Monday, August 17, 2009

Lake Stevens 70.3 Race Report – Part III


Transition was kind of a weird set up.  It was shaped like a weird little Tetris piece, the one that looks like a Z.  Luckily my rack was in the middle and was very easy to find since all I had to do was look for this:DSCN0658
and my rack was just on the right side of it.

As I ran into transition I had the top of my wetsuit stripped easily.  I got back to my bike and attempted to get the rest of while standing.  I should have just sat down though, because I was dizzy and just about fell over!  Finally…wetsuit off…Camelbak with Infinit on, race number, sock, shoes, bike helmet, glasses, Garmin…all on.  Time to get going!

T1 – 3:59

The Bike – 56 miles (or 90 km)
The bike is a two loop course.  When you look at the elevation profile it looks scary.  Plus at the athlete’s meeting they really drilled it in to you that this course is hilly…very hilly…extremely hilly.  My dad and I drove the course on Sunday and I realized that…it wasn’t that bad.  Yes, there are three nice climbs out there, but for the most part the hills are pretty short.  The rest is a lot of steady gradual uphill and really fun descents.  It may be hard to be fast on this course, but it was definitely a fun ride.

When I got on the bike right away I felt bloated.  Uh oh, I think I swallowed too much air on the swim.  It has happened to me before, once while doing a trial swim out at Arbour Lake.  When I got home I looked about 5 or 6 months pregnant thanks to the air and water I ingested in the lake.  I was pretty sure the same thing had happened at the race.  At first I tried to burp but I wasn’t getting relief.  On one burp I just about threw up.  Uh oh…

Despite the bloated feeling my first loop of the course went pretty well.  I was feeling strong on the uphills and doing my best to take advantage of the downhills.  Just after an aid station there were photographers up the road.  The guy in front of me went to drink his water, fumbled with his bottle, and wound up flying off the road and going into the bush.  Luckily he stopped himself before he could tumble too far down the hill.  He said he was okay…but that was a bit scary!

I hit the halfway point in 1:36, which I was pretty pleased about given the difficulty of the course.  After starting the second loop things got more uncomfortable though.  I was feeling gassy on both ends and it was affecting my riding.  I decided to stop at the next aid station so I lost between 6 and 7 minutes thanks to that.  But what do you do?  Take the extra time and hope you speed up?  Or finish the bike off potentially getting slower and slower?  I decided to stop.  I did feel better after stopping but my stomach was still gurgling.  I knew I was in for a tough run.

So what happened?  Given that I felt just fine before the race I knew what was affecting me happened on the swim.  It was too early on the bike to be the Infinit (plus I’ve trained with it and have never experienced this before).  The lake water essentially locked my stomach up.  It wasn’t emptying, which also meant that my nutrition wasn’t being absorbed.  As I was trying to take the Infinit in the situation just kept compounding.  According to Angie I should have just thrown up to clear things up and start fresh.  Oh well…hindsight..!!  No one really wants to barf, eh?

Lap two took me about 1:54…so thanks to some slowing down and my aid station break it was significantly slower.  Disappointing…slightly.  But…I am happy with how I raced the bike given the discomfort.  I trained well for this course and I am really happy with that.  I never felt like the course was too challenging for me.

56 mi in 3:30:02
F30-34: 30 out of 49 finishers


I racked the bike, took off my helmet and Camelbak, grabbed a couple of gels, swapped out the shoes and took off.


The Run – 13.1 mi

IMGP1332 The run is a two lap course, and you actually run through downtown and the crowds four times.  That is a fantastic set up.  For the most part you are running on the roads the entire time, but traffic was pretty minimal and not an issue.  There was one kid driving a red sports car that did not want to leave room for the runners and I had to hop on the grass.  He blasted his horn at one of the runners behind us.  Hmm…jerk…
IMGP1340 When I started running I was feeling not too bad.  I worked hard to reign in the pace as no matter what I didn’t want to go out too fast.  I knew that even though I had grabbed gels that I most likely wouldn’t be able to use them.  I had assumed they would have Coke on the course and I figured that would get me through.  Instant energy, plus flat Coke is what I use to settle an upset stomach.  Imagine my disappointment when I realized that it was only water and Gatorade out there.  Crap.  The first four miles actually went okay.  In the fifth mile my stomach was really sloshing so I decided to hit up the porta-potty at the end of mile 5.  Imagine my disappointment when…nothing…  Things were well and truly “locked up.”  I trudged on and while I was still running, I was slowing down.  As I passed the aid station at mile 6 there was a girl running the other way that was looking for Gu but only Powergels were available on the course.  Since I knew I wouldn’t be able to use it I handed her one of my Gus.

