Thursday, October 25, 2012

Med Tent

Ha!  A post titled Med Tent - that's a first!

To say I felt anything other than devastated would just be a lie.  But there wasn't much else I could have done.  I wasn't getting any better.  I was still incredibly dizzy and nauseous.  I was still cold.  I was thinking about my family and that they had come all this way to watch me race and that I had failed epically.  There would be no low-fiving Sonja on Ali'i.  This was my first DNF.  Blech.

Finally, the IV was in - my first race IV.  And now I know why everyone wants an IV after a race.....I started feeling marginally better half way through the bag.  My stomach settled.  My 3 nurses had been talking to me the entire time I was in the tent but I wasn't really talking back.  I answered with a short yes, no, or a grunt but no conversation.  Halfway through the bag I started talking a bit.  All the way through the IV?  I was having all sorts of conversations with the medical personnel.  (as a side note - the volunteers in the tent are absolutely awesome!) I sat up on my own.  I had to pee.  I was hungry. I no longer needed the blanket.  I felt almost normal.

2 hours after I entered T2, I was OK.  They brought me some pretzels and chocolate milk.  I stood up on my own.  I was fine.

Finally, I was reunited with my family.  My daughters hugged me for minutes - they were so worried about me.  Thanks (NOT) to they had no idea where I was.  It showed I was out of T2 in 6 minutes. I believe I heard there was even a run split at one point. They thought they had missed me running by.  They took pictures of anyone in red hoping it was me.  After 30 minutes or so the T2 time disappeared and they knew I never made it out.  Talk about incredibly supportive, they were there for me telling me I made the right decision and it was all starting to be OK.

We grabbed some food and all sorts of people were congratulating me.  Ugh.  I began telling people - no, I didn't finish and point to the bandage on my arm.  I felt awful, like I didn't deserve their good wishes.  Eventually I just said "thanks" - honestly it was just easier to say thanks than try to explain.  I wanted to disappear to my hotel but I would not leave until I saw PIC finish.  Her run splits indicated that she wasn't having the best of days either.  So we all waited for her on Ali'i.  Finally we saw the girl in red.....she saw me and came over and we just hugged.

So now it's time to answer the why?  The how?  The WTF?  Kona is a different beast of an Ironman.  Unless you live there, it's tough to recreate the conditions:  the heat, the humidity, the wind.  Nutrition plans that work elsewhere may not work there.  In 2011, I had some of the same problems - I came out of T2 feeling dizzy but was able to finish.  This is now a work in progress.  Although I swore off Ironman several times in the med tent and later on that night, I cannot back away from a challenge.  And that is exactly what Ironman is (duh).  I want to nail my nutrition at my next Ironman.  If I am fortunate enough to qualify for Kona again, I will go in with a solid plan that I believe in and that has been tested as much as i can in Colorado.  And I will roll the Ironman dice and cross my fingers it comes up a winner.  Once again......Game On.

Since I am my own science project, I now have an entire off-season to address the nutrition and hydration issue(s)!  Oh wait, I'm not quite to off-season yet.......

That's right, about the time I was released from medical and after I swore off Ironman for the rest of my life, I decided I needed to do another race this year.  It's slim pickings right now for races but I found one down in Texas!  This weekend!

Yee Haw!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Kona Bike

The Bike
Getting on the bike with that crowd and the loudspeakers and the yelling and the other athletes racing to get on their bikes is rather unnerving......I don't like this part!  But I mounted my bike and calmly pedaled up Palani.  As soon as I was on Kuakini I got my feet into my shoes.  And took a drink from my bottle as I had that awful salty aftertaste in my mouth.  The first part of this ride is such a cluster!!!  And everyone seems to be panicking for position.  On the climb to the Kuakini turnaround I was pushing some big watts yet being passed left (and right, dorks).  But I only noticed a few ladies ahead of me - I figured I was in pretty good position.

This is about it for pictures on the bike!
Once we turned to the Queen K the "fun" really begins. I had settled into a good heart rate and my legs felt better than they had all week but not where I was hoping they'd be.  I just figured that an hour in everything would be loose and all systems go.  This part of the ride IS fun - I was passed by all sorts of guys who were very friendly - saying hello and nice swim and have a great day.  Very cool!  A few Denverites passed and said hello and then I had a little conversation with Scott as he went by.

