Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Eagleman 70.3 - Lessons Learned

There's so much to say, and so little at the same time! So I'll let the exceptional pictures Kyle took do the talking.

Every race I learn so much and Eagleman 70.3 was no different. It was my first chance to test swimming in open water this year, my chance to deal with extreme heat and see how I faired, and most of all, to hopefully really screw things up so I can get all that out of the way for the rest of the year (which I excelled at beautifully)! Kyle and I traveled down on Saturday and had a wonderful pre-race dinner with all those from Pittsburgh. All told, there had to be close to 35 of us doing the race from the area and 9 Ballou Skies athletes were in the house to represent.

I felt a calmness about the race. I had a plan and I intended to stick to it. Oh.. sometimes we make plans my friends, and God has a little chuckle :) All in all, I felt great going in and excited about the day to come.

My swim was slow (and didn't even CLOSE to show how very hard I've been working in the pool!), but everyone's seemed to be slow! I was very thankful I didn't know my time once I saw it later in the day.

The plan was to push the bike and see where we ended up. In all honesty, I had good sections and bad sections just like everyone else that day. At about mile 30 of the bike I started feeling a tad bit nauseous for no particular reason.

The Mark Allen Fluid Energizer from Infinit had never let me down before even in the hottest conditions. I took a few minutes an assessed the situation. I decided to switch to water / gels to help settle things down, so I would wait for the next aid station to grab it (which seemed like a very long time coming, and it was). In hindsight, I should have kept drinking anyway, even if I threw it up later.
The lesson here is dehydration hurts much more than loosing a little and starting over! By the time I switched to water, I only had about 15 miles left and I was at least 24oz short of my hydration goal for the bike.. aka.. a recipe for disaster on a hot humid day. I've had this happen two other times in my career (in terms of massive dehydration on the run, not exactly the same reasons) so you would think I could get this down! I finished the bike with a 2:32, not exactly what I was hoping (really wanted to go under 2:30!), but I was on to the run.

However, what I did next WAS the result of those experiences and lessons learned. Other times I've ended up with 6 liters of IV fluid a med tent and a whole lot of scary for myself and my family (and a Kona spot). However, today was not the day to put myself in that position. My Kona slot was already mine and I wanted to finish the race standing, not in the ambulance. During mile one of the run I was still feeling pretty good. I passed Liz and we had a nice exchange. By mile three, I was toast, overheating, high heart rate, felt dizzy and like general crap. My pace dropped off and I knew I was in trouble.

It was time to walk the aid stations. I hated to do it, but I was in such poor shape to keep running without trying to get in extra fluids would have been a recipe for disaster. During each station I drank at least two glasses of water and a Powerade Endurance. Liz reminded me of the trick (ice down the bra over the heart!) and that was a lifesaver. Thanks Liz! She looked great when she blew by me so I hoped she was on her way to a Kona spot - and darn it, she was!

I talked myself into running aid station to aid station. Yes, we've all been there.. not so fun. I exchanged words with a few competitors about the heat and decided there is no crying in triathlon.. so I would just be sucking it up and finishing no matter what, even if I had to walk the whole half marathon. Ryan Ballou never quits.. and neither does this girl.
I saw Beth and she was running so tough. Jocelyn too. Each and every thought was trying to crush out the negative voices and replace them with positives "you're friends are right there, they're hurting too - if they can do it, you can do it!" I kept shuffling until finally, around mile 7 things started to turn around. I could feel life coming back into my body and while it still hurt, it wasn't nearly the dizzy awful shuffle it was before. Never did I glance at my watch after mile 2, not one time.. I didn't want to know! It was for the better! I saw my teammates, slapped fives and thanked volunteers - hey, I had time! It became about enjoying the experience and not forgetting about why I loved this sport in the first place. Finally, right before the finish a girl yelled out "I READ YOUR BLOG" coming the other way out of transition and I smiled from ear to ear. I yelled thanks even though I was dying and it just gave me the strength to not be a sour puss about my race and be thankful to just be out there. We are truly blessed to be healthy enough to race. That's for sure.

Speaking of that..

