Monday, August 31, 2009

Ironman Canada... A Little Hurdle in the Journey

Try as we might, we simply cannot control for all things with our lives. We can prepare our best, we can cover all of our bases... we can 'expect the unexpected' but until the unexpected happens, we have to just push on assuming all is good and as planned. And when situations do arise that are less than what we had hoped for, the question becomes, What will you DO about it? How will you react? It is in this that truly makes us who we are and also allows us to be constantly learning, growing and improving.

I have had so many amazingly supportive friends who have already contacted me asking 'what happened?' in IM Canada. While I am the last person to come up with excuses, sometimes it's not so much an 'excuse' but a 'shit happens' situation. I went into my first Ironman as prepared as I could possibly be, extremely relaxed, and amped at the totally new challenge I was about to face. Confident, yet realistic. Additionally Derick was there, which is a nice rarity with us, as I usually solo it to races or meet my parents there. We were ready for an awesome trip to Penticton, BC with some time in Chelan, Washington; not only to do this race but to enjoy the beauty of a new trip and the WINERIES! Oh, the wineries!

Well, the wineries were not to be. I started feeling crummy on Wednesday afternoon, but with simply a strong headache, I thought nothing of it. The headache moved into Thursday, but still... just the travel. No big deal. Thursday we arrived to Penticton and after a short bike and swim, we went for dinner, some 6 hours since having eaten and I could not force myself to eat my delectable meal of salmon, rice and veggies. I may lose my appetite when tapering (simply due to less activity), but I can ALWAYS EAT! Long story short, Friday was no better, and I realized then that I was definitely not 'well'. The headache and lack of appetite turned into nausea, slight fever, body aches and again a SEVERE inability to eat. I tried to force things down on Friday and Saturday, realizing that if I did get better, at least I would be stocked up nutritionally. I went to bed on Saturday night with a fever of 100.5, after gagging down a dinner of ... rice.

I was just so damn determined to do this race. By Sunday, I was fully aware that it was likely not in the cards to finish, but damned if I was not going to swim. I know I can get through the swim! I was raised in water! I started the morning very, very relaxed. As I got into the swim, I found myself not feeling 'strong' but also not feeling awful; definitely a bit weak. It was beautiful! I did not even position myself next to the stronger swimmers, because I knew that I should not and could not push that hard... I simply put it on cruise control and tried to enjoy it, strong and steady. I came out and hopped onto the bike.

The big question here was, could I stomach food? I got out there and was doing alright with gels and some Gu Chomps. However, by mile 65-70, I was forcing it in and my stomach was reacting badly. I came through one aid station and stopped to go potty... could not go... I could not 'rid' my stomach of anything, which made it all worse. So, I carried on... stopped again at the special needs bags and debated quitting. I had this retching pain in my stomach, up under my ribs. I just thought that this HAD to work itself out! So, I climbed back aboard the bike and kept plugging away. Oddly enough, at about mile 90, I started to feel good (the climb at Yellow Lake) and was passing people. Yes, it was happening! A turnaround! However, it was very short lived. I finally descended into Penticton, and I was having to sit up on my bars because the TT position hurt too badly. Upon dismounting into T2, it hurt my stomach to run. I jogged in, grabbed my bike-run bag and spent about 5 minutes in the tent. I was so far already! But, I knew I probably did not have much more in me. But QUIT? I just could not do it. I slowly ventured out on the run.

Derick saw me between miles 1 and 2, and as he said, my belly up by my ribs was sticking out. Every step hurt, but again I thought maybe it will go away. I was resigned to a walk by mile 3 and up through mile 6, it was mostly a brisk walk, as any attempt at even a slow jog and the pain got worse. Any gel consumption and it got worse. I finally stopped and got into the ambulance, was taken to medical and spent about 2 hours there. They had to give me IV's to rehydrate and gave me magnesium to help calm the stomach. I finally saw Derick at about 6:00, when we went got out of there.

And there stands my official first Ironman. Well, I will not really call this my official 'first one' since I did not finish it. I wanted so badly to finish it, and I could have yes walked for another 21 miles, but my biggest worry was that there was something seriously wrong in my stomach and I could be making it worse. I was already questioning how 'tough' I was to start today, or how 'stupid and stubborn' I was. There is a big difference between being tough and being stupid. Luckily, since I came out of this in one piece, I think I can say I was the former. We had planned to stay in Canada until Tuesday or Wednesday, however for fear that I may need to see a doctor, we headed back to Washington on Monday. It was not until really today (Thursday) that I started to truly feel 'normal' again, and I am able to eat fairly regularly, without any nausea.

All in all, yes, it sucked. And I did get very sad when I was packing my bike back up, it seemed the 'emotion' kind of hit me. But, what here was GOOD? Well, I did have my first IM experience. I experienced the HYPE (oh, the hype! it really is bigger than any other race!), and I have now actually ridden 112 miles... my longest ride before this race was 100 miles. I have seen the course, which was by far the most beautiful consecutive 112 miles I have ever seen, and I know the climbs (I loved the climbs!). I got to spend a week with my husband in a beautiful area that was new for both of us (whom, by the way, could not have been more supportive). I have always wondered how truly slow I might be in an IM bike... well, now I know on a pretty bad day with a few stops, I was just over 6 hrs... so on a good day, it cannot be THAT bad! I really have a lot to be thankful for. I got to the start line healthy (well, physically speaking) and I know I was prepared to put up a great effort. My body had other things in mind, and I am a firm believer that things happen for a reason. At the moment, I am not quite sure what that reason is... but, I will figure things out and move forward. Life really is so short. This is just one little, tiny hurdle to jump over. I guess it's these unexpecteds that keep things interesting and keep us on our toes.

Thanks for reading, and thank you again to all those who showed your support and concern. It truly means so much to me, and it makes this journey all the more fun to know that there are those of you out there who care.


Anonymous said...

I am SOOO proud of you Kelly. I have said it already so I wont get sappy again. You are amazing and did the right thing. I can't wait to see how your (completely healthy) next one goes. You are an ironman in my book :)

Colleen Renee' Wilson said...

what a great blog kelly. very true that shit does happen beyond our control, but then when it does are we going to react? You came out smelling like roses in this one as you fought on until you didn't want any long term harm done. Can't wait to see how your next IM goes! Thanks for writing this. (any chance you will race Augusta? I will be there!)

Courtenay said...

aw i am sorry. i was hoping it would go really well for you. but you are right, it's just a little hurdle!

i smiled when you said your longest ride prior to canada was 100 miles. i have only done maybe 4 rides over 100 miles, which omg am i seriously considering an IM for next year? when i first started cycling, a few months after getting my bike i somehow thought i wanted to do a double century in death valley (?! in the summertime too) so to train i went out and rode as far as i could. i made it 118 miles and it took me all freaking day. like 9 hours. and the next day i just laid in bed. i didn't do the double century for other reasons (one of my teeth randomly broke the night before leaving) but actually i was really relieved about it. my subsequent over-100-milers were less disastrous, and i learned that if i started off the day with a ton of food in my pockets, by the end of the day i still felt fresh because i had gotten rid of all the food and drink and the bike felt so light!

ok i hope you are having an excellent holiday weekend.