It could be that misery loves company or that there is solace knowing that others share your struggles. Whatever the case, I've come across some stories of others who share similar struggles with the ironman distance. So hit the play button for the accompanying music and enjoy some good reading!
A story of unrequited love
You’ve heard the tale so many times before, maybe it has even happened to you, it is the tale of unrequited love. My tale begins on the Big Island of Hawaii in a small town called Kona. I have been to this sleepy hamlet more than a dozen times for racing and training. While most of my time in Kona has been spent riding along the lava fields and running up and down Alii Drive, I have lounged on many of the beautiful beaches, enjoyed the aquarium-like water (I even swam with dolphins near the pier this year), explored the Volcano and taken in the vast waterfalls and lush foliage. Each trip to the island enhances my appreciation for all that it has to offer and remains one my favorite places to visit. It is the diversity in terrain and landscape, the weather, and the escape from reality. But, alas, this relationship is very one-sided as the island does not love me back. It tortures me with an annual pilgrimage called the Ironman World Championships. Each year I prepare for this event wholeheartedly, my fitness increasing weekly, my times on the track improving, my bike rides getting faster, my hunger for the ultimate race unsated. For many years, the race eluded me due to injury and then last year, amazingly enough, I started the race healthy and fit. A blow to the head during the swim ended my race prematurely with a concussion. Wow, more bad luck on the Big Island. But, my love for this place and the desire to conquer my demons there conned me into racing another year.
A new training regimen brought me to the start line relaxed and ready to tackle the challenges of the day. I had everything dialed in, with a plan for the effort I would produce on the swim, how many watts to generate on the bike and the pace I would try to hold on the run. My nutritional plan successfully saw me through my training and was ingrained in my head for race day. So, you can only imagine my surprise when the place that I love foiled me yet again. A great swim put me on the bike course in second position. I monitored my wattage carefully so as not to let the excitement of the race make me go too hard. I was feeling quite strong when a pack of 8 or so women caught me. I locked onto the back of this group feeling like the pace was very comfortable. I knew I could maintain this effort for the remainder of the ride. Things started to crumble around mile 56 when a familiar dizziness took over. For the next 90 minutes I fought through this terrible light-headedness. At the 90 mile mark, I was able to increase my pace through the end of the ride. I was not where I wanted coming off the bike, but I felt a strong run would still put me in a good position. My legs felt good in the first mile, no effects from the ride. By mile 2, I was on my hands and knees retching and vomiting and feeling generally miserable. I truly believed my race was over and another DNF was impending. By then, I had water baby (i.e. extreme bloating) and stomach cramping. I slowed to a walk and continued for the next 24 miles inching my way forward walking and running. It came as a great relief to cross the finish line for the first time since 2000. While I still do not have a complete handle on what happened on race day, I believe that extreme thirst leading to the consumption of 50 oz. of liquid each hour may have been problematic. When the answers become clearer, I will post an update on my website.
It was an extremely disappointing day, yet again. I was buoyed along the course by the incredible support of not only my family and friends, but spectators and competitors as well. So many kind words were uttered by those around me that I knew that I had to get to the finish. The next morning, sitting on the lanai of the house we rented, overlooking the beautiful Kona coast, I knew that I would come back next year to make the Island love me back.
Thanks again to all of my sponsors. Without them the finish line would be much further.
Race hard, have fun.
For the first time in my career I stepped off the bike and was in the game! I wasn’t just participating in Ironman France, I was finally in the thick of things having arrived into T2 with the 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th placed athletes. I had played every move up until this point perfectly! I fumbled quite a bit getting my shoes on and once out of the transition I realized that my fellow competitors were gone up the road. I didn’t think it would matter because I truly believed and felt this was going to be my day to run like so many know I am capable of, I quickly started to rethink think my run strategy at just 5km in when the heat of the day was already taking its toll on me. By 10km I had lost a place falling back to 11th when I started to cramp in my legs thus forcing me to walk the transitions and take in as much fluid as I could. At some points I would come around and find my rhythm and think, “well, if I can keep this up I will run 3hours, and that should put me top 8!” Soon after I put in a surge, the nausea would return with cramping in the hamstrings. I played every game I could think of both mentally and nutritionally but theses were only temporary solutions, like putting a band aide on a bullet wound.
Bananas would help for a bit as well as spending a few seconds standing under the cold showers on course but all in all from kms 10-42 it was the toughest running I have done in my life! After crossing the finish line I spent a good hour and a half vomiting in the bushes while fighting cramps all over my legs before finally being taken to the medical tent to get an IV, thank God for that as I don’t think I would have been able to ride my bike back to my home stays house!
