This is not quite the race report that I've initially intended.
And let me just get it out of the way......I DNF this race.
It took me a few days to really get over it. Caught me a few days earlier, I might have gone a little teary and emo-wreck on you.
A very quick run down on what happened....
The swim (that was delayed coz some VIP was late due to....as expected..."bad traffic") went on without a hitch. Our swim wave was suppose to be at 7:41. In the end it started about 15-20 minutes late. Apparently I clocked in 47:29.....(thanks Chee Keong for letting me in on this info as I wasn't quite in the mood to check). In retrospect, I was and still am a little impress with my timing. My swim wave of age group below 35 (women) weren't that huge thus swim wasn't that chaotic. However I didn't quite like the deep water start.
I got out of water and ran into T1 to grab my bike.
I really wanted to get the cycling done and over with before it gets blazingly hot.
The first 45km I was a little bit tired but I guess I'd ease into the second loop and just get it done and over it. My focus was...just get onto the run!
Somewhere at 70km into the bike.....I suddenly realized that my breathing was rather laboured.
Some back story.....
I wasn't feeling well the weekend that Penang Triathlon was being held. I lost my voice completely, had prolonged fever and very bad dry night coughs. The voice returned 5 days in and the fever eventually subsided after about a week (and if I were to be honest with myself....it was bloody long and I was starting to get very worried). However the night coughs continued 2 weeks after the onset of sore throat. Some nights (and occasionally some afternoons) breathing was an effort. But I wasn't exactly gasping and I wasn't wheezing. But I did take some bloods and had a chest xray done...unfortunately that was done about 5 days after I started being sick and most blood parameters were more or less normal. Some resolving viral pneumonia at best. Started on Ventolin (doctors self medicate...a lot!!! Don't try it at home, folks!) and felt better.
But I figured I'd be alright.
As I'd realized by now....I'm a serial liar to myself.
I wasn't alright.
....and at 70km into the bike ride....I knew I was in trouble. I couldn't breathe.
I stopped by the side of the road where Aileen and Bandit were at snapping photos. I told her I couldn't breathe. She told me to drink some water and catch my breath. Asked if I was ok.
She looked panicked. I felt kinda bad.
Told her I'd be fine and rode off.
Its only 20km more.
At 75km in....the water station in Cyberjaya.....I felt like I was sucking air through a constricted straw.
I pulled over at the medic tent.
"Do you guys have Ventolin or a nebulizer!?!?"
They have nothing but deep heat rubs.
It would have been awesome if all I had at that point were leg cramps.
I got off my bike and got under the tent to catch my breath.
I must have looked like I was hyperventilating coz the girl manning the tent handed me a plastic bag to breathe into.
I got up and contemplated continuing the journey. It was another 15km. I could easily make the bike cut off. I'd still have 3 hours to power walk the 21km...(if there was any one physical attribute that I could rely on in times of desperation...I could always rely on the fact that I could walk....fast!!)
As I got up....I had an uncontrollable urge to vomit.
I ran behind the tree, bent over and projectile vomited out my entire gastric content.
And it was a lot of fluids!!!!
I knew then my body did not absorb even a drop of water that I had taken since the start of my bike ride.
Somewhere within my subconscious (y'know...the bit that I usually try my darnest to ignore), I knew I was in big trouble. My body wasn't absorbing any fluids. Must have been dehydrated quite a bit at that point and not to mention the fact that I lost quite a lot of fluids via my sweat ducts. A volunteer handed me some cold isotonic. I carefully sipped it to not trigger another regurgitative episode.
Its only 15km.
Its not that far.
I've done this route plenty of times.
It is definitely doable.
A volunteer asked if I wanted to continue.
I can make 15km in 2 hours.
I got back on the bike and started pedaling.
Only 15km. Just a little bit more. Just get back to transition. Just get into those Hokas and start walking.
I can still make it.
At 86km (the last water station in Putrajaya) I felt like I couldn't breathe again.
I pulled over at the medic tent (yet again). The volunteers came and poured cold water all over me and offered me cold drinks.
I told them I just need to vomit (body just wasn't absorbing anything I put into the GI tract).
After vomiting (nothing much came out this time around), I turned back and saw that the ambulance just arrived.
They told me that I couldn't continue the race anymore....that I was suffering from heat stroke.
