I got to Galveston as planned Saturday morning and spent time at athlete check-in, doing a little shopping in the Ironman store and then catching up with teammates & friends. Because there was a sprint race on Saturday, my room wasn't for ready at check-in so I relaxed on the patio for an hour or so. The atmosphere of this race was WAY different than Ironstar...Ironman sponosored events are like that I guess! I loved all the excitement in the air. We had an early dinner that evening in the hotel as nobody really wanted to venture out. Dinner was fun and there were lots & lots of laughs. After doing a few things here & there, I was in bed and it was lights out by 10pm.
Pre-Race: My alarm was set for 4am as transition opened at 5am. I wanted to get down there plenty early to avoid the crowds and unneeded stress. My swim wave wasn't until 8:35am so I had LOTS of time to spare. I went back to the room, checked out of the hotel and then headed back to transition to do a last minute check of my area and meet up with my friends. Lynn had a great idea and grabbed a table for us to sit as we waited nearly 2 hrs to get the chance to start our race. As if it's not bad enough to get older, now I've got to be in the 2nd to last swim wave. Ugh. I put on my wetsuit with the help of Lynn's sister Leslie (an expert wetsuit fitter...lol) and was off to the dock. It's almost time!!!!!!
Swim: Lining up on the dock, I got to see Misty & wish her luck before she was off (she was in the wave ahead of me). I'd already wished luck to Gena, Lynn & Michelle who were in the wave after me. For this start, we would be jumping off the dock and then treading water for about 2 minutes. Lynn had reminded me to hold on to my goggles when I jumped in and so I did (or thought I did) but they popped off anyway. Salt water in the eyes when you're wearing contacts stinks but it wasn't as bad as I thought. I put myself in the 2nd row of swimmers as I'm really trying to build up my "toughness" in the swim. I'm going to get hit a lot in IMTX so I figured get hit a lot now. The countdown began, the horn sounded and we were off! I was swimming very well. Probably went out a little harder than I should have but Coach said if I was going to push any event, the swim is where I had the "ok". The water was more rough than it looked from shore. Probably because of all the bodies flailing around me! As I rounded the first turn, I started feeling cramping in my left calf. This happens to me a lot in the water. I hadn't warmed up (we weren't allowed to) and it was cold so I figured those were the culprits. I also didn't have my pre-race banana so I blamed that as well. I decided I would swim as long as I could w/ the cramp. It finally got to the point I couldn't kick. I stopped and treaded water, trying to stretch it out but nothing. A kayak was nearby and saw me so came over so I could hang off it. I told him do NOT move forward b/c I knew that would DQ me. I was watching the time nervously. 2 MINUTES later, my cramp was gone and I took off. He asked me if I was ok and I assured him I was. By this point, the faster swimmers in the wave behind me had caught up but there were still plenty of orange caps (my group) in the water. Either way, I wasn't letting that get to me. This is where it started getting rough. Chop from the wind, waves from the jet skis and splashes from all the swimmers was ridiculous. By far, this was the most challenging swim I'd ever had but I was staying so calm even when taking in gulps full of salt water. The final red buoy representing the turn to shore was in sight and I started to swim hard and then the second cramp hit. Right leg this time. W T H? I couldn't believe it. Another kayak was nearby and I gave him the same instruction to not move forward. Hell, he even swam backwards. I hung on and desperately tried to get the cramp worked out. I can't believe this. I laughed and then started burping like crazy. The poor kid on the kayak was probably wondering why he couldn't get one of the hot, non-burping triathletes to help. I apologized and then burped 5 more times. The cramp was worked out and it was time to go again. For the final stretch in, I swam as hard as I could. I had gas in the tank thanks to the nearly 4 minutes of rest I got with the cramps. The problem was I could feel the cramps still...you know, that bruised feeling? I had that in both calves. Anyway, it was time to exit and I hopped out on the ramp they had and tried to run but the calves had another plan. Walk. Damn, I really wanted to make up some time. I got to the wetsuit strippers and had them help with the wetsuit. I saw Tammie, Keith, Leslie, Coach K, Brandi & Philo. Maybe there were others...I just don't remember. Oh, I do remember Bill being out there (Leslie & Lynn's dad). The swim was less than stellar but I was in good spirits. Hey, cramps happen. The good news was I didn't freak out in the swim and I didn't get sea sick. All in all, I wasn't too upset.
T1: I burped all the way over to spot 1878 where I was racked. I was happy to see there were still plenty of bikes left so I wasn't horribly slow. I was slow, don't get me wrong. I wasn't last though. Michelle and I came out of T1 together so I was so happy to have my riding buddy with me on the course. This was going to be a great bike!
