Sunday, August 1, 2010

Hard Nut to Crack

Breaking the ironman 10-hour barrier is proving to be a hard nut to crack. And I almost gave up whilst laying in the med tent post race, throwing up, nauseous, and hooked up to an IV. I should have known it was going to be an atypical ironman, all the signs were there. Arriving to pre-reg late, forgetting my bento box and arm warmers for the bike, and standing in line for over 45 minutes, meanwhile, my car being towed. It's a strange feeling to walk back to where you left your car and not have it be there. Oddly, I never panicked, and I chalk it up to having recently traveled for the past five months. I simply problem solved and this meant depending on the kindness of strangers. I asked a guy to drive me to Cream's Towing (gotta love that name) out in the boondocks of Santa Rosa. This place was about as charming as a scene from the movie Deliverance. My old self would have been hoity toity and demanded immediate service. But my more wised and well-traveled self knew that these people moved at their own pace, and best that I just chill and roll with it. I found the humor in it all, and after I paid $200 for my inconvenience, I was complimented as one of their most pleasant customers and given the following tip: If you get towed, pay with your credit card and then reverse the charges.

But race day morning was a piece of cake. I splurged and stayed at the Boon Hotel, which meant a quick 3-minute bike ride down to T1 in the morning. I highly recommend this place if you are racing any of the Vineman races next year (it's all booked up for the 70.3) because it's clean, tastefully decorated, and environmentally friendly. As much as I would like to report that I did indeed swim 45 minutes, the split is incorrect. I lost my chip during the swim and I have no idea how I got credited with a 45-minute swim, maybe my awesomeness as a swimmer precedes me? The water was warm, very warm and I was scared of overheating in my full-sleeve wetsuit. I stayed conservative, and swam by my lonesome the entire swim, coming out of the water second in my wave; but better yet, I bridged up to the first wave and I was now sitting top 10 overall. The first loop of the bike felt so easy and controlled. My only concern was that I had to pee 30 minutes into the bike, and somehow, I managed to hold it the entire ride. I went through the first half in 2:40 or so, averaging 21.0 MPH. The second half of the bike became increasingly stressful as I started to use up all of the fluids I originally packed. The aid stations did not provide fluids in water bottles, instead, they were in plastic containers that did not fit on my bottle cages. I struggled to keep the containers on my bike and failed, riding the last 45 minutes with no water (foreshadowing). Still, this was my most even effort ironman bike ever, with only 2-minutes separating the first half from the second. On another plus note, Kathleen and I had been talking about me looking for her on the bike course in her powder blue Twin Six bike jersey, but we all know things like that just never come to fruition. But at around the 80 mile mark, I spot this powder blue Twin Six jersey, and yes things like that do come to fruition!

Off the bike, I felt alert and I had to immediately dump the pee I had been holding since the start of the bike ride. I was doing my zen running and felt in total control. I was making up time on the people in front of me, and I felt confident this was the marathon I would run under 3:30. I started to feel a bit depleted from miles 4-7 so I made sure to take in Gatorade, gels, and salt. But nothing was working and I kept getting more and more depleted. And I kept having to go pee. Miles 7-11 were alternating run/walk. Miles 11-15 were mostly walking and I was having a pity party for myself. Several times I contemplated quitting and each time, all the voices in my head agreed except for one voice, Libby. For some reason, her voice kept nagging me to finish. So I put my ego aside and told myself even if I had to walk the remaining marathon into the dark, I would finish. I don't like to go to coke until mile 18 or so but I thought to myself, it can't get any worst than this. I downed 2-3 cups of coke and I willed myself to run. As the miles ticked away, I felt better and better. I felt amazing during the last loop, splitting the same time as the first loop-too bad that second loop was a good 30 minutes slower than the first and last loop. As soon as I crossed the finish, I immediately started to feel nauseous. I worked my way to the med tent and proceeded to throw up and that brings me right back to the beginning of this blog post.

It was a pretty emotional day for me because in all honesty, I did not see myself NOT breaking 10 hours. My mind was set on this being the day and the ironman that I would break 10 hours. Combined with dehydration and lack of carbohydrates, and Saturn being aligned with Jupiter in the 7th moon and waning gibbous, I broke down and cried at the finish. While in the med tent, I determined that I had no fight left in me to break the 10-hour ironman barrier. But after a night's sleep, some fluids and carbohydrates, I awoke to a message from Charisa on FB: "Oh awesome. So u signed up for another?! ;)" How well do we ironpeeps know each other? The silver lining is that a not so great ironman day is now netting me a 10:38 finish time rather than a DNF or an 11:30+. Onward and upward (or should I say downward with the time).


Teresa said...

Kiet: you are one step closer to the 10 hour mark and once it is broken you will break it forever. Ruff day and you finished it up strong. Another lesson, another journey, all leading up to that day!!! We believe in you ;) tn

Kathleen @ ForgingAhead said...

Kiet, you looked awesome on the course. I saw you come out of the water looking strong.

On the bike course your greeting and smile cheered me on for the next 10 miles - I even picked up my pace!

Dehydration is our enemy. I too was shocked to see that the "water bottles" weren't really water bottles and since I was goal was just finish and not be hurt I got off my bike and refilled my bottles at each station. Clearly not an option for you guys. A major fail on the part of the race organizers.

Hope you are recovering well - that's a lot of stress to put your body through. Heal up!

Charisa said...

And THAT was a GREAT story!! See, 10 years from now you will look back on that and be like "oh yeah, let me tell you this great story about getting my car towed, not drinking enough because those little bottles wouldn't fit on my bike, etc. etc." IM Cozumel??! We can aim for sub-10 together. :)

Oh and your whole "I did not see sub-10 not happening". First of all, that's how it should be. And secondly, that's how I felt about my swim at IMLP - I did NOT see anything over 1 hour happening...1:06 later and somehow it did - HAHA :)

Libby said...

ok. first of all? 10:38 for a crappy ironman means that you are a stud.
second of all, there's a lot to celebrate here (even if you didn't swim 45 min. damn.) you had a GREAT bike and a steady swim both of which are experiences you will need to get you to that sub 10 hour ironman. obviously the nutrition and hydration was the issue here and hey, thats not as hard to fix as just plain not being fast enough to do it. so while it was a painful experience, I don't think it was a loss for you at all. and look how much you learned about yourself from your travel experiences? I don't think I could have cracked a smile in that situation, that's awesome the way you handled it. good on ya.
finally, don't let my inspiration land you in the med tent! although you earned the htfu award for the day :)
these are all steps in the journey to your goal. and by the way, at least you got to the start line! look at my fantastical summer!!

jameson said...

good news is you lived (and finished!) to fight another day. every race is a learning experience... good or bad. I am sure you will take what you learned from this race and smash the next one...

now you just need to come back to SD for riding!