Racing with F2C Nutrition and DG Multisports

Racing with F2C Nutrition and DG Multisports
Photo by Craig Thorsen

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

"No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening--it's painful. Yet afterward, there exists a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way." Hebrews 12:11

I find myself at the end of this season, dissatisfied with the outcome, but discontent with the thought of making excuses. It took every day of nearly seven weeks to heal, rehabilitate, and bounce back into my training routine after my bike accident, and I think I managed better than I subsequently bounced off the the brick wall of an elevator shaft in Coeur d'Alene. Some mornings, I imagine I have fast forwarded into my 60s when I wake up as stiff and immobile as a log. Unfortunately, I'm quickly reminded by my 50-something husband that, in reality, I have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about. (One of the disadvantages of marrying someone older and "wiser.")

It has also occurred to me how letting a race report go unwritten for a race that took place over a month ago suddenly makes the effort itself seem pointless. By this time, who cares? In fact, we all have the Ironman World Championships in Kona to focus on, now. Yet I suppose that fact alone spurs me to finish this last post for what amounted to the last race of this season. Because I have let this go so long, I'm going to include what I started 4 weeks ago without changing the reference of time. In the meantime, I'd rather move forward and work on the next update, which seems far more interesting to me now.

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So, we arrived in Chattanooga, Tennessee two weeks ago for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships, and after two days of enjoying the clean air and scenery, I started sneezing. What started as denial quickly turned into dread. You see, I'd returned from a run on Thursday afternoon and, curious to know what the "lilac of the east" (aka crape myrtle) smelled like, I dunked my nose into one of the white flowers of a bush standing robustly in our homestay's yard. Initially unimpressed with the smell, as I didn't find it nearly as strong as our own lilacs of the west, my sniffer scented the sweet aroma that, indeed, resembled that of what I am so accustomed.

Not five minutes later, upon returning inside our small basement apartment, I sneezed. Then I sneezed again. Almost instantly, the flood gates of my sinuses openned and made me a far more snotty person than what I already normally am. Cue the tissues and the Benadryl. Yet I didn't have any allergy medications, not even the regular allergy medication I take daily like a vitamin. My pharmacist of a husband suddenly felt responsible to take me down to the local Walgreens and find me the Sudafed and Benadryl. This would not be our only trip, mind you.


Friday rolled around and I developed a nagging cough. Mentally, I told myself it couldn't be a cold because I didn't feel bad. So, another trip to the local Walgreens (told you) after driving the bike course had me walking out with Mucinex in hand. Problem solved, or so I thought.

Saturday morning (damn it, race morning), and I awoke to my 0500 alarm, eyes wide open, literally afraid for the day. Never have I felt so much uncertainty. In my dreams that night leading up to my 0500 wake up call, I'd envisioned waking up on this morning and throwing in the towel. How would it feel to watch from the sidelines after spending so much money and effort to get here? I decided I likely would not live with myself very well afterward, especially given the fact I'd already not finished Whistler 70.3 six weeks prior. I couldn't stomach two failed races in a row. That, and I did not want Bryan to come away with the benefit of having raced the next day and me flying back to Spokane with nothing to show for my race day.

Bryan instructed me to hop in the shower; perhaps some warm water and steam might flush out the sinuses and clear my head. Yet sitting at the race start and waiting for my ninth wave to go off nearly an hour and a half after the professional woman had jumped off the dock, did not help my head anymore than the shower did.

It turns out, nothing really helped make my race day what I had originally planned on making it. I coughed and sputtered my way mostly upstream for the swim, grateful for my wetsuit and the last 400 meters of downstream current to the finish because my arms had literally died with the effort of keeping me afloat. I snot-rocketed my way up Lookout Mountain, nearly certain that once at the top of the hill, I'd fall over. If the spectators along the course had not made such the valiant effort to cheer us onward and upward as they did, giving me the feeling I had found myself riding in the Tour de France, I likely would have thrown in the towel (or my ever disgusting, booger-laden Kleenex, in this case).

By the time I'd found the second transition, the day had long progressed into a time when temperatures escalate and the sun rests in the middle of the sky. Having survived the ride of 56 miles with F2C glycodurance likely providing me the only energy my body ever had, I started out on my feet with the determination to somehow finish the run.

I did not feel good. Every footfall resulted in a sharp jab up through my stomach and shoulders. I looked down at myself, wanting to feel strong in my new custom kit by Peaks Apparel. It sure looked and felt better than I did, but all I could muster more closely resembled an Ironman crawl rather than the quick clip I'd experienced in Coeur d'Alene. So, I slogged over every hill they found in Chattanooga and strategically placed in this world championship course. Spectators lined nearly every inch of pavement, with larger crowds lining the bridges and turnaround points. Bryan found me at multiple sites along the way, obviously holding back updates as to my progress now that it was apparent it did not matter anymore.

Looking at pictures of me taken from the race, it really does appear that I nearly rolled my way through the course. Arms flailing, torso twisting, and face contorting, I used every bit of my body to get my legs to do what normally feels effortless. I realized I have so much more wrong with my running form and lack of strength that the enormity of my significant muscle imbalances made my cold seem trivial. Despite the mess of myself, I felt relieved I decided to show up under the circumstances and make a showing at this year's race in Chattanooga, as the efforts the city made to make this feel like a big deal really showed through.

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With much relief, I move on to scraping every ounce of sunshine and suitably warm temperatures out of the remaining days of October and November (hopefully). Two of my greatest struggles this past year involved limping my way through with a high hamstring strain and subsequently struggling to perform (I mean, pedal) my bike. I have ignored the urge to sign up for fall running races and instead, I use what remaining motivation I have to utilize physical therapy and spend as much time in my saddle as my sore butt can handle. Optimism propels me into the next year, the year I reacquaint myself with Ironman 140.6.

