Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Coteau Report

(warming-up in my super-awesome new nineteen wetsuit)

On Sunday afternoon I retired.
30 minutes or-so later, I decided to make a comeback. So Newly back from retirement, here are 3 common assumptions that get on my nerves.

Number 1) That you must have been working hella hard to race until you pass out.
This is a common, but very incorrect assumption. Look at the athletes winning the WCS races. Unless they are wayyy out front like Brownlee sometimes is, they are usually giving it their all. As in, that is as hard as they can go- they can't go any faster. Then 30 seconds later microphones are shoved into their faces, and in 5 minutes or so they're up on the podium looking totally refreshed. Not in an ambulance. You pass out when something is wrong not from trying too hard.

Number 2) That you must have very poor hydration/nutrition strategies in order to become so dehydrated that your kidneys start to fail.
This is much less of a stupid assumption.. but it is still an assumption.

Number 3) That you weren't fit enough to be pushing yourself that hard thereby eliciting an uber-bonk.
Similar to Number 1, but even more insulting. As triathletes we train pretty hard. I know that we are often putting in 3 or more times the amount of training as track athletes, and yet I've collapsed in a 5km cross-country race, and major-bonked after two other 5k races. Now what were you saying about my fitness?

direct example: When I mentioned to the nurse that I've had this history of collapsing in races, but that my identical twin sister didn't have that problem, she said, "your sister is likely more fit."
ook. New nurse please.

This weekend was a good wake-up call for me. I've been whining for a while that I think there is something wrong with me when I race, but now I KNOW there is something not right. I'm not too worried about training, but I am going to wait until I get some testing done before I race again that is for sure. So about that race...

It started off awesome. The main thing I freakout about pre-race is making the front pack. Every race, I know that I’m going to have to stay really tough if I want to make that lead group, and despite being a small field- this race had quite a number of excellent swimmers. But shockingly, I dove into the water, and found myself instantly ahead of the masses. I saw Angela Quick swimming off to my right, and KNEW that those were the feet I needed to be on, so I easily skooched over, and from then on was just cruising. By the 500m turn-around it dawned on me that I could be swimming a lot harder. I have never ever felt this way before. The only problem was that my goggles had fogged up so badly that I couldn’t see anything. Not one thing. I know- Lame excuse, but I felt like if I did pull ahead on my own I would just end up on the completely wrong side of the canal. So I swam up beside Angela and tried to see if I could pick the pace up a bit by pushing it beside her, while still letting her guide me. Maybe it was just that I had moved out of the draft, but I think we picked it up a bit. On the run-around at 1000 meters I was able to give my goggles a quick wipe and the next 500 was so much better. Thank goodness I was able to see because I had separated myself from Angela on the dive back in, and from 2 people over I saw her surge (is that solely a running term?). I knew I had to get on that, but I couldn’t get over to her right away, so instead I sprinted to the bouys and since I had the inside line, I easily got on her feet as we headed back to the pontoon. She was motoring. By the swim exit she (and me with her) had made a few seconds on the other girls, and I still wasn’t feeling nearly as tired as I usually do out of the water. I had a good run to transition and ended up with a decent lead out of T1. I couldn’t believe it! As I was letting the lead pack of girls pull through, I realized Alex was on the back of them! I was so stoked! And instantly felt really bad for pushing the first bit of the bike in my attempt to shake off any stragglers. I had almost dropped my own sister! But she had made it in, and we separated from the main group, so it all worked out. Except Dorelle was nowhere to be seen! A dropped chain had landed her in chase pack. For the first two laps we could see Evelyne Blouin chasing us down. I really hoped she would catch us because I felt like we needed just one more strong rider if we wanted to stay away from the bigger chase group. I was stoked when she did catch up! Man that girl is strong. It was a tough ride, but I think the five of us worked really well together. There’s no hiding or wimping out on a bike like that. We had a couple laps of riding scared as the chase group made time on us, but then we really hardened up and increased our lead again.

Into transition, I ended up folding the back of my shoe, and came out of T2 way last of the pack for my third time this year. And to make my attempts at bridging up worse, my quads immediately started to cramp up. I have yet to do an Olympic distance without cramping, but usually I can hold out for a lap or two. This time, my quads were locked right off the bat. I couldn’t get into a comfortable stride because it felt like my muscle fibers were tearing with every step. Considering how painful walking is today- they probably were. I saw Alex and Kathy duking it out up ahead, but even though I knew I could definitely be running faster, my legs weren’t going to let me. Onto the second lap when the cramping had not eased up a bit, I knew it was going to be one looooooong ten kilometers. And I knew it was only going to get worse. Boy did it ever get worse. A podium was out, so that sucked, but I figured that if I stuck it out I still might be able to manage a top 5. And I really really really wanted that top 5 to put me in contention for a worlds spot. On the third lap I went from feeling hot and thirsty to freezing cold. I’ve experienced this before, so even though I knew this meant my body was starting to shut down, I irrationally thought the temperature outside must have suddenly plummeted. When I found myself swerving off the path onto the grass, I told myself that I had meant to do that. Onto the last lap I was. not. moving. Manon flew by me. Evelyn pulled away, but I knew I still had a decent lead on the 6th place girl. I think my body had almost completely shut down by the turn around but I just kept pushing myself towards the line. I didn’t see Alex waiting for me at the finish but I felt her catch me as I crossed it. I don’t remember anything else until I was in the ambulance.

