Wednesday, June 22, 2011
It was the most dramatic Pigman Tri ever! (I had to take that from “The Bachelorette” TV show.) I ended the race in an ambulance. I think I just wanted something exciting to write about!
It was a beautiful day for a race and I felt confident I would have my best swim ever. I had been working hard in the off-season on my technique. I started out well until someone swam on top of me. I briefly stopped to let them pass before thinking, “Wait a minute! I have just as much right to this water as anyone else! This is MY space!”
As I did the turnaround I went wide to avoid traffic. I got myself in a zone and kept swimming with no interference. There was no traffic because I was about 20 feet from the buoys! I had to bring it back in.
I was out of the water and huffing and puffing up the hill. Where had my endurance gone? MWXer Leah was behind me and called out to me. I reached back and gave her a high-five.
I was off on the bike. My bike computer wasn’t working, which threw my whole mojo off. I felt lightheaded and I struggled up the final hill. Back in transition I felt disoriented. Carrie (also a club member) found me. “Do you need some GU?” she asked. I knew I needed something and said yes. She said she would meet me. Carrie ran back to her bike and stuffed some Gu’s in my hand as I headed out of transition. I wasn’t sure if that was considered “outside assistance” and would be a penalty, but I felt a little out of it at that point.
The day was heating up. About a mile into the run I felt my chest tighten and I started to wheeze. I couldn’t get a breath in. It was terrifying that I was fighting to breathe. What was happening? Was I having a heart attack? An asthma attack? The water stop was coming up and I wondered if I should tell the volunteers to call for help. As a stubborn triathlete, I was determined to finish so I started walking.
I tried to run, but I knew something wasn’t right. I started to dread the finish because I knew my tri club would see me. I was embarrassed and knew I had to run it in. I crossed the finish line and immediately began searching for a medical tent. Brita appeared (she always seems to be there to take care of me!) and took me over to the ambulance. I started getting emotionally upset so I was having trouble getting any words out. All I could blurt out was “my chest” as I put my hand over my heart.
They took me into the ambulance and had me lie down. I thought I felt the ambulance move. “You’re not taking me anywhere, are you?!” I asked, suddenly fearful of the cost of going to the emergency room. “Are you having chest pains?” the two guys asked. I said no and they told me to lie down and relax.
They put oxygen tubes in my nose and hooked me up to a heart monitor. When I was finally able to calm down, I explained what happened on the course. They took my blood pressure, chccked my oxygen levels and pricked my finger to test my blood sugar. “When did I eat? What did I eat? Was this my first triathlon?” So many questions!
They said everything appeared normal. I was starting to feel better in the cool air of the ambulance. “Whoa,” the one guy said at the heart monitor. “You just converted.” I had no idea what that meant, but apparently my heart rate suddenly dropped. I explained that sometimes my heart rate spikes for brief periods. “You should get that checked out by your doctor,” he said.
I told them I felt better and they said to come back if I had any more problems. I was feeling embarrassed again…I couldn’t even do a sprint tri without ending up in an ambulance! I needed food so I walked up and grabbed a slice of pizza, oblivious to the fact that there was a large group of people standing in line! I was still feeling a little lightheaded, but I started rehydrating and went off to join my club.
A follow-up EKG with my doctor and a chest x-ray (looking for an enlarged heart) didn’t find anything wrong. My doctor thinks I got dehydrated. I don’t know what happened to me on the course…if I was dehydrated or I breathed in something that caused some type of attack, but I hope I never have to experience that again! Right now I have electrodes hooked to my chest and an activity monitor, trying to capture what my heart does when it goes crazy. I don’t know what the future holds, but until someone tells me different, I’m going to keep on tri-ing!