and friends and family. I ate a powerbar, drank a bottle of Gatorade and around 6:15 started my "wet suit dance". Lots of Teammates wished me a HAPPY BIRTHDAY and then, wetsuit on and body glide applied, I headed down to the water with Heidi and Mary. We crossed the timing mats and eased into Mirror Lake. Rather than stand on the shore with the majority of the IRONMAN masses, I followed Heidi and Mary into the water to get wet, get calm and seed myself closer to the right of the start line, a little bit back and right.
I was calmer than I thought I would be. I was excited and trying to soak up the moment. This was the day, this was my day, this was IRONMAN and I was here. Incredible! The PRO field started their swim at 7:50 and then the National Anthem was sung. The start was rather anti-climatic. There was no formal countdown just the sudden "boom" of the starting gun and off we go to start the day. I had no real plan for the swim other than "Don't panic, find your pace and enjoy your first 2.4 mile swim."
I was surprised to have no problem finding some clear water and in Mirror Lake is was really easy for me to see the swimmers around me and move past them and find a pack to swim with. Right up to the first turn buoy, I just work my way from group to group staying a bit away from the cable. I knew my pace was slower than most so I counted on a lot less swimmers around by the time I got to the second turn buoy. From that point, the water was clear enough that I was able to swim within sight of the cable - which let me sight much less often and before I knew it I was coming out of the water and crossing the timing mat for my second lap.
The second lap was more of the same - swimming near the cable and passing and occasionally being passed by other swimmers. I was feeling a little more fatigued on lap two and found myself kicking more than the previous lap so I tried to focus more on pulling through the water and less on kicking to save my legs for the rest of the day.
Came out of the water about 4 minutes slower than I was anticipating but still solidly under the 2-hour mark and well on my way to my goal of being on the Bike course by 9AM. I was happy and got a chance to see my sister Heather and got some great Team Z cheers as I jogged from the shore of Mirror Lake into T1.
I jogged into transition, grabbed my bag and headed into the tent - where I got a wonderfully big cheer from my friend Keri who was volunteering the transition tent. She was free so she helped me get my gear out of my bag and get everything on. Jersey, Bike Vest, Socks, Bike Shoes, Race Belt, Helmet, Sunscreen - a quick stop at the port-o-potty and I was being handed my bike and off on the bike course.
BIKE: Loop 1 - 56 miles - 4:40 - DNF.
I started out the bike feeling decent. I did my best to get my heart down on the climb out of Lake Placid and by the time we started the 9K decent into Keene, I was feeling pretty good. Being near the back of the swim had an advantage on the long decent - it meant that I was able to pick the perfect line and lose very little free speed. I passed several fellow athletes on the descent and tried to settle into the ride along the AuSable River through Keene and Jay on the way to Upper Jay and the beginning of the climbing. I was sticking to my nutrition plan but found myself more thirsty than I had been on training rides.
Around mile 20, I make a quick stop but did not pee very much. Not too concerned because I had gone in T1 but still very thirsty, I grabbed a bottle of water at the aid station and continued on. As I turned left onto 9N and headed toward Wilmington, I kept trying to eat - but nothing tasted very good. The only thing I really wanted was more to drink - so I stuck to my Infinit. By mile 30, after the turn to the out-n-back at Hasleton Road - I was noticing a big lag in strength and I was feeling kind of light headed. I forced myself to eat an uncrustable (peanut-butter and jelly sandwich) and keep on my 10 minute drinking plan. I just kept trying to focus on my turn-over, keep my cadence up, smile at the Team Z mates who were on their way back from the turn-around and keep on going. I grabbed a bottle of Gatorade at the next Aid Station and headed towards the turn in Wilmington towards Lake Placid.
About a mile into the turn onto 86, my watch alarm went off to let me know it was 1230, 1 hour to the first loop cutoff and less than 11 miles to climb. As long as I stayed strong and steady, I would be just fine. I was feeling kind of bloated and I backed off drinking for the next 10 minutes - understanding that this was too soon into the ride to be having this many problems with nutrition. When my watch beeped for my next drink, I took a sip of my infinat and vomited. I simply spit the vomit out - rinsed my mouth and kept spinning - really not sure what to do next. I started crying on the bike and got mad at myself - There is no CRYING on the first loop of the Bike Course in IRONMAN! So I tried to calm myself down and just kept peddling. After another 10 minutes, I was able to get down a GU and some water from the last AID STATION - and my thirst came back with a vengeance - but my stomach was sloshing and very uncomfortable - it was horrible to be so thirsty but bloated. I just kept on spinning but I knew from a quick glance at the watch - that I was not climbing fast enough to make the first loop time check.
By the time I climbed Pappa Bear and was heading back into Lake Placid and Mirror Lake Drive/Bike Special Needs - my watch had told me all I needed to know. It was 1:40pm and I was 10 minutes passed the time check - there would be no second loop of the bike course for me - there would be no T2, no marathon. My IRONMAN race day was already over. As I got to the Olympic Oval, there was a Volunteer there to take my bike. I sat in the grass with another racer who missed the cuttoff for a bit while another Volunteer sat with us, telling us that he knew how we felt, he had the same experience and came back to "finish the following year." I appreciated all the kindness the Volunteers showed but was still pretty upset and frustrated and feeling bloated and thirsty. I asked a security Volunteer if she would take me to medical - so I could get some advice on how to get rid of my upset stomach. The escorted me over to the tent and put me on a scale and I was up 3 pounds - and I was still so thirsty.
The MED TENT Dr. started asking the typical questions:
"When the was last time you peed?" "Um, hmmm, Mile 20, I guess"
"How many watterbottles did you drink?" "Ummm, left with 4 on the bike - took 2 waters and a gatorade - 7 bottles, oh my..."
The immediate reaction: "Your not going anywhere until you pee, have a seat - let me get you some chips - your hyponatremic"
20 minutes later, having peed a little and with Jim, my husband by my side, I promised the MED TENT Dr. that I would eat some more salty snacks, sip V8 juice (not low sodium!) and not drink any more water until I was back to peeing normally.
As I sat in the Medical Tent, trying really hard to be strong and not cry - I was already making a plan for the rest of my day. I would come back and watch the last 2 hours of the FINISH and cheer my teammates in. I wouldn't sign up for IRONMAN USA 2010 - it was too much to ask of my husband BUT I was already feeling him out to see how he felt about me doing either ChesapeakeMan Ultra or Beach2Battleship this fall if my coach thought it was feasible and my body could handle the volume since I didn't end up going the full distance.
My husbands reaction: "No need to lose this hard earned fitness - let's look at the calender and see which is more realistic with our previously made plans." - I'm a very blessed woman, no doubt.
I found a magnet a few months ago that I thought was great and I bought it and put it in my office - I found that magnet staring at me this morning when I went in to pay some bills.
"Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, I will try again tomorrow."
-mary anne radmacher
Life is still GOOD. My goal is still alive - just got to make a few course corrections.