Anatomy of a DNF (Part I)

10K, 6.2 miles. Normally a piece of cake to run in an hour or less. But for me, running 6.2 miles in less then 90 minutes after having swam 2.4 miles, biked 112 miles, and ran 20 miles was just not going to be possible. At 10:30 PM, at the aid station just before mile 20, I decided to pull out of the race. I decided it was better to pull out then to attempt it and fail. I simply had nothing left in my legs.

Pre Race
I decided to take off from the Wednesday prior to the race through the Tuesday after it so I would have plenty of time to prep before the race as well as recover post race. On Wednesday I prepped my bike and packed all my bags. We headed out Thursday after Cathy got off of work. In order to save some money and not have to drive all the way into Wilmington NC in one night, we decided to stay in Myrtle Beach where we were able to get a room for much less then in Wilmington. We spent the night in Myrtle Beach and headed into Wilmington on Friday morning.

We were able to check in to the Hilton earlier then expected and then headed over to the expo. I picked up my packet which included a nice long sleeved tech shirt, socks, and a duffle bag. Based on some reports on Beginner Triathlete, I decided to search for a pair of Neoprene booties for the swim. Turns out both tri shop exhibitors were sold out as was the local tri shops. Since this was a beach town, I did have a few other options.

The "mandatory" meetings were held at Noon,2, and 4. We arrived too later for the noon meeting, but I knew several bloggers would be there so we decided to hang out till the meeting let out to see who we could run into. When the meeting let out, we ran into some of our local friends. Steph and her husband Doug. We also ran into Brian who we knew from swimming at LA Fitness. Doug and Brian were racing the full (both their first full)and Steph was there to support Doug. Based on my discussion with them, I decided it really wasnt necessary to go to the meeting since I already had the packet and pretty much everything was covered in the race booklet. Since it looked like everyone had left, we decided to head back to the hotel. As it turns out, the bloggers had decided to meet up inside the meeting space. As we were heading back to the hotel, we ran into Calyx, Donna, and John. We talked for a while and then it was time to go drop off the bike

We went back to the hotel and drove over to T1 to drop off the bike. At some point between Wednesday night and Thursday evening, my rear tire went flat. Luckily, a LBS was providing support at transition that day and was able to fix it for me for free. While he was fixing my tire, I asked him about surf/dive shops. He gave me a few options. We stopped first at the local surf shop, but they only had their winter ones which were too big and thick to swim in. We then headed to a dive shop where we were able to find a pair of neoprene dive booties that not only would keep my feet warm, but had treads on the bottom which would be prefect for the quarter mile hike to T1. By that point it was mid afternoon and we hadnt eaten since our late breakfast. We stopped at subway for lunch and then we found a neat little cupcake shop that made all sorts of small cupcakes. We picked up several cupcakes for post race and I splurged on a lighter angel food cupcake then that was delicious. We then headed back to the hotel to relax.

It seems like this year we have had bad luck with pre-race dinners (Augusta, never called us, lost our name??). For dinner, we decided to order delivery from a local Italian restaurant that I knew others had planned on eating at. Based on when we had lunch and the fact that I kinda wanted to just be in my own space, I thought it better to order delivery. They said it would be 45 minutes for delivery. No big deal I thought. An hour later we called only to find out they attempted to deliver to the wrong hotel. I mean, how hard is it to find the Hilton on the river that is only a few blocks away???? We finally ate after 8PM which I was a little disappointed with, but I scarfed my dinner down and tried to relax. I was able to fall asleep a little after 9PM.

Race Day
I set my alarm for 3:30 AM. I wanted to eat before 4AM so my stomach would be mostly empty by race time at 7 AM. I had a PB&J sandwich and a bottle of gatorade. I headed downstairs with all my garbage bags (transition/special needs) about 4:45 to catch the bus to T1 at 5AM. I checked on my bike to make sure the tires were still ok and drop off all my bags. While in transition I ran into Brian and Neal, another member of our Tri club who was doing his first full. I went to get body marked. I knew Steph would be there so I sought her out and had her mark me. I then waited for a second bus that takes us to the swim start. B2B is a spread out course. The swim is a point to point that starts upstream from T1 in Wrightsville Beach. T1 was in Wrightsville beach. The bike course heads North through rural parts of eastern NC and then heads back south and finishes at T2 next to the battleship in Wilmington. The run is then a two loop out and back course that goes 6.5 miles out through Wilmington and back to the battleship.

