Sunday, October 5, 2008

These guys are not my friends...How to race with an allergic reaction..

This weekend was NOT what I had hope for prior to Ironman.

I had to DNF my first triathlon in my 8 year career of racing.  There have been alot of races where I finished DFL...or close...and I pushed as hard as I could before my body more.

I got up at 4am...had my coffee and oatmeal and followed my routine as I normally do prior to any race.  I was out the door at 5am and was at the race site by 520am.  Since I was in a new town that I didn't know well, I thought it best to leave early.

Got body marked, set my gear and talked to alot of triathlete and looked at alot of bikes.  I have found that if you walk through transition and look at people's setups, you can learn alot.  I asked about wheels, bottles, and other interesting things in people's transition areas.  I grabbed my wetsuit and have my friend Kathleen from the Central Florida Tri Club help me put it on.  In 8 years of triathlon, I have never done a wetsuit swim.  Today was going to be my day to test my new wetsuit in a race.

We found a mere 20 people in our wave with Kathleen and I being the only Athenas in the entire race.  We were excited.  If we finish, were going home with hardware.  Little did I know what was to come.

The gun went off and we ran into the water watching our step as we made it over the sandbars.  The water was a perfect temperature, calm and beautiful.  The sun was coming up and the buoys were easy to spot.  Going to be a great swim.

At the second buoy, it felt like a bee had nailed me under the arm.  Then again.  Then it felt like it was inside my wetsuit on my chest.  I came upright in the water and took a deep breath.  Let me tell ya, the ones on your arm can hurt, but a sting to the chest will get your undivided attention.  I couldn't breathe.  I know this was just my reaction to the situation but I made the decision then and there to remove my wetsuit.  A lifeguard saw me struggle and brought his kayak over to me.  I asked him to take my wetsuit.  He looked a little shocked that this woman was disrobing 1/2 mile from shore but I knew that I would feel better if I could just get the suit off my body.  I finished the swim 10 minutes slower than my normal 1.2 mile swim and hit the beach.

Being a diver, I KNOW for a fact that I am highly allergic to jellyfish.  I evaluated my condition after exiting the water.  The stings were painful but I felt ok overall.  Maybe I would be lucky this time.  I went to transition and I was the last one out.  This isn't the first time I have been the last on the road.  I got myself together and hit the road.

I started to feel bad as I made my way up the Amelia Island Causeway.  I felt a little dizzy, my head hurt a bit but I pushed forward.  It wasn't until Mile 40 that I started to feel the rash travel across my chest and I got itchy.  At mile 45, my stomach got upset and I had some serious shortness of breath.  This was a beautifully organized race but there were no medical tents on the bike course.  I decided to head into transition and hit the medical tent there.

I was assessed by the staff at the medical tent.  I took Benedryl and they applied vinegar to my stings.  I even slept for a bit  in the tent as the Benedryl took effect and made me drowsy but got myself together enough to grab my gear and head back to the hotel.  The nurses were so nice and professional.  They even helped me carry my stuff to the car.

Returning to the hotel, I slept for 3 hours.  The itching stopped about 7pm and my shortness of breath stopped about midnight.

I am very sad that I had to abandon this race.  The feelings of failure flooded me as I sat looking at the beach from my hotel balcony.  Saturday was to be a night to celebrate.  Instead, I felt like such a loser.

This morning, I got up and drove home.  All my friends called to check on me, which was very sweet.  Even the race director called to make sure I was ok.  As I was driving, I heard a song by Rascal Flatts that seem so appropriate.  I love the words:

'Cause when push comes to shove
You taste what you're made of
You might bend, til you break
'Cause its all you can take
On your knees you look up
Decide you've had enough
You get mad
You get strong
Wipe your hands, shake it off
Then you stand...

Everytime you get up
And get back in the race
One more small piece of you
Starts to fall into place.....

I will live to fight another day.  My hope is that ALL the pieces fall into place for Ironman Florida.  One more long weekend of training and then its time to taper and rest.  Im having my pity party this afternoon but I am ready to shake it off and STAND UP TO BE AN IRONMAN!!


David said...

I think it was awesome that you went as long as you did. think how easy it would have been to stop during the swim, I cant imagine trying to take a wetsuit off in the water either. you pushed through the pain went as long as you could.

Not the outcome you wanted but you probably learned a few things that may help you in IMFL. I Think you learn more from failures that successes.

Don't be too hard on your self, dust your self off and get back in the game.

GL until November

Irene Odell said...

Your victory in Panama City will erase the sting of this weekend. (pun intended)


Lani said...

Girlfriend (and you are since we are both triathletes) you are one strong woman. I don't think anyone would have questioned a decsion to get out of the water and seek medical treatment, yet you pushed on (taking off your wetsuit in the water, that had to be some stunt). Hopefully this is the one and only time it will happen, but just in case, pack some benadryl in your tri bag.

martaburnham said...

I came across your blog while looking for course info about this race. This will also be my first Ironman and needless to say, I am pretty nervous. You said in an earlier post that you rode the course - could you comment further on road conditions? Are they mostly decent besides the one bumpy stretch you mentioned? And how long is that section? Also, I wondered if you have heard of a product called Safe Sea? It is a combo of sun screen and jellyfish sting repellant that might be helpful to you. Thanks for any help you can give me and good luck training.

David said...

Melissa, Marta
I live in Panama City and will be doing have ridden all parts several times. I can answer any questions you might have.
The bumpyest(sp?) section is the first 5-7 miles of hwy 388 on the course this is about mile 90 to 97
this road is in terrible shape and was part of the Gulf Coast Traithlon this spring.
Melissa, Sorry for "using" your blog but couldn't think of how else to help another IMFL hopeful.

Trigirlorlando said...

Thanks for the info worries. I didn't know how to respond since marta's profile is not public!! See you soon in PCB!!

martaburnham said...

David, thanks for the info. So are the other parts of the course pretty good? Is it wind protected at all? Also,I have never actually swum in the ocean. Is the water clear and is the salt hard to get used to? As for the run, is there any shade or are you in full sun? Can you tell I am a total newbie with all of these questions?
Melissa, sorry to jump on your blog, but I have never used one before and am not sure how to even have a public profile. I do appreciate your help.

David said...

You can email me directly at dearly66@gmail or you can enable access to your profile by clicking the link that is your name "martaburnham" on this blog.
and follow the directions on how to activate your access
Look forward to hearing from you