I enjoyed a lovely ride through Idaho during the CDA Medio ride.
I'm hopeful the road never ends when the October weather is this nice.
My view from Kirk's Lodge on Mt. Spokane. 

Friday, July 28, 2017

The Finish I Never Found

With every triumph, I suppose there exists the inevitable tribulation. When I decided to add the Race the River Sprint triathlon into my schedule, my purpose revolved solely around supporting a local race. I didn't need to wake up at 0300 to drive to Coeur d'Alene, I didn't need to prepare for Ironman 70.3 Canada by racing a small sprint triathlon, I didn't even need the excitement that comes with crossing the finish line. Yet I realized, when lying flat on my back at the intersection of Front and 6th streets, how much I felt deprived of the opportunity to cross it.

I blame no one. Perhaps much of the blame belongs on me for taking the risk of racing even a small event the weekend before a race I've invested in so much more time and money. While I have not had the opportunity to confront the volunteer who communicated (or didn't) with the driver of the truck that entered my path as I flew down Front Street at what must have been at least 25mph on my brand new BMC Timemachine, I look back at each replay in my head and think neither of them must have seen me. Ironically, though, a bystander did. My bike was bright yellow, after all. Yet at the end of the day, none of these details matter.

Swerving to miss the truck that essentially stopped in the middle of the road, my back wheel fish-tailing with the distress of having to stop so suddenly when flying so mightily, successfully missing the volunteer but then riding up onto the sidewalk, I rode myself right into the brick building with what I later learned had a steel door. My right base bar took the impact with the door, snapping in half; my Giro Air Attack Shield helmet managed to preserve my head by cracking upon impact with the brick wall. Unfortunately, I continue to loathe the laws of physics that didn't spare me; the whiplash can't quite be ignored even six days after the incident left me flat on my back with a neck so sore I felt afraid to move anything.

Yet that's all I could think to do when a calm bystander rushed over to assess me, and the distraught exclamations from the volunteer serenaded me in the background. Completely baffled, I realized I'd remained conscious, could answer questions, and most importantly, move my fingers and toes. Though it might seem trivial, or ridiculous, to some, when the man presiding over me asked if he could pray for me, I felt an instant calm. At this point, his query allowed me to shift my focus on talking to my God, too. I figured if I let everyone else do their jobs to call the EMT and race support, then I could manage to focus on breathing.

Hearing the whirring of race wheels in the background disturbed me. I so confidently entered this race and had predicted crossing the finish line with what I had hoped would translate into a personal best. I regretted thinking I could take for granted the opportunity to race through a city and rely on others to keep the course safe. In hindsight, this interaction with a motorist that resulted in my crash was actually the third instance I had had to negotiate hairy traffic situations in this short race alone. That means, in less than 15 miles, I had had to pass two cars stopped at an intersection, without anyone to signal them as to an oncoming cyclist whose course required I turn left around them; I had to swerve wide to the right coming back from Higgins Point when a truck hauling a boat passed cyclists on his side of the road only to encroach significantly into my lane to make his pass; and finally, my luck ran out in a single second of impact when I swerved one last time only to hit a wall.

As much aerobic pain as can be experienced racing a sprint triathlon, I would have gladly embraced it over the way I felt lying on a hospital bed in the ER. Everything had stiffened immediately, and my muscles guarded so heavily against me moving my head that even the MRI that showed I had not fractured anything couldn't convince them to settle down. What made the three hours in the hospital worse was knowing how good the finish line food must have tasted when my doctor, nurses, nursing assistants, x-ray technician, MRI technician, and my transporters to said imaging couldn't even give me a goddamn sandwich. After the two hour mark, I thought perhaps a glass of water would at least allow me to fill my gurgling belly, but in case I had caused more damage to my brain that a helmet couldn't prevent, I was to wait until the radiologist confirmed my negative findings before I could devour a measily glass of water.

Bryan hauled my poor Timemachine back to Morgan, who met him at his shop on Argonne on his day off to take in the dilapidated beauty he had sent me home with just four days prior. I can't imagine the look on his face to see his work of art come back looking so miserably disfigured. I felt ashamed. I called Steve Sparks of Elements Massage in an effort to see about scheduling a massage the next day, hoping I could mitigate the tension that developed over the course of just three short hours. He graciously worked to get me into the Wandermere location with my regular therapist, Kyla, first thing the next morning.

So much healing has occurred as I sit here in Whistler, thinking about everyone who has worked to support me. I appreciate the reception I received almost immediately from Isaac Mann and Curt Dupois, the two race directors for RtR. I even had the opportunity to talk to the calm and prayerful bystander who stayed with me throughout the entire ordeal, ensuring my safety until race personnel could transport me back to transition to find Bryan. While I had no intentions of posting my ordeal on Facebook, it seems the inquiries of friends and family as to my wellbeing made it inevitable that I relay how incredibly fortunate I really do feel. I broke no bones, tore no ligaments, and though my melon may have rattled a bit, I don't think I'm any more weird or crazy than people described me before the incident.

My optimism to race this Sunday in Whistler only seemed unclear up until Wednesday. I have sought the help of many and made rest a priority as I embrace the chance to at least cross the liquid start line of Alta Lake. What remains unclear, however, is how (if at all) I'll manage to find the finish line. My level of experience racing the long course distance of triathlon seems to offer me no reassurance that I will finish this time. That startles me tremendously. All I know is what transpires will be, and what will be, I will accept.