There's a local non-Ironman branded 70.3 triathlon here in the Houston area called Oilman Texas. The race is nice and challenging, as it shared part of the old Ironman Texas bike course. It's one of Mike's favorite races to do, which means I can never do it because I'm on Maddie duty. Unfortunately, he had to pull out this year because of his shoulder surgery. So, that opened up the opportunity for me to finally do it! So, 5 weeks before race day, I registered. Then, I immediately got a horrible upper respiratory infection that knocked me out of training for 2 weeks. I was under-trained and out of peak form, so I had very low expectations for this race. My goal was to try my best and have fun.
As I toed the start line, I felt great. My swim went surprisingly well! In fact, I PR'ed it. I had a pretty quick T1 and headed out on the bike. I started off sluggish, but popped an AltRed by Sur and ate one of my Honey Stinger sandwich wedges and quickly felt reenergized. I was honestly surprised how great I felt! I was on track to PR my bike, then mile 43 happened. I hit a pothole, got squirelly and went into the grass. When I tried to get back on the road, I didn't see the pavement was broken away (down to the subgrade). My front wheel hit it and I knew I was screwed and going down. I quickly got up and surveyed the damage. My knee was a fountain of blood and I had lovely road rash on my arm and hand. Luckily, the bike was still rideable (in spite of the front derailleur shifter snapping off), so I got back on to finish this thing. But, for some reason, I could not get moving. I checked my brakes to see if they were rubbing, which they weren't. As I was crawling up a hill, I heard the "PSSSSSST" of my rear tube blowing. So, I pulled over to change the tube. The tire was cut up, too. I was still shaky from the wreck and just couldn't get the tube completely on the wheel. Luckily, Justin from Bike Minded Guru came to the rescue, changed my tube and tire and got me back on the road. I grabbed some gauze and a wrap from the medics to cover up my knee (I didn't want to scare Maddie) and hopped back on my bike. To add insult to injury, there was a huge ant hill and a patch of poison ivy where I stopped, which I'll talk more about later.
I again felt surprisingly good and hit it hard to make up for lost time. I rolled into T2, chatted quickly with Mike and headed out for the run. I felt pretty good and was optimistic that I might be able to salvage this race. That wore off around mile 2. That's when it became a true test of will. I was burning up and felt like my heart was going to burst through my chest it was pounding so hard! I chocked it up to it being hot outside and me just being completely spent from the wreck. I have never had to walk a run before, but I had to swallow my pride and take walk breaks. About a mile from the finish line, Mike told me he was proud of me (which is VERY out of character for him as he's not an emotionally effusive person), which got me choked up. I burst into tears when I crossed the finish line and went to hug him. Finishing that race was the hardest thing I had done next to child birth. Pretty much the only thing that kept me going was that I had dedicated my race to my good friend Julie, who was unable to race, and to her mother who had just passed.
After grabbing my finisher medal and a bottle of water, I sat down to talk with all my HissyFit Racing gals. That's when Mike told me I was "all hived out." It turns out that burning and out-of-control heart rate was me having an allergic reaction to the ant bites and poison ivy. When I got back to the hotel to shower, I took off my race kit and saw that I was covered in a rash/hives. The rash/hives covered me, literally, from my forehead to my feet. I couldn't sleep at all that night, as I felt like I was being burned alive. I had to make an urgent appointment with my allergy doctor on Monday to get on steroids to control the reaction.
In spite of how badly this race went off-the-rails, my lingering feeling is pride. This experience was unexpectedly self-affirming. It made me realize that I am stronger than I ever knew I was.