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Ironman Chattanooga - Triathlon

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Chattanooga, Tennessee
United States
85F / 29C
Total Time = 14h 53m 8s
Overall Rank = /
Age Group = F35-39
Age Group Rank = 0/
Pre-race routine:

This was my 5th Ironman start, and a bit of an emotional one. The last time I toed the start line, I crashed on the bike course and broke my leg (IMLOU 2015). Took a year off after that, moved to Atlanta in 2017 and decided to do one more IM - and I'm not sure how, but I talked Linda (LindaKC) into doing it as well - it just wouldn't have been the same without her!

Training for this IM was harder than I remember the others being. Heat, humidity and navigating a new city and where to ride got to me early, so I joined the Atlanta Tri Club and made instant training buddies and friends, which was when I started enjoying the journey a whole lot more. I struggled on the hills, both biking and running, but was able to ride the Chatt course twice before race day, so I felt good about that.

And then, eight days before the race, I had to say goodbye to my dog who I've had for 14 years. He had been diagnosed with a lung tumor/cancer just over a week prior to that, so thankfully he didn't suffer long. But it was certainly an extra layer of grief and stress leading up to the race.

Come race week, I got home from California Wednesday around midnight, and my mom flew into Atlanta Thursday morning before we headed up to Chatt that afternoon. It was then that they announced the swim was canceled due to historic/record flooding. The current was too dangerous, as well as the e-coli bacteria at 20x the limit for swimming. I won't lie, I was massively disappointed in this development. Holding out hope, I still packed my wetsuit and swim gear, just in case (ha).

Checked into the AirBnB, grabbed dinner, then Linda and Dave arrived and I started to get excited about racing. Friday, we checked in, my Dad, sister and nephew arrived, and we had a great family birthday dinner at the house. Saturday was bike and run bag check in, then a pre-race dinner at a great Mexican restaurant (tradition!). Per usual, didn't get much sleep at all, but also with the modified time trial bike start, we didn't have to be there obnoxiously early.

Got up at 5:30 a.m. and did all the morning stuff. Made my oatmeal and (FORESHADOWING), it did not go down easy like it always has. I struggled HARD to eat about 70% of my bowl but it didn't sound or taste good whatsoever. This was totally foreign to me, I usually gulp down oatmeal with zero issues. I toasted a bagel and threw it in my bag to eat closer to start time, and we headed out around 6:30. My Dad dropped us off and we put nutrition on the bikes, checked run bags, dropped off special needs bags, ran into friends and took pictures. It was just a weird feeling starting on the bike, but still very much Ironman atmosphere and excitement. I was ready to get the party started.
Event warmup:

I sipped on Gatorade and tried to eat my bagel but could only eat two bites before I threw it away. Again, I have never had issues eating before races or big workouts, but I just couldn't for some reason. And it wasn't nerves, I was ready and excited to race, but didn't have crazy nerves at all. I didn't know it at the time, but this was the beginning of unprecedented stomach issues.

They started calling race numbers in blocks of 100 to the starting chute, and as I rounded the corner to line up, I saw my sweet family right there cheering me on. Like always, one of the best parts of any race day. I was starting with most of my tri club friends, so that was pretty cool. We inch inch inched up every five seconds and finally I was at the front and starting my 5th Ironman. Here we go.
  • 00m
  • 4224 yards
  • / 100 yards
Transition 1
  • 00m
  • 7h 25m 45s
  • 116 miles
  • 15.61 mile/hr

Felt really good starting the bike. I hadn't ever ridden the "stick" portion out of town, but was glad when I finally saw the start of the loop and some familiar roads and landmarks. Knowing where the hills were and what was coming felt like a big advantage.

