Doing long distance triathlons is no joke. It’s dangerous at times and until this point, I really didn’t see it that way. You hear stories of people falling dead during races. But like anyone, I never think the worst. Or naively, I never think the worst will happen to me. And then you begin to find out it can.
The weekend before my race, I was sick – throwing up sick. I only began to eat again on Wednesday. My race – The Eagleman – a 1/2 Ironman – was on Sunday. I thought I would be fine. But early in the morning, I knew I wasn’t my normal, crazed self before the race. I was actually tired and I remember telling my friend, “I am tired, I need to wake up.”
The water was 82 degrees – which is like bath water when you are swimming a hard 1.2 mile swim. But when the air temperature is 90+ degrees and you have a 56 mile bike and 13.1 mile run on an open road, with no shade, it is brutal. Couple that with my previous bought of stomach issues and this race was going to be a fight. I was actually hauling on the bike for the first 48 miles. And then it started. Some weird pain in my foot and the spinning in my head. The pain in my foot couldn’t be consoled. I got to the transition area and started to cry a little. I knew I wasn’t OK. I even debated going on to the run, which I have never done, ever. My lips were puckered, I was a bit confused. I fumbled. I was crying some. I ran out of the transition area annoyed and doubting I was going to make it back.
I gave myself two miles. My heart was racing. Literally, I could not calm it down. I walked. I was dizzy. I got to the first water station and thought “I can’t believe this!” I kept going. All I was tasting was salt. My lips were still puckered. And before I reached mile 2, I really contemplated stopping. I was upset I wasn’t going to do well, that I wasn’t going to make my goal time. All that work and sweat and pain, and I was going to flop.
But I kept going. Running and walking when my heart would race. Getting to each water station. Drinking some and then finally peeing. My lips weren’t puckered, but I was still not normal. By mile 11 – I was annoyed. I was annoyed my body failed. It just hit it’s limit that day. Unfortunately – there was nothing I could do but be smart. I got to the finish line. My time was horrible – but I didn’t give up.
Stupid? Um, yes. Later realizing I was dealing with hyperthermia. But my thoughts are, this is what I train for. To deal with these times. And to learn from them. I’ve had two great races prior to this one, with PR’s made. To complain and dwell on a race you’ve trained intensely for is hard not to do. It’s hard not to cry about it. But. There are other races to do. And one can only hope it will be better next time – that the reality is your body has it’s moments. But it’s a blessing to be able to do these races. To be healthy and functioning. The little bumps along the way make you realize it that much more.