St. George Ironman 70.3 Race Report: Rain, Wind and a DNF
This post is a hard one to write. I DNF my first race. (DNF- Did Not Finish) As I write this the next day, I have mixed emotions. You replay everything about the race in your head and start to rationalize, go through “what if’s” and obsess about what you could of or should of done, but the fact is… I made a choice to pull that racing chip off and call it a day in T2. Here’s the story leading up to that.
I was super excited for this race. I had a great Oceanside 70.3 the month before, and I had a great brick a few days before the race. I had followed my training from Nate and I was ready to kill this race. It would be the 4th time I was doing St. George 70.3 Ironman. I knew the course well and was excited to race with all my friends. I felt strong both mentally and physically.
Mark and I drove down early on Thursday to meet the Pro’s. That so was awesome. Heather and Lionel ended up winning St. George. I had the pleasure of meeting Meredith and Rinni, they are legends in Triathlon. The energy at Ironman is so fun. I saw and hung out with so many friends and overall enjoyed the pre-race fun. I had so many friends doing this race for the first time and their spirit was contagious.
We had been watching the weather and figured we’d have some rain, but I don’t think anyone anticipated what was in store for us on the bike.
Race morning, I got up a 3:30 am ready to roll. I had nervous butterflies but was excited. SLTC had their own rack so it was a blast being set up next to all my friends. Race morning is fun hanging with friends, standing in line at the bathroom, last minute words of advice from my coach and lots of good luck to all my friends. Nate Last did an awesome pre-race gathering for the SLTC club, which was just what we all needed! I really felt like it got me centered before the race!
The swim start at Ironman was the best it’s ever been. I LOVED this new set up. Great job St. George ironman staff. That swim start was so much better than previous years. I got in the water and swam great and pretty straight too. As I neared the finish the waves started to pick up and it was starting to rain, but I was almost done and just needed to keep going. Felt good coming out of the water and on to the bike. Since it was raining in T2 I figured I am already wet, the long sleeve shirt I had brought would just end up being heavy and wet because I didn’t pack or bring a rain jacket. (a mistake, but not sure a jacket would of helped my toes and fingers) but I thought at the time… it won’t be that bad. I’ve raced in rain no biggie. Little did I know.
I headed up the first hill and was feeling great. Felt strong through hurricane and into St. George. Looking at Strava after words, I had some PR’s early on the in race on many segments. It was raining and cold but overall I was doing okay. Throughout the course it would stop raining and rain again, the roads were wet, some segments worse than others. While I was biking, I was thinking, when I finish this race won’t this be an incredible finish victory.
Here’s some pics of me coming down Red Hills before Ivins and I was feeling good. I yelled to my family and was rocking it. As I started to come into Ivins, the cold quickly set in. I couldn’t feel my fingers or toes. My legs where numb and heavy and I really had to pee. I tried several times to pee on my bike but was too cold to pee. I felt myself slowing down as the course took us out the U turn. Coming back in to climb Snow I was slightly downhill and I rallied. I can do this. As I started to climb Snow Canyon, the rain and wind got worse. It was a downpour and it was all I could do to keep turning my legs.
I stopped at a landing before the bigger climbs to stretch my legs and try to stand and pee. I know sounds gross… but I was so wet, who cares about pee? I figured if I stopped maybe I could focus to pee. The rain would wash it away. So many awesome people passed and asked if I was ok. I didn’t want to say, I am fine just trying to pee. So I just said, I am fine, I am stretching my legs. I couldn’t pee and it was really starting to hurt. But the longer I stood there the colder I got, I knew I had to keep moving. Then I couldn’t clip back in. My feet were so numb, I couldn’t feel the peddle. I circled that landing several times trying to clip in my bike because I couldn’t climb without being clipped in. Several people climbing asked me what the heck as I doing. Finally! I got clipped in and climbed Snow Canyon. So many people were walking the last steep part of Snow. As I got to the top, I saw several people getting the bus and calling it a day. It was raining so hard. I thought about getting in that bus too but I kept going. I kept telling myself, warm socks and the run will warm me up.
BUT I cried all the way down Bluff. It was raining, the road was so wet and I was nervous I would be road meat. My fingers were too numb to even grip the brakes. I was shaking so hard at pretty fast speeds, I thought I would lose control of my bike and crash. It was one of the worst downhills I’ve ever had. I said several prayers to bring me down the hill safe. As I came over the overpass, I saw my family. So I slowed down and had a full on crying meltdown. I don’t even remember what I said to them. I just remember my girls and hubby giving me hugs. I was delirious. I hurt so bad, I was so cold, and I was shaking so bad. My wonderful hubby rallied me to get to T2 and get in my running shoes, get a space blanket and rally for the run. I thought I could, I had a moment of “I can do this”, so I jumped back on the bike to get to T2. But I honestly don’t remember the ride from my family to T2. I just remember trying to focus on not shivering and not crashing. Next thing I remember, an Ironman volunteer was yelling at me to dismount because I rode right past the dismount line.
I got off the bike and I couldn’t walk. If I didn’t have my bike and a volunteer to lean on, I would have collapsed. So glad my bike rack right was close to the bike in part of the transition. I racked my bike and tried to take of my helmet and couldn’t even unclip because I couldn’t feel my fingers. Lots of shaking later, I finally got my running shoes on and made my way to the run out. A wonderful volunteer handed me a space blanket and gave me a warm hug.
