A Little bit of Southern (dis)Comfort

The thing I love most about Ironman is that just when you start to feel like you might have things figured out, you realize that actually, you don’t. It’s part of what makes the sport exciting, intriguing, and occasionally a little bit frustrating. It’s also why, as long as I’m able, I’ll be coming back for more.

My experience in Louisville last week had all the elements of a Western movie–the Good (the first 2/3 of the race). The Bad (the majority of the run). And, a little bit of The Ugly (my night in the hospital ICU). First, a bit a bout “THE GOOD”:

I arrived in KY feeling great–much fitter than I was before IM France earlier this year, and with a lot of solid bike and run workouts on the books, feeling confident and ready to race. The week leading up was actually almost relaxing. . . The airlines returned my lost bike box within 24 hours. My homestay was AMAZING–not even complaining when I turned off the AC, converting the upstairs into a virtual sauna. Felt good for all of my week-of-race training. Caught up with friends and family who came to support me. Still managed to get my bike and gear bags dropped off early and spend the rest of the day off my feet. . .All the little pre race things that make me happy.

Hillary (and Bree) and I pre-race.  Although we call each other BH, for "Better Half", please note that we did not plan our matching outfits. . .it did score us a free lunch later in the day, though; )

Hillary (and Bree. . sort of) and I hanging out pre-race.

(Although Hillary & I call each other BH, which stands for “better half”, we did NOT plan our matching outfits. It did, however, score us a free lunch at Hard Rock Cafe a little later in the day. I guess our fellow patron was really excited about Ironman coming to town: )

Although, I was a little nervous about the swim–non wetsuit is not really my cup of tea–by race morning I was in a good place with it. I spent the swim feeling solid, followed my plan of using the river current by hugging the shoreline where the water moves slower on the way upstream, and swinging wide around the turn buoy staying towards the middle of the river where it moves a bit faster on the way in. I finished the swim feeling fresh, if not fast, and excited to put in some work on the bike.

Leading up to the race, I’d had some great training rides, including several weeks worth of Swami’s and the Wednesday ride–two of San Diego’s best group rides. I know I’m in good riding form if I can even stay in the same postal code as some of these guys, and leading up to the race, I had been kicking their butts (just kidding, Greg)! But, I was feeling optimistic about the ride. I used the first 30 miles to build into a good rhythm, get down some hydration and electrolytes before settling into a steady effort.

Bree & I riding the course pre-race

Bree & I riding the course pre-race

There was great spectator support and scenery–lots of corn and horses, and I was able to stay with my nutrition and hydration plan–taking in lots of water, 2 salt tabs every 30′, and a mix of carbo pro and Clif bars. I was feelin GOOD! The miles ticked by quickly and before I knew it, I was back in town, and headed for the run.

The first part of the run was an out and back over the bridge. Just a short two mile section. I was feeling ok, not fantastic–legs were a bit heavy, but still thinking I could pull off a pretty good marathon. Then, things started to deteriorate. . .although I was sticking to my fluid and fuel intake, my body didn’t seem to be processing it. I had the whole “pregnant with triplets” look going on, which was upsetting because after all this hard work, who wants THAT in their race photos?!? Only joking. That was the least of my concern.

Although at this point, I was beginning to feel sub-par, I reminded myself that 1) it doesn’t always take a killer marathon to have a good IM race 2) it was hot. To quote Greg Bennett: “if it’s hurting me, it’s killing them”. Unfortunately, for me, in this case, I seemed to have it nearly backwards. . .

By about the halfway point I realized things were not great, probably not even good, and from that point on, it was pretty much survival mode. Counting 10 steps at a time, “left, right, left”. . .that sort of thing. I was still holding on to 10th place, but I was not setting a great pace, and things did not seem to be improving. I decided to worry about that later, and just focused on running as well as i could at each moment. Unfortunately, that only amounted to a geriatric-like shuffle. I knew I wasn’t alone–there was a lot of race course carnage from the heat and humidity. What a relief to see the finish line!

