Abu Dhabi International Triathlon
4:00 a.m. – morning wake-up call. I feel great; slept through the night and only woke up 3 times, which normally I wake up every 90 minutes in fear of oversleeping (which I have done before). Made oatmeal, turned on some music and got my things together.
• Karate Kid’s – You’re the Best Around
• Barry White – My Everything
• B21 – Darshan
4:20 a.m. – the phone rang again; thinking it was my husband to wish me a good morning I answered with a cheeky response only to find it was the front desk giving me a second wake-up call.
5:00 a.m. – I headed out the door to the race site
5:30 a.m. – I am at T1 (transition 1) and am all set up; from sun block, to gels, water and helmet, I was ready to go.
6:00 a.m. – start stretching and dynamic warm-up
6:30 a.m. – watch the Pros start and take on the first lap of the swim
7:00 a.m. – swim warm up and meet Michelle from West Palm Beach, Florida
Everything has gone perfect, just as planned.
Everything was perfect…until the start of the race.
7:10 a.m. – The horn goes off! (I was a little confused because everything was in English until the last couple minutes before we started, then it was all in Arabic and then the horn) I start my watch and go running into the water. Took my first dive and came up so fast…WHERE ARE MY GOGGLES?!?! On my head! Quickly I pulled them over my eyes, but full of salt water, I tried to continue but soon realized this was not going to work and was forced to stop and make my adjustment at a full halt. After making my adjustments I was off again. Immediately to follow came a mouthful of salt water…swallowed. Two strokes went by and another mouthful…swallowed again! This is not looking good. A mass start with mainly men and one of the few who swam without a wetsuit, I found myself surprisingly calm and found a rhythm quickly.
8:10 a.m. – Exit the cold Arabian waters and shift from horizontal to vertical…whoa, stomach not feeling too well. Salt water may not have settled well with me.
8:13 a.m. – On to the bike for 200km. First 20 minutes, not bad. As I closed in on Zayed Port, the course shifted into the wind. This is where I was officially welcomed to hell. 20+ mph winds that was unrelenting. As soon as the sun was high in the sky andd the heat settled in (39 Celsius) causing mirages off the road. Then the sands started sweeping over the roads, forcing sand into your face and mouth.
At this point I was in the battle, fighting off the elements and not giving in. My stomach was churning which made it difficult to stay in my aerobars. I tried taking in fluids; not too much, not too little, I have practiced this 100 times and the formula has never failed me. As we entered the Yas Island Circuit Formula 1 race track I found temporary relief with the excitement of riding on the track. The excitement didn’t only affect me, but every athlete who entered the track. Smiling from ear to ear, even if you weren’t going fast, you felt fast. For those minutes riding the course I felt like a badass. Hands down, riding the track is one of the coolest things I have ever done. I wish I could have done lap after lap after lap; simply awesome.
Riding the track was followed by a greater reward; WIND AT YOUR BACK, finally! 16mph quickly turned into 23.5mph and as I started gaining momentum so did my stomach. It got to the point where I just couldn’t take in any water and I was fighting my own internal battle. Still feeling green under the gills a decision had to be made quickly – chance going out again for another lap to take on the full 200km or make adjustment and complete the 100km portion. Quick adjustment and went for the 100km.
After cutting my distance in two, I advanced to T2. Once I got there I asked where the med tent was and made my way there. I wasn’t overheated, I wasn’t injured, I was ready to puke up all this salt water that was not allowing me to take in what I needed to go on. The medics were incredible! They gave me ice, which I put on my stomach. Also gave me a little magic pill to keep me from throwing up my fluids and had me lay down. As I laid there I started to doze off and fell into a 30 minute nap. When I woke up, I felt much better, except for the new-found pounding headache I had and the med tent had nothing to alleviate this problem. I asked if I was allowed to go back out on the course. After they told me I was able to do whatever I wanted, I put on my running shoes and headed out to the run course.
Along the first kilometer I asked spectators if they had anything for a headache. Always ask a woman…within the first 5 women I had scored! Within 10 minutes I have a solid stomach and head and I am feeling run ready. How far I will go, who knows. At this point I am on my own agenda, doing my own distance triathlon. When I started this morning I was all in, ready to go and spend my entire day going the distance and at this point I just wanted to get in some of the run so I could cross the finish line. That is when the Abu Dhabi KShah Triathlon was created; Long Course Swim, Short Course Bike and Sprint Distance Run. I will take on a little bit of each race.
I quickly came up on one of the pro men who was walking the start of the run. I asked him if he was okay and he said yes and I pushed on. Shortly he passed me and not 60 seconds later I passed him again. I stopped to see if he needed anything; he was cramping. We had a few words again and then I asked him if he could move at my pace and he said yes. Side by side we forged on, sharing water, our race agenda for the year and our opinion on the wind on the bike course and other small talk. We ran to my turning point together and that is where we parted; he went on to attempt to finish his race and I went on to finish my own. We both finished the day with a Long Course DNF; he for cramping, me for drinking too much salt water.
Disappointed – YES
Defeated – YES
Down on myself – YES
Questioning IM Lanzarote – YES
Did I have a good time – YES…a great time
Would I do it again – ABSOLUTELY…I have to redeem myself