I had to pee from the first few miles, which I took as a good sign that I was hydrated. I pulled off at an empty porta potty around mile 22 and took only one minute in there and felt tons better. Noticed that I was averaging around 16.5 mph, which is a few more miles an hour faster than I train, but just went with it since I was feeling so good (FORESHADOWING). The Hog Jowl Road descent was so much fun, with the exception of shifting left in the crappy road sections - but no issues at all. I was really excited to get to Chickamagua around mile 50 (skipped special needs), where I knew my family would be... saw them cheering like crazy and it gave me a big boost. After the crowds, I stopped at another empty porta potty and again congratulated myself on hydration. After the climb out of Chickamagua, I knew it was downhill to start the 2nd loop and I was feeling like a ROCKSTAR. Averaged right at 16 mph for the first loop.

Pretty soon after I started the second loop, I started to get a bit queasy. Nothing terrible, just a touch of "don't really wanna drink my Infinite." It happens in training sometimes but I'm always able to still drink it. And I did. Right before the big climb before Hog Jowl, I dropped my chain so stopped to fix it, and my ATC buddy Joedy passed, asking if I was OK. I got back on and passed him going up the hill and said "I told you you'd pass me!" - he has started an hour and a half after me!

But then I started to feel staggeringly sleepy. My legs were fine, but I could have closed my eyes, laid down and fallen asleep immediately. It worried me, but I kept plugging away, looking for Chickamagua knowing my family was probably going to be there. I decided I would stop for a minute when I saw them. Also during this stretch, my hot foot was flaring up. I took my left foot out of the pedal to shake it out, which helped. But when I went to unclip my right foot, it wouldn't budget at all. Nothing. Totally stuck in there. So I fought hot foot on my right foot on and off for about 40 miles. I was slowing down here on the 2nd loop, but looking back I still maintained just over 15 mph which was again, faster than I've ever ridden this course.

In Chickamagua the 2nd time, I did indeed stop where my family was stationed. I told them how sleepy I was, and it was getting hot, but didn't linger too long and got back on after some encouragement. I knew this last stretch would feel long, and it did. I was glad to hit the road back into town, because I knew it was flat and fast. I actually increased my average speed a bit here, partly because I pepped up a little and I was ready to be off the bike. Crotch talking to me, hot foot flaring up, on and off sleepiness, stomach nearly rejecting the Infinite drink. During this stretch, I actually groaned out loud when my "drink Infinite" reminder would go off. Groan, sigh, choke it down, think about something else.

Finally sighted the "bike in" arches and breathed a huge sigh of relief, realizing that I'd finished what I didn't the last time around. Rolled up to a bike catcher and told him I couldn't clip out on my right side so he held me up while I balanced and got my foot out of the shoe. He took the other shoe to keep with the bike and I was on my way into the change tent.
What would you do differently?:

Looking back, I'm pretty sure I went out too hard on the first loop. I've averaged 14.7 and 15.0 (with many many breaks) on this course before, so averaging 16 on the first loop and 15.5 average was probably too much. But gosh it just didn't feel like it at the time. My legs felt great the whole time, it was the sleepiness and nausea that set in on the 2nd loop.
Transition 2
  • 10m 16s

Jogged it into the change tent with my bag, and unknowingly beelined it right to an empty chair next to Tammy (TNickerson)! I had met her before the race and she took a great picture with me, Linda and Amy - it was nice to see a familiar face even though we had just met (all though I've followed her here on BT forever).

As I wiped my face down with a makeup wipe, an enormous wave of emotion came over me. I started to cry a little, then I started to sob, remembering that the last time I did this, I didn't make it to T2. I was so happy and so grateful to be off the bike with no mechanical issues, no crashes, no broken bones. Tammy was so sweet and filled my water bottle, chatting and ready to help as I went through my bag.