My plan was on target so far - water at every aid station: in the mouth, over the head, in the face if needed but I didn't feel that hot yet.  And I'm pretty sure we had a bit of a tailwind too.  The hills didn't bother me and I was happy.  I sang "Pour Some Sugar on Me" as I passed the aid station that was playing that song and thought of my girlfriends at home and how they would be laughing at that.  I played a friendly (and legal on my part) game of cat and mouse with a gal in a younger age group.  Some women passed me and after a while if they were still in my sights I'd work to pass them back (legally of course).  Everything was going well.

Notice my emphasis on legal?  Yep, drafting is a big problem in Kona.  There were several HUGE packs that went by me within the first 35 miles.  Like, unbelievable!  And unfortunately, there were some women hanging on the back of these packs getting pulled along.  But the course marshalls seemed to be on it and every time I passed a penalty tent I took comfort in the fact that it was overflowing with athletes.  

After Waikoloa, there was a pretty good headwind - I don't remember ever feeling a wind this strong.  The winds had been at our backs and now I had a taste of what was to come up to Hawi.  This wasn't going to be pretty!   About this time, my groin started to tighten up - I'd been having problems for the last couple of weeks but I thought everything was OK.  I had to lighten up on the pedals for a bit before it felt a bit better.  Crap, I was definitely worried that this was going to linger and keep giving me problems.The climb to Hawi was what I thought it would be.....tough but manageable.  The cross winds didn't seem that bad but it was one heckuva head wind. I looked down at the race time on my watch and did some math and it looked like I was slower than last year to Hawi.  Bummer especially since I knew I was riding better.  

A headwind to Hawi only means one thing......a kickin' tailwind on the way back to Kawaihae!  I started hammering back and was hitting some high speeds.  But, the speed and the vibrations sent my unopened liquid shot flying out of my kit.  Crap.  That's 400 calories I'll have to make up at some point but I was ahead of my calorie goal so I wasn't too concerned.  Everything was going well and it was time to start the final 35 miles of the bike.  

The winds had changed while I had made my way back from Hawi and there was now a fierce headwind.  Fierce!  Ugh, this is going to be a bear.  And as tempting as it was to tuck in behind someone who passed me - I didn't.  This is where the "wheels" started falling off.  My lower back was now cramping and I had some pain shooting down my glutes into my groin and I was losing power.  The cramps came and went in waves and when they'd hit I'd shout out in pain.  I was keeping up on my fluids. I had finished my calorie bottles.  But I wasn't feeling well.

Sonja passed me with 20 (??) miles to go.  It was great seeing her and that gave me a bit of a lift.  Of course, as she passed me an official came up right next to me.  They clearly saw that we were both on the same team and were expecting me to get on her wheel and draft.  Sure, that would have been great but once again....illegal.  And, I had no intention of doing that.  But that official watched me like a hawk.  And stayed with me for 1-2 minutes.  At one point I actually stood up and stretched my legs so they would see that I was dropping back the right distance in the right amount of time.  I did NOT get a penalty.  That official actually came back to me 5 minutes later just to check and make sure that we weren't working together.  

That was just a slight distraction from the discomfort I was in.  With 10 miles to go I tried some coke in a bottle.  It tasted good but came right up.  Uh oh.  My first indication that there was more going on than just a painful back.  I downed some water and did a quick calculation of my calories.  I was still ahead of my plan.  As I rode into town I just didn't feel good.  But I still didn't know how bad off I was.  

Finally, I'm off my bike.  But not too gracefully.  I couldn't stand up straight.  And I'm dizzy.  Like, really dizzy.  I try to shake it off and break into a jog/stumble to the changing tent.  I sit down and the volunteers are all over me.  I shake my head - I need a minute!  I lay down on the table in the tent and someone tries to loosen up my back.  I'm still dizzy.  I stand up and nearly fall down.  Medical comes over and suggests I lay down for just a minute on the table right outside the tent.  I make sure that doesn't mean I'm out of the race.  They assist me to the outside table since I really can't stand up at this point and walking seems to be a risky situation.  So I lay down.  The nurses and doctor say I can stay there as long as I need.  Ok.