Thinking back I don’t have any regrets nor are there any excuses. For what ever reason, and it is not mental, I melted on the run today! I swam and rode my heart out, at 2 hours into the bike I swallowed a bee, which stung the inside of my throat on the way down…I didn’t care as today was to be my day….But after 3 hours and 25minutes of torture on the run I lay in agony not of victory but defeat!! There needs to be a discussion about why I seem to crumble when the temperature rises into the 90s but this is not an excuse as others ran wonderfully out there!
Two years and 4 months ago when I first met Brett Sutton and he agreed to give me shot on the team, he said that it was going to take 3 years to make me a real Ironman athlete. He asked if I was willing to put that amount of time in…Well, here I am closer than ever before but I thought today I would be writing to say that I beat his time prediction but you know what? We don’t call him the “Doc” for no reason as he is usually right 99% of the time. And I am coming to grips with the hard truth that it will in fact take the entire 3 years until I have successfully put together the Ironman that we have been working so very hard towards!
Over this 28 month period, many people have come into my life that would have never if it were not for Team TBB and our growing network of fans and athletes. Some are disappointed tonight not in me but for me as they have followed my progress and some too believed today was to be my coming out party!! I have received some wonderful messages and I thank you guys for your thoughts and positive energy! It is coming my friends I know it, just going to have to be a bit more patient that I like to be…. Thank you so very much for following me as the climb up the mountain is getting steeper and steeper as I get closer to the top……
My home stay host, Pierre, asked me last night if I will return to Nice for a 4th time next year?? I responded, with, “Yes! I must come back to Nice, even though it puts me through so much pain, I will figure this race out!” He said I was crazy Thank you to Pierre and his family for having me once again this year! I very much enjoy my time with you all and for the second year in a row I arrive to your home post race defeated but you treat me like family and that is nice to come home to when you are shattered like I was this evening!!
And finally Julie Dibens. I found it ironic that though she broke the course record and won IMCDA, she still doubts herself at the ironman distance.
U know it's gonna be a long day when at the first turn buoy on the swim you wonder why the heck you are doing this silly race because you are so cold.
U know it's gonna be a long day when you exit the first lap of the swim, and head back in for lap two, and you are still thinking "why don't I just stick to 70.3, I'd be jumping on my bike now"
U know it's gonna be a long day when you think you see Barrack Obama standing at the side of the ride at mile 30 on the bike. Oh no that's right it was actually my Manager Franko goof'ing off. It gave me a good chuckle at the time though.
U know it's gonna be a long day when u realize that you are having way too much fun on the bike, and actually forget you are in a race. That means you probably are riding too hard…and trouble is ahead. I just couldn't contain myself, the course was awesome.
U know it's gonna be a long day when you see a fresh tampon in the road half way through the second lap on the bike. Some poor lady obviously thought she was going to be in for a really long day and wanted to be 100% prepared. That was my first tampon sighting in a race. Again put a smile on my face which can't be a bad thing.
U know it's gonna be a long day when you find that the snaggle toe already has a little cut on it from the bike. That only means one thing….a bloody running shoe to come. It's amazing how much a tiny little cut can bleed.
U know it's gonna be a long day when you start seeing stars at about mile 14 on the run. My initial thought was….this is gonna be a long walk in! How long will 12miles take me to walk. SHIT!
U know it's gonna be a long day when a chocolate powerbar and latte powergel taste good (I really don't like chocolate or coffee), and a cookie tastes bad (my favorite). My taste buds were truly out of whack
U know it's gonna be a long day when you see a gorilla in a tree cheering you on and you don't do a double take.
And last but no means least
U know it's gonna be a long day when you think you might have done a tiny little poo in your pants but you are really not sure. (sorry TO..probably TMI again there)
All in all, I'm not going to lie, I am disappointed with my performance yesterday here in Coeur D'alene. The jury is still out as to whether I am cut out to be an Ironman athlete…or at least to achieve my dreams as an Ironman athlete. But as I learnt with pretty much everything else I have done in life, just because you don't get success immediately doesn't mean it should stop you from trying. I just have to look back at the 70.3 worlds in Clearwater. I had to go there 3 times and come 4th twice, before I raced how I wanted to. Lets to hoping my 3'rd IM will follow that trend.
Congrats go out to Crowie who put in another awesome performance, and all the other Ironman CDA finishers!
I have to send a big shout out to my sponsors. I know a lot of you groupies out there think us pro's just do this because you think we get paid, but I really couldn't do it without them. My shout out of the week goes to Trek - the Speed concept is the beast of all beasts! Unless you come up with a faster bike, I doubt I will ever race on anything but! Not to mention the best bike mechanic, Mark Andrews, from Trek. A huge thanks to all my other sponsors too. I love you all and love that I have in my eyes the support of the best products and companies out there. Kswiss, Tyr, PowerBar, Nuun, Oakley, EFX, Saris, Flatlines, Lazer, Fuelbelt, ISM, Bontrager
Oh and lastly, it is without doubt that I can say, IRONMAN is just SILLY! Until next time…
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