There I am running with Shangrila Rendon on my 2nd loop at the Ironman 70.3 California race. For those of you who don’t know who she is… she is a Guinness World Record holder for the fastest female to race a Quintuple race (5 Ironman Distance triathlons in 5 consecutive days). It was a pretty defining moment for me to see her out there and her cheering me on as I raced by just struggling to keep my body going.
Leading up to the race I was feeling confident that I was going to have a breakout race and finally be able to actually run the entire half marathon. My running has improved, I’m leaner, and over all I’m feeling great about my nutrition since moving to being more metabolically efficient. Then around Tuesday night my stomach felt a little iffy and I spent most of the night sitting on the toilet. That’s right I either caught something or ate something bad. I wasn’t holding anything in, and I felt fine otherwise. Fast forward to Friday morning I still wasn’t 100% but I told myself and C that I plan to race. If I have issue’s Friday night or Saturday morning, or anything during the race. I’m going to not race or I’m going to stop. Her condition was only if I go to the medical tent after I finish… Deal. The problem isn’t so much being sick, it’s the amount of fluids you lose during the process of sitting on the throne and the lack of nutrients in your body. It was simply the smart thing to do, and that’s live to race another day. I had consulted with 2 doctors who have my best interest at heart so I knew that I wasn’t making a blind choice. I told myself that I was ok with the outcome… If I DNS or DNF it wasn’t cause I wasn’t capable or didn’t have the drive.
I got about 8 hours of sleep that night, thanks to some essential oils from some friends and some Imodium. I was weary to eat anything for obvious reasons so I skipped my breakfast of eggs, bacon, sweet potatoes, with butter. I preloaded with some pedialyte as we made our way to transition, and physically I was feeling fine. I got into transition late so I had to do the fastest transition setup known to mankind before they closed it. I’ve really simplified my transitions to where it takes me about 5 minutes to get everything in place and out I can go. I was in the second to the last wave, so I still had a whole hour before I started. I spent some time chatting with some Team Challenge friends and team mates before they had to march off into the Oceanside Harbor to start. I chugged my 2 scoops of UCAN 30 minutes before the swim start, threw on my wetsuit and it was time for me to march down that same plank into the harbor. The best part is that even with the pro’s already out of the water and you still being in that 2nd to the last wave, there is still a great amount of energy to keep you pumped. So I was able to feed off it all and stay collected.
Swim: 36 mins
BOOM the horn goes off and out I go. The water temp was 62 degree’s race morning and I LOVED it. There was plenty of swell to go around and plenty of people who kept stopping in front of me. I had no problems sighting the buoy’s but swimming around/over people got tiring. My stomach though at the time was starting to wobble and I was wondering if I was going to have an accident in my wetsuit (that would not be good). I was able to finally find some calm water out of the pack of people and cruise to the swim exit. I felt at this point that I had a better swim that I did, but my stomach and my calves and core were cramping a bit. As I was jogging back to T1 I saw C and she gave me some more pedialyte. I told her that I’m was done, my legs just aren’t there, and my stomach was feeling woozy. I remember her telling me that maybe I just need to sit down in transition and see how it goes. I had plenty of time, but nope I told her I was done and she was going to meet me at the exit. WELL, I did what she said and as I was sitting there gathering myself and looking at my bike, I decided I should give it a shot. I’m feeling a bit better, and if I can make it off the bike I can walk the half marathon. It wasn’t going to be pretty but I could do it as long as I kept it easy. So I put my big boy pants on and helmet and went out the bike exit on the bike.
