Ironman Maryland – DNF #1. Every race has lessons and this one I think has the biggest lessons of all. Jennifer (@JBirdRuns) reminded that “I took a big risk doing Maryland and with big risk can come big reward and even though it didn’t pay off this time it could have and I know I left no stone unturned”. While this blog post is not the one I wanted to share I think these lessons are also important to share. Because we all have these races – after countless races we all will encounter a horrible race, DNS due to injury or DNF. It isn’t pretty to embrace or experience but we are not alone and it order to be great you must be willing to fail. So here is the long and detailed story of my Ironman Maryland, My First DNF, and the time I choose to do something crazy take a big risk and it failed.
Background Leading to Maryland:
After Ironman Santa Rosa I was super disappointed in how my season went. I had not had a good race in allof 2017. So I thought maybe redemtion. I started researching various later Ironmans with Ash and then we decided Ironman Maryland was the best option. After recover I started building back up and then on a short run my foot started hurting. I thought maybe it was just plantar fascititis so I rested but it continued getting worse and I finally got a CT and MRI which showed severe posterior tibial tendonitis with a subsquent low grade partial tear at the insertion of the tendon. I figured at that point any fall races were out. I then followed with a podiatrist and PT and they said I could race so I figured I would keep run volume low and then play it by feel. At this point I was also dealing with Adrenal Fatigue so I didn’t really know how my body was going to hold up. I had good weeks followed by bad weeks. I had moments when I told Ash i just wasnt even going to try and then I would have some good days and reconsider. I finally had some decent 90 min runs, hit all my long bikes, and even had some solid swims so I figured why not. I figured if I didn’t try I would also wonder and regret so I registered. I really didn’t know how it would fare I figure it was a 50/50 shot of greatness or failure. But I had to take my odds and face them but I never imagined it would be the later.
My mom and I drove to Maryland starting Tuesday Afternoon and made it Thursday night where we stayed with one of my close friends just west of D.C. On Thursday we headed into Ironman Village for check-in, Ironman Purchases, and a stop by my favorite RapidReboot. After my mom and I headed to transition area where I did my shakeout swim/run/bike. I started off on the bike and everything felt great a little slower on the out due to the head wind but with an equal tail I averaged 19.1 and was feeling great and then went for a short 10 min run at 7:55 min/mi and was the best I had felt the whole training cycle. After I went in to get a feel for the water. Due to the unusual weather in Maryland in October in the 80s the jellyfish or “nettles” as they call them in Maryland were still hanging around the lake and within 90 seconds of swimming I felt what I through was seaweed but then after 10 sec quickly realized crap I got stung by that nettle. I finished my swim and got out and told my mom dang it I got stung by a nettle only to have my entire forearm break out in hives for the next 12 hours. I thought well at least this happened Thursday lol. We then headed to our AirBnB. We stayed in Salisbury about 45 min away from the race due to lack of hotels around the race course as it is mainly AirBnBs and no hotels in Cambridge. Friday we had breakfast, made out Walmart trip, and finalized all the gear bags and my bike and headed back into Cambridge. We dropped my bike, stopped by Rapid and then headed into town for lunch. They have AMAZING seafood on the northeastern coast – so yummy! Carboloading has never felt so good as pretzels in fresh lump lobster cheese dip! We headed back to Salisbury ordered pizza watched Greys anatomy and went to bed early in time for race day. Ash (@ahappypace) rolled in from Ohio around 2:30AM – Thank goodness for best friends who will drive 10 hours just to see you race and support you. Ash is the BEST best friend!
I started waking up around 1:30 and woke up on and off until my alarm at 3:30 AM. I ran out to jump on Ash and tell her I was sorry she had no sleep but I was super excited to have my best friend back again in the same roof! 🙂 We packed up, prepped breakfast and headed to Cambridge only to get 10 minutes down the road and realize I forgot my wetsuit so back we went and ended up getting to the transition area right on time. I pumped up my tires then checked all my gear bags and added in the last minute touches and then headed for the porta potty line. All was going as planned. I had a great pre-race breakfast – Ash told me it was my best yet and I was feeling calmly ready to rock and roll.