I knew I would be seeing my parents soon and since I was only taking in Gatorade I figured I’d be hurting at the finish line.  If I couldn’t have Coke on the course I definitely wanted some after I crossed the line.  As soon as I saw my dad I asked him to run to the convenience store, buy a big bottle of Coke and open the top to let it flat a bit.  Thanks Dad!IMGP1347
Things started to go downhill on loop two.  My digestive system wound up going through this viscous circle.  I would run, then the gurgling would start and I would feel like I had to poop my pants…run through it and then I would feel like I had to throw up.  So I walked…a lot…  I was not a happy camper.

I have never thought about quitting a race before until now.

Evidently I don’t have to dig too deep for a reason to keep going though.  The first thing I thought about what that I wouldn’t be able to wear my new visor and really nice pullover.  That was enough!  I’m sure if I needed to eventually I would have come up with reasons like, I’ve trained for this and travelled to this race so quitting would be the ultimate disappointment…  I knew my health wasn’t in jeopardy so really there was no reason to quit.  I would make it to the end, it would just be slowly.

Around mile 10 or 11 I recognized Sister Madonna Buder.  I have to admit I got a little choked up once I realized who I just saw.

I wanted to get this race over and done with, but my running breaks were getting shorter and shorter before the nausea would just be too much.  Athletes running in the other direction were trying to be so encouraging…thank you so much…but despite wanting to run I just could not get past these stomach issues.  I’ll admit, I held my own little pity party at mile 11.37.  there may have been some crocodile tears.  This was not how my day was supposed to go.  I trained hard for this and I was better than this.  Sadly, these things do happen though.

I looked at my Garmin and realized that I was really close to setting a new personal worst.  If I could just keep running the last half a mile I may be able to squeak in under the line.  Time to pick it up.  I was so happy to know I was just around the corner from the finish line.  I could hear the announcer and the music.  The Rembrandts were playing.  I’ll Be There For You.  Seriously…this would be the song playing when I crossed the finish line?  Yuck.  Funny about the things you think about sometimes!

I was in the chute heading to the end.  So much cheering..!!!!  My parents were there shouting my name.  Finally.  I was done…  I think this picture shows just how relieved I am that it is over.IMGP1369
13.1 mi in 2:40:25 (just 1:33 shy of my personal worst)
F30-34: 35 out of 39 finishers

Overall: 7:02:02
F30-34: 38 out of 49 finishers

I took my chip off and got my medal then saw my parents right away.  We found a bench to sit down on and I chugged a bunch of that Coke down.  Apart from Gatorade I took in no other nutrition on the run course.  Surprisingly after all of that the pizza looked so good that I scarfed down a big piece of pepperoni.  After grabbing some cookies I was ready to leave so I grabbed my bike from transition and headed out.
At the end of the day I can take some good positives away:
- I had a good swim.  I normally question why I do these things on the swim, but not this day.  I also chose to put myself in the mix a bit more since I wanted to swim close to yellow cord.  I survived.  I just need to practice my open water a bit more so that I’m not taking in so much water while swimming.
- I trained well for this bike course.  It wasn’t scary at all.  I LOVED riding this course.
- I toughed it up and finished when I debated quitting.  I would be so disappointed in myself today if I had quit.  Ultimately today I am not disappointed.  I’ve analysed the race, now time to move on.
- I’ve learned some good lessons for racing next year.   IMGP1368 DSCN0757


Beth said...

Congrats Leana! It may not have been the race you wanted, but I think the fact that you made it through with all of the stomach issues is very impressive.

Wes said...

Lurve the medal, and the beer looks delish :-) This was a great experience for you. These things happen and are outside our control. I know that I spent at least 15 minutes in the port-a-potties on the run course at IM FL. It just happens, and it will happen again. How we handle adversity speaks far more of our character than how we handle sweet success.

Congratulations, again, Leana. You gotz sum character :-)

Lauren said...

I still say congrats! I know it wasn't the race you wanted, but sometimes, being able to push through when you are having a bad race is victory enough.

joyRuN said...

Congrats for finishing through all that, Leana. Not absorbing decent nutrition when racing for 70.3 because of belly lockdown is insane, yet you finished strong.

You go, girl!

Keith said...

It's no fun going that distance on little nutrition. It's a shame your system locked up on you, but it happens. You still finished! Even more importantly, you've learned you can push past the impulse to quit, and keep going longer than you thought you could. I predict in a while you'll look back on this race and be pretty proud of what you did. Congratulations!