Did a full wardrobe change, body glided my feet, put some nutrition in my pockets. Hat, sunglasses, race belt, GPS tracker. It was so hot in the tent and I was sweating like crazy so wanted to get moving. Hugged Tammy and headed out into the blazing hot sun.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing - this was a good transition.
  • 7h 17m 8s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 16m 41s  min/mile

My family was right at the run-out chute, and I stopped to say hi and collect myself. I was nervous about how my legs would feel, and the sun was out and it was hot now (high ended up being 86 degrees, heat index 89 or 90). Took off and ran through the hot corner where the tri club was set up with a megaphone and went absolutely NUTS for me... it was so incredibly meaningful and comforting that they were there and so happy for me. It was definitely a high point in the race. But as soon as I hit the road there was a hill so I walked it. Tried to do my 4:1 run/walk after that, but it was so hard. The heat was immediately a huge issue, an overwhelming energy zapper. I decided to just walk a bit and try to pull it together.

My nausea increased dramatically, and was present every single step of the run. And I sincerely mean that... every single step. I also started getting dizzy on and off, and just felt so off and so ill. I took Gatorade at the first few aid stations, then took some Coke, thinking it would help settle things down. Nope. Now I was adding burping from the Coke. Lovely. I had some very serious thoughts about turning in my timing chip at the end of the first loop. I mean, I wasn't even to the hills on Barton but was feeling so awful. How was I going to finish without vomiting or passing out?! I had no idea how.

I saw my sister Brenda and Dave (Linda's husband) around mile 8 and I was bad. I think I scared them a little bit. Must have looked awful. Brenda asked what I had eaten - nothing - and offered me Glucose tabs, told me to eat, I had to eat. After they left me, I did pull out the toasted marshmallow GU from my pocket and nursed it down. It did not sit well but did stay down. I was walking almost all of every mile which upset me even more.

Got across the river to Barton and the hills. I did jog a few steps down the hill and I think this is where Amy passed me on her 2nd loop. I called out to her just to say hey, but she stopped and walked with me for probably half a mile! It was such a relief to have a friend encouraging me, I really appreciated her. Somewhere after that, I started chatting with Sean from California. He was funny and nice, and his wife met up with him multiple times. We walked a lot and ran a little for many miles together, even back across the river and through the hot corner where the tri club went crazy for me. Sean was like wow... that was so cool! It was. And because it was so cool, I all but forgot about my option to stop my race at the run halfway point. I was now on the 2nd loop and I was going to try to finish, even if I had to walk the entire rest of the way.

At special needs, I grabbed my salt/vinegar chips and tootsie rolls - ate a few chips and put the candy in my pocket. Sean took off at some point after this, and the sun finally started to set and cool things off ever so slightly. Got my glow necklace and tried some chicken broth, which tasted really good but again, didn't sit well in my stomach. In this section, I chatted for many miles with a guy named Eddie from Nashville. He was so sweet, had a mumbly southern drawl and kept me company as we both commiserated about nausea. I swear we were together for at least 5 miles, then he decided to run for a bit and I just couldn't.

I did a lot of bad math in my head, knowing that the finish line was open until 12:40, but not really sure what time of day I started. I had no idea if I was going to make the 14:40 time limit, and my Garmin died right about then. So all I could do was keep moving forward. In the dark, I unknowingly passed my buddy Greg from the tri club (he was the barefoot guy), he called out after seeing my ATC top and I turned around to give him a hug and walked with him for about a mile before he had to stop for a cramp. After that, I chatted with Bruce from North Carolina for a few miles - it's just so interesting how complete strangers so quickly become your best friends out there. In this stretch I did eat two mini cherry tootsie rolls.

The last 4, 3, 2 miles ticked off at an excruciatingly slow pace. It was REALLY dark in some areas, everyone was so deflated and so quiet, I couldn't see the ground, couldn't run and my stomach hated me. But I kept going. Blisters on the balls of my feet. Wanted to vomit. Everything made me dizzy - the dark, the police car lights, the smell of weed coming from the party house... I was barely hanging on.