They bring me something to drink and I try to sit up.  Oh dear.  Woozy.  Not only am I still dizzy my stomach has decided to join the action and threatens to empty any and all contents.  I am unable to put any liquid down.  My legs are shaking and I'm feeling cold.  It's 85 degrees.  I lay back down.  Wait a couple of minutes.  Try again.  Same result.  I check the time - I've been there for 14 minutes.  OK - I can still get out there.  Try sitting up again.  Same result.  I am not getting any better.  So I start to cry since it is starting to feel inevitable that I'm just going to end up in the med tent.  But I can't even sit up let alone stand so how can I possibly run?  Or even just walk?  

The minutes keep ticking by and I keep trying to sit up.  And the result is the same.  I am still as dizzy and nauseous as I was when I got into the tent.  No improvement.  It's been 30 minutes.  The doctor comes over and very gently and kindly says that he thinks I should go to the med tent and get an IV.  And I know what this means.  My day is over.  I ask for a minute and look out over the water to try to find some peace in the decision to call it.  They bring over a wheel chair since I can't really stand up without the risk of falling over.  And I'm wheeled away.  

Sunday, October 21, 2012


Ok, Ok, Ok, I will write my race report.  Have I been avoiding doing this?  Well,'s just that I've found lots of things to do other than to sit in front of my computer and write a report of a race that had an unexpected and rather disappointing end.  I've had plenty of time to think about what happened, couldawouldashoulda, and overanalyze every single thing that happened that day and the day before and the day before that and maybe even a year ago.

But here's the thing, I AM FINE!  Honestly, I am good!  The first couple of days post-DNF (I figure most of you know this so why wait till the end of the report to say those nasty 3 letters) were difficult.  My family was awesome.  My friends were awesome.  Everyone was awesome and so supportive.  I tried to enjoy those last couple of days in Hawaii as best I could.  But, of course, my head would always go back to the race.  The final 20 miles or so of the bike. To T2.  To the medical tent.  DNF.  I cried.  I mourned the loss of the finisher's medal and t-shirt and lei.  The fact that my legs were only just a teeny tiny little bit sore from a good effort on the bike but really I could go and do a workout no problem on Monday.  But we have returned from paradise/hell and have had a great few days at home.  I have let go of any self-blame.  Shit happens.  I've talked to several people about Kona and Ironman that have really helped settle me down and realize that shit happens.  Especially in Ironman.  Especially in Kona.
Athletes entering the water looking out in the distance.....where are we swimming to?

So here's my 2/3 of a race report:)

Pre-race I was incredibly relaxed.  I tell you....having a few days in Maui with the family is great but I really did have to remind myself that I was doing KONA and IRONMAN several times before leaving for the big island on Wednesday.  As with all things, I figured this was either really good or really bad.  Nerves honestly didn't settle in until Friday night and it wasn't that bad.  Lights were out in our hotel room at 8:30.  I'm sure I was asleep by 9.  I slept soundly and felt pretty good when I woke up at 4.

My pre-race nutrition was a bit different though - I completely forgot about packing Mix1 before leaving home and there is no place on the island to get it.  So I substituted a protein drink with about the same amount of calories and protein as what I usually take and figured I was good to go.  I had my usual pre-race freak-out and cry and then my family dropped me off at body marking.  Everything went smoothly.  I was nervous but not overly so.  I knew this would be a difficult day and I was ready.
Go time!
See that boat on the horizon?  Yep, that's where we were heading in the swim!

The pros started their days (the sound of that first cannon is always startling - 30 minutes to go!) and it was time to start funneling into the water.  PIC and I made our ways out into the water and found a boat to hang on.  Oddly enough, I swam up and found Grant (KE super-stud athlete) hanging there - he was shivering and I figured he was really nervous.  But after a few minutes of hanging there I was shivering too - we needed to move.  The boat kicked us off about 10 minutes before cannon time so we moved into our starting positions (way left of the pier) and started treading water.  Then we started warming up.  I had lost sight of PIC as we swam off the boat so we didn't do our usual pre-race hug and good race wishes - I didn't like that.  It was great hanging out with Grant before the cannon especially since he said he wouldn't swim over me at the start:)
That's the boat we were hanging on to!
The minutes were ticking down and we were just guessing at the start time waiting for the boom.  All of a sudden, I see white water and hear Mike Reilly yelling GO GO GO GO!  Hmmm, am I so far left that I couldn't hear the cannon?  Weird. (found out later that the cannon went off about 10 seconds after the start) We were finally on our way.  I sprinted with the people I was with for 1-2 minutes.  Breathing every stroke and just trying to gain ground and space and hopefully find the right feet to be on.  I took in just a bit of ocean water but I was good to go.  After that couple of minutes I settled into a pace and breathing pattern.  And, my arms and shoulders felt good and loose - all systems go!!  But I was very aware of what was going on around me and making sure I wasn't settling into an "easy" pace - I wanted the pace that wasn't too hard or too easy but just right:).  I ended up in a disjointed group of 5 or so people.  A couple of women and a few men.  I swam to the left of Man In Red (MIR) and right on the feet/hip of another guy.

