Race Report: Patriot Half Ironman 2011

Sorry, followers, for not posting my race report sooner. The past couple of days have been a whirlwind. I had the race on Saturday and then had a quick turn around and left for a conference in New Orleans Sunday morning. I didn't get back until 2AM Thursday morning, so I spent a good bit of yesterday sleeping and allowing my liver to recover. I haven't even unpacked yet.

To be honest, I thought about just skipping this race report. I have been so frustrated with most of my results in this race that I just want to forget it. I felt like I did everything right and it turned out worse than expected.

I hate reading about what other people eat and when before during and after races. I feel like its all the same after a while, but somebody must be interested or they wouldn't blog about it. I'm skipping my nutrition entirely now and putting it into a separate nutrition section for those interested.

We arrived to the race 1 1/2 hours before the race was scheduled to start. Due to the tardiness of others, we ended up arriving 2 hours before it actually started. We went through the usual motions of setting up our transition area and spent our spare time talking to our Wheelworks Multisport teammates. The poor guy next to me seemed to be doing his first triathlon (or at least first half). He had stepped away for a moment (bathroom maybe?) and we heard a loud "PFFFFT" characteristic of a tire losing air. Everyone in the area quickly checked their own tires and we deduced that the new guy was the one who suffered the flat. We told him what happened when he returned and he fortunately had enough time to get it fixed by the bike mechanics.

This is the only part of the race that I am happy about. I started the swim like every other swim...all nervous and shivery. It took me a minute or so to get my breathing under control once the race started. They said the water was 70F which would make it warmer by about 5F than where we usually do our OWS, but Ben agreed with me that it was definitely colder, not warmer.

The water was calm overall, except for the few times that the "speedboat" swimmers sped by. This was the first race that I have ever been dunked in. The first time wasn't so much dunking as they pushed off of me and I stopped having forward motion. The second time, the girl literal put her hand on the back of my head and pushed down. I'm thankful for learning how to swim in the ocean. If you can keep your head above water sufficiently long enough then, you can pretty much handle anything. I took a surfing lesson once and the teacher said, "If you can hold your breath for 10 seconds, you can surf." I think the same thing could be said about swimming in a triathlon.

Time - 48:31 
Timberman - 57:12
Improvement of 8:41 - I would have to attribute a good bit of this to my teammate Anne Traer who helped us with proper swimming form. I think it has really helped a lot.

Nothing really exciting happened here. Dried off my feet, put on my shoes (I still don't have bike shoes), sprayed on some sunscreen, threw on my helmet, etc. etc. I must comment on how long the run in from the swim and the bike out were. It really tacked on a lot of T1 time.

Time - 4:11
Timberman - 5:56
Improvement of 1:45

The bike was a 2 loop course. It was a little bit more hilly than expected (I keep forgetting, as a Midwesterner, to not listen to New Englanders when they say that a course is "flat"or "rolling"). As I described to Ben, the first half had more hills, but they were pretty small and easy. The second half had fewer hills, but they were more challenging.

I don't know about anyone else, but I think the positioning of the aid stations on the bike course were oddly placed. One was at 11/39mi which was fine, but the other was at 26/54mi. It was kinda weird going past an aid station with only two miles left on the bike. I feel like it could have been placed maybe a few miles earlier.

I already knew for quite some time that my bike time wasn't going to be anywhere near where I thought it would be, but with 9 miles left on the bike, to add insult to injury, I get a flat. I was getting ready to change it myself (I've only changed a flat once, and with assistance from the hubby and without the pressure of being in a race) when the bike mechanic van drove by and asked if I needed help. What perfect timing? I told them I needed help with a flat, figuring that they could probably do it twice as fast as me. From there, the bike was pretty uneventful other than the fact that the race was turning into an oven. Even the formerly cool breeze was now blowing hot air. So much for a predicted high of 75F. It ended up being 90F during the race.

Random note, I tried to pee on my bike, but failed. I can't move my legs and pee at the same time, and the downhills weren't long enough to start peeing. I had to pop a squat behind a tree twice.

Time - 3:55:29
Timberman- 3:54:32
Slower by 57 seconds...would have been faster by seconds if it weren't for the flat :(

Nothing exciting here either. Just dropped off my bike stuff and left.