That I was better off being sent to the medical camp back at transition for observation and IV drip.
4km away from transition.
That I was just told I was suffering heat stroke.
The delusional part of me argued NO....I could still make it.
The doctor in me reasoned that I could be carried off the run route in a stretcher in full view of spectators and their clicking cameras after I collapse midway on the run...which to be frank was kinda embarrassing.
Sometimes you just got to love the doctor in you.
I got into the ambulance...(after they assured me that Dylan would be taken back to transition for me to collect once the race is over)
And as they drove me back to medic camp....I wanted to cry.
I was disappointed. Severely.
It was one thing to DNS a race....but its another to know you're more than halfway in and you won't be completing it.
Anyway....after one pint of IV normal saline and my blood pressure back up to normal....I was discharged from medic camp and went off to search for my friends.
Yes...I lived to race another day.
But on a more interesting note....I realized that we sometimes say the darnest things to our fellow participants when they do not complete a race....and these are some of the stuff people told me (which frankly when the wounds were still fresh...was really annoying to hear)!
1. oh don't worry....there will be other races
--> ....I know there will be other races. But I trained hard for THIS race and for that reason alone I would have liked to finish racing it!
2. ....at least you're safe and alive
--> yes that is true...but really I feel like something just died inside of me when they pull me out of the race. But thank you for reminding me that I'm not dead physically.
3. ...you made the right choice by pulling out!
--> Erm...I didn't really make the choice. The medic made it for me.
4. Why the fuss...it's just another race!
--> It may be just another race for you...but when I've spend many months preparing for it, it no longer was another race. It was THE race.
5. No worries la...you got a free slot and you didn't pay a single cent.
--> Yes...this is as true as the fact that your frontal cortex is now located in your scrotal sac.....you anencephalic anal orific!!!!
In the end....
I went through the Kubler-Ross model of grief (go google it for crying out loud!) and now I've accepted the DNF.
I was initially in denial. How could this happen!?!?! This isn't happening for real!!!!
I was then angry!!! I trained so hard and I've done the mileage and the hours under the sun and now you're telling me that I'm suffering from heat stroke!?!?!?! This is SO not fair!!!!!
I was then bargaining....if only I didn't stop at that last medic tent. If only I had told the volunteers that I'd be fine after vomiting. So many if-only's and what-ifs.
I was then depress. Do I really need to elaborate?
And finally...I've reached acceptance. Yes I DNF. And no...its not the end of the world. And as true as they all say...there will be other races and events.
* Lining up to get Crowie's autographs....we were such groupies!!!!!! Selfie (groupfie) courtesy of Gary Fong (the ultimate HaBs)
* At bike racking the evening before. Thanks YF for the pic :)
* Thanks Wendy for the pre-swim pics. Your tan lines are the ultimate!
* Thanks Alex (SamAY) for the awesome pics. So when are we cycling Ksel for McDs again!?
* Since Mr Anonymous going semi-pro, I promised to promote his "pro-ness" on the blog. Oh and I was told to mention that he would like more sponsorship. Pic courtesy of the elusive Nik Om :)
* The semi-pro looking awesome on the run! Pic courtesy of QQsNaP
* Uncle Bryan looking so serious on the bike. Pic off Nik Om :)
* Bryan on the run. Pic by QQsNaP
* Ivan's first 70.3....and many more to come, right? Pic from QQsNaP
* When I grow up...I wanna look like Karen!!! Pic from Alex
* Ooooh..when I grow up...I wanna be as fast as Lynn Guan with minimal training!!!! Pic courtesy of Ameeyn
* Super fast Lynn off the swim. Pic by KHTang :)
* Phuitin and new wheels!!! Pic by QQsNaP
* Going strong on the run!!!! Yes...those 5.30am weekday runs were not done in vain!!!!
Pic also by QQsNaP!
* And another one before our wave swim started :) Thanks KHTang for this pic!!!!
There were some other interesting issues that I later learnt about this race and the organization from some friends who were marshaling and trying to enforce the proper rules and regulations in racing IM races. Apparently no amount of international branding or international pricing could take the Malaysian mentality away from a lot of local racers. But I guess this could wait for another blog post for another day.
In closing, as a reminder to myself.....there will be other races and I shall live to see another day.