You know when people have good news and bad news and ask which you want first? I always like the good news last, because then that's what you get to focus on.
I thought my first Ironman experience was pretty perfect. I LOVED it. I had the best time! Even a great, fun, goal-meeting race won't be smooth sailing all the time, though, and mine wasn't without its complications. So I'll share the less-awesome parts of my race to get them out of the way, and then the recap can focus more on the good parts! And here's a happy day-after picture with my name on the @lululemon wall while we're at it.
My achilles is getting a failing grade right now and running is going to be entirely out of the equation for a little while. But we'll get to that. I obviously knew my achilles hurting on the run was a likely scenario. What I didn't expect was the nausea.
Short story of the less-awesome: I felt like puking starting about 30 minutes into the swim, couldn't eat hardly anything all day, tried to make up for it by staying hydrated and drinking tons of Gatorade instead, had to take 7 potty breaks as a result (at least those were just because I was well-hydrated... but talk about a painfully easy place to cut time!), still only got about half the calories I needed, ran on fumes, and my achilles hurt for the entire marathon. But remember that it was still a fun, great day!!! I'm sure a totally perfect 140.6-mile race is a rare occurrence, so it's just about making the most of it. Attitude is everything, my friends. (Very) Long story below!
The wetsuit swimmers started close behind me, and it wasn't long before they were repeatedly swimming right over the top of me in all their buoyant glory. I was probably more jealous of them than anything else. But I swallowed WAY too much of that dirty lake water as a result, and by the time I got to the first turn buoy (about a mile in), I felt like puking. Picture swimming in a murky lake while getting occasionally mauled while trying not to throw up... Good times.
I'd hoped the nausea would go away when I stopped swimming, but it most certainly did not. Throwing up throughout two entire pregnancies has made me well-acquainted with my body's reaction to varying degrees of nausea, and it's given me enough practice to have some tiny bit of control over the matter. I stubbornly fought the urge to throw up on that bike. This is super gross so sorry to share, but I threw up chunks in my mouth a few times and choked them back down. I was *not* willing to stop on the side of the road to puke all day long. Just not an option.
The real problem with the nausea is that I couldn't eat. I was aiming for about 400 calories on the bike per hour, and that was simply not going to happen. I forced myself to choke down precisely 540 calories of food over those 6+ hours, and that's all I could stomach. I tried to compensate with more liquid calories from Gatorade and drank 4 bottles (along with 3 bottles of water), bringing my total bike calorie count to around 1200--less than half of what I needed. That was not setting me up for an awesome marathon, but I told myself it'd be okay because I could handle anything on the run.
You need plenty of calories during the marathon, too, but eating (and especially GU, etc) was just not possible. Again, I tried to make up for it by drinking Gatorade along with the water I actually wanted... And needed 7 -- seven! -- potty breaks on the day as a result. One on the bike (with a decent line), one in each transition, and four on the run. At least I stayed hydrated in that heat haha. But man, when I talked about easy places to save time? That is EASY time to get back! I feel like one or two potty breaks could suffice in the future. I did suck on a few orange slices for nutrition as well, and swapped the Gatorade for coke on the last marathon loop. But I basically raced that whole Ironman on Gatorade and fumes. Far from ideal.
And lastly, my aptly-named achilles. I felt it a few times on the bike and knew that meant I'd feel it on the run-- and I did. It hurt from the very first step to the very last, and beyond. Luckily, it was an achy pain instead of the sharp pain that could have been much more crippling, so I was VERY grateful for that. But it still hurt, and I ran cautiously as a result. I woke up on Sunday morning with a lot of pain and a very visible marble-sized bump on my achilles (which was oddly validating -- like, well good, so I'm not just a sissy! Ha).
The nausea continued post-race and I wasn't really able to eat anything until dinner on Sunday, and still felt nauseous on Monday and even Tuesday. Which is really just unfortunate, because if there was ever a time in life that I'd be like, "Let's eat ALL the amazing things," and feel totally justified, you'd think that was it!
The awesome news is that aside from my achilles pain, my body actually felt pretty good afterward! It stiffened up a bit on the plane and was obviously a bit sore, but nothing too dramatic. I'm feeling great and if I didn't have a little injury to nurse, I'd be out on a run this weekend.
K! With that less-than-pleasant stuff out of the way... Some happy, fun race recaps are coming up!