To Stop or Keep the Course
On May 16th, 2015, I stood outside the starting line of my 6th Ironman - Ironman TX. I was to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and run 26.2 miles. At 6 AM the temperature was over 80 degrees and climbing, and the humidity stood at 95%. But I was prepared for this race.
The day began with a swim in very warm water. While it was not my best swim time, I felt alright with my performance. Next, I headed into the transition, drank some water, and hopped on my bike. I noticed my stomach was feeling a little off, so I started sipping water during those first 10 miles and then proceeded to add electrolytes and my liquid nutrition. By mile 40, I was slowing down. Neither water, nor liquid calories were sitting well in my stomach. I felt like I was pushing hard, even though I was only going about 12 MPH. I continued to suck down more liquid electrolytes, nutrition, water at the tune of 1 - 1 ½ bottles per hour, but I had to be sweating a lot more than that. I stopped at mile 60 because I had tunnel vision so bad it was hard to see the road and other riders. I would sit in the stop, sit in the shade and after a few minutes out of the sun I would surely feel better.
I did not.
It was really hard to for me to make the decision to stop. I had never declared DNF (“Did not finish”) on a race before. I didn’t want to accept that I was not going to finish. I had never quit on anything like this.
Begrudgingly (but honestly), I reminded myself that I was not there to win anything. I raced because I find it fun and an exhilarating challenge. My health and safety are the most important thing.
So after a few hours in the cool and shaded medical tent, 6 bottles of fluid and some anti-nausea medication, I was released to go home.
I struggled after the race thinking there should have been something I could have done to continue. I shouldn’t have given up so soon. This funky depression didn’t last too long as it was time to come up with some new goals. I decided to put all my training for IMTX into practice by signing up for the AquaBike event (2.4 mile swim and 112 mile bike; basically Ironman without the marathon at the end) and the Twin Cities Marathon one month after.
It is difficult to get back to training and racing when you have had a setback. But it is important to understand that there are always setbacks and obstacles. We can’t look at these as failures, but instead think of them as ways you can learn and grow. I was able to take a little time off and then get back to the task at hand, to complete my next race. At the AquaBike I placed 2nd in my age group, and then 1 week later I completed the Twin Cities Marathon. I found it very rewarding to work my way back from a huge disappointment and find success on the other side. Remember that there will always be setbacks and your success is not defined by those setback but how you come back from them!
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