The Journey

The journey is more important than the destination.

Several years ago a friend of mine asked me if I would do the Fairlee Triathlon in Vermont. After training for three months, feeling like I was going to drown in the swim, feeling nauseus on the run, I crossed the finished line and was hooked.This led to my triathlon journey.

Please consider supporting my latest effort to raise money for Bretton Woods Adaptive through the Janus Charity Challenge at Ironman Lake Placid this July. Check out the Links I Like section of the blog or explore the BWA Fundraiser links.

Monday, July 27, 2009

DNF...

The last 24 hours have been a roller coaster. It's 7am in Lake Placid and as exhausted as I am I've been up since 5:30 after finally getting to bed around midnight.

Lots of people have asked me "what happened" at the race yesterday? I'm not sure that I can fit it all into one post so I'll try to give a short summary now and will put up a full race report in the coming days.

After feeling good most of the dayand having what I thought was a pretty good swim, bike and first 10 miles on the marathon, things took a very quick turn for the worse after that.

Somewhere soon after that I began to get behind in my nutrition and hydration and it very quickly caught to me. Every time I tried to take in some gel I felt like I was going to throw up and unfortunately that was the only nutrition I had with me. I tried to use some of the on-course nutrition but that didn't sit well either. Trying to eat pretzels was a particularly bad idea. I started to gag almost immediately after the first bite.

After running for most of the first 10 miles on the run I started to run and walk as I was able. Slowly that turned to more walking than running. I was hoping that trying to make up for the fluid loss by slowing my pace would catch me up and I could pick up the pace for the 2nd half of the marathon. That never happened - it seemed like my system just stopped absorbing anything at that point.

At about mile 18 or 19, I don't remember exactly, I went from what I perceived as a power walk to just trying to put one foot in front of the other. Things are a little spacey until I get to mile 21 when I see some awesome supporters from the Granite State Triathlon Club. They gave me some words of encouragement and I pushed ahead.

The situation really went downhill after that. I remember going by an ambulance that was located next to an aid station and the EMT's asking if I was OK. They said I was wobbling a bit but I told them I was OK. After another 2o yards or so I stopped and got really wobbly. I think the EMT's were following me because I remember being held up at this point. They told me that they wanted to check me out and walked me back to the ambulance.

One of the last clear things I remember is them setting me down on the bumper of the ambulance. After that, the memories are scattered, except for one. At one point I heard them saying my name and rubbing their knuckles on my chest to get my attention and asked a question: "David, we need your permission to transport you to the medical tent". My eyes welled up with tears as I nodded yes. After that I remember a mix of feeling cold and hot, shivering uncontrollably and trying to hold the tears back. All I wanted to do was close my eyes and go to sleep but the EMT's kept asking me questions and rubbing my chest to keep me awake.

The next crystal clear memory is seeing my wife at the medical tent. At that point holding back the tears was impossible. I completely released. My time in the medical tent was a similar story of sporadic memories as I was hooked up to IV fluids. But, after four liters of fluids I began to feel coherent again.

After getting back to the hotel room the reality of why I faded so quickly became apparent when I got on the scale. Even after receiving 4 liters of IV fluid I had still dropped 15 pounds from my pre-race weight.

Dealing with my first DNF is an experience I'm still trying to figure out....more on that to come I'm sure.

18 comments:

Scorow's Library said...

We think you're cool anyhow Dave, you worked hard and most people could never even get as far as you did, especially me!

David Criswell said...

Thanks Scott, I kept saying to myself that the only way I wasn't finishing is if it was involuntary. Unfortunately, that became a reality ;-)

Vardaman Family Blog said...

Sorry it didn't work out the way you planned. I still think you're a stud for doing what you did. That's an amazing amount of racing! Hope the recovery goes well.

Luckeee said...

Reading your story made ME cry! I am so sorry you didnt get to finish, but SO glad you are ok. I think you are amazing and I am so proud that you did so well. That stuff happens.
I dont even have the courage to start an Ironman. You are an Ironman to me.

Take care.

Lisa

David Criswell said...

Matt, thanks for the comment. I have started the recovery process with 2 breakfasts so far, and it's only 10:30.

Lisa, It was definitely an emotional day. Usually is, no matter what the outcome of the day. I got choked up in '06 after finishing the race as soon as I saw Amy and C. I appreciate your thoughts.

John said...

Dave,

The running author George Sheehan once said "the miracle is not that I finished, but that I had the courage to start"

Triathlons, especially Ironman races are always a personal learing experience, in so many ways. We are proud of you and you should be proud of yourself.

Recover quickly

John Eisner

jen said...

David,

You still did great, and you are amazing to have taken on the challenge!

I am relieved to hear that you are OK!

-Jen Marts

thetebbetts said...

Geez Dave, just reading your written words made me cry! What a day it was for you. 15 Pounds?? That's scary. So glad the EMT's were paying attention, and that you are okay. Battered and bruised maybe, but okay.
Sending good vibes!
Jeanne

David Criswell said...

Thanks Jen and Jeanne for the positive thoughts. Hearing everyone's well wishes certainly puts everything in perspective.

John, that is an awesome quote! Not sure how I've missed that before now but thank you so much for sharing it!

Samantha Freni said...

Dave - congratulations on how hard you worked and how far you made it. Your blog title line says it the best "The journey is more important than the destination."

I can only imagine taking on such a challenge.

-Sam

David Criswell said...

Thanks Sam, that's been a helpful statement to refer to. It's a good reminder for me of why I'm involved with the sport!

Sandy Woehr said...

David it is not the race but the journey, and you took a journey that not many can even say they have been on. SUPER JOB!!!! Next time, take the cookies with you. LOL

David Criswell said...

Who knows Sandy, the cookies may have helped. I was racking my brain to try and figure out what calories I could take in that could keep me going but also agree with my stomach after 12 hours. Maybe cookies are the answer!

Scott MacHardy said...

David- it has been with great interest that I have followed your training and read your posts on the trials and tribulations of being a tri-athlete. The focus, determination and commitment you have shown in this quest is inspirational. To undertake this challenge at our age is amazing. While you may have fallen short of the intended goal, the "journey" has been the real story here. You should be proud of your accomplishments as are all your friends. When the time is right and the challenge is right I have no doubt you will tackle the next race head-on. Congratulations!!

Stephen said...

Like Reading Hemmingway - As usual, your bravery and independence exceed rationality. Love you for all that. Get well, do it again, and learn even more about yourself from it ll. Proud, moved, inspired - You're still the best.

Steve

David Criswell said...

Scott & Stephen, thanks for the encouraging thoughts. The journey has been an awesome experience. My perspective gets deeper the more I think back on it. Unfortunately, that's still virtually all the time :-0.

Detroit Triathlon said...

Dave, That's tough but I know a lot of people, including myself got very dehydrated on the course (although not as bad as that). I heard the humidity picked up on the 2nd loop of the bike but most people didn't feel it because of the headwind. Learn from it and move ahead. Good job on the fundraising, btw, I saw you at the awards banquet. - @JaredDetroit

David Criswell said...

Thanks for the comment Jared. The fundraising made it all worthwhile. No doubt that I learned some valuable hydration lessons for next time!

I moved on by signing up for a couple more races this fall to take advantage of my fitness - a sprint and 1/2 iron. Looking forward to rock at those races.