Sunday, January 17, 2010

Why I am not excited to do an Ironman

A lot of my friends did their first Ironman this year. This means I've read a lot of race reports, and most of them contain nuggets that reassure me why I am not training for an Ironman.

Here are some funny bits. I've left them anonymous for obvious reasons, and while I laugh and gag at them, I am very proud at the way everyone persevered...No DNF's!


When the cannon went off, I started swimming and immediately got pummeled. Within the first few minutes, I got kicked in the right eye and had to stop briefly to release the pressure on my eye. A few minutes later I got an elbow in the left eye. Somewhere else, I had some guy swim next to me and grab my shoulder and push it down. After he did it a few times I slowed a bit to get away from him. A number of times someone grabbed my feet and gave them a slight yank.

Eventually I was able to really start swimming but 5 min in I realized I had practiced the wrong sport.. this wasn’t swimming, it was a cross between rugby and sumo wrestling. I had an advantage in this situation since I grew up playing with my friends in our pool… you know “try to drown your friend” kind of games:)… well that is what this sort of felt like. I felt like a salmon trying to swim up river with a 1000 of my closest fish friends.

I noticed I was getting kicked in the face and people were trying to swim over me. I have been to triathlons before and seen a little bit of this, but this was the first time it was relentless. I got kicked in the face twice pretty hard but it didn’t really hurt that bad. One guy I did kick accidentally tried to push my feet down and then punch me in the side, which was pretty crazy.

The swim was fairly violent. A lot of thigh slapping, foot slapping, and side bumping. At one point I was drafting pretty well behind someone, and suddenly his feet disappeared in the murky water. I was wondering “What happened?” just as he kicked me hard in the face – he had switched to a breast stroke to sight and I had caught up too close.

soon after starting swimming I was getting hit around pretty good. There was one guy who kept head butting my side, and then in the span of 30 seconds I had been head butted from the right, slapped in the face from the left, my ankles grabbed from behind, then my right arm hooked and my head dunked while breathing so I choked badly. I had a panic reaction right then – I was incredibly hot, I couldn’t get any air, and a little devil in my head screamed “GET OUT NOW”!

[L - I could post a hundered more like this, but you get the point]


I ran to the mount line and it was like beginner-city. Two men in front of me fell off their bikes trying to get on in a hurry. One lost both water bottles and apparently decided his time was too important to stop and pick them up. Hey, people, it’s a freakin’ IRONMAN, not a sprint, get your crap together, take your time and get on your bike without getting hurt! "What’s with these people???" I thought. How could that guy leave all his nutrition at the beginning of the bike course!???!

[After she flatted just out of T1...] Just then, the boy I sent to get help came back to me and said if I wanted help, I had to go back to transition. WHAT??!?!? Crap. I chose to run back into transition. It was a nightmare. All these bikers were coming out and I was running all the way back in. I was almost run over several times by people who mounted their bikes and were still looking down at their feet as they rode off...they wouldn't even look up until I yelled to them. It was not only embarrassing, it was frustrating. Any lead I had built up on that fabulous swim was now gone....and then some... I saw some men standing under a tent and I asked them for a pump. They pointed across one of the aisles and I saw about 6 bike technicians standing there with a bunch of pumps. I called to them, but then one of the men I was standing by chastised me and said I need to go over there if I want to use a pump. I was like, "Dude, it's much easier to carry a pump across the aisle with all these athletes going by than it is for me to wheel my bike across the aisle!" He was pretty mean about it and told me I needed to wait for it to be clear. And just like Frogger, I maneuvered my way across the streaming flow of athletes and shoved my back wheel towards the technicians... I would later find out that no less than 700 athletes passed me during the time it took me to take care of this flat. Depressing.

Then I noticed I couldn’t see out of my left eye. I kept blinking and sure enough, my contact popped out! At mile 12 or so, I stopped to put it back in. I was a bit embarrassed as spectators asked me if I was OK. Man, I’d BETTER be OK considering as I’m only 12 miles into a 112 mile ride! Sheesh! The contact didn’t feel so good, but it was in and I could see, so I took off. Played more with my watch, not working. Mile 15, contact came out again. WTF! Pull over, tell the spectators I’m fine, and ride off. Now it’s stinging, probably from the salt on my fingers getting into my eye. Whatever, I got a ride to do. Between, mile 18 and 19, contact pops out again. YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME! So I rip it out and continue the rest of the ride with just one contact in.

He also mentioned that putting ice in the crotch is the most important because it cools your body down without your body reacting to it. You have arteries that run down there and they don’t inform the brain you are cool and if you put ice on your head your brain can think that you are cool even if you are still hot. [L - my brain would think "WTF? Why are you putting ice in your pants?]

