Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Rest of the Story

Sigh...

As you've probably figured out by now, my ironman didn't go as planned. I have been healthier than I've ever been for the last year and a half. Not a sniffle or a sneeze. Nothing. I have been a complete germ nazi: washing my hands like a mad woman, avoiding social situations, getting flu shots, sleeping in separate beds if Dave was sick. And it has worked for me.

Saturday night before the race I started feeling really sick to my stomach while at dinner. I chalked it up to nerves, but it had me so rattled I couldn't eat dinner. I had about three bites of my dinner and that was it. When I went to bed that night I continued to feel sick. Really sick. I had heartburn that stretched from my belly button to about mid-chest. I ate a tums and tried to eat some bread, but nothing was really helping. When the alarm went off on race morning, I had gotten about four hours of sleep. And I was still feeling really bad. Really bad. I tried to eat some breakfast but it just wouldn't go down and I was starting to get worried about how bad I was feeling. Before I knew it was I was in the bathroom vomiting and there went any bit of nutrition I had in my body. Nothing else was eaten that morning.

We went down to the race site to set up my transition and I was feeling better. The nerves seemed to have passed as I was now feeling more comfortable with the race day ahead. Before I knew it, I was in my wetsuit, standing in the sand, waiting for the starting horn to sound. And then my day began. I was walking into the water and feeling okay.

The swim went fantastically. I felt comfortable. I was swimming well. It was all seeming a lot easier than I imagined it being. And then the swim was over. I was out of the water around 1:21 which is exactly what I expected. I walked from the beach through transition and everything seemed to be going as planned.

I was out on the bike and I was working the plan. My heart rate was really low and my legs seemed to be turning over well. On the way out I hit a bump and lost a bag of nutrition. I simply stopped and went back for it. This happened again around mile 10 as I launched not only a bag of nutrition but a water bottle. Again I stopped and went back for it. Something happened around mile 10 that started to have me concerned: my nausea was coming back. I was feeling sick to my stomach, my head was spinning, and I was losing power in my legs. It was WAY too early to be feeling bad. But, I kept at my nutrition taking all that was scheduled and not losing any of it. Once I made it to Milan I started looking for a port-a-john. My stomach needed a reprieve. Of course, I didn't find one. It was during this time too that I started dry heaving. The road out of Milan is a long stretch with the wind at your back. I expected to be flying down this road. Instead I was struggling to do 15mph and my stomach kept flip-flopping. I kept trying to tell myself, it will pass, but it wasn't passing. I was making deals with myself...it's okay to slow down; you can walk the marathon and still be fine; just make it to the start of the second loop; make it to Milan and call Dave and have him talk you down. At mile 40 was an aid station and I stopped. I called Dave and was panicky. I didn't know what to do. I was dry heaving and couldn't gain any ground on how badly I was feeling. I took a break, ate a pretzel from a spectator. Things were just not going well. The bike tech called medical and asked what to do. It was then he said he would not allow me back on the course and my day was over. He drove me back to transition and escorted me to the medical tent.

In the medical tent they gave me some anti-nausea medicine which worked wonders. I was able to get some lunch and despite feeling like a complete zombie, I was feeling much much better. Disappointed, but physically better. I watched the rest of the race and cheered on my friends and teammates.

Around 10:00pm we all headed to dinner. It had been about 8 or 9 hours since they had given me my medicine and I was starting to feel sick again. Really sick. As Rachelle and my family ate dinner, I sat in the parking lot continuing to vomit. The poor people at Pizza Hut took pity on me and sent me home with crackers and a Sierra Mist. When we made it back to the hotel, I was still feeling horrible and made the decision to head to the local emergency room. Once there they hooked me up with a saline drip, a shot of anti-nausea medicine, a shot of Pepcid, and a concoction of laticane and some other heart burn medicine. I took a little nap and they sent me on my way. We got back to the hotel around 2:00am and I slept until about 8:00. Yesterday I felt much better and was able to eat and drink as normal, although the dizzies have continued and I'm still not feeling really confident about eating.

So where does this leave me? Still without an ironman finish and frankly, out of time. I WILL NOT devote another year to this. The plan was to move on with my life: go back to work, start a family, be a real person without the pressures of racing or training. Ten years has been enough and I just want to take a break and enjoy running with friends and family again. I want to be able to go on a vacation that is not focused around a race. I want to be able to wake up and say, today I'm going to go for a run, or say, not today. I have looked at my short term options and I'm just not sure I'm that into it. Can I devote another 5-6 weeks? Sure. Do I care? I don't know. And I know that if I'm waffling, the answer needs to be no. Do I still really want to finish an Ironman? Absolutely. I just may need to change things up. My family has always teased me about being a total worry wart and not being able to control my nerves and they are absolutely right. I'm not sure I will ever be able to control that enough to handle ironman. (This weekend was not about nerves, though. I was sick or had food poisoning.) Dave and I have talked a lot about doing this together. I think that would certainly help my nerves and take the pressure completely off. I'm not gonna lie, I feel a lot of pressure when it comes to ironman. I have had A LOT of success with running. I think it's totally natural that myself and others think that it's going to translate to ironman/triathlon. In some ways it has. In others it hasn't. My teammates had fantastic days at Cedar Point and knowing that I could not compare to them would have had me feeling disappointed in my race performance even though ironman is all about finishing. But I also think about the flip side. What if I never do an ironman? Am I okay with that? I think a lot about Steve Stenzel when I get to this option. He's a fantastic runner, but has never done a marathon. Is a marathon that important as a runner? No. He has found he's better at short course and that not ever runner has to be a marathoner. Can I get to that point and be okay that I may never be an ironman? I don't have that answer yet.