Well, MIR and I became fast friends up to the boat and the turn buoy.  Every time I'd breath to the right he was looking right at me.  I'd try to gain ground (errr water) but he would stay with me.  He would try to gain ground but I would stay right with him.  We hit each other a couple of times but no worries, we were still good swim buddies.  After the turn at the boat I lost sight of him momentarily - probably because I was trying to swim straight to the next buoy like last year but this year they angled us to the left.  MIR somewhat impatiently guided me correctly.  At the next turn, I lost sight of him again.  And a minute or two later I saw him ahead.  So I did my best to close the gap and noticed that I didn't have to put forth that great of an effort to catch MIR.  At that point, there was probably around 1.5k to go and I decided to do just that.  Go.  I passed MIR, I passed MIB (man in black) soundly.  They didn't hang on.  Except now I was between 2 packs of swimmers and all by my lonesome in the middle.  Not where I wanted to be so then I tried to catch the next pack.  It took me a little bit but I reeled them in as well.  The pier was in sight and time to line up to the right so that I didn't get smashed into the pier like last year.

Perceived time since I didn't see the clock coming out of the water: 58min
Actual time: 1:01 (darn) Swim was slow this year for everyone but I'm bummed I didn't get under the 1 hour mark.  3rd out of the water in my age group.

Getting out of the water and onto the stairs I really felt like I had smashed that swim - but in a good way that didn't smash me.  I smiled as I entered the showers and ran to get my bag.  As always, the volunteers in T1 were great - I think they were in more of a hurry than I was!  I had 3 volunteers - 2 helping with my bag and getting my socks on and one putting on sunscreen.  I had her lather that on, no sunburns this year!

A blurry picture coming out of T1
I realize this is getting long so I'll save the bike and ensuing disaster "learning experience" to the next post!!!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Well, this has been an interesting way to start race week!  Rather than heading to Kona right away and due to unknown school vacations at the time and if I'd even be competing in Kona - we are in Maui.  I am resting up with absolutely no men in speedos and no obvious triathletes in sight.  I had to remind myself yesterday that I am actually doing an IRONMAN on Saturday!!  It's time to put the race plan together....yes, snap back to reality Oh there goes gravity.  Yes, I'm tapering.

So we left town in 35 degree weather on Saturday and arrived in Maui some 12 hours later.  Sunday I had my last "big" day - a 2.5 hour bike and a run-off.  My dad and I headed out to do my favorite West Maui Loop.  Not very flat and really pretty turn-y but it is absolutely awesome!
Starting to get a bit warm
Love riding right next to the ocean!

The blowhole from a distance
We ended up our first day here at Kimo's to celebrate Isabelle's 10th birthday with a HUGE slice of Hula Pie.

Yesterday the kiddos spent quality time on the beach in the morning while I went for a swim out to Black Rock.  I can't believe I didn't tuck a camera in my speedsuit because I saw so much cool ocean stuff, the highlight being 2 honu and 6 spotted sting rays!

Then it was adventure time, we hiked down to the Nakelele blowhole and then to the Olivine Pools.

Of course, the day wouldn't be complete without an awesome sunset, courtesy of the vog!

Monday, October 1, 2012

11 Days

and counting til Ironman Kona!

T-6 I leave for Hawaii with my family.  Maui is the first stop where we will join my parents who are already there.  (my dad retired in August and honestly, I don't know why they don't just move there!)  Then, after a few days of eating really well, maybe having 1 or 2 mai tais, checking out some of the beaches and waterfalls and fishies, I head out to Kona on Wednesday.  There I will join PIC for some pre-game activities!  A fun dinner on Wednesday night, catching up with Dr. PIC on Thursday, sampling some of the local ice cream, did I mention the underpants run?  Oh yeah, and spend some time prepping for the big event on Saturday.  The family comes to join me in Kona on Friday.