I looked down and the wrong display was on my computer. I must've looked down for too long because by the time I looked up, I was headed off to the side of the road in some deep, loose gravel. It was too late and my reaction to turn the bike back onto the road was too late. I fell less than a quarter mile into the bike course. I hit my elbow very hard and my head lightly tapped the pavement.

I rolled in to get my bike special needs bag and yelled out my number. The volunteer yelled back "It’s not here." I’m like, what do you mean, it’s not there, and I yelled my number again. She ran around, looking like a chicken with her head cut off and apologized, but my bag was nowhere to be found. Dejected, I pulled away from special needs and decided today just wasn’t my day.

I started to swing out around him, but he fell over and I wasn’t able to miss him. I hit him and went flying. I landed on my left shoulder and rolled over onto my right side. My first thought as I lay in the road was “this can’t be happening, it’s just not fair!” I laid there moaning, more out of pity than pain, then decided to stand and assess the damage. [L- OK, most of you know who this is. We don't call her Kollarbone Kris for nothing! ;-)]

I stopped at the top of the descent to retch, but managed to bring up only a little and only felt a little better. Yuck. Time wasted, and I still felt crappy and sloshy inside.

Around mile 80 I was really feeling the seat and i couldn’t get comfortable… I am sure if you were following me you would have thought i had ants in my pants because i just kept moving around on the seat attempting to find something that worked.

Now I'm at mile 90 or so and out of nowhere, both legs cramped up.

Physically I felt terrible and adding insult to injury my bike seat fell off at mile 70 forcing me to ride for an hour without at seat until I was finally able to duct tape it on for the final miles.

On the last descent I was going really fast and my back tire started locking up and skidding. I decided to keep the pace between 15-20 mph that way if I went down I would only break a collar bone or something and not worse. I looked down to see what was happening and then I saw it was my frame was cracked right on the back right wheel and basically my back wheel was about to fall off my bike and I was just like oh $H!t this is just great. I just kept preparing to crash to the right and mitigate the impact as much as possible when and if it happened.

While in the porta potty, I hear an athlete who just came out of another porta potty start swearing. Apparently, he broke his cleat. He’s screaming at the poor volunteer, who really has no idea what to do, nor is it his job, and I am happy I just don’t take myself that seriously.

After a decent swim and an uncharacteristically slow and uneven bike during which I was seeing spots and blacking out, I was pulled off the course before the start of the run and ended up spending several hours convulsing in the med tent with no idea of what was wrong with me.


My husband saw me immediately as I came out of the changing tent and yelled to me to ask how I was feeling. I was afraid to look at him because I thought I might start crying and I just shook my head.

I don’t think I even made it as far as the timing mat before I had to walk. It was just too painful. Walking wasn’t too painful, so I started preparing myself mentally for a long walk. After walking about half a mile I attempted to run again. I found that if I kept my arm tight against my body so that the shoulder didn’t move much, it was almost bearable. I continued running this way to the first water stop, they gave me some ice to put on my shoulder. After icing for 15 minutes or so, I asked the medical person to strap my arm down. She put it in a make-shift sling and I headed back out onto the course. Shortly before mile 22, there was a spot where we transitioned from a parking lot to a walkway, and for some reason there was a piece of carpet down. I tripped on the carpet and landed hard on my right side. Thankfully, I didn’t seem to have done any additional damage, so I got up and said a few expletives and told the volunteers I was okay, even though I didn’t really feel okay.

Everything was going really good, I was miserable and I felt like throwing up but I was making it.

About 1/2 mile later my stomach rolled and I barely made it to the side of the road to projectile vomit. I continued like this for miles.

As I crossed the bridge on the 1st loop, I watched one of the pros stop and throw up. I stopped and offered him ice, which he gladly accepted.

[I got] the hiccups at mile 18, which lasted (painfully) until mile 22, where I threw up again and got rid of them.

Right after Mile17 and my required gel, I yacked it right back up with a ton of liquid. I HATE PUKING!

Normally, I hate regular cola, but that day, it tasted like gold and I couldn’t get enough. I kept getting an ice and a cola, dumped the ice in the cola, waited a few seconds and chugged the cola like someone was going to steal it from me. After a huge belch, I started to feel pretty good! LOL! It became routine for the next several miles.

There were so many people crashed out on the side of the road and ambulances racing by. It was like a battlefield. I have since found out about 9 percent of the field DNF'd for various reasons. Not sure if this is typical or not but there were a lot of bodies scattered about for sure!

I continued trying to run as much as I could but I had to stop at every porta potty along the way.

Even "inspiration station" wasn't very inspiring. It was just one woman with a megaphone, yelling "Go runners" every minute or so.

My face was covered with salt. I’d take a sponge every few aid stations to wipe off my face, but then I saw them recycling sponges. That ended that little ritual.

