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.