So this is my second Kona and my fourth Ironman.  What a bumpy road this has been.  Immediately after CDA this year, I had some thoughts that this year I could do really well in Kona.  As long as I could nail my nutrition and hydration and deal with the heat.  But hey, the possibility was there!

Of course, a week later all bets were off - stress fracture 3rd metatarsal.  Would I even be able to compete in Kona?  Compete is probably not even the right word.....will I even be able to walk?  run?  Finish a marathon?  Unfortunately, these thoughts and emotions ruled my world for the better part of July and August.  Even into the first part of September.  It was a horrible roller coaster I was riding.  Wanting to do well, not wanting to go if I was just going to "do it".  Every day, f**k it, I'm not going - this is stupid.  Every other day, of course I'm going everything will be just fine!  Talk about a Jekyl and Hyde thing going on.  Moody?  Yep.  My apologies to my family for my crankiness - but hubs was good.  He gets it and he just told me to relax and that everything would work out:)

My friends and family have been tip-toeing around the's the foot?  And yes, I consider that sucker a separate part of me now.  It has it's own identity - "the foot".  I haven't talked about it, written about it.  Heck, I didn't even tell PIC I was running for a little bit.  So here's the deal.  I started running at the end of August.  Just a little bit.  A minute running, a minute walking.  We had to take this slowly.  A stress fracture is a mercurial injury.  It can take just a few weeks to get back running. Or it can take months.  All I could do was cross my fingers that I would be on the short end of the recovery stick.  That's how I started.  Then I went to a 5 minute run, 5 minute walk.  Then 5 minute run, 1 minute walk.  Then a 9 minute run, 1 minute walk.  Did it feel good?  Was I injuring myself further?  Who knew?  The foot ached.  Sometimes more than others.  But there was no acute pain and the achiness was always gone the day after.  And, since it had been 8 weeks since I had run and it had been immobile in the boot, I had to re-build the strength in that foot.  How frustrating is that?  I have an IRONMAN to train for and I have to "smartly" build my mileage for fear of injuring something else.  Pure awesomeness.

And here's the fun part of the injury......according to all the reading and research I have done (trust me, no stone has been left unturned), the foot isn't 100% healed.  It can take up to 90 days or more to be considered healed.  That would be right about now:)  There is a realistic chance that I re-fracture it again in Kona.  Reality sucks.  But maybe not.  Who knows?

Here is what I do know.  I am ready to swim well.  I am ready to ride well.  And I am ready to deal with whatever the run and my foot throws at me.  The plan is to run.  Maybe not fast - OK, probably not fast at all - but I will run.  If my foot hurts, I will still run as long as it lets me.  If I need to go to a walk/run, I am prepared to do that too.  And, if I have to walk.  Well then, I will walk.  But I'm leaving all options open.  This is not about placing well, or having a personal best (that would be awesome but I can't count on it), this is about finishing Kona.

Ironman is all about dealing with adversity and solving whatever problems the day throws at you.  I have been dealing with adversity since July 5th and I think that leaves me mentally ready in 11 days.  And, since I don't know how this is going to play out....well, the pressure is kind of off!  Although, I am still nervous about the swim.  But the water is warmer than CDA, it's an in-water start which I love, and the water is crystal clear and there are fishies!!! Last year in the start, I remember sticking my head up in the white water chaos around me, smiling and thinking that moment was incredibly cool.  That's the attitude I'm going for this year.  I'm just not going to take this (or me) too seriously!  If I'm doing well - great - I will smile and give lots of shakas!  If I'm not - I will STILL smile for the cameras and throw around lots of shakas.  I will cheer for my teamies and friends and push them along for the day that they can have.  And here's the thing......when I get to Ali'i Drive, if I am running I will slow down.  This year, I want to take it all in.  Why sprint to the finish?  This is the half mile of GLORY!  Why rush this?  High fiving people!  Getting to the carpet and the lights and the flags and the crowd and hearing Mike Reilly announce my name - I am going to enjoy it!!

This year, I am in a really good place mentally going into this race.  Last year, not so much - I was mentally tired and come race day that played a part in the outcome.  Other that "the foot", I am in a really good place physically for the race.  I'm in better shape than last year.  I've been dealt an interesting hand of cards for this race, but I am ready to play it out.  Who knows?  Maybe there are some aces in there:)