I arrived at the swim start about 6:15 AM. I decided to walk the five minutes down the beach to the actual start to check it out and then headed back to where the busses dropped us off. I made one last stop at the porto-john and then decided to get into my wetsuit. Luckily, it wanst too cold outside so I was ok in my sleeveless. I ran into Neal and Doug and chatted with them until it was time to walk down to the start. I dipped my feet into the water and thought it wasnt too cold. I didnt want to get all the way in because I knew I would be too cold if I had to stand out in the cold while fully soaked.
They played the national anthem and then we were off. This was my first mass start as well as my first saltwater swim. Overall, it started off ok. When I hit the water, I was definitely out of breath due to the cold, but that passed quickly. It was definitely crowded, especially up to the one turn buoy, but I made out ok. The only issue I initially had was that I nearly loosed my new neoprene booties in the initial skirmish of the swim start. The first half of the swim went by pretty well. I could tell when I passed the halfway point because I could hear those waiting for the 8AM start of the Half cheering us on. I think I hit this point around 30 minutes or so. Unfortunately, a little after this, things fell apart on the swim. Because of my extra weight, my wetsuit was slightly tight. I neglected to put any body glide on my neck and it rubbed my neck raw. That combined with the amount of salt water I that entered my mouth caused me to doggy paddle more then swim freestyle. It was easier on my neck and I didnt care for any more salt water in my mouth. I ended up finishing in around 1:13 which is an OK time, but I could have done much better.

As you finish up a the swim, you climb up a ladder and there is assistance if necessary. you then come to the wetsuit strippers who have you sit on a bench as they pull your wetsuit up. I ran up off the dock and showered off and ran most of the way to the changing tent. I grabbed my bag and changed into my bike outfit.I wore my arm warmers and decided to grap my lightweight throwaway poncho in case I needed it. I applied my bag balm to my chafing-prone areas as well as a little to my neck where I had rubbed it raw. It seemed like I was really swollen because it took forever to get my socks and arm warmers on because they felt so tight. I made sure to dry off as best as I could and headed out to my bike.

I will finish the rest in Part II including my thoughts on why I failed and my plans for 2010 and beyond


Shannon said…
I like DNF instead of failure. Next year you'll knock it out of the park, you'll look back on this experience and realize that you needed to learn what to do and not do to make the next race the one that you're successful in. Chin up....
ShirleyPerly said…
So sorry we missed you at the athletes meeting! A few of us saw each other during it, came together inside after it was over and we never made it outside until most everyone had left.

But I was happy to see you out on the run course. Sounds like you gave it your all and that's all anyone can do. I'll bet you learn a lot from your DNF like I did and then come back with a vengeance.
Gotta Run..... said…
Bring on the rest of the report. I see NO failure in anything that happened.

Maybe I can toe the line with at your next one.
Wes said…
dude. I nailed my first IM swim in 1:12. You rocked it!! Congratulations. No matter what happens at the race, it is the (anti) climax! Bring no part deaux :-)
Tea said…
Well...speaking as someone who has been there (and I haven't read Part II yet), allow yourself the time you need. The DNF will be difficult at first. Once some time passes, you will stop going thru the "what ifs". Ultimately, you will be a better triathlete because of it.
Stef0115 said…
I agree with Gotta Run Gotta Ride. I don't see any failure here either.

You got a result that was different from the result that you wanted. How you interpret it is up to you. What you do from this point on is up to you.

I know that a good part of it SUCKS as I've DNF'd several shorter races myself BUT I do feel like when you do cross the line at an Iron race it will be that much sweeter of a victory for you.

You are awesome in my book. Now I'm on to read part 2. :-)
David said…
Kevin, I believe you and I spoke in the lobby of the Hilton. I'm sorry that you had a bad race, but like the others who have commented here, I think you made a calculated (and probably wise) decision given the way your body felt at the time. Everyone has bad race days -- go back and conquer it next time.
sRod said…
it sounds like everything was going OK so far. I'm really expecting flying monkies or something in Part II.