Live to Fight another day
Dear Izzy, Max, and Kate,
I had a decent training session on Saturday. I met my friends Daniel and Jeff at a country market near the house at 6am to start our ride.
We set out for 55 miles, without much of a plan. It wasn’t long before we realized that our route was going to be extremely hilly by the time we finished. We rode several of the areas big climbs, some more than once. I felt okay during parts of the ride, but there were also sections where I didn’t feel at my best. I chalked it up to being on my tri-bike on a hilly route.
After the ride I transitioned into my running shoes and went for a 3 mile transition run. I felt strong and ran right at 8 minute per mile pace. Overall I was pleased with the workout, despite the few weak moments I had on the bike. I didn’t give the weak points much thought.
It was raining Sunday morning so I decided to put my long run off until after church. As I was getting my fuel belt ready and gathering the rest of my things for my 13 mile run when my stomach started to rumble. It was an ominous sort of growl; the sort that twists and rolls just below your rib cage.
My friend Jeff came over and we set out for 13 miles at about 2pm in 90% humidity. I told him I wasn’t feeling great – my stomach was doing something weird and my legs were heavy. I told myself it was the heat. As we ran at 9:00 pace I kept assuring him that once I was loose we could speed up. Around 4 miles he asked me:
“How are you feeling? Better?”
“No,” I said. “Not at all. My stomach is really knotting up. Honestly, go ahead if I’m slowing you down. I’m afraid this is all I have today.”
“It’s okay,” he said. “It’s humid today. This pace is fine.”
I was drenched with sweat. But it was cold sweat. Not a good sign. I shuffled along, reciting my new running mantra in my head: FORM (Focus On Relaxing More). It wasn’t helping.
“Jeff, really, don’t let me mess up your long run. I don’t think I have 13 in me today,” I said.
Jeff’s a nice guy. He assured me it was fine, but by mile 5 I was doubled over, hands on my knees, talking about calling your mommy to come and get me. Jeff and I turned back for home, but within a quarter mile I was walking again. I told Jeff that I still had two bottles of fluid and my phone. And so he ran ahead. I walked for about 5 minutes, then I tried to run again, then I pulled my phone out of my Fuel Belt pouch.
Your mommy answered the phone: “What’s wrong!?”
She knows that I only call during rides or runs if something has gone wrong.
“I’m okay,” I said. “Just not feeling good. Can you come and get me? At the Shell Station?”
She loaded you kids in the car and was there in minutes. I sat on a bench outside of the gas station, wringing out my visor, clutching my cramped stomach, and wondering what effect a 13 miler turned 5 miler would have on my build up to Rev3 South Carolina in 6 weeks.
I wondered if calling was the right thing to do, or if I could have gutted it out and got my miles. But it wasn’t the stomach cramps that had me worried, it was the cold chills, chill bumps, and especially the feeling of being disoriented. I was in a bad place, where things start to go dark.
As I walked I thought about the times I had chosen to walk in my 4 Half Iron distance races. How walking when it got tough had cost me my goal time in each case. I told myself that if I could train myself to push through in that moment I’d be able to push through on race day too. But the heat inside my head, the goosebumps and hair standing on end with cold chills, and my cramped stomach made pushing through a bad idea. I was sick. Not just giving up.
You have to know when to “live to fight another day.”
I spent the rest of the day and night in bed, trying to sip fluids, between hurried trips to the bathroom. Turns out stomach viruses, dehydration from the previous day’s workout, and 13 mile long runs in high humidity are a bad mix.
I didn’t rehydrate well after a 3 hour workout on Saturday…and I came down with a stomach bug about an hour before I left for a 13 mile run. Or maybe that’s what was holding me back on the bike on Saturday. Sometimes its hard to tell the difference between normal fatigue and “coming down with something” for triathletes.
I’ve had really bad long runs and missed long runs altogether in all of my previous race build periods. It’s not the end of the world. My 10,11, and 12 milers went great. And I know I have another 13 miler and two 14 milers still on the schedule. I’ll be back out there next weekend for 60 miles on Saturday and 14 miles on Sunday.
I’m choosing to look at the set back as “extra rest” instead of as a “missed workout.”
I love you,
ps. I filmed this little ditty called “The Drum Show” on Saturday morning after my ride. Enjoy:
Sat: Biked 2hours 56 minutes / Ran 24 minutes
Sun: Ran 50 minutes (got sick)