Last mile and finally hit Veteran's Bridge over the river. I could hear the announcer calling people over the finish line. Tried to jog a few steps here and there. I was so close. Around a few corners, and I finally heard a volunteer say "the finish chute starts at the bright light down there"

I kept walking through the first part of the chute but then decided, let's go. Let's run this thing in. I hit the red carpet and all of the spectators were suddenly there with cowbells and cheers and high fives. I high fived the right side of the chute and they told me to give some love to the left side, so I did. Got back in the middle and saw my family on the left side. It was just me in the chute. The announcer called my name and I fist pumped along with him as he said "You... Are... AN IRONMAN!"
What would you do differently?:

This is difficult to pinpoint. I've never had this kind of nausea in training or racing before. I usually don't want to eat much on the run, but don't feel like vomiting every step of the way. The dizziness has happened on a few of my hot training runs, but again not to this degree. In the end, I am thinking my body was having an off day from the beginning (not being able to eat my oatmeal), and pushing too hard on the bike, plus the heat, plus the overall race fatigue just made my stomach shut down.
Post race
Warm down:

My finish line catcher asked how I felt and I said "I've been better!" but I was finished and just needed to find my family. My Mom had been carrying around my gluten free pizza for hours, and had it for me right there, but there was no way I could even think about food.

Caught up with Linda and Dave, took some pictures, then my Dad took me back to the house first before going back to get everyone else. Took a shower, laid down in bed and a few minutes later I had to run back into the bathroom as my body finally decided it was time to throw up. Nothing came up, just dry heaving, but that's the first time I've ever puked after training or racing. Couldn't sleep that night as my body was buzzing and throbbing... the bones in my feet hurt so bad.

The next morning, hung out with everyone at the breakfast table (finally ate some of that pizza) before everyone but me and mom took off. We napped and lazed around the rest of the day, then headed back to Atlanta Tuesday morning.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Nausea and dizziness.

I have a "finish time" in the results, but it also says "did not finish within the allotted time" as they only gave 14:40 to do the bike, transition and run. It's painfully obvious that if I would have done a swim and T1, I would have had plenty of time to spare to finish within the 16:30 they normally give. So it kind of sucks that I missed the official cut off by 13 minutes, but I still crossed the finish line and consider myself an Ironman Chattanooga finisher.

Event comments:

Chattanooga is a great Ironman venue. In 2018, the swim got cancelled due to record rains and flooding, so it was a bike/transition/run event. The bike course is hilly and fun (4,800 feet of climbing) and the run has some wicked hills on the 2nd half of each loop. I enjoyed the community, the volunteers and the course - despite it being a little different than a normal year.

Profile Album

Last updated: 2017-11-01 12:00 AM
00:00:00 | 4224 yards | / 100yards
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/
Start type: Plus:
Water temp: 0F / 0C Current:
200M Perf. Remainder:
Breathing: Drafting:
Waves: Navigation:
Time: 00:00
Cap removal: Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
07:25:45 | 116 miles | 15.61 mile/hr
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/
Performance: Average
Wind: Little
Course: After riding out of town, two loops through beautiful North Georgia.
Road:  Dry Cadence:
Turns: Average Cornering: Average
Gear changes: Good Hills: Average
Race pace: Hard Drinks: Just right
Time: 10:16
Overall: Good
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
07:17:08 | 26.2 miles | 16m 41s  min/mile
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/
Performance: Bad
Course: The run course changed as part of it was underwater from the flooding. The new course still had the crazy hills on the other side of the river, naturally.
Keeping cool Below average Drinking Not enough
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Average
Mental exertion [1-5] 1
Physical exertion [1-5] 1
Good race? No
Course challenge Too hard
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 4

2018-10-02 4:21 PM

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Roswell, Georgia
Subject: Ironman Chattanooga

2018-10-02 6:21 PM
in reply to: #5250097

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Eugene, Oregon
Subject: RE: Ironman Chattanooga
Congrats on toughing it out despite feeling yuck ALL day! I have been in a similar situation for HIM (oddly, in Chattanooga as well at Worlds last year--starting to wonder about the food safety in that town as I met several people in that race last year with the same issues). I don't think I could have toughed it out for full IM feeling like that. Sounds like some kind of low grade virus or maybe food poisoning. Also sorry about the swim--I would have been disappointed as well and it really does suck if it kept your finish from being "official". Hope you are feeling better soon!
2018-10-03 5:06 AM
in reply to: #5250097

