Race Report: Chelan Man Half-Iron

Saturday was hot. Long, hot, and painful. It may have been the heat, or a deficiency in my training, or maybe poor hydration in the early period of the race, but at about 45 miles into the bike leg, everything shut down. My legs stopped pumping, cramped up completely; I became dizzy and my lips began to tingle. I managed to find a little shade, and as I watched dozens of riders sail past, I recovered a little bit. A carload of race fans had a bit of water, and I drank a fair amount, but I think it was far too late at this point. I allowed myself to become considerably behind on maintaining my hydration, and as a result, I’m afraid the rest of the race was merely an effort to finish.

Upon reaching the top of the final climb, about half a mile past where I first was forced to stop, I immediately cramped again, worse this time, and nearly fell off my bike. If it weren’t for the aide station at the top of the hill, and the workers there who caught me, I probably would have tipped over in a pile of my own vomit. All the fluids I’d managed to swallow a half mile earlier came up in a torrent of red, and while they tried to massage my stiffened legs back into motion, I again drank almost two whole bottles full of water and HEED (an electrolyte/water mixture made by HammerGel). After another ten to fifteen minutes worth of rest, I was able to get back on my bike once more and continue down the road. Luckily, it was only eight more miles to the end of the bike leg, almost all down hill.

Upon reaching the transition area, the temperature had climbed into the high nineties, and it was getting hotter. I doused my head with a bottle of water, and strapped on my running shoes. My body temp still hadn’t cooled off, but there were thirteen more miles to go, and it was only getting hotter, so I couldn’t linger. Most of the “run” was a walk, and it took me over three hours to complete the course. I had to stop for a considerable period in the first two miles of the race to try to cool off, and I was able to resume my staggered pace. Nearly every aide station along the way had kids with super-soakers, or buckets full of water-drenched sponges, so I was able to cool myself every mile or two. I got to the point where I couldn’t really drink any more, but I was still much too hot. Without any shade my body would just not cool down.

I finally crossed the finish at 7:28:32, sat at the aide station, threw up again, and pretty much failed at all of my goals except one: I finished.