Bike: As we headed away from Moody Gardens, it became painfully clear this was going to be a slow bike. The wind was nasty but everyone would deal with the same conditions. As we were headed out, a bunch of men were headed in. Pros? Fast age-groupers? Damn, how is that possible? Oh yeah, they started at 7am, I didn't get in the water until 8:35am...that's how! Anyway, my first rule was to pay attention to my HR monitor. I heard it beep so I knew I was out of zone 2 so I slowed. Michelle passed me so I decided to just keep my eyes on her and hopefully I would catch up later and we would be starting the run course together. I returned to zone 2 and settled in. I took in water at first to make sure there weren't any stomach issues from all the salt water. After that, I started my nutrition as planned. The wind was brutal. Yeah, this is a flat course but I will tell you now I will take hills any day of the week over that wind. Before I knew it, I was passing the 15 mile mark and was really happy. The turnaround wasn't too far ahead and I wasn't passing any women heading back to transition. That meant I wasn't too far behind and I was in good shape. And then it happened. Flat tire! OH MY GOSH. No no no. After my initial freak out. I got to work on changing it. I had extra tubes and had changed a flat before...just never in a race setting. It took me about 10 minutes to get it done and I was on my way again. I had seen several teammates pass as they headed back to transition. Ok. I'm still ok. I could see lots of cyclist on the horizon behind me. I got on the bike and pedaled a little harder and reminded myself to stay in zone 2 as this was still a training ride. I could see the cell phone tower marking the turn around. I was feeling good. And then it happened....another flat. Are you serious? No time to freak out now. I hopped off my bike, used my final tube and went to put air in. I broke the stem and couldn't fill it. What the hell? This was my fault. I was moving fast, I wasn't being careful. That's it. Now I was getting worried. A girl headed back to transition yelled to me that the mechanics were behind her helping someone and headed my way. Great! I decided to start walking in their direction though. I mean, I may as well cover some ground right? As I walked with my bike, I was passed by cyclist after cyclist. I was getting worried. It had been at least 15 minutes, maybe 20. Where were they? On the other side of the road, there were 3 other ladies changing flats. Where were we? The mechanics showed up to help me. They told me there were LOTS of flats and that they were slammed. They said something about tacks on the road? They even had them in their tires. I looked down Seawall (or whatever it's called at that point in Galveston) and I saw a motorcycle cop. I asked one of the mechanics if that's what I thought it was. "The turtle? No way, you're fine." The turtle is the cop who follows the last cyclist. If I wasn't ahead of him, I was done. He stopped by us and confirmed he was who I thought he was. I dropped a few expletives and for a moment, thought my day was done. The mechanics yelled at me to get on my bike and ride hard...I could still make it. The cop then yelled at me to go. Ok, I will! I pedaled like noone had pedaled that day. The turn around was only 3 miles ahead. I saw something in the distance...another cyclist. I was not going to be last so I chased that poor girl down and passed her before the turn around. After that, I would pick a body in the distance ahead of me and have the goal of passing them. I did this over and over and over and over and over again. At this point, I had no choice but to get out of zone 2 if I would have any hope of making the cutoff. At this point, I heard stuff hit the ground and turned back to see my tools flying out of my bike bag. In my haste, I forgot to zip it. Oh well. I'm not going back now. It was time to take in nutrition but I didn't want to slow down. I reminded myself that if I didn't stick to my nutrition plan, the race would definitely be over for me at some point. I wasn't passing out again. I passed a rest stop thinking/hoping it was the last one and I was good to go. I kept pedaling as hard as I could. I was between 17-18mph for quite a ways. I kept telling myself to do what I had to do to get to the run course and I would deal with it when I got there. If I had to walk it, I would. I knew I was going to hard to be able to have a decent run but that didn't matter. I was getting closer and closer. I was getting close to 50 miles. Not much left. The last rest stop was coming up and I saw a cyclist pulled off. Bummer, to have issues at this point. Then I saw him. Dave was standing in my way. He told he was sorry but I had just missed the cutoff. What? No. I looked at the other cyclist and she confirmed I missed it by about a minute. Are you serious? I was heart broken. I had just worked so, so, so hard to make it back. I was emptying my tank. This couldn't be happening. A few minutes later he said he was sorry but needed my chip. This is when I started to cry. Rider after rider after me was stopped...about 13 of them. These were all the ladies I had passed trying so hard to make it back and not be last. I walked away from the group and just cried. A nice volunteer tried to console me but she could tell nothing she could say would matter. The other ladies pulled off the course were furious. They said we were pulled too early...that the cutoff in the athlete guide hadn't been hit yet. I wasn't paying attention to any of it though. At this point, it didn't matter. He took our chips and radioed in that he had us. He wasn't letting us back on the course. I asked to borrow a phone so I could call Keith and tell him what happened. I knew that by this point, he was worried. I later found out that an ambulance had gone into the area and he was nervous I was in there....like last year. Nope, I just got pulled from the course.
T2: Dave gave us a ride back to transition. I didn't expect to head into T2 without my chip, pulled from the race and in tears. I couldn't make eye contact with anyone. I was completely defeated. There were people leaving transition with their bikes and their medals. I was beyond jealous. Looking at the people on the course, I was jealous. I couldn't stop crying. I packed my gear up and let Keith know I was headed to the truck. Brandi called to check on me and I was just crying. As I made my way to the parking lot and ran into Stew and let him know what happened. Poor guy probably didn't know what to say...tears were flowing, I wasn't looking at him in the eye. I honestly didn't want to see any teammates b/c I was so embarrassed. Another race in Galveston I didn't finish.
As I made my way to my truck, I saw my 3 sisters, my nephew and my niece....and of course Keith. He said they all could tell when they saw me how upset I was. I couldn't lift my head up. I just cried. Cristian had picked me a flower and gave me lots of hugs. Avery crapped her pants...her way of saying she loved me. They all told me it was ok and not be discouraged. They were all proud of me. This meant so much but nothing was helping. I got in the truck and headed home. No finishers medal. No finsihers shirt. No bonding with my teammates. I cried the whole way home. I called my mom and told her I wanted to pull out of IMTX. I told Keith the same. I have less than 6 weeks until this race and just don't know if I can. I got many sweet texts. Jill reminded me that Galveston was NOT the prize, IMTX is. I'm trying to remind myself of that.
It's a new day. I do feel a little better but I'd be lying if I said I knew for certain what I was going to do. I'm not a quitter and I don't give up. What happened yesterday was "one of those things". I should be proud of the fact that I gave it my all when I could have easily said, forget it! I'm hoping that a swim tonight (or some other workout) will get me there.
I really am grateful for my friends and family who talked to me/ messaged me yesterday. Knowing that you still believe in me means sooooo much. I feel like I let so many down yesterday and it just makes me sad. I think what would be worse would be to give up on IMTX now. I don't know.