Yeah, me too.
And during my 90-minute-but-felt-like-90-hour drive home, I beat myself up good and plenty, but I had some time to think about what happened.
And honestly, I really don't know what to say.
I have never quit a race before. In fact, I don't quit ever (well, except for the random workout here and there during IM training when my body was just exhausted, and a recent run because I did it at noon when it was Africa hot - but again, those were physical and I made those workouts later).
I mean, fuck, I broke my back training for IM once, and turned around and did trained again. So right now, I am stunned. Stunned and disappointed.
So here's the thing- there is no question that physically, I was prepared. As much as I talked shit about it, I got my workouts in.
I toed shore of Lake Michigan today physically ready.
But mentally, I never showed up.
The warnings about the water temperature psyched me out, and the first time I stepped into the water to test it out, I let quitting enter my mind.
And it was pretty much over from there.
I made it about 200-300 yards, stopped, started, stopped again, started again. But I panicked – I literally couldn’t breath.
The cold literally took my breath away, and never gave it back.
Erin pulled up to me about 100 yards in, and told me that we would do this, we would swim together.
And Erin, if your reading this – I am so very grateful for that.
I just couldn’t do it.
I swam the 100 yards back to shore, and the second my foot hit the sand, the regret, second-guessing and sobs started. I made a mistake.
I could have swam on my back, doggy paddled – anything – just to regulate myself, but in that moment in that frigid water, I didn’t think of any other those things.
The only thing I thought was, “I can’t breath – I can’t do this.”
As I started back into shore, a guy on a surf board asked me if I needed help.
The tears welled up and I said, “I’m an Ironman – I should be able to do this – so no, I don’t need help.”
But who fucking cares about an Ironman three months ago? Seriously – who really gives a shit? Today was a new race, a new challenge. Ironman was the past, and this was the present.
The walk back to transition along the shore, I sobbed – I pussed out, and had no legitimate excuse. It’s not like I broke a leg, or crashed on the bike. I quit in my mind. I was, and am, so horribly ashamed.
I stood in transition and waited until everyone cleared out. I saw Ali and Chris, and Larry all come in, turned in my chip and left.
And as I walked my bike out of transition, there was this lady who screamed, “Yay 462!!! Way to go 462! You can do it!”
I smiled and turned to her and choked out, “No, I can’t. I just quit. I’m going home.”
In my whole life, nothing felt so humiliating as walking my bike up that hill, having hundreds of strangers stare at you and know you quit.
That said – let me say this – this is my first and last post about a DNF.
Because DNF will never happen again. No pain in the water would have ever compared to the shame I feel right now. And having felt it, I never want to feel it again.
So I will file this away in my mind-box of experiences, and the next time I want to puss out, I am going to pull up the image of me walking the mile back to transition. And then I will put my face back in that water and finish.
I don’t want to end this post in a shitty way, despite how I feel. So before I sign off, I wanted to say that yesterday I had the amazing experience of meeting and having dinner with Erin and Ali and xt4, and then hanging out with Clyde after my bike check. These are four of the nicest, fucking hysterical and most genuine people. This morning, I also met Jen of Madison Duo, who introduced herself as I stood in line waiting to take a poop (that never came). Man, did she provide some comic relief!
I can’t tell you what a privilege it was to meet and hang with all of them – for 20 minutes at a porta-potty, 30 minutes in the Kids Cove, or two hours at the Olive Garden. Both Jen and Clyde are doing Madison, and I can’t wait to scream my off for them in September. Ali will be completing Steelhead in two weeks, as well, so make sure to check out their blogs as they head into the final weeks and give them lots of good thoughts!
Thanks to all you guys for making the trip worth it.
And thanks to everyone that left supportive words in the last few days. This blogging community is something else, and it's an honest-to-god honor to be part of it.
Alright - time to wrap up this pity party and get some work done.
And by work, I mean nap.