The real heroes of the day are below.. The Challenged Athlete Foundation.
They may not wear a cape, but these athletes are REAL HEROES and their helpers are angels. Did you know that they announced Ryan Ballou and Ballou Skies before the race AND that one of these athletes DID have DMD? How amazing is that.... coincidence? I think not.
My heart just swells when I see pictures like this. I know.. sappy, but I don't care. How could I even remotely be dissatisfied with my race or think about myself when I see these pictures. These kids are amazing and what an experience...crossing the finish line is a victory.. for them, and for me.. every single time.
The courage in their little finger is more than I will ever be able to muster and I'm so thankful that we have the opportunity to share the course with them.
I gave a thumbs up each time, but that was little compared to their helpers, friends and family who love them and support them every day. Thanks to CAF for making dreams come true and for showing us the real meaning of the sport. Thank you Ballou Skies for teaching me that even a not perfect day, is still the best day ever to be out there living my dreams and supporting this great research.
On July 9th I will be doing a bike ride to benefit the charity. If any of you would like to place a one time donation or a donation per mile, please let me know. We'll make it happen. Great job to everyone who was out there on Sunday and racing all over the world. Hats off to Joe and Beth for chasing those Kona slots and getting their ticket to the big dance. You both inspire me to never quit on my dreams which are very much alive!! I'm not giving up!! I have not yet begun to fight!!
Lastly, a big shout out to my athlete Tom who completed his second half ironman to date at Eagleman 70.3 on Sunday. He had a bit of cramping at mile 10, but otherwise NAILED it and executed a perfect race. Way to go Tom! You have a long and happy road ahead of you in triathlon and I hope to be part of the journey.

Kyle - you are my biggest supporter and my life. I'm so lucky that you've decided to weather this crazy journey with me and make me laugh so hard I cry, comfort me in times of disappointment and remind me how lucky I am just to get the chance love you with everything you do for me.

To all the friendly faces - Mary E, Jen H, Liz, my fellow Pittsburghers and friends - you are my heart and soul and one of the biggest reasons I'm in this sport. Seeing your faces made me want to go on and push harder. The female camaraderie between some of us is amazing and I'm just so thankful for it each time I race. We are warriors together ladies... warriors.

Thanks to my sponsors who never give up on me and see me though my mistakes, learning experiences and great days! Thanks to my blog fans like that girl - whoever you are! You made my day!!!!!!!!


Beth said...

I know all your hard work is going to pay off Kim...and pay off big! And when it does I'm going to be so dang happy for you. Great racing with you this weekend. Many great things to look forward to this summer and fall!!

Kim said...

kim, i was tracking both you and beth and thinking that you were both doing GREAT!! i had no idea you were experiencing such trouble out there. hope you are resting and recovering and getting tons of fluids. and those challenged athletes are truly inspiring.

Lauren said...

that was me who yelled! It was nice to "meet" you :)

Sunday was my first half and I struggled with the the point where I walked most of it. But I finished!

Steve said...

Congrats!!! :) We can learn a lot on our not so hot days huh??

Oh, hey I read your blog too, like that girl. :)

Christi said...

Great job Kim!

Kiet said...

Onward and upward Kim, lots of more racing in the season, trust me when I say I know exactly how you feel.

Chloe said...

Congrats on the killer race! And yes, those guys are huge super heroes in my eyes as well...and the photos just make my heart swell. Love it!

Teresa said...

Great lessons learned that will only help out for the big dance in October! Way to go girl!


ADC said...

That was still a great race Kim and an amzing performance. Huge well done.

m said...

Sounds like a tough day but you still did great! Reading you race report brought back familiar painful reconciliations of the run at Eagleman when I did it several years ago.

The rest of your season is going to be great!

Austin said...

fantastic race report.
i can't tell you how cool it is to see an athlete with your talent stay so grounded and remember that in the end it's all about having fun...

Anonymous said...

I am so proud of you sister, for more reasons than going fast. Way to go, on the race, the high road and more importantly understanding what it means to give back. I ahve a personal connection with DM in my pediatric nursing world and I love Ballou skies!