grieving the race I trained for

“Grief is real because loss is real. Grief is the healing process that ultimately brings us comfort in our pain.”

~Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Cliff Notes Version: I GOT to race Ironman 70.3 Ohio on Sunday, July 25! 💙💛

  • this is a two transition race, so both our bike and run bag/gear were dropped off on Saturday
  • there was a short delay (~30 minutes) because of backed up traffic…shuttle buses couldn’t get to the park
  • the water temp was 77.4F (wetsuit optional…Roka swimskin was worn for me)
  • the swim start was a self seeded with 3 athletes sent off every 4 seconds
  • the swim was cloudy, but not rainy
  • if you put all of your stuff in your T1 bag, they transported everything to T2 for you so you didn’t have to go back out to the park to get your swim stuff
  • the bike was also cloudy, but not rainy
  • the air was VERY thick (high humidity)
  • there were three water/aid stations on the bike
  • it was a VERY soupy day with the dew point at 72, very little wind, and the temp at 95F when I finished the run
  • I had to rally on the run to finish as I was in physical distress
  • there were aid stations on the run nearly every mile with water, gatorade, gels, ice, bananas, etc.
  • the sun came out on the run cranking the furnace up to high
  • there was a buffet line with burgers, chicken burritos, chips, bananas, and a few beverage options…but the best were shots of pickle juice!
Whew! That was rough!
Photo credit: FinisherPix

Longer Version: I GOT to race my first 70.3 distance race since July 2018.

We had some storms roll through in the overnight hours on Saturday, but thankfully it was all out of the area in time for the race start on Sunday morning.

We arrived at Delaware State Park where the swim and T1 are located by about 4:45 am. Plenty of time for me to potty, get my transition area set up, and put everything back in the car that I didn’t need before the race start at 6:30 am. At about 6:10 am, I put my Roka swimskin on only to find out about 20 minutes later that we would be delayed a bit as there was a traffic jam causing the shuttle buses bringing athletes to the park to be stuck in traffic.

Swim: (41:02 for 1.2 miles at 2:07/100 m average pace…35/114 F40-44, 173/593 F, 600/1871 overall)

After the National Anthem, I lined up at the back of the 33-35 minute swim start field. I knew if I was having a solid day 35 minutes would be achievable. I was near my friends, Steena and John, as we entered the starting corrals. When the beep sounded for me to start, I was off. This swim is basically a big triangle with two right hand turns.

The goal was to swim straight and gamify this swim by chasing down athletes in front of me. I did a really good job of swimming straight and staying close to the buoys. I was surprised at how little swim traffic was next to the buoys. This was the best place to be for this swim. I had very little contact with others and didn’t swim extra yardage. WIN #1! I can also say I did a really good job of gamifying the swim. I played chase! I passed people in the water. I felt strong and confident as I checked in on my effort multiple times throughout this swim. WIN #2!

Swim felt good!
Photo credit: FinisherPix

T1: (4:21)

As I exited the water, I got my swimskin off just below my hips, removed my goggles + swim cap, and ran all the way through transition since my bike was right next to bike exit. The positive of having my bike right next to bike exit…I didn’t have to run with my bike all the way through the transition area and around other athletes. The negative…I had to run barefoot throughout transition and that surface was not friendly on the bare feet. When I arrived at my transition spot, I stripped off my swimskin, stuffed all of my swim gear in my T1 bag (so it would be transported to the finish area for pick up later in the day), put on my socks + bike shoes, donned my helmet and sunnies, grabbed Mojo, and off we went!

Stripping off the swim skin…see that rough pavement?! Ouchie on the bare feet!
Photo credit: The Ironhippie

Bike: (2:57:52 for 56 miles at 18.80 mph average speed…47/114 F40-44, 202/593 F, 872/1871 overall)

After crossing the mount line Mojo and I cruised our way out of Delaware State Park. This course is SUPER flat! It was a big loop that took us north out of the park for about 18 miles before we turned east and the road surfaces turned to chip seal. The goal for this ride was to stay in aero, play chase, have fun, be grateful, and hammer. I did a great job of this for the first ~30 miles. WIN #3! And then…

Riding strong…for now.
Photo credit: FinisherPix

At about mile 30, my body began to enter distress mode…I was seeing double. No idea what actually caused it, but I have a theory (which was out of my control). I did my best, kept my head in the game, and kept moving forward. I took in my calories every 5 miles and continued to sip water (since it was SO HUMID). I rode in aero when I felt it was safe for me to do so. My mental game was strong, so it was disappointing to have my body in physical distress. I made the decision to get to T2 and evaluate what I needed to do at that point.

Getting water…although there was so much in the air I was probably taking it in with every breath. You can see how thick the air is in this pic.

T2: (4:45)

As I came into T2, I staggered a bit as I ran with my bike through transition to my spot. I quickly racked my bike and nearly fell over when I bent down to change into my Newton running shoes. Thankfully another athlete offered to help hold me up while I changed my socks and shoes. I thanked the other athlete for his help, grabbed my visor + race belt + hand-held water bottle, and walked out of T2 trying to evaluate if I would actually be able to run.

Run: (2:54:58 for 13.1 miles at 13:22/mile average pace…71/114 F40-44, 343/593 F, 1199/1871 overall)

As I exited T2, I waited until I was out of the tunnel under the stadium to try to run. I was able to run for a short while before the bouncing became too much causing me to resort to walking. At the first aid station, one of the kind volunteers filled my water bottle so that I would have plenty of fluids with me at all times. I continued walking until just past the 1 mile mark where I tried to run again in a downhill section. I quickly realized this wasn’t a good idea and returned to walking.