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Subject: RE: Ironman Chattanooga
Yeah you rocked it! Way to persevere and not give up! The nausea sounds like it was pretty serious. Congratulations!
2018-10-03 8:29 AM
in reply to: #5250097

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Extreme Veteran
Subject: RE: Ironman Chattanooga
So proud of you for staying strong and keep moving forward despite feeling so bad. You crossed that finish line!!! I loved meeting you in person and hope we can meet up again at another race in the future.
2018-10-03 9:53 AM
in reply to: #5250097

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Simsbury, Connecticut
Subject: RE: Ironman Chattanooga
I wish we had a chance to meet up!

Good job pushing through. The run is such a mental mind $%*( when you feel crappy and add the heat on top of it.

I was a little dizzy on the run too and that made me nervous. I kept looking at my watch waiting for sundown!

Congrats on another finish

2018-10-03 10:05 AM
in reply to: #5250097

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Subject: RE: Ironman Chattanooga

Ugh, sorry you felt so badly; but congrats on sucking it up and getting it done!!

2018-10-03 10:17 AM
in reply to: #5250097

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, Minnesota
Subject: RE: Ironman Chattanooga

Sounds like a really tough day - you deserve an EXTRA BIG CONGRATULATIONS finishing under those conditions.  As if Ironman isn't hard enough?!   Great job, Lisa!

2018-10-03 11:07 AM
in reply to: #5250097

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Falls Church, Virginia
Subject: RE: Ironman Chattanooga
Congratulations, Lisa! What a tough day. Way to get it done and show your grit.
2018-10-04 9:20 AM
in reply to: #5250097

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Englewood, Florida
Subject: RE: Ironman Chattanooga

Great job staying strong and getting it done in cruddy conditions. When is the next one?

2018-10-04 2:39 PM
in reply to: Atlantia

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Subject: RE: Ironman Chattanooga
Congrats on crossing that finishing line!
2018-10-05 8:20 AM
in reply to: #5250097

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Raleigh, North Carolina
Subject: RE: Ironman Chattanooga
Wow, amazing perseverance on a very tough day. Inspiring!

2018-10-05 9:30 AM
in reply to: TXTriRook

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Raleigh, NC area
Subject: RE: Ironman Chattanooga

Congratulations, Lisa! It as great to see you in Chattanooga! You are most definitely and Ironman!

2018-10-05 2:11 PM
in reply to: #5250097

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Subject: RE: Ironman Chattanooga

Huge congratulations on getting through the run feeling as awful as you did - kind of funny you were distracted by others and missed your chance to call it quits after one lap!  The support from your family, friends, and tri club sound wonderful - it is amazing how they boost morale and spirit.  By all means, yes, you are an Ironman(atee)!!  I'm so glad you had a successful return to IM (minus the nausea) and a safe bike experience, congratulations again!

2018-10-05 3:09 PM
in reply to: BikerGrrrl

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Subject: RE: Ironman Chattanooga

Originally posted by BikerGrrrl

Sounds like a really tough day - you deserve an EXTRA BIG CONGRATULATIONS finishing under those conditions.  As if Ironman isn't hard enough?!   Great job, Lisa!

Awesome awesome job - great perseverance. Way to go, multiple time Ironman! 

2018-10-08 11:00 AM
in reply to: #5250097

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Subject: RE: Ironman Chattanooga

Oh WOW! I can so relate to the dead Garmin and not knowing if you'll have time to finish, but not ok enough to push the pace any more. And the pesky "Drink Infinit" timer. This is just now how I envisioned your race going. You put in the effort in the training. I'm really glad that you had people to walk and talk with that helped you stick it out.

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