Alex has been doing imitations of what I looked liked in the last 400 meters and it is sooooooooo embarrassing ugh haha. Like a marching duck with a wobbly head.

I almost didn't want to write about my second trip to emerge in less than a year, but it came out anyways.
..so if you're tired of Kyla Coates dramatic blog posts, you can stop reading now.

In the ambulance, all the muscles in my legs completely locked up, it was really painful but the least of my worries. The last times this has happened it has always been during hot races, so I am usually immediately surrounded by volunteers who cover me in ice, and after some time I start to feel better- Since it wasn't hot out today, I don't think anyone considered my temperature. Now I have nooooo clue what was going on with me.. I think my blood pressure might have been low, but I really wish my temperature had been taken as well. As I was lying in the ambulance I felt like my body temperature was just building and building. I didn't feel hot necessarily, but I felt like every protein in my body was denaturing and that my organs were shutting down. Ok melodramatic I know.. but I don't know how else to describe it. It's almost like the worst pins and needles you can imagine all throughout your internal organs, and just building and building. I was begging for someone to bring me ice, but no one would. I don't usually spit inside vehicles, but I couldn't stop gagging up. A volunteer finally found me an ice pack but it wasn't enough, and as they strapped on the oxygen and the IV, I finally began to let go of my panicking. My awareness of myself and my surroundings faded away as well and I could no longer feel the pain, but I was way too scared to let myself pass out completely. It was as if all of me had become centered in a little ball of light behind my eyes. I had been rocking my legs to ease the cramping, so from my little tiny bubble of conciousness, I focused on doing that. I can’t die if I keep moving my legs I thought, and I kept repeating 'Alex came second, Alex came second, Alex came second'. It was my little anchor of happiness that was keeping me from completely passing out. I know that it's JUST a triathlon, but that was the only happy thing coming to me at the time. Either they had the windows open or they were blasting the air-conditioning, but I think the cold air made the biggest difference. Minute by minute my awareness gradually began to expand back towards normal, and when we arrived at the hospital and the paramedic told me to open my eyes, I found that I could.

I was very happy that my mom was with me, but I felt really bad about her witnessing that. I think it's easier just to say, hey mom, I passed out in a race, but I'm ok now!
I ended up on an IV for the next 22 hours in emerge because my Kidneys were showing signs of the beginnings of failure, and they were concerned about a little bit of heart stress. It wasn't the greatest experience. The IV also made me soooooo poofy that I looked like I had gained 20 pounds to my face. Alex packed up my ridiculous amounts of luggage, so we made our flight home yesterday evening. And now I am home!!! And everything is ok. And I think I do want to be a triathlete again after all, so long as my body will let me. Luckily I've got the best support staff ever here so I know I will be in good hands. I hope that this race will still have qualified me for Worlds because my only other chance is San Francisco in two weeks time, and unfortunately I really really doubt I will be ready to race again by then. My goal this year was for Alex and I to go to Worlds together though.. so at least she's done her part!
Huge congrats to Kathy and Alex, and Manon and Andrew for their podiums here in Coteau, and everyone who raced so well this weekend (Monroe & St. Malo too)!
And thanks to Kathy & DJ for letting me stay at their place and taking such great care of me earlier in the week!


Gregwh said...

Scariest race report I've read in awhile. Glad you survived it. I am gonna go out on a limb and say it's not under training. Get well soon, take it easy until you do. Sports lore is full of stories of athletes who were forced to rest due to illness or injury and followed up with medals and records.

@mountainCLYDE said...

Hi K. I'm sure your tests will help you uncover the issue. But in the meantime...

Do you take thermolytes (sodium tablets)? I was a 400/800m runner in college, so never had a problem with cramping until I started tris, and moved beyond the sprints into the 1.5 hour+ range of races. I never pushed myself quite as hard as you, but had significant issues with cramping--primarily because I sweat like a beast! The high sweat rate flushes sodium out of my body. Without the sodium, I can't stay hydrated because water passes right through me.

But after taking thermolytes (and getting the timing & quantity down), I've had zero cramping issues.

A high rate of sodium loss could explain the cramping. And the dehydration could explain the blacking out...

Kyla Coates said...

Thank you both for the concern! I have worked with sodium tablets in the past, and I was using eload during this race, but I have not tried thermolytes specifically. I will look into it! I do think that electrolytes are likely a big part of my problem especially with the cramping. I feel like I am unable to stay hydrated as well. We are doing a bunch of testing right now to try and figure out why this has been such an ongoing issue for me, and why these severe system failures are still happening in mild conditions, and even in short events like 5k races. Soooo hopefully I'll have a solution soon!