Monday, December 09, 2013

sponsored by the Duct Tape Advisory Council (aka IMCOZ 2013)

me and my ole man keeping it SFW.  look at my nephew in the background looking for a hole to crawl into...
I know most real triathletes (or those who put at least enough attention to remember to add socks (when they wear them) to their run bag and really... not even one sentence into the post and I'm off and tangent running, but hey, its hard should it be to remember SOCKS?  I'm guessing most real triathletes have lists and what not, but I fly by the seat of my (scorched) pants) put a little more time and effort and thought (yes! finishing that sentence now!) into race planning but this year I was The Most Apathetic ever.  I just couldn't get my head into the game.  I forgot my swim cap and left socks out of my run bag.  I McGyver'ed protection for my coral and rock bloodied heel in transition just before the swim.  I had no respect for the event.  I should have been paying attention to the warning signs.

But I'm a huge proponent of denial and so far, that's my favorite river, so off I headed into the bliss of the unknown.  Since the swim had been shortened I was pretty sure I could do that much, especially as it would be all current assist and likely no rocks or coral to get bashed into.  I still kept a close eye out for the human-hungry cuddas that took out a couple swimmers a couple years before but generally enjoyed the float and took it so easy I almost fell asleep.  I had started waaaayyy to the right of the bouys and had finally made my way over to shore.  I wondered how far I'd gone and for the absolute first time I had a watch on but never really wanted to check it.  I think I was worried I would see 10 minutes on there knowing I had a good hour to go.  I figured it would take me an hour and maybe more.

About 1/2 way through the float we hit a wall.  I was way over near shore with a small pack of 3-4 swimmers, following Mr. Bubbles (I found 2 Mr. Bubbles during the swim and hung out on their feet, letting them do the work and I just followed their strong, bubble-inducing swim.  I actually got a bit miffed when I managed to misplace my Mr. Bubbles but luckily found another) when the current not only stopped carrying us down the coastline but actually reversed on us and our little group along with another group to our right were stopped short and now had to work for our advancement.  This was not the swim I signed up for.  I was promised a float down the Lazy River and I'd be damned if I had to actually exert some effort.  Didn't Cozumel know I'd just gotten over typhoid?  Didn't the current know I'd been tumbled around rocks and coral the day before and the only thing keeping the bulls and tigers (yeah, they're out there, lurking...) away were 2 strips of duct tape keeping the blood contained?

This was NOT the float I had signed up for.  Hmph!

It was a short lived section though, and within 100-200 m we were free and back to our float and before I knew it we were hauling ass up the stairs.  I took my damn time in T1.  Last year I booked it out of there but this year I didn't know how far I'd get before I'd have to abandon (let's just not think about that nasty thought, shall we?  have another martini on de Nile...) so I took my damn time, got as nekkid as an old man in the YMCA dressing room and got all parts situated before heading out.  I think it ended up being close to 10 minutes.

Lap one of the bike was good.  Immediately out of swim my neck was killing me and I was very worried that I would never last the whole bike as your neck just gets more and more sore as the day goes on.  I tried to stay aero in the wind and sit up on the tailwind to try and save my back and neck as it had been so long since I'd been on a ride longer than 2 hours.  By the end of lap 1 my neck was fine and that was a relief.  Saw the famdamily and stopped and then headed out for 2.  Lap 2 I knew the winds would creep up and they did.

I was really surprised by the course marshals though.  I know everyone on slowtwitch was bitching about the lack of course marshals on the bike but in comparison to years past and the halfs the last couple years I was incredibly impressed with the bike marshals.  I don't think I passed 1 penalty tent on lap 2 that was empty.  There were 3 distinct marshals I saw on lap 2 and they were doing their best.  For some strange reason I really believed I had a chance for 6:30 (or even 6:00 - maybe typhoid fever was coming back) as my bike computer was stuck on miles instead of km and I thought my average could be close to 30km/hr since I was without reference in miles.  Maybe the power of positive thinking would convert those pesky miles to 30kph average?

Unfortunately by lap 3 of the bike I couldn't ignore the clock and knew it was going to be about a 7-hour bike.  I should have been happy to just finish it (and holey moley by lap 3 I was VERY READY to get off that bike) and it was incredible seeing the family out there but the thin veil of de Nile was almost gone and I was very worried about the run.  I couldn't help but acknowledge to myself that I was going to have to run a marathon and I was not in any shape to even try that and had no business being out there.  But the famdamily was yelling and cheering and you'd have to be brain dead not to respond to that love, so off the bike, kiss for the old farts (nothing like 80 yo parents to make you feel young again) and off to T2.

I had a roll of duct tape and some Second Skin scrounged from the 7 yo first aid kit from the car.  I took my Damn Time AGAIN, got nekkid as an old man in the YMCA locker room AGAIN and taped up that bloody appendage.  (note, it is 8 days after the IM and my bloody appendages are still healing)  Changed into new clothes (nothing more refreshing than stripping out of stinky, disgusting clothing and putting on clean, new ones) and headed out.  Spent only 7 minutes in T2.  Don't know how I did it that fast.  I ran a lot of lap 1.  I found it incredibly easy and so refreshing after the bike.  I wondered to myself if I should try and do a walk/run and save myself for the other laps and went back and forth, doing some walk/run but mostly running, in awe that I was still out there and feeling better than I had all day.