Shane had made it to the run shoot to cheer me out and I started crying again. I told him I had to try and use the bathroom or I didn’t think I could make it. I sat in the Porta Potty begging my body to pee. It was so warm in there but I couldn’t stop shivering. The shivering was so bad I couldn’t pee, I couldn’t feel my legs or find a position to try and pee. Have you ever tried to sprawl out in a porta potty. I tried. I had to pee so bad, I was cramping like crazy. Think about it: I had over 3 and half hours on the bike, drinking lots of water and couldn’t empty it. It wasn’t hot enough to sweat it out either. I was so nauseous, shivering and crying. Crying both from pain and the thought of not finishing. The hardest part about this was I didn’t want to quit I wanted to continue but my body wasn’t cooperating. I tried to pee 5 times and took 25 minutes right outside the run shoot before the run. I can’t say enough about my wonderful and amazing husband trying to rally me, talk me off the ledge, reminding me that I would get warmer on the run and I could do this! BUT not being able to pee is what ultimately took me down. A sweet lady next to him offered her gloves to me too.
The following is TMI for everyone reading this, but it may help you understand my “pee” situation…because I know not being able to pee sounds like a ridiculous reason to DNF on a race. Four years ago I had a hysterectomy with a bladder sling installed. During surgery, the doctor cut my bladder by accident. I spent the next 120 days with some serious bladder issues. The bladder sling has been a good thing overall, but the downside is I can’t let my bladder get to full or I can’t pee then I end up an ER with a catheter because my bladder stops working. Usually a warm bath helps. Over the last four years, I have learned to make sure I go to the bathroom frequently or in the case of my races, I’ve learned to pee in water, pee in transition or pee on the bike. It’s never been a problem before. But the cold brought other challenges. I was shivering so bad I couldn’t pee and I was starting to get into emergency mode.
You can see on my Strava map my T2 back and forth to the porta potty trying to figure out if I was going to continue or not. It’s actually kind of funny now, seeing the back and forth on a map. Sucked at the time.
So after 25 minutes and 5 times in and out of the porta potty, and severe cramping, I tearfully told a volunteer I was done and had them take my timing chip. It was devastating! Mentally I couldn’t believe I was pulling myself out. It was the worse feeling I’ve ever had. While I believe I could of rally getting warm once I started to run, my hubby agreed trying to go out on the run with my pee problem could more than likely end me up in a medical tent/hospital along the run and us getting home and trying to fix it was the better solution.
Pretty sure I had hypothermia though I never got an “official” diagnosis, I had all the symptoms plus horrible cramping in my bladder, there’s a lot I don’t remember. My body was a mess.
My family raced me back to where we were staying. I remember shaking so hard and I was so nauseous, horrible cramps and I hurt so bad in the car. Shane started me a hot bath. For 15 minutes, I couldn’t feel anything in the water nor could I pee. I laid in the water thinking, we are going to the ER. Please body warm up and pee. The water was so hot but I couldn’t feel a thing. Finally I started to warm up and was able to pee in the tub. I know… sounds gross to lay there and pee but when it hurts so bad… the relief was unbelievable. I took a hot shower after the feeling came back to my feet and fingers.
As I showered, the reality that I had a DNF set in. I was heartbroken. Shane asked what I wanted to do. I told him I wanted to go back to the finish line and cheer my friends in. So that’s what we did. Cheering my amazing friends, all of the SLTC club and every single person who braved that awful day coming into the finish line was so incredible! That’s just what I needed to remember why we tri! Watching those triumphs were so inspiring, I cried again. Tears of JOY!! I am so proud of every one that completed that race under those conditions! The best was watching my dear friend Mark, who was in the very last swim wave and crossed the finish line just before the cut off.
For me…. a DNF is hard pill to swallow. To admit to myself, my coach, my family and my friends, that I DNF. BUT I am so grateful for all the supportive calls and texts from my friends and family. As many friends said to me, it also takes a strong person to know when to stop. My husband and girls were so wonderful during my meltdown on the course and after. Their words of encouragement and support mean the world to me.
I tried to find at least two things that went well yesterday:
- I swam pretty straight. Only 52 yards off course.
- I felt strong the first part of the bike course and even had a few Strava segment PR’s even with the rain, wind and cold.
So what’s up next for me? Well, next Saturday is Women of Steel sprint, the following weekend Sand Hallow triathlon and in 90 days I am doing my first Full Ironman in Boulder, CO. It’s time to move past yesterday, get my head back in the game and crush my next few races.
Now I need payback. I am ready to battle out my training and come back even stronger! This experience has taught me so much and very humbling. As the Vision from Avengers said “There is grace in their failings.”
Vision: I suppose we’re both disappointments.
Ultron: [laughs] I suppose we are.
Vision: Humans are odd. They think order and chaos are somehow opposites and try to control what won’t be. But there is grace in their failings. I think you missed that.
Ultron: They’re doomed!
Vision: Yes… but a thing isn’t beautiful because it lasts. It is a privilege to be among them.
It is an HONOR and a PRIVILEGE to race with such amazing people. The Tri Community is powerful, inspiring and motivating. It is a privilege to be among them!