And so I'm left here feeling disappointed and empty. Very empty. And sad. I just don't know what to do or think. I just don't know.

19 comments:

Marcus Grimm said...

Bah, that's a real bummer. Your build went really really well.

I understand your point, though... I did 1 tri and realized I'd never reach the same success I've had as a runner. I haven't been able to wrap my head around spending more time training for something I'd be less successful at.

At any rate, give it a couple of days, and I'm sure what you want will become more clear to you.

Karen said...

Heartbreaking to put in that much effort and have it not end in the way you envisioned, I am sure... Take a couple of days and see how you feel about it then. In the end, you need to do what makes you feel happiest.

Michelle said...

Sorry Meredith, that completely sucks! I'm with Marcus and Karen--give yourself a few days to recover mentally and physically, and you'll be better able to make a decision, whatever it is, and feel confident that it is the right one.

Sarah Woulfin said...

So sorry that you were sick on the Ironman raceday. PLease take care and racing will always be there for you. Take care!

LAPT said...

Oh man... I know that you are probably feeling kind of tortured about this. And it is definitely a huge disappointment after all the work you put in... forgive yourself, though. Being sick like that was out of your control. I hope that no matter what you choose to do moving forward, it makes you happy!

Katie said...

OOOHhh man, I'm so sorry to hear this. You've worked so hard for this. I hope that whatever you decide makes you happy.

M said...

I don't even really know what to say at all. As Karen put it, it is truly heartbreaking. maybe some downtime will help you re-evaluate, re-center and come up with a new plan. Thank you for sharing your journey the whole way through. Moments like this really test our foundation, so here's hoping that this is only going to make you stronger in the long run.

Melissa C said...

Meredith, Did they ever figure out what is wrong with you? I cried when I saw your f/b status the other day. You are a great athlete, I hope you are able to figure out what you want to do next and be happy with your choice. The Ironman will always be there too, if you need to move on for now and come back to it later. I want to do one really bad but I know I can't due to the time commitment. There is a time and a place, for me it is not now. I don't know when, I have some ideas, but then again, it is so far out that I might have new trials and struggles to deal with that may change it.

Colleen said...

I could give you a whole run down on what my thoughts are, but I don't know that they matter. This is about what is in your head and what's in your heart. No one will be able to tell you what's right or wrong. I hate hearing that you feel like you wouldn't compare to your teammates had you finished... that's not what Ironman is all about and I think that pressure you put on yourself isn't worth it. No one would EVER think less of you if you finished an Ironman slower than what you think you should do it in. I have more respect for the 16:59 finisher than the 8:25 pro. But... I get the feelings you have. Just know that there are a lot of people that support you in whatever you do... and what you have done!

Alice said...

This is the spectator that gave you the pretzel. When I mentioned you to my husband (because I noticed you were on the trakkers team), he knew exactly who I was talking about, so I've been hoping you would update your blog.

As a person pretty much the opposite of a triathlete, I think you are amazing. And if it's truly about the journey, not the destination, then you can't think of it as a total loss, because the ironman was just the destination. If you are anything like my husband, I'm sure you've learned plenty about your self along the way

Amy said...

Well, you know how it is... you train for months (or a year)... but it all comes down to one day. That's the sh*tty thing about races. It's ONE day. All that training for one freaking day and on that one freaking day you get sick! Ugh!

But, the training is what makes a real ironman, I think... giving up your life for a year, for that one day.

Anyway, I'm really sorry and hope that after some reflection you figure out what makes you most at peace and happiest.

Ashley said...

Meredith, I'm so sorry to hear that your day didn't end as you had hoped, planned, and prepared for. I can't agree more with the comment that it is the TRAINING that makes you an ironman. The sacrifice and dedication you have shown for two years is so admirable. No matter what, don't lose that fighting spirit!

Janet Edwards said...

Sorry Meredith. :-(

Seems like it is time to think about yourself and what will make you the most happy. You are lucky to have had such success running which many have never had. You will figure out what is right for you. Hugs!

Laura said...

THIS JUST FLAT OUT SUCKS! I'm so sorry and I totally hear ya on all fronts!!! Like others have said. Give yourself a bit of time. Things will become clearer as time goes by. The good news is that the 140.6 is NOT GOING ANYWHERE! You can go and do all those things you want to do and when you are done doing them... and if you still want to conquer it 140.6 will be waiting patiently for your return!

Big hug to you! You worked hard... take some time off! :)

Jeff - DangleTheCarrot said...

Sucks Meredith, but you have handled it well and that says much more about you than a sticker on the bumper of your car. Take some time off and get back to training for Houston. Running always seems to help pick people (aka: me) up when down. We'll see you January!

Kiersten said...

I'm sorry your day didn't go as planned. I agree that this is all about you and whatever you decide is the right answer. The good news is, you can always put this on hold and consider it again after your start your family. There are decades of possibilities ahead of you.

Trisaratops said...

I wish I knew what to say. Please know I'm thinking about you and that no race ever defines us. And races will always be there, too, no matter what happens or what direction you head in.

Hugs to you!

Kelly said...

I'm so sorry you didn't have the day you were hoping for. I think this is one of the greatest challenges of triathlon - accepting that race day might not be what you were looking for. I think that is why some people are just content to train and not race. It's a lot of pressure to put on one day!

Mary IronMatron said...

I'm just catching up on blogs and so I just read this. I'm sorry, Meredith. I know what it feels like to be sick like that when racing. You were smart to drop when you did. One thing I learned from my barfing experience at IMLP--you can't take that you will be all right for granted.
If I were you I'd find another one and get it done in the next two months or so! :)