I saw the Ironhippie at about the 1.5 mile mark. He asked what was going on and I told him. All I wanted to do was lay down in the ditch and throw up (I didn’t feel full or nauseous, but the double vision was making me motion sick). He told me I had to decide how I wanted my day to end and that there was an aid station just ahead at the 2 mile mark. He suggested I walk to the next aid station, take in Coke (to help with the feeling of wanting to throw up) and re-evaluate. I debated the Coke thing…as caffeine and my body are not friends, but in the end, I took a couple of sips of Coke at the 2nd aid station. The Ironhippie was on his bike, so he would check in with me, and then ride ahead a bit before checking in with me again. I continued to walk and eventually started sobbing. I was sobbing because I didn’t know if I should continue or pull the plug. I was sobbing because my mental game was strong, but physically my body was in distress. I was sobbing because I was not able to physically execute the race I had trained for. I was sobbing because the race I know exists inside me was not going to happen on this day. I was sobbing because I had to decide how I wanted my day to end. I was sobbing because…loss is real.

How can one grieve something they never had?! I grieved the race I trained for. Grieved the anticipation of the joy I wanted to feel crossing that finish line knowing I put it all out there. Grieved the anticipation of what could have been a different outcome.

It’s ok to take time to feel the emotions. How you feel is yours and no one has the right to tell you how to feel, what to feel, or how long to feel it. “Grief is real because loss is real. Grief is the healing process that ultimately brings us comfort in our pain.” ~Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

What better way to heal from the pain of this loss than to hop back on the saddle and prepare for Ironman 70.3 World Championships! ⚡️ #LFG

It was while I was sobbing that I got passed by two of my Coeur Sports teammies. Thank you Heidi for the slap on the ass + encouragement and to Melissa for the support. I continued walking past mile 3 where I eventually started to notice my double vision getting better. Let’s be clear it wasn’t gone, but the two images I would concentrate on became closer together. I decided to try and run at this point. It worked for a bit, but then I needed to walk as my HR skyrocketed (remember how I said caffeine and my body are not friends…yep this is what happens when I consume caffeine). My goal for this run was to monitor my HR and not let it get out of Z3 while running for the first 10 miles. With the addition of caffeine in my system, it was a run/walk combo from this point on to get me to the finish line. HR monitoring = WIN #4!

The silver lining was that I got to meet new friends on the run course, take some steps with Coeur Sports teammates that I wouldn’t otherwise have gotten to be with, and cross another finish line. WIN #5!

I finally got to meet Mike Ergo in person!
Photo credit: The Ironhippie
I got to run some steps with my Coeur Sports teammate, Yoli. (That smile = fake it ’til you make it)
Photo Credit: The Ironhippie
I got to walk some steps with my Coeur Sports sister, Akira. So much love for this girl! (That smile = only 1.5 miles to the finish line…I can do this!)
Photo credit: Dylan

I’m grateful for a strong mind to get me to that finish line. Grit, determination, mental fortitude, and relentless perseverance were my secret weapon on Sunday.

So grateful for my #1!!
Photo credit: Kimra Sutton
Coming back into the stadium for the finish.
Photo credit: FinisherPix
Fake it ’til ya make it!
Photo credit: FinisherPix

Overall: (6:42:58…71/114 F40-44, 343/593 F, 1199/1871 overall)

I have mixed emotions after having crossed this finish line. I am so incredibly grateful to have had the privilege to race, that I crossed another finish line, and that my mind was so strong. But the grief is real. I am sad for what could have been. I am sad I was not able to execute the race I had trained for and the race I know exists inside me. This race does not define me and will not hold me back. Onward to Ironman 70.3 World Championships! ⚡️ #LFG

Whew! Glad that’s over!
Photo credit: FinisherPix

Gear: Coeur Sports triathlon shorts, Coeur Sports sports bra, Coeur Sports aero top, Roka X-1 Goggles, Roka Viper x2 Short Sleeve Swimskin, Specialized Transition tri bike, Specialized S-works Evade helmet, Specialized Torch 2.0 Road Shoes, Coeur Sports visor, Newton Kismet running shoes, Roka SL-1X sunnies, Orange Mud hand held water bottle

6 thoughts on “grieving the race I trained for

    1. Thank you! Anytime we can cross a finish line, it’s worth celebrating. 🥳 Yes, the s**t of the last 18 months has been a battle, but thankfully I’ve battled back harder.

  1. That must have been scary to have your vision go wonky! I’m glad that you made it to the finish line safe and sound. Still a heartbreaking day and I understand the disappointment after training so hard for this race. Get some good recovery time in and you can battle back at your next race!

    1. It was a bit scary and very unexpected. Definitely getting lots of recovery this week. Ready to forge ahead strong for Worlds! Thanks for the support Amy! 🥰

  2. I’m sorry you didn’t get to race the way you wanted, but from my perspective you still did pretty dang good! I hope you can get the nutrition issue or whatever it was worked out before next time.

    1. Thanks Kay! I suspect it was exposure to bug spray the day before racing as I’m allergic to insecticides and have had similar symptoms from other exposures. I didn’t get my blood tested to know for certain, but a strong probability this is the case. Onward! 🥳

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