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.  

5 comments:

Jeanne DeBonis said...

I know exactly what you're going through, Michelle and I'm sorry to read what happened. You will see another start at Kona, and when you cross that finish line, it will be even sweeter knowing what you had to battle through (the mental and the physical). You're an amazing and accomplished athlete and you did something that only about 2% of all ironman athletes do, you qualified for Kona (by winning your age group no less). I know you probably have a million people besides me telling you this, but that's because it's true. Hang in there, take some time to recover, solve the physical issues so they don't happen again, and then look forward to next season.

Big Daddy Diesel said...

I am so sorry, this broke my heart

Mary IronMatron said...

I"m sorry. :( You are amazing, so there will be a next time.

Ange said...

Huge hugs Michelle. You are so strong.... You will be back.

goSonja said...

That was a hard one to write. But cathartic, eh?? Onwards and upwards, no need to look too far in the past. xoxox love ya girl!!