My legs felt heavy and the sound of my feet shuffling on the pavement irritated me. I just didn't have the strength to pick them up high enough to not make that noise any more.

Thanks to leg rocking cramps, it became war out there.

In the second loop, I got supper dizzy and started walking again. At this point I knew I was in trouble. I figured I was pretty dehydrated and because of the goosebumps, close to heat stress. Rubbed ice on my face and neck to try to keep from passing out.

Once I got to 21 miles my body started sending me a lot of different signals that I had never felt before, I knew they were not good at all. My stomach I could tell was completely turned off, it wasn’t hurting anymore it was off. In fact nothing was hurting that bad anymore except my knees. I started to feel cold and I knew I was hot. I also noticed that I wasn’t producing saliva anymore so I would try to hydrate but I knew that my body just wasn’t taking in water.

The last 5 miles people kept yelling you are almost there and I kept thinking to myself damn it you don’t understand no I am not, this is a long way for me still considering the way I feel. In fact it started making me angry when people would say you are almost there because my body was getting weaker and weaker. I felt like blurting out, “you guys keep saying that this whole time!”

I started getting really tired on the last half mile to the finish and this lady passed me and this guy yells “don’t let that chick pass you!” and I was thinking man I should let her pass me just because it is so rude to say that and I know she heard that, but then I am like no I am not going to let her pass me, not because of what the guy said but because I know I can beat her and I should beat her to the finish, so I started to pass people.


When I arrived at the finish I just stopped and then I look to my left and right and two ladies are holding me and I was kind of frustrated they were holding me and I was like, “I am fine,” but then they said you think so and they let go for a second and I started to fall over and then I realized I was not standing up on my own. They informed me that I fell over at the end and that they caught me. They were asking me simple questions like what size shirt I wear and I couldn’t even answer the questions, so they plopped me down in a wheel chair and I was under supervision. I tried to get up and they wouldn’t let me go. Finally they convinced me that I really couldn’t walk on my own and it turned out to be true. It was about 5 minutes that I really wasn’t doing very good and then I started to feel really bad and when I started to feel really bad I knew that I was okay.

We sat and talked for awhile and I asked if it was ok to lie down and I think he said ok. That is about when I passed out I guess I got into a wheelchair and I remember hurling copious amounts of vomit first on myself and probably XXX and then into a ziploc. My blood pressure was taken and registered a whopping 73/60 and that was my golden ticket to an iv. I had 2 liters put in and was finally able to sip enough gatorade to be allowed out of the med tent 90 min. later. I was so cold it was unbelievable!

The Finish was in this order: Cross the line, a few tears, Leg collapse, Sit in front of heater under blankets, and a waddle to the car

The doctor in the medical didn’t even look at the shoulder, he just told me to go to the nearest emergency room... I had lots of company in ER. There were a number of dehydrated athletes there and we chatted about the race while waiting for our turns. I got x-rayed fairly quickly. Then I had to wait a bit to see the doctor. When he came in, he asked what happened and told me my scapula was broken. He said that because it takes a lot of force to break a scapula he needed to check that I hadn’t also torn my aorta! He didn’t really think I did, since I’d run a marathon afterward, but said he needed to be sure. [L - she didn't tear her aorta.]

XXXXXX convinced me that I shouldn’t sleep in the street and finally we got to a place that she could drive the car to. I found a nice rock and layed my head against it and a guy walked by and told me that a pillow would feel a lot more comfortable then that rock. I remember being really surprised at how there were actually some people that seemed to be able to walk after the IronMan, because I wasn’t one of them. I was done.

After that I went with XXXXX and my parents to Denny’s which was the only restaurant that was open that we could easily find. I kept falling asleep in the restaurant and was spilling my food.

My last surprise of the day was next. The girls had spent time in the SUV reading and staying out of the rain, and the story was: ”Uh, Dad? I know you told us not to, but we turned on the lights so we could read, and now we think the battery is dead.” So my post-race time was spent calling CAA and waiting for a jump, and that took long enough that all the restaurants in town had closed.

In spite of drinking a lot of water and Gatorade after the race, it took almost a full 24 hours after the race before I urinated.


YIKES! See what I mean? Lots of stories of crashing, barfing, cramping and passing out. And these are just the stories in print! Verbally I've heard:
- People would just get off their bikes in the middle of the race and lay down on the side of the road.
- My friend had such bad heat exhaustion in the middle of the run that we put him in a cooler of ice at the aid station.
- My knee really started bothering me about halfway through the bike, so I did 60 miles riding with one leg.

Yet at the end of all of these reports, the people say how happy they are to have finished, how proud they are of their race, and how they can't wait to do it again. And in all their picture they are smiling! So the suffering must all be worth it! And with that said...never say never. ;-)

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