Saturday, July 5, 2014

So You Had A Bad Day...

Buffalo Springs, Lubbock Texas (BSLT) 70.3, I race I swore I would never do!  As a NYer, transplanted to TX, I've always felt that I am not genetically engineered to handle the heat in the way  that Texans do.  It wasn't until NOLA 70.3 pre-race meeting, when Coachie told me 'if you want to get stronger, you have to step out of your comfort zone', that I decided I would have to look into this race.  With nothing on my plan over the summer, other than NYC olympic tri in August, I decided to go for it!

Training was going great up until about two weeks before the race, then came my two best friends: Heat & Humidity!  I knew this would be perfect training weather for race day conditions, but my body responded in the only way it knew how.  Both of my long runs ended in high heart rates & vomiting.  I tried not to let that get in my head & talked to my Coachie & other triathletes on how to prevent it.  Before I left for my race, I even had some blood work done to check my electrolytes & give my loving husband a piece of mind.  All is well, you are cleared to race!

Saturday morning Shelly, Kris, & I drove up to Buffalo Springs.  We picked up our packet, went to the lake, where Shelly, Kris, & Trent tested out their wetsuits, and then headed back to the hotel to rest.  Race morning came early as usual, and so did the nerves.  I don't think I've ever been this nervous going into a race.  I knew that besides the heat, the winds, and the hills, I had something else going on inside of me that I would have to battle through.  I found Coachie and she talked me down off of my ledge & reassured me that I was ready, 'trust in your training!'

We made our way over to the swim start just in time to line up front and center when the announcer yelled, GO!  I reached down to start my Garmin and noticed I hadn't even turned it on yet! Ugghhh!  I ran through waist deep water turning on my Garmin, waiting for satellites to pick up, & changing to multisport mode, all the while ladies around me were swimming.  I finally just hit start button and started swimming.  By the first turn buoy I was in my rhythm and just swam.  The swim felt great, by the last turn buoy I executed Coachie's plan and just went for it!

I quickly ran through transition, grabbed my bike and headed out.  We had driven the two big hills coming out of the park the day before, so I felt pretty comfortable riding up & out.  We initially had a nice tail wind which I took advantage of and settled into my bike.  The heat didn't feel too bad & the wind I had learned to appreciate as a cooling breeze.  Around mile 35 a girl rode past me & complimented my race wheels, then pulled in front of me and slowed down!  I know it was my responsibility to drop back 4 bike lengths, but I really didn't want to slow down.  I tried to pass her back, but didn't have it in me.  Next thing I knew, a race official rode up on a motorcycle & waved a red card at me.  Drafting penalty!  Ugghhh!  Right as this was happening Kris rode by me yelling at me to not let it get in my head and to keep going.  A little confused as to what had just happened, I shook it off and kept riding.  The canyons and switch backs were beautiful to ride, but the headwinds were making me curse.  At one point I was feeling a little sleepy, never a good sign, and got a rude awakening when the wind tried to knock me over!  I realized, I should probably eat something, so I grabbed for a bite size peanut butter snickers I had in my bento box.  I pulled into the penalty tent to serve my 4 minute sentence for drafting & immediately felt dizzy.  I forced down the rest of the snickers in my mouth, trying not to let it come back up.  After 4 minutes on pause, I was raring & ready to go!  The next 9 miles I high tailed it back to the park, fighting the wind, but dead set on 'staying in the game'.

I reached the bike dismount line and the next 13:49 minutes on my Garmin were a blur.  I just remember volunteers pouring cold water on me & trying to make me drink it, but all it did was make me choke!  They threw me in the back of a golf cart & hauled me over to the medical tent.  The first thing I remember was seeing Jordan Rapp in the medical tent receiving his post-race IV rehydration.  They laid me down, put cold towels all over me & started pumping 3 IV bags into me.  Although race officials reported temps in the upper 90's at that point, I had never been so cold!  I was shivering uncontrollably to the point where I started cramping in my legs.  They kept asking if I wanted the cold towels replaced & I refused.  They tried to explain why I needed the towels & I told them I already knew, I was a doctor!  Ahhh, that explains it!  Doctors are the worst patients!  When I was finally able to speak complete sentences, I asked one of the volunteers if they would ask Jordan Rapp to come take a pic with me because my friend loved him!  He gracefully obliged & we talked for a little bit.  I congratulated him for his second place finish & his first place finish at Syracuse 70.3 the weekend before.

The next two hours I spent in complete solitude, crying & begging the race officials to let me go run!  I kept looking around the empty medical tent thinking, I wasn't suppose to be here, I had to go run!  I fought off at least five volunteers that tried to take away my timing chip.  I kept asking for Coachie & finally a volunteer brought me my phone so I could call her.  I asked how much time was left in the race & we figured about 3hrs.  I knew that even if I had to walk I could complete the 13.1 I had left.  She said that she didn't think they would let me because I had already had an IV.  I asked the volunteers to speak to the medical director & he confirmed that I could not be allowed to continue having already received an IV.  I finally succumbed to defeat and handed over my timing chip, it was over! D.N.F.

Two hours later Kris & Shelly crossed the finish line and came straight to the medical tent to receive their IVs.  I looked around the medical tent at that point and it looked like a M.A.S.H. unit!  A completely different scene than I had experienced earlier.  After the race I asked the race director approximately how many IV bags they went through, her answer did not surprise me... 450!  With about 1000 participants, that was nearly half!  

It's been almost a week now since the race & I am able to talk about it now without tears in my eyes.  I've had time to reflect on the days events & make lemonade out of the lemons.  So I had a bad day!  So what?!  What can I take away from all of this?  In retrospect, I know I dug myself into a HUGE nutrition hole on the bike.  I will NEVER let that happen again.  I think my concern for throwing up kept me from taking in much needed calories on the bike.  I will also start my Garmin prior to lining up for the swim start!  And I will never fight to keep running after collapsing!  Really?!  What was I thinking!!! But most importantly, I must visualize!  I've always been big on visualization & I tell my friends the same.  As ridiculous as it sounds, I feel like I willed myself into collapsing.  I focused so much negative energy on the fear of the heat & my body's response to it, that it actually happened!  Never again!  From now on, I'm like Olaf... "All good things!  All good things!"  Lastly, I need to lead by example, especially for my girls.  If I fall, I must get up!  Maybe not right away, but I can't let myself be defined by 'my bad day'!  If we are able to choose, then I choose to define myself by 'my good days'.  It happened, and it's done... tomorrow I race Tri for Old Glory!  What a great name of a race for redemption!

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