Maybe I take a REALLY long time to warm up.  

Or maybe it was the calm before the storm.  You know how dying folk get a little better and seem to improve just before they die?  Yeah, I'm thinking it was something like that.  I had eaten 4 GUs (2 hammer and 2 Acai), 2 cliffbars and 3 bottles of Skratch on the bike.  I also had a banana and a bottle of perpeteum before the swim.  I figured my calories were pretty well taken care of.  Now a real triathlete would have planned that out.  I've gotten used to planning nutrition and having that all go to hell and making due on the course.  So I decided this year to just cut to the chase and figure it out on the course.

It killed me to pass by all that nutrition LITERALLY on the bike course.  There were multiple GUs and bars and nutrition All Over the bike course (is this normal in all IMs?  do people just dump stuff and decide not to pick it up?  Every year I see the same and one of these years I'm going to have to do an IM literally eating off the course - picking up all the nutrition that people drop on the course) and it Killed me to leave it all out there.  I kept sending Jamie telepathic messages to pick up bottles and stuff on teh course but would he listen?

Back to the run.  Lap 2, I decided to take on Pepsi.  I did water and Gatorade on lap 1 and figured I'd likely need some sugar for lap 2.  But my stomach really didn't like the Pepsi.  Actually, my stomach didn't really like much of anything and decided to reboot.  And it rebooted a couple times.  Worked just about as well as you'd expect.  Around the turnaround point I got weird.  i was stumbing around like a drunkard and had not a care in the world.  I was damn tired but I was in the middle of something I couldn't stop.  so I kept weaving and stumbling until a Swedish couple (with whom I had gone back and forth most of the bike) stopped me and in very broken English (to my Spanish, I guess when I get drunk I speak Spanish) told me they were taking me to medical.

I argued with them for a bit (I don't think they understood Spanish) before and angel appeared (really, it was very wooo wooo) and spoke to me in Spanish and offered me a nirvana Gatorade.  Last year and the year before when we got to T1 we got these nirvana Gatorade thingies that really revived me the previous years.  It is too weird to imagine that out there in the dark of the course, some angel would speak the language I've decided I speak and offer me the only nirvana I've ever found, but assuming it wasn't a hallucination, I took her offer and within minutes was able to walk without weaving.  The Swedes were happy and I recovered enough English to thank them and head back to town to the waiting famdamily.

dayum it was good to see them.  by the end of lap 2 I was getting tired.  i Really Really wanted to lie down and sleep and I really missed the Brazilian band that usually plays under Punta Langosta but the crowd was on fire (as usual) and the family showing me with love, so off for the last lap.  Normally, my last lap is my fastest and I had vowed to run most of this one.  But a funny thing happened on the way to Intention Land. 

I walked and walked and walked and then tried to run but every time I'd run I'd reboot.  and then dry heave.  and then I'd try to take on liquid because I figured I needed something in me to get through 14 km but stomach was in rejection mode so I would wet down my mouth or swallow something just to have something to come back up.  I hated the walking.  I hated the rebooting.  I hated the dry heaves.  And I really was pissed that I was going to have such a slow time.  And then I started trying to figure out how to cheat the course.  I kept wishing the timing mat wasn't at the end of the loop but there was no way around it, to get through the loop I had to get all the way out and then all the way back.  and runnign wasn't going to happen.  it was going to be slow, with rebooting and dry heaving and walking.

Every IM people say you have to have a reason that you're doing the damn thing.  I never have had one.  I got the closest on this last lap though.  I thought of my dad with bladder and prostate cancer and my sister with sarcoma and how they don't get to choose to do the hard shit but I have a choice to do a hard thing.  So I did it.  I thought of my sister and kept walking.  I still hated it and if my brain could have wrapped around a way to cheat I would have been sorely tempted because it was beyond demoralizing walking and rebooting and dry heaving but that's what I had to do so I did it.

And the finish was beyond amazing.  I was able to run again (oh how feeble the body is when the mind is strong) once I got to the lights of town, took a short break and ran again after the passenger ferry and the absolute GLORY of the screaming fans (not yours - yours are at the finish) and my SON!  at Mega my lovely boy ran out to meet me and then ran quick like a bunny to the finish and the bright lights and This Time, THIS time you don't have to make the turnaround back to the dark of the 14 more km of "run", THIS time you head to the bright lights and the announcer and you know the end is near and THIS, THIS is the reason you do this damn thing.  Six triathlons and for the first time I saw the famdamily at the finish line.  Each and every year (even the half!) I cannot find them and walk/run through the finish in a daze looking and wondering where they are and THIS time I spotted all 13,931 of them.

And it was glorious.

(but next year my shorts will NOT be that short)


moongod said...

After a blog like that, what can one say, except how proud we are to be your parents. Great blog! Thanks for sharing!

Paul Smith said...

Thanks for thinking of me dear Kit, but I don't think my having two flavors of cancer has been anywhere near as hard as an IM.

And it sure made me appreciate what an amazing gift each day it.

love and hugs, dad