I remembered this course from my first go around with it in 2014 and knew I had to keep it calm and easy the first half. I did exactly that and felt great, I took a third of a bonk breaker bar down at the 30 minute mark and 10-15 minutes later I felt my stomach kind of curl again and I thought, oh no… this isn’t going to be good. However I kept riding and it went away. I always grab water at the bike aid stations and the volunteers at aid station 1 are always a blast. This year it was some sumo wrestlers handing out water and Gatorade which made me laugh as a I whizzed by. I chugged my third of a bottle with UCAN and MCT Oil and I was feeling pretty back to normal keeping my watts and HR in my fat burning zone, saving my carbs for those hills. Then around mile 25 I notice my rear wheel bumpy and I think I just have a flat. I pulled over and sure enough, not only did I have a flat. Something shredded about 3 inches of my tire! I don’t carry a spare tire for a 70.3, GREAT. Thankfully it was by a volunteer captain who was able to radio for the bike people to come out. About a hour or so later I was on the road again complete with a new tire and tube. As I sat there waiting and watching people whiz by, several people offered me a tire and tube. I didn’t take it, just because they might need it. I’m not trying to qualify for worlds and I knew I had plenty of time. Yeah there was a part of me that felt that maybe this is a sign and I just need to stop, but I kept moving on. Into the next aid station it was bathroom time or so I thought anyways, and then again I thought that maybe this is it and I had to stop. Maybe it was just my body telling me that it wants to stop. I stood at my bike questioning if I wanted to battle the hills today. I told a volunteer who wanted to give me Gatorade that I was done, I didn’t need any. So I sat on my bike for about 5 minutes waiting to see what my stomach would do, and sure enough it calmed down. I was good to go, and off I went. I could see the hill in the distance, the same hill that I almost had to walk up a couple years earlier. The same hill that intimidated me so much to where I didn’t ever want to do the race again. The same hill that is claiming these cyclists and forcing them to walk. I was able to power up and not be totally dead afterwards. Mentally this was a huge boost and exactly what I needed. I cheered everyone else on around me to not give up and to just keep at it. I’m sure some of them might have despised me for zipping by them as they where walking and I was cheering for them. I was sincere since I was in their shoes before at one point. I know how difficult it can be, and I know that when I was in their shoes, it helped. Finally piled up the last climb and made the final right towards the coast into the headwind and just held on for the rest of the ride. I tried to keep things steady as she goes, and I knew my run was going to be horrible. Finally as I rode into transition there was a small sigh of relief that I was almost done.
I took my time in transition again to collect myself and wondered if I should even bother running out. I didn’t know what time of day it was or if I’d have enough time to walk a half marathon after the bike wait. I didn’t want to be walking and then be told I didn’t have enough time. After a few minutes of drinking more pedialyte and gathering myself I set out on the run course. It was great to see all of my Team Challenge teammates as I set out on the run, it really lifted the spirits. I really enjoyed the change to the 1 spot transition and the route it took us on. By this time I had friends everyone on the course to cheer on. After all the reason I signed up for the race was to be out there with them cheering them all on. I was an hour late to the party but still got to see a lot of them out there. It was right after the turn around that I had to use the bathroom again… thought it was going to be the final straw… but thankfully it wasn’t. This time though I was riding that line of not having anything left in the tank. I was taking some gel’s at the aid stations with some water and base salts. Just anything to get some energy going. I was reduced to a walk/run as the reserves were running out. I was still maintaining a 12 min mile so I felt good about things. Running through the Fil-Am-Tri area was always a huge lift of spirits as I heard my name called and everyone cheering. I should have stopped and asked for a donut or 12. It was around mile 8 or 9 that I ran into Shangrila and we chatted. I couldn’t tell you about what though. It was nice to see her out there cheering for everyone. I gathered myself even more for the final push. At this time my calves were pretty well knotted with some cramping here and there. Kept taking the salt and water in, pouring water down the back and putting ice in the hat. I was happy to still be able to keep passing people. Finally the last 2 miles were in sight, and I could see the FAT’s (Fil-Am-Tri) banner and told myself I just have to make it there and I’m home free. The tight calves were causing my left knee to hurt and as I was approaching the finish chute my left hamstrings started to cramp up. Luckily there was a woman in front of me, so I thought to myself… Let her get her moment. So I slowed it down to a walk so that I wouldn’t it for her going across the finish line. This gave me a small rest. Then she slowed to a walk. When I asked if she was alright and she replied “yes”. I took off running through the finished. My finish time was over 7:31:xx and I knew it was going to be ugly. As promised I found C and we went to the medical tent to be checked out.
Every race is different, even if it’s the same course. The day is different, the weather is different, and the moment is different. Now some people will say that I made a stupid choice to race in the condition that I was in, and that’s ok. It’s their opinion. I consulted 2 doctors, 2 RN’s, and I was in good hands through the entire race. I had a plan in place if I got into trouble, and there were people on the course who knew my condition and would have stopped me if they felt that I wasn’t able to finish. Having that level of support from the tri community is simply amazing. With that said, I was fine in the medical tent. They just made me get some more fluids in and rest a bit. It was all precautionary. Even checked in with my doc buddy later that night and he said if I needed anything let him know and they’ll take care of me.
The race really tested my body, my patience, and my perseverance. It was a constant battle of quit or should I keep going. It also shows that no matter who the athlete, sometimes you just have to slow it down and collect yourself. It’s these kinds of races where everything seems to go wrong that you find out what type of athlete that you really are. Do you keep getting up when it seems you’re always falling on your face, or do you just stay down. We are capable of more than we think we can do. We just have to keep getting back up. We need to have faith and you have to believe in yourself that we are going to get across that finish line. It’s been a while since I was in that position, so it was a nice reminder out there that I still got up, and crossed that line.