Marlene said...

Great report! I can't imagine running through that kind of discomfort. Good job pulling through. You definitely earned that medal, and you can wear the jacket & visor proudly! Congrats on another 70.3! You're amazing!

k said...

Congratulations! I know it is disappointing, but there will be other races and you'll rock them! I'm glad you were able to push through without quitting AND without hurting yourself. You've got some serious guts (even if they don't cooperate all the time)

Aaron Cunningham said...

Way to gut through the run. Who knew self induced vomiting was a race day backup plan. :|

Nikki said...

Well isn't that really what every race is about? Learning new things to take with you to the next event. Even though it was a bit tough, you've still completed something now for the second time that many of us have never. Good job!

Maddy said...

Congratulations Leana! I know this wasn't the way you wanted the race to go, but you stayed strong and finished. The easy thing to do is quit and you're stronger than that!

Way to go!

Viv said...

Congrats Leana! On of those pics you could tell you were striving girlie! So glad you went for it. That is super cool seeing the nun Madonna

Marit Chrislock-Lauterbach said...

Way to get it done!! You did it!!! :) And no - it wasn't easy, or fun at times...but when it got tough - YOU PREVAILED! That's absoluteley fantastic, more than what a lot of people could do. Congratulations! I really liked how you took away the good (and the bad) from the race. YES - it was a terrific experience, even if you didn't feel super during.

Awesome that your Dad got the coke for you :) I know that feeling. And after a Half IM on little nutrition, just about ANYTHING would look good - pepperoni pizza included :) LOVE the post race pint. I had one of those myself! YEA!

RoadBunner said...

Congratulations, Leana!! I think you did uber fantastic. Sorry you didn't have an "A" experience but like you said you learned a lot. GI problems are never fun :( I think this tough finish will be great for your mental game in the future. Great job!

Spokane Al said...

Congratulations on toughing it through a rough day. We all have are bad patches and you ground through yours with class and stick-to-it-iveness.

Molly said...

Congratulations. You toughed it out on a rough day and still finished - you deserve the medal and to feel a sense of accomplishment for what you did. We can't always PR, right? You still rocked it by pushing yourself through all those tough moments.

lindsay said...

congrats! still a great race that you were very well prepared for, well minus drinking the lake of course. it's too bad for the mishaps but you did a great job of toughing it out through the circumstances. having just the #2 or puke feeling is enough alone - i don't know how you pushed through both! blech! you completed another half iron and def earned all your race gear. :)

maybe the good news is since you had to hold back some you can race again soon instead of having to take some time off? :)

Mel-2nd Chances said...

Just catching up on your race reports now... i know you probably wrote a different ending in your mind for this race, but as the others have said, some things aren't in your control. You gutted yourself through a tough race and finished, you're amazing! Congrats on another half IM!

Melanie Tait (Mel Tries to Run) said...

Leana you did amazingly. You finished an Ironman/woman. That's something most of us can only dream about.

You painted a brilliant picture about how tough it was for you towards the end - I'm even more in awe of you getting the job done when it was so hard.

Can't wait to catch up on your other posts :)

ShirleyPerly said...

Congrats on getting to the finish line!!

Stomach problems like that during a race can be so frustrating and debilitating but you handled yourself well and got the job done. Definitely some good lessons learned. I've actually rarely seen Coke at the aid stations of my races and I doubt they'll have some stomach soothers either so I'll make sure to carry some of the latter on my own, just in case.

Thanks for sharing your "full" experience with us. You do look really happy at the finish.

Badgergirl said...

Congrats! Nice job toughing it up at the end even though it was so hard you wanted to quit at that point. That's a victory in itself (at least in my book).

Spokane Al said...

Congratulations on a great race. Lake Stevens and western WA are amazing places and it sounds like you thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience.

Alexandra said...

You came out victorious again! There you go again with the guts and determination and being able to dig deep to carry on to the finish! Great job and congratulations!

Judi said...

stomach issues are the worst! good job to suck it up and finish strong!

Trihardist said...

Congratulations on making it through a VERY tough day. Besides all the important lessons you learned at this one, you also probably have an extra dose of mental toughness. And you'll be that much more pumped to redeem yourself at the next one.

Can't wait to see what comes next!

aron said...

CONGRATS Leana!!! Even though it wasnt the time you were hoping for, from experience I know pushing through to the finish when you REALLY want to quit is so hard. You built a lot of character, learned a lot, and can move on a stronger person from this race :) you are awesome!!