Time - 3:22
Timberman - 6:05
Improvement by 2:43...I'm not sure what I was doing at Timberman, but I think I was peeing.

As I left for the run, a bunch of people had already finished. They were saying that it was a flat and shady course, so I should be fine. Turns out, those people were from New England as well. It was flatter than the bike course by a little bit, so I'll give them that. Also, by this time it was about noon, so the sun was straight up in the sky and the trees were providing zero shade.

There was an aid station at each mile, so I made sure to stop at each one. The first three miles went by fast. After that, I had to start mixing up walking and running just to stay coolish. I had made a little run/walk group with a couple of other participants and we talked along the way. I got to the point where I could walk the rest of the way and still finish if I had to do that, but obviously I wanted to finish faster than that, so I kept up the run/walk. In between miles 6 and 7, I started having issues with my heart palpitations. I have had issues in the past and this past winter had a complete work-up to make sure it was nothing serious. They didn't find anything other than premature atrial contractions, which they said was benign and wasn't occurring while my palpitations were, so they didn't think they were causing the palpitations. In the past, they only occurred when I was lying down, so the fact that they were occurring with activity was kinda scary. Plus, they didn't stop, so I notified the people at the aid station at mile 7 that I was having issues. It was a tough decision. I really wanted to finish, and aside from the heart palpitations, I felt good enough to finish. But I wanted to be safe instead of sorry. I didn't want to pass out like half way between aid stations and no one would even know.

The ambulance took me to the hospital and I called Ben to let him know. I wasn't sure if he had finished or had dropped out, but I figured I could leave him a message if he was still racing. Turned out he had a fiasco of his own that prevented him from finishing, so he was able to pack up our belongings and met me at the hospital. They did an EKG, blood work, and listened to my heart and found nothing. They hooked me up to an IV and I actually started to feel better. I didn't think I was even feeling bad until the IV's effects hit me. The doctor said that the palpitations were likely due to the heat and dehydration. Like any other muscle, it can cramp or spasm with dehydration and that's likely what it was doing.

Knowing what I know now, I wish I had finished the race. I felt good as new when I left the hospital (other than still feeling a bit toasty) and wanted to go finish the race then. During the days following, I didn't have any muscle soreness whatsoever. I was kinda expecting the duck waddle that I had going on for like a week after Timberman. This tells me two things. One, I probably could have pushed myself a little bit harder. Two, I was definitely a lot more trained for this race than Timberman. I don't think the lack of soreness has anything to do with not finishing. I don't think running six more miles would have made me that excruciatingly sore.

Obviously, I'm frustrated because I feel like I could have and should have finished. I know, its better to be safe and get stuff like that checked out, but it sucks knowing that it was nothing and that I could have finished.

Also, all the crazies are at the ER and I would prefer not to go back. There was a guy there who was in a motorcycle accident. I could see him across the hall in a cervical collar. I could only see him from the neck up and he was screaming and yelling and throwing up. Of course, one would imagine what had happened below the neck that was causing him so much pain. His wife or girlfriend was there with him and he kept yelling to her, "I'm so sorry. Don't leave me. I'm so scared." And she would just respond with, "Just relax. You're making yourself sick." Eventually, they took him to get x-rays and put him in a different room and it was quiet for a while. Later, they took me to get x-rays (not sure why), but they wheeled me past the guy's new room (still groaning obnoxiously loud in his cervical collar) and I could get a good look at his whole body. He was moving his arms and legs, no obviously deformity other than he had really bad road rash. Maybe there was something else going on, but if he was screaming like that over road rash. Sheesh.


Ali said...

Heart palpitations during a race are a completely understandable reason to stop. I know how gutted you must feel not to have finished, but definitely better safe than sorry.

Colleen said...

That's so scary! I know you wish you had finished, but you definitely made the right decision... if you had continued, it could have been baaaaaad! (HUGS) to you girl!

Edie said...

I agree with the others here. Don't berate yourself because you stopped and, "it was nothing." It's quite possible, given your dehydration, that if you had pushed on, it could have turned into, "something." We read about those unfortunate people and their families every year.
Bravo for listening to your body and not putting someone else in the position of having to save your life over 6 miles.

Barb said...

Glad you are better and it was nothing serious. Even better you stopped before it got serious. You'll get the next race!

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