Once you have failed at something, trying it again is a little scary. Actually, it’s terrifying. Last year at my first half Ironman, Half Max, I DNF’d. Did not finish. Did not finish. DID. NOT. FINISH. I could come up with a million excuses as to why it happened; the wind, the heat, doing MS150 the weekend before. But the simple fact is that I was under trained. It was completely my fault. It’s a very tough and hilly course. Both the bike and run portions consist of a two loop course, about the first 7 and the last 3 of which on the bike are VERY hilly. I simply was not prepared. I failed.
I made it through the first loop of the bike, and about 3 miles into the second loop I just couldn’t go any more. My knees were killing me and I just couldn't climb, and the thought of another 28 miles was just too much. Half way up a hill, I got off my bike and walked back down to the bottom where there was a volunteer manning the intersection, and I waited for the SAG wagon to come around to pick me up. The guy driving the van was very nice and did his best to make me feel better about quitting, but it didn’t help. Having to go turn in my chip without finishing really sucked. I was back at the finish area for a couple of minutes before Dan saw me, and he of course was worried that something really bad had happened. But nope, it was just my own stupid lack of training. There is a very common “you can do it!!” mentality in triathlon (and most other sports) that can be a little dangerous sometimes. I knew I was under trained, but I thought “hey, I can be strong and push through!” Didn’t quite work that way. You have to respect the distance and prepare accordingly.
After I got back to the finish area and Dan found me, I was embarrassed, I was pissed, and I was frustrated. All I wanted to do was go back to the hotel and hide under the covers and cry. But I couldn’t do that because Courtney was still out there racing. So I had to push back my tears, swallow my pride, and cheer her on. Due to when I pulled out and when Court finished, I got to watch every single person cross the finish line. Literally every single person. And each person that I watched finish made it a little harder to not cry, and a little harder to be happy for my friend. But I *was* happy for her, and I did manage to watch everyone finish without breaking down.
Court’s age group (20-24) is always really small, and she ended up being the only person in her AG at the race. Which meant that she took first place. So we got to stick around for the awards ceremony, giving me more time to stay at a race that I didn’t finish, and more time to be around people that DID finish. And since Courtney had ridden down with us and we were sharing a hotel room, it was even MORE time to be around someone that finished. Aaaarrrggghhh!!! So it was a tough weekend, and I got plenty of practice at keeping my emotions in check.
That was a year ago. Half Max is this weekend, and I’m going back to redeem myself. I’m not worried about the swim, and I’m not worried about the run. I know I shouldn’t be worried about the bike, but I am. This year I am prepared. I am truly prepared for the distances. But that DNF is sitting in the back of my mind, reminding me that last year I failed. I know it won’t be a fast race for me, but I know I can do it. I WILL do it. I won’t fail two years in a row. I’m more nervous about this race than I am about IMFL. I have never attempted a full IM before, so I have never failed at it. There is nothing in my head telling me I can’t do it.
I did a 56 mile ride yesterday just to reassure myself again that I am capable of riding that distance. Of course I am capable of it. I will just be happy once it’s over and done with, and I’m on to the run course this Saturday! Right now, the forecast is looking great. Sunny with a high of 67. Perfect!!