I pride myself on my entertaining race reports. This one is not entertaining, nor is it funny. If it seems to be tinged with sorrow and self-pity, it likely is. I just can't seem to make light of this one. I worked so hard, and I couldn't make use of that work come race day.
It's hard to suck that up, even though I am working on it, and even though I know I should, and even though I know I am hardly the first or last to experience dreaming big, and then crashing and burning on race day instead of realizing that dream.
There were no Tums in my transition bag. I must have only put them in my T2 bag, figuring I might feel sick after the bike... but not the swim. Luckily I did have a few in my Bento Box on my bike. I ate three of them immediately with some EFS once I was safely astride Mrs. Z.
Then I waited.
And I waited. and waited.
And then I started to feel a little better. Time to really start biking!
My first loop I mostly felt good. I took in all of my EFS, all of my planned gels, and all of my planned salt tabs. I kept my watts exactly where Kurt and I had discussed, I stayed aero, and I rode evenly.
But then I started to feel sick. I was playing back and forth with this girl I can only describe as Aquawoman. She had a lime green kit edged in black, and she had a lime green bike to match. I think if she had had a lime green cape and helmet it would've been the perfect look. Anyway, we were playing back and forth when I first started to feel queasy again.
I reached in my Bento Box and ate my final two Tums.
It did not help.
I decided to slow down, drink a little water, and sit upright. Being in aero was making me even more nauseated. Aquawoman rode off.
It was on my way back on the out and back that I knew I would be sick and it would be soon. My only question: Should I make myself sick or should I let the puke surprise me? I decided making myself sick would be safer.
I pulled over to the curb, slowed way down and let it come. I didn't need to put a finger in my throat; after I stopped fighting it just came up--quite forcefully--as puke often does. I barfed over my bars, while riding (I am very proud of that even though I only was going about 3 mph). After I puked I did unclip and put my foot down for a second. I used some of my Ironman Peform stuff (I had no water at the time) to clean off the bars, and I tried to breathe deeply. Then I started riding again.
I was shaky. But I did feel tons better. Here is where I think I made a tactical error. I decided to wait before taking anything in again. I feared I would be sick again if I tried to drink or eat. In retrospect, though, I should have tried. I had thrown up a lot of what I had taken in on the first loop, and I was definitely down on calories and electrolytes. I AT LEAST should have taken some salt tabs. But I didn't. I got a bottle of water and sipped carefully until mile 95 or so. then I tried to take part of a gel. At mile 100 (roughly) just as I was turning the corner out of Hazelton, I pulled over again, and threw the gel and the water up. At this point my stomach was just totally used to rejecting things. Alert! Incoming! Incoming! Get ready--okay--here we go---- HURL!
My average watts for my second loop were about 10 watts lower than my first lap. I tried not to think about this as I handed off my bike to the volunteer. It had been a slow bike, but it was okay. It had to be okay. I ran to get my transition bag, and ran into the tent. My friend Stacey was there. You are in third, Mary, third! she cried.
Third? I was in third ? With THAT swim? With THAT bike?
Now I knew I couldn't give up. I got out of there fast, and began my run.
I felt stiff at first, but loosened up fast. My legs felt SO fresh--. I could do this!
But then, within about 30 seconds of that thought, I had another wave of nausea. I took baby steps. Easy easy easy. Don't throw up yet. Don't throw up yet.
I saw Kurt on the way downhill, out of town. I gave him my Garmin. It wouldn't catch a signal, and also, I just didn't want to know my pace. I just did NOT want to know.
Take in fluids, he said.
I've been throwing up, I whimpered as a reply.
And then I kept running.
I didn't force myself to take in anything for miles one and two, but at mile 3 I decided I must try. A marathon is longggggg and cannot be run on will alone, especially after throwing up all morning. So I took some Perform. And then I ran another quarter mile. And then I stopped and puked that Perform right up.
I can't tell you what was going on in my head at that point, because I can't remember. I think I just turned myself onto autopilot and continued to run. I saw Brian, a friend who works at Fast Splits. He said, Looking Good, Mary. And I said, I just threw up.
I think that might have been the extent of my thinking at that point. I threw up. I threw up. I threw up.
I did not take in anything again until mile 8. Then I took some Coke. The Coke settled. It didn't come up. I would be okay! I could drink Coke! At mile 9 I took some more Coke--and I swallowed a salt tablet. Go me!
Then, just before mile 10, I pulled over to the side and puked up the Coke and the tablet. The salt was partially dissolved, and so my throw tasted very salty. And I thought, At least it is a new flavor of barf...I felt the roof of my mouth with my tongue and it was sore and raw. The acid from my throw up had burned me.
At mile 11 I saw Jesse. It was weird--I was running so slowly at that point--and I saw him in slow motion. He said, It's time to dig deep, Mary.
Did he know? Did he know? I wanted to cry. I wanted to just let go and cry and sink into the pavement. Did I look so bad already that he knew I was about ready to vomit, once again, on his shoes?
I saw Kurt on the way out of town again. He said, Do you have any salt?
I said, No.
Here's what's weird. I did have salt. What I meant was that I could not take salt. I couldn't take anything. But I was too sick to explain that, so I just kept running.
At each water stop I would put ice in my mouth and squeeze a sponge over my head. I didn't try to take in anything else. I just sucked on the ice and let it cool my burned mouth.
I'm going to be honest. I don't remember the rest of this run except in a sort of weird slow motion movie kind of way.
People were cheering and sometimes said, Go Mary! but I didn't know who they were. I remember I tried to take a salt tablet and I chewed it; the salt spread throughout my mouth. It tasted good, but I spit out the rest. I don't remember why.
At mile 23 I was walking and I saw Kurt. You must run, Mary. You are still in this. You must run. There were red horns coming out of his head, his eyes were glowing yellow and I could faintly make out a pitchfork in his hand.
I can't, I said.
You have to run, Mary. Just keep shuffling.
I started to shuffle.
I couldn't keep my head up. It kept dropping back, jerking back, like it does sometimes when you fall asleep while sitting, only to be awakened by the jolt of your neck snapping backward or forward.
I had stopped sweating. I touched my face and it was was cool and dry.
Apparently I passed my family at mile 24. Noah held up the poster he had made for me to see, and I did not look. I did not know he was there, even though I guess he was right in front of me. Later I found he had wept because I hadn't even looked.
Thinking about that makes me ache.
I ran all of the last mile, but it still took me over 12 minutes to do it. When I entered the oval, a girl in my age group passed me. She ended up beating me by 32 seconds. I could not catch her; I did not try. My head was tilting backward, and I tried to correct it.
These pictures were taken in the oval.
And you thought I was exaggerating....
When I reached the IM finishing arch I did not smile. I took a few steps, and then, feeling happy I could do so, I let my knees go. Then volunteers picked me up and put me in a wheelchair. And then I lost consciousness. When I became aware again I was in the tent, and they were lifting me on a bed. Then they said, What's wrong? How do you feel? I just looked at them. I didn't know what to say. I feel sick, I whispered.
They put in an IV. They took my pulse. They took my blood pressure.
Later I found out the stats: 1.5 liters of fluid by IV. My pulse was 62. My heartbeat was irregular. My blood pressure was 80 over 60. When they weighed me, after my IV, I had lost 4 pounds since check-in for the race. Here is what I have to say about that: the number I saw on that scale I have not seen since I was 12 years old.
I finished the race in 11:22.
My swim was 1:07. My bike was 5:57. My run was 4:09.
I finished 5th in my age group. Number 4 passed me during the last three miles. Number 5 passed me in the oval.
To finish this race was the hardest thing I have ever done.