“Dude, WTF happened? WTAF?”
“The tracker’s messed up again. Did you finish?”
The short story:
I had entered Ironman Santa Rosa about two weeks before the race. In some ways, I had no business being there – I hadn’t really been doing targeted Ironman training – but my fitness was really good, and more important I finally had the motivation to do another Ironman. This one fit into my schedule and was close to home. I enlisted the support of my training buddy Mikey, and off to Santa Rosa we went.
The day went surprisingly well – easy 1:12 swim, then a surprisingly challenging bike (lots of rollers, and some really bad pavement), but I rode very conservatively, making sure I got plenty of nutrition in, and came off the bike in a not-too-bad 5:27, feeling great. Moreover, I was 4th in the age group.
By the end of the first of three run loops, I was 2nd in the age group and flying. I had what I believed to be the second Kona slot in my greedy little hands.
Within a few miles after about mile 11, though, it all went horribly wrong. First, my stomach was sloshing, and it became clear that nothing I was taking in at the aid stations was being absorbed by my GI tract. A portapotty stop after the halfway point didn’t really help. I started walking more and more, then apparently I started staggering (people passing me were asking if I was ok, which means I must have looked really bad). Then I threw up. Six. Times.
This was within sight of the mile 16 aid station, and a wonderful woman whose name I was unable to retain stayed by my side while the volunteers called the medics. I got checked out on the spot with everything they had – BP cuff, EKG, blood glucose – and the EKG, heart rate and glucose were normal, but the BP was 80/45, which pointed toward severe dehydration/electrolyte loss. Oddly, though – and contrary to my normal race experience – I had experienced no cramping.
The medics strongly recommended calling it a day, and I did after finishing the second loop so that I could meet up with Mikey. 8.7 miles short of Ironman #19, but happy with how I had raced it. I got cleaned up and we met a couple of teammates for a quick dinner, and I chalked up the day to nutrition problems.
That wasn’t the end of it, though. At 3 a.m. I had another sequence of vomiting, and this time I actually passed out on the bathroom floor, awaking in a disoriented, sweaty, vomit-soaked mess. I cleaned myself up, but had another episode at 9 a.m., and at that point I felt so weak that I knew I needed to go to the ER.
6 hours and 4 liters of IV fluids later, I was released to the care of my wife Jeanne, and we headed out to Bodega Bay to start a couple of nights of resort stays. I felt much better. However, the next night Jeanne was violently ill, which I initially chalked up to food poisoning until I got a text from Mikey in the morning saying he had been throwing up all night. The light kind of went on at that point, and I realized I must have had some sort of stomach bug, which explains a lot – I rarely have any kind of GI distress in races, and it had never been like this one.
So I’m taking the fitness and race experience I got from this and trying my luck again in Ironman Arizona. Back on the horse!