Finish @ 4th St. Live

Finish @ 4th St. Live

But, my day still wasn’t done. NOPE. Not even close. . .in fact, this is where it was just about to get UGLY! As soon as i crossed the finish line, I was helped to the med tent where my “post race party” started off with not one, not 2, not 3, but 4 IV bags. Looking around, I could see I was in pretty good company–Mariska, Lisbeth, and Heather were all in nearby cots. At some point I remember hearing mention of “ambulance” and “hospital”, and remember thinking–“are these people crazy? I don’t need the hospital”. From here on, things were a bit blurry, but from what I’ve been told, I made these sentiments known quite vocally: )

Unfortunately, it turned out I was wrong. . .by the time they got me to the ER, a lot of the fluid that hadn’t absorbed from either the race hydration or the IVs had made it’s way into my lungs. Also, my intestines and kidneys were “paralytic”–I guess they had gotten tired and decided to take the rest of the afternoon off. Doctors and nurses were putting every tube imaginable in every place imaginable; all the while, I was alternating between projectile vomiting and trying to convince them that they really should let me go home.

Instead, I’d qualified myself for a night in the ICU. While I am incredibly grateful for the excellent care I received, I can tell you that nothing spells Ironman recovery or comfort like being immobile, sans shower, and on a “clear liquids only” diet for nearly 48 hours post Ironman. Let’s just say that in Kona, I will be striving for a different sort of after party!

Big Congrats to all the other IM Louisville finishers, and THANK YOU to all the spectators, family, and friends who offered their care and support both during and after the race. Guess it’s a good idea to give those bike and gear bag pick up tags to someone, after all!


9 Responses to “A Little bit of Southern (dis)Comfort”

  1. Bree Says:

    For crying out loud Katya I had NO IDEA all this was going on during your run. You looked so good out there… I was walking, talking, dying a slow death (that was my first and HOPEFULLY last time walking a marathon) and you kept on running by on the other side cheering! My gosh you look good for having a body all messed up and ready for the ICU!

    OKay, recover well… Kona will be better, I will be cheering for you and Hillary like nothing you ever heard before!!! Oh, and that bike… KILLER ride, you may not be the faster chick outta the water but darn you can ride with ANYONE!

  2. D'Arcy Says:

    Katya –

    OMG i had no idea you were hospitalized! I hope that you are feeling better and gearing up for the Big Day.

    It was so inspiring training with you at Camp – thanks again for all of the pointers!

    See you on the Big Island!

  3. AJ Foster Says:

    Hey Katya,

    I saw this blog a few days after IMKY, but have been stuck in NY with work and haven’t had time to post something. It’s horrible to see the stress, pain, and discomfort you went thru post race… not to mention NOT BEING ABLE TO EAT! Again, this only reassures what kind of character you truly are. You bike split was smokin’ and your marathon splits were above the norm (especially taking the conditions into consideration). You’re an amazing athlete and I only see good things coming out of you in Kona. Enjoy the remainder of your training as well as a good taper up to the Kona. I look forward to seeing what else you have to say leading up to the big dance!

    Take care and rest easy

  4. Jennifer Cunnane Says:

    Congrats on a great race! I do not know how you hung in there with your kidneys and such on a vacation. And, hey, “looking pregnant with triplets” isn’t that terrible now is it? šŸ™‚

  5. caroline Says:

    hey chica! sorry to hear about IMKY. that sucks. maybe we should both head to victoria for some stealth training? …..or you could come down here and swim in the waves, ride in gale force winds and run from the hurricanes!! hehehe…

  6. Kerri Says:

    BH and BH look hot! šŸ™‚ Can’t wait to see you both together in KONA!! We must all do Lava Java chat!!!!!!!!! You’re a champ and I love ya sister!! šŸ™‚


  7. Rachel Says:

    Oh crap – I didn’t know it was such a hard day for you! That hospital thing sounds awful.

    In Kona go straight into the water, last year Bree and I just laid there in it while everyone else hit the pizza and the med tent.. it makes everything feel better. Recover well and see you soon!

    Love the photos of you crazy girls!

  8. Nicole Karcher Says:

    Hey sista!! It was so good to see you in Louisville even though it was a short visit. Hope that I am able to catch another race of yours someday soon. The run was a rough one but it just proves how tough you are. All that trouble and still got 10th place! You are awesome! So sorry I had to skip out while you were being poked and proded in the ER. Motherly duties called but so glad that Luce kept me in the loop. Hope you are well on your way to full recovery and hope that you have a strong finish in IM Hawaii!! Good luck!


    P.S. We had a blast last weekend and wished you were able to make it….maybe for the 15 year reunion.

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