I’ll get right to the point: I panicked. I got stung. I walked. I finished in 4:02:04, just 2 minutes 5 seconds shy of my goal for the day #goddammit
BUT – I finished with a smile on my face in the end.
First up, the swim: 1.5K/.99mi: 42:44
Apparently I still don’t like lakes. I was nervous going into it, but I was really not prepared for just how much I’d panic. The water was SO murky – and as soon as I tried sticking my face in it I freaked out. And by “freaked out” I mean “sucked in water through my nose and mouth”. It seems totally counterintuitive to me – you’d think I would uncontrollably breathe OUT to…you know…prevent drowning…when I put my face in.
I made it through the distance by alternating through breast stroke, back stroke, side stroke and a variation of free with my face above water. By the time the last 100 yards or so rolled around I could finally do the freestyle stroke. Just in time to get out.
I didn’t know it at the time, but I was pretty much right on target for my “realistic” goal (based on training times) even though I felt so awful out there.
Bike: 37K/23mi: 1:35:49
After a loooong trek from the lake to transition & then the actual transition (total of 5:06) I headed out for the bike, knowing I’d have no problem with the 23 mile course.
The first few miles had a lot of no passing zones, so I was able to get myself calmed down after that rough swim. I took in some fuel & hit it hard once the course opened up.
And then it happened: I GOT STUNG BEHIND MY EAR after a bug got stuck between my head & my helmet strap.
I saw it coming from far away…like slow motion…and then I felt it get stuck, buzzing around. Then I felt the sting.
Now, I’m not allergic to the point that my throat closes, but I’m very sensitive to bug bites & usually swell up A LOT and have really intense itching and stinging. (I actually STILL have a spot on my foot from a time I got bitten by a fire ant…in June…)
I had no idea what to expect from this sting – I don’t even know what kind of bug stung me – and I therefore had no idea if it was safe for me to keep pushing my body, or if I needed to drop.
I stopped at the first volunteer I saw to see if I could get some hydrocortisone cream. After being sent to the sprint bike turnaround, I hopped off my bike & the volunteers there called around to find the medical cart or the doctor. I was standing still, off my bike for about 7 minutes and every single rider remaining in the International course passed me.
I got sent down the trail about 3 miles & found the medical cart. The volunteer looked at the sting, lathered me up w/ some cream and sent me on my way towards the doctor further down the trail. I was standing still for about another 2 minutes.
I finally found the doctor on the trail & she gave me a good once-over, making sure I didn’t have any tightness in my chest, my heart wasn’t racing (more than in a usual workout anyway), and that I wasn’t swelling up like a balloon. I was standings till for another minute or two.
My neck was stinging like a bitch, but she said it was safe to keep going, but that I should stop if my heart starting racing uncontrollably or if I felt tightness in my chest.
By the time I got going for good, I was about 5 or 6 miles behind the other competitors. I raced the rest of the bike course completely alone. I felt so unbelievably alone!
I didn’t see another bike out there, and my mood dropped more and more as I went.
By the time I reached transition again I was crying & felt completely defeated.
I stood in transition, staring at my feet, thinking about how much I wanted to quit.
But I changed my shoes & went out there. T2 time: 1:52
I went straight for Ryan with tears streaming down my cheeks and said “I just want to stop SO BAD” while burying my face in his chest. He assured me I was doing a great job, took me by my shoulders & turned me back towards the course.
Run: 10k/6.2mi: 1:36:35
The next thing I knew, I saw this written in chalk on the ground:
“FINISH WHAT YOU STARTED”
I knew right then that I would finish, even if I was the last one to cross that damn line!
I tried running – but as soon as my heart rate would pick up I would panic, thinking I was having some kind of delayed reaction to that effing sting. Is this “racing uncontrollably”? Is this normal? Am I going OK? Am I going to pass out?
So I resigned myself to walking. As much as it was hard mentally to walk, it was harder mentally to deal with the irrational thoughts going through my mind.
I had a lot of runners coming in for their finish tell me I was doing great & to keep it up. I felt like a moron. Luckily though, they all passed by me by the time I hit my mile 3 & then it was just me & my thoughts from there on out.
I wasn’t happy – but I was PROUD. Proud for pushing through even though I was so worried about that sting. Proud for not completely giving up.
I ran in the last .10mi or so.
And then, sweet jeesus, I was D.O.N.E.
Total time: 4:02:04. Slower than what I wanted, but 10 min faster than my “holy shit this sucks” time estimate, so not all is lost.
I FINISHED WHAT I STARTED.