I recently completed my 11th Ironman in Chattanooga, TN. Racing in a place you have never been to is always an adventure. Traveling with someone you are not with all the time can also be an adventure. My friend of many years was racing too so we decided to save some money and room together. He got there Wednesday night and I arrived Thursday morning. I walked into the room and immediately noticed the freezing temperature in the room. Upon getting there I had to use the bathroom and almost fell in the toilet because he did not put the lid down after using the bathroom. I can only imagine the humor of me getting injured because I fell in the toilet or had hypothermia. Ok maybe I’m being a bit extreme but you get the point. My roommate Christian for the next several days wanted the room temperature in the 60’s whereas I preferred high 70’s low 80’s. There seemed to be no compromise between us so as he would turn it down I would turn it back up.
The weather forecast leading up to the event was gloomy with rain and clouds. The day of the race was supposed to be better without rain just clouds. Thursday we went to pick up our packet and then went to the local YMCA for a swim. I unpacked my bike and made sure it was working, these are all the typical things anyone does before a big race it wasn’t too exciting.
The race was on Sunday, because the major sponsor Little Debbie is a company owned by 7th Day Adventists, and their day of worship is Saturday. The swim was supposed to be a fast swim and it was. I was hoping to swim it in 50 minutes and that is about 20 minutes faster than my normal Ironman swim time. I finished the swim in 56 minutes so it was a little slower than I wanted but to date it was the fastest I have swam 2.4 miles. The bike course for an Ironman is usually 112 miles but for this race it was 116. Most of the bike was in Georgia and it was rolling hills and pretty remote. People would say it was out in the sticks of Georgia! I saw a few strange signs as we rode through the sticks! Pigs for sale was one sign that I saw and Chickens for sale was another. Being a vegetarian I can’t imagine who buys a pig or chicken with the intent to eat it but I am sure this is common in the rural areas. I ran over two huge caterpillars which I tried to avoid but couldn’t. I saw dogs in front yards just hanging out. I was surprised they didn’t run into the streets to chase us because that’s what my dogs would do. Thankfully I only saw one dog tied up, I felt sad for that poor guy but I am sure there are a lot more like him in this world. I saw enormous houses with yards the size of my entire block. My immediate thought was that if I had that house and yard I would have a lot of dogs and find them amazing homes or just keep them for myself. Yes all of this stuff goes through your mind when you are riding 116 miles. The bike took me 5 hours 41 minutes about 11 minutes slower than I would have liked. It was a bit more challenging than I thought it would be. I rode my bike the day before to make sure everything was working and everything checked out ok. When I got on my bike after the swim on race day my power meter wasn’t working. I use power, heart rate, and cadence to gauge how hard I am working. Without my power meter my cadence didn’t work. This is not a major thing but annoying that race day it doesn’t work when every other day it works just fine. I did have my heart rate monitor on and it was working so that was good. During the bike I felt nauseated but tried to force down some calories. I took more solid than I would normally and less calories from liquid. I still took in water at each aid station but it wasn’t hot and was cloudy so I didn’t feel dehydrated.
The nauseated feeling continued with me through the run to the point that I felt like I was going to throw up. I never did throw up during the race but never felt great. Going into the race I didn’t run as much as I typically would because of a nagging foot injury. I knew my run would be a crap shoot. I hoped for a best case scenario of 4:30 and worst case scenario of 5:30. I came off the bike with heal pain and hip pain, both of which subsided shortly into the run. With hip or heal pain I can usually run through the pain. It may not be a fast run but I can typically get it done. I was doing ok until about mile 8, this also is when the run got really hilly. There were long, steep hills on this run and most people walking up the hills. At this point my knee started hurting it was most likely from whatever was going on in my hip or IT band and it was causing my knee to hurt. Its pretty tough to run through knee pain especially when you cant bend it much. It knew it was either my calf or IT band so periodically I would stop and massage it (the massage therapist coming out in me). This helped but only temporary as the pain would come back after running for a few minutes.
I hobbled to a 12:10 finish and that was about an hour slower than I expected mostly because of my run. Our hotel was just a short walk from the finish, which is one perk of traveling with Endurance Sports Travel. I didn’t even get my bike or bags I just walked to the hotel and started a bath. I still felt nauseated and had a lot of pain in my foot. I took a drink of water and immediately threw up several times. I have hardly ever has thrown up in my life and I can count on one hand how many times I have vomited. With all the races I have done I have NEVER thrown up before, during or after and event. I am pretty sure I was feeling sick from the water we swam in because I can’t really pin point any other reason I would puke. I took a bath followed by a shower and then went to get my bike and bags. Once I got back I ordered a pizza because I knew Christian was going to want something to eat and at some point I was sure my appetite would return. When you do an Ironman it seems that your appetite goes into overdrive sometime in the middle of the night after the race or the next day. Christian came to the room a few hours later and I had showered, done laundry, and ordered pizza! (I hate going home with dirty clothes so yet I did my laundry after the race) He had a great race but he as well had a tough run. We originally wanted to go back to see the last finishers but instead we ended up crashing. At 2am I suddenly woke up with an intense craving for Dorito’s. Keep in mind I don’t ever eat Dorito’s but I guess I shot up out of bed and shouted I want Dorito’s. Without hesitation Christian got up and went downstairs and got me Dorito’s and got himself Combo’s. We sat there at 2am me eating Dorito’s and him eating Combo’s and let me tell you they were so delicious. I am not sure why after a race like that I have strange cravings that I normally wouldn’t have. What a true friend he is to go get me them without hesitation! That made up for the ice cold room and toilet seat being left up!