It’s been awhile since I posted. My next post will tell you why… In the meantime, here’s where we are for those just joining the program:
Ironman Canada – SWIM
Ironman Canada – BIKE
Ironman Canada – RUN
(Sadly, there are no photos… This is as much for my own recollection and others who want to know about what it’s like.)
After my photo was taken, I was given a space blanket and ushered into the athlete recovery area. I was absently wondering where Greg was, but he’s kind of notorious for missing my finishes and I had more pressing things to worry about anyway. Namely, not passing out.
I luckily saw Kidder sitting there and he motioned to a chair for me. He said he could not stand up to get it for me because he got dizzy every time he tried to stand up. I remember watching for my running buddy Jason to come through, but I didn’t see him. I even remember looking for Caryn, but I think I totally zoned out for long periods of time so I don’t have a true sense of chronology.
The volunteers kept coming by to ask if I wanted anything to eat or drink. I declined each time because I was so nauseous. I had wild temperature swings from being absolutely freezing to sweating so much I had to remove the space blanket and fan myself. Kidder finished the race 25 minutes before me and finally started to come around. He got a bag of chips and said the salt was helping. I still couldn’t imagine eating. Neither of us knew where Greg was.
Low point of my life: resting my head on a public trash can, waiting to vomit.
I finally did vomit, only there was nothing left in my stomach so it was dry heaves. Even better/worse. I was currently experiencing the worst hangover of my entire life. After heaving, I knew I had a short window of feeling well enough to get to the massage tent. The therapist I got was great and he worked on me for a long time. (Note: I have no concept of time at this point.) He said that people were “dropping like flies” and since there was no one waiting, he’d just keep working on me. This was awesome for my body, but my stomach was revolting and I knew the minute I stood up I’d be heaving again. I was right.
But the heaving bought me another window of time for Kidder and me to get to the transition area and retrieve our gear. I saw Melanie and the boys + Miles at this time, which was a welcome sight. They’d had an epic day spectating!
The Kidder guys and I slowly made our way to where The Van was parked. We figured that was as good a place as any to find Greg (and it was where all of our phones were, so the only way we’d have to get in touch with one another). As we walked the many many blocks to where it was supposed to be parked, I looked ahead and saw it was no longer there.
Good news: Greg was alive and had moved the van, probably closer to the race finish. Good intentions, sure. No way of getting in touch with us made it the wrong move. Remember? All of our phones were in the van…
Bad news: I was sicker than sick, laying in someone’s yard trying to hold it together. I needed someone to take me home. Now.
Phones were not an option. Kidder and I didn’t have ours. His boys have an iPod Touch, but its battery was dead. We sent one of the boys back to try to find either Melanie or Greg (I have no idea how this was supposed to work). We even stopped an innocent passerby and asked to borrow his phone, to no avail. All I know is that Greg gallantly appeared on the scene. He was not only alive, he was well enough to be riding his bike. I wanted to kill him. And/or vomit, not necessarily because of how good he felt and how rotten I felt. In his defense, he was very concerned about my well-being, asked about my race, etc… before rushing back to the van to drive it back to me. It was quite clear I was not going to be able to walk back to the finish area.
He returned and we got ourselves loaded into the van — me, Greg, Kidder, and Miles. The boys rode home with Melanie. It’s often the three of us heading to/from an epic race, filling each other in on how our respective days had gone. I was laying on the floor of the van, Miles laying with me. I’m sure he thought I was dying the way he was tending to me.
From the floor, I made a declaration: “I AM NEVER DOING THIS AGAIN! In fact, let’s all agree that WE are never doing this again! Let’s remember how terrible we feel right now! Why would we inflict this upon ourselves? We agree, right? Right?” I was met with silence.
Greg didn’t feel terrible at this juncture. He had spent 3 hours in the medical tent because he was vomiting uncontrollably after his finish. (So uncontrollably that he was almost sent to the hospital.) He received prescription anti-nausea meds and IV fluids that finally had him feeling like a million bucks. He was ready to do it again! All this time in the medical tent does give him an alibi for missing my finish… When he finally came-to, he asked what time it was and was shocked to learn he had been out of it for so long.
Kidder was approaching the opening of his pain cave and selective memory was kicking in. Fuck them. I should have gone to the medical tent. We got home and I was able to shower (read: find all of the chafing spots) in between dry heaving and dizziness. I showered sitting down. I made my way to the couch and the group gathered in the living room to hash it all out. We all had a story to tell. From our living room, we could hear the race announcer from across the lake and we all gathered on the porch at midnight to hear the final finishers crossing the line. I was so thankful to be done.
I was finally able to take in fluids (first water, then chocolate milk) and keep it down, but I was still very dizzy if I stood up for longer than a couple of minutes. I kept water and a trash can by the bed during the night, knowing I would not sleep as well as I deserved wanted to. I was up several times, drinking a little and thinking I’d vomit. I was glad to be rehydrating, though my sleep was not restful.
I tried eating on Monday morning, but my stomach was still too precarious. I was still very dizzy and moved from chair to couch to chair until afternoon. I didn’t need to pee until around noon that day. Ah, dehydration. We finally hobbled out of the house in search of a late lunch. I had Greg order me a large glass of pickle juice and that helped me turn the corner. It literally was the worst hangover ever. I ate a few bites of my lunch and kept it down. Success!
As for body soreness, all of us were pretty sore on Monday. The house we rented was two stories and it was comical to watch any of us go up and down those stairs. Greg and Kidder both wore compression gear during and after the race and believe it helped them. I believe that the on-site massage I got after the race was critical in helping my stiffness. My legs felt even more stiff on Tuesday but by Wednesday, I was not sore at all. Fatigued? Yes. But not sore.
Bottom line: I did not expect to be as physically sick as I was. In fact, we all had brought fresh clothes to change into so we could watch the finish of the race at midnight. Ha! Several of our long training days left me feeling spent and sick-ish, but nothing like this.
I took a full week off, doing nothing more than light walking during our stops as we made our way home from Penticton. I don’t think I’ve taken 7 FULL DAYS OFF in, oh, five years. It felt good to rest and reflect on what I had just accomplished, honoring my body and taking care of it. And the itch to ride my bike once we got home was a welcome feeling as well.