As time approached the 6:45 AM mark I said my goodbyes to my mom and Ash and then loaded up between the 1:05-1:10 mark on the swim. It was beautiful morning in Cambridge however it could have been cooler it was already near 70 at the start. The fired the gun and we started to roll in. The water felt great it was around 72 which was the coolest Ironman swim I had done as they had always been around 76 and at the cutoff at Louisville and Santa Rosa and Muncie wasn’t even wetsuit legal so I was like refreshing. The field was only 1400 athletes so there wasn’t much carnage in the beginning like other ironmans. I felt like I got in a good rhythm was sighting well and the views of the sunrising over the water were just breathtaking. I didn’t feel myself working too hard but I knew I didn’t need to push the swim as it was a long day however in hindsight I probably shouldn’t have been so relaxed lol. I made the turn for loop 2 and it got slightly more crowded with the additional athletes being in the water on top of the wind/current starting to pick up but I still felt in control and that I was having a productive swim. No panics, No swimming around like a chicken with my head cut off. I was going in a straight line contray to Santa Rosa where I literally rammed into everything and could not stay straight. So I figured I was winning. Nearing the end of the 2nd loop with maybe 1000 yds or so left I started to feel some tightness in my chest. I have asthma so ‘I thought it was maybe that or the constriction of the wetsuit so I just let it go and figured I was near done. As we made the final turn into the swim finish chute the current was pushing you all over the place and out of the corral but I made it in and clocked a swim of 1:15. This might have been my slowest ironman swim but I was honestly the most pleased with it. It was the most comfortable, composed, and straight swim I had done yet and for me that was a win.
Transition 1 (T1)
I think I won Ironman Maryland in T1 lol – it was a HUGE PR! Can we count Prs in Ironman segments now? lol. I got out of the water and ran straight to the wetsuit strippers which were not the best and took forever to help me out of my wetsuit but once I did I grabbed my bag and ran into the changing tent where I slammed on my bike shoes, helmet and headed straight for my bike. However with the late sign up I was 1372 which meant I had to run my bike a long ways out of transition but even with that I did transition in 4:03 and thats AMAZING considering I did 10 min in Lousiville and 7:30 in Santa Rosa – WIN WIN WIN!
I got on my bike and immediately started feeling the leg fatigue and the fact I was still not breathing great. I took my inhaler within the first couple miles and started to feel better and my legs started to improve slightly. However I knew this was not going to go well because I knew the feeling in my legs very well – they just felt tired and heavy. During training for this Ironman I would have runs/bikes/swims/etc that I would just have nothing to push nothing to give no matter how bad I wanted it I had no power and that is how they felt and I knew I was in trouble. I kept pushing but around Mile 30 I just was not feeling my best and defeated and everything was burning. I got around to the 56 Mile mark where the spectators were (you only saw them once on the course) and saw Ash and then just around the corner I saw my mom and I stopped my bike and asked her if I quit would she be mad because I didn’t feel good. She said no but that I was in 8th and so I said ok Ill keep trying. But when I exited the halfway mark we were hit with a headwind that was almost non-stop the back 56 miles and it was demoralizing and defeating after already feeling horrible. I couldn’t get my legs to turn over. I couldn’t push gears. I couldn’t get nutrition down. I couldn’t hydrate enough. I was getting sunburnt/overheated and quite frankly really didn’t know how I was going to make it through the bike. The course was out in the Marsh land so it wasn’t like you had ample opportunity to call it. There were aid stations but they are around 15 miles apart which is about one every 45-60 minutes. So basically I just kept pushing but around the 100 mile mark my vision kept going where I would see flashing white in the corners every so often – my neck and back were killing me for aero – I was lightheaded and I was just like dear lord let me make it off this bike. Finally I made it off the Bike in 6:28. Far from a PR from my first or second Ironman. Talk about a blow to the heart/ego/soul/All of the Above – I felt like a failure here I bought wheels/tribike/trainer to go 10 minutes slower than my first ironman and I felt like CRAP emotionally and physically.
Transition 2 (T2)
I got off the bike and for the first time I think in Ironman history there were no bike catchers. I was like seriously? Thats the best part of Full Ironman. So remember how I was way in the back well I just walked my bike all the way back there to rack in and not at a fast pace. Racked it then proceeded to go to the bathroom which I figured I would really have to go to not but then nothing really happened (not a great sign for hydration). I then continued to walk to grab my bag and go in the changing tent. If you know anything about a fast ironman you do not walk the transitions but I was still debating whether I was going to make it out of T2. I got in the tent and volunteers tried to help but I think I was so stoic they just moved on. Finally one nice volunteer stuck with me and got everything out I needed. I put on my socks, shoes, hat, and bib and asked the nice lady if I put my stuff near the bag and she said she would get it all for me and I exited the tent. I kept looking everywhere for Ash and my Mom as I came around to try and explain what was happening but they were waiting on the run course. So I pressed lap and off I went try and run. T2 = 7:28.
Well usually this is my good portion but I just had nothing to give. I exited T2 and there was water on the left so I grabbed some ice water and felt slightly better and was still searching for Ash and My Mom and couldn’t find them and as I turned the corner onto the road outside of transition area I saw my mom and just stopped and walked and started hysterically crying. I told her I wasn’t sure I could continue and then within seconds Ash ran over and hugged me and said I didn’t owe it to anyone to continue and it was ok if I quit. I just kept crying. I was so disappointed in myself and wanted so much for this all not to be happening but I couldn’t change it. I finally pulled myself together and decided I would try and run. I ran/walked and started to feel slightly better but I just had very minimal physically, mentally to give – but I figured I had to try. I saw them again I was doing better and my mom and Ash were so encouraging. I ran out and around the 3-4 mile mark I started having chest pain. I wasn’t sure it was stress/dehydration or what so I walked a little more in hopes it would go away. However everytime I would run the chest pain would come right back. So when I saw my mom and Ash at just after mile 6. They asked how I was and had to tell them I had to quit and what was happening. Run Time – 6.1 Miles in 1:10 (Slowest 6 Miles of my Life)
When I had to make that decision to pull out I started hysterically crying. I felt like a failure. I felt like maybe I should keep going until I passed out or fell over like those other tough athletes. I didn’t want to have my physician brain talking that you shouldn’t compromise your health for a medal – but it was. I am very much a control freak. I operate well in contained controlled environments where things go the way they were planned. However nothing was going right. I had failed miserably. I DNFd. I literally felt like as I walked away from that Ironman course my body was being ripped in two from what I knew was the right thing and what my heart truly wanted. I wanted Ironman #3. I wanted a PR. I wanted to do well. I didn’t want to find a medic and go to the ER. I kept walking and Ash and my mom said it was ok but I just keep saying it not ok. It wasn’t ok and to be honest it still isn’t ok for me even though I knew it was the right choice. We finally got the medic and the doctor decided with the chest pain that I should go the ER to get evaluated. I got some IV Fluids and labs in which my CK was elevated and my glucose was low but otherwise everything checked out ok and I came in before things were super severe. I felt dumb. Of course you don’t want anything major to be wrong with you but at the same time you think well I could have just not been a drama queeen and finished the damn race then. But then I know in my brain I am much better off physically now that I didn’t considering my partial tear in my foot, severe tendonitis, not including the multitude of things that could have gone bad medically if I had continued. However doesn’t make it any easier. I have since seen my doctor and I have a referral pending to cardiology. So hopefully I will get answers or at least rule out anything severe so I can resume normal life.
As Jennifer (@JBirdRuns) said that “I took a big risk doing Maryland and with big risk can come big reward and even though it didn’t pay off this time it could have and I know I left no stone unturned”. I have to 100% agree. I could be sitting on my couch knowing what if? What if I had gone? Now I know how the story unfolded. It wasn’t how I wanted and it went worse than I ever imagined but there were lessoned learned. I learned better pacing on the swim. I perfected my transitions. I learned that if you don’t get enough calories in your body you just cant do an Ironman. I got probably 500 calories in on the bike in 6.5 hours and that is just not enough to sustain you. As Ash put it I basically expected my body to run a marathon within eating the whole day before. I can smack myself a thousand times for that mistake but ya know it is all in lessons learned. I only consumed maybe 800 calories in Louisville and did just fine. But Ash reminded me the conditions in Lousiville were MUCH better and I wasn’t pushing I wasn’t trying to compete so the amount of fuel you need is MUCH different VASTLY different. I realize now in Santa Rosa I didn’t get enough food in my body and I know I definitely didn’t get it at Maryland. I am going to work on a plan for next season. I am going to fix my nutrition in my training and racing and try to learn how to push outragious calories even when I don’t want to. I am so beyond disappointed in the way that Ironman Maryland and 2017 have turned out but as many people have reminded me that is why in sports you have “seasons”. Some seasons are incredible and others well you just want to smack yourself but it is all part of the game. So I am going to be proud of doing something crazy and being brave enough to try because even if it didn’t turn out the way I dreamed the experience could lead to something better than my dreams in the future.
With Love and Racing
❤ Kindal (RunningWithStrength)