The morning started with us driving a few miles downtown so that we could get in a bike and swim workout. As we were driving to the race venue, I felt a little short of breath but I simply contributed it to nerves and my menstrual cycle (day 3). In other words, everything that I felt on Friday felt very normal to me. Once we got on our bikes, I felt much better and the excitement replaced the nerves/anxiety and I was itching to race. After our 70 minute spin on the race course, we followed it up with an open water swim. We heard the water temp had dropped and there was a good chance it would be wetsuit legal but we only brought our speedsuits/swimskins to the practice swim (wetsuits back at the rental house). Thankfully, the water felt great without a wetsuit. Karel and I swam together, one loop of the pre-race swim course (about 15-20 minutes - I didn't wear a watch). The current was not as strong as our practice swim on Wednesday and I felt very good in the water. Once we exited the water, it was time to head back to the car and then back to our rental house to eat.
When we arrived, we met up with Karel and he was put on dog-watching duty as Natalie and I checked in our gear bags and bike. It was a cool experience to be rolling my bike into a 70.3 World Championship transition area and I was getting more and more excited to race.
Seeing that my appetite had been great all race week, it was not hard for me to eat my pre-race meal of tempeh and basmati rice - nice and simple. An hour or so later, I was feeling a little hungry so I snacked on saltine crackers, with a little peanut butter. I spent most of the evening in bed, relaxing and visualizing myself on the race course. Around 8pm, I was ready to fall asleep and surprisingly, I went to bed very quickly and slept great on the night before the race.
When my alarm went off at 4am, I got up very quick out of bed because I didn't want to wake-up Karel. Campy was not thrilled with my early wake-up so he just stayed in bed with Karel.
After I got out of bed, I grabbed my iPad and phone and went right to the closet where I had my race outfit in a bag. Within less than a minute of getting out of bed, I bent over to get my clothes and then headed to the bathroom, which was attached to our bedroom.
I felt a little dizzy when I got up but I didn't think too much of it as my mind was in race mode and I was so focused on my pre-race routine before Natalie arrived at 5:15am.
When I went into the bathroom, I shut the door to the bedroom so that I wouldn't wake up Karel and sat on the toilet to go t the bathroom. I started to feel the same dizziness from a minute earlier as I was emptying my bladder. After I washed my hands, I rinsed off my face, hoping that the cold water would wake me up.
After washing my face, I don't remember what happened next as it was around 4:10am when I woke up, realizing that I was on the kitchen floor, just outside of the bathroom, flat down on the ground.
As I woke up from my blackout, still laying flat down on the ground, I wasn't fully with it so my immediate reaction was "I am very tired but very comfortable on the floor so I will just stay here for a few minutes and sleep." I actually remember reaching for my phone and setting the alarm to wake me up at 4:15am. I didn't have the race on my mind as I was so sleepy. After setting my alarm, I felt the taste of blood in my mouth and touched the inside of my lip and didn't understand why I had blood inside of my mouth. I didn't put together the pieces that I was not in bed and was on the kitchen floor with a bloody lip but because I was so tired, I convinced myself that I needed a little more sleep and I was totally cool with sleeping on the floor (apparently, at the time it felt as comfy as a mattress).
Around 4:14am, before my alarm went off, I felt like I had enough energy to stand up. I slowly got up and walked to the bathroom to check out my face. Since the light was on in the bathroom, I immediately saw my face and well, it did not look good. The inside of my lip was sliced open, I had bruises on the left side of my face and the top of my nose was cut. I was starting to slowly comprehend what had happened but because this had never happened before, I was still so confused about the situation.
I opened the door to the bedroom and woke-up Karel by telling him "Ummm, Karel, I think we have a problem. I fainted and hit my face on the floor." I felt so bad for waking up Karel but he was so scared about what had just happened to me and felt so upset that he didn't get up with me to help me out when I blacked out.
I made my way back in bed as I was so exhausted and I couldn't help but think about the race that I had dedicated my entire year to, was about to start in 3 hours. Karel immediately called Natalie to tell her not to pick me up and that I would not be racing. To be honest, even though I was upset why this had to happen on this day, I was so exhausted and my face felt like I was punched in the face, that the thought of racing wasn't very appealing.
I laid in bed until 5am and at that point, Karel wanted me to get something in my belly. I wasn't sure how eating or drinking would work with my busted lip but I gathered some energy and headed to the kitchen to drink a glass of OJ along with a waffle with syrup. Since this was part of my pre-race meal, I started to think that maybe I could still race. I was still so upset about the situation and a big part of me still wanted to race. I texted Natalie not to tell the officials that I wasn't racing yet, even though Karel told her earlier that there was no way that I was racing. After eating/drinking, I still felt so tired and empty and after much discussion with Karel, we decided that racing was not a smart idea. Something was wrong with my body and no race was worth compromising my health even more so that it was already compromised.
I made my way to the couch with my iPad and turned on the live broadcast of the Pro female race. Even though I was not racing, I still wanted to watch the race. I was dealing with a lot of waves of emotions, especially after I told our athletes/team and on my Trimarni page that I would not be racing. There were some tears and my heart ached at the situation that I was put in as I couldn't help but think "Why on this day??"
Karel was so shocked by the situation and he did not want to leave me but by 8:30am or so, I told him to go out on his bike and get in his pre-race warm-up. Although Karel managed to spin his legs, his head was not in the right place and he was so sad for me as he was confident that I would have a great race and that this course was just perfect for me. Karel felt so bad for me as we spent the morning together on the couch, watching the race and tracking Trimarni athletes Natalie and Stephanie, along with some of our other female friends who were racing.
Saturday morning was one of the most scariest and hardest days that I have ever experienced as a triathlete. I have never missed the start of a race before in my 11 years of endurance racing and never in my wildest dreams would have imagined that this would be how I would miss the start of a race. Although part of me was trying to put together the pieces as to why this happened - was it low blood volume related to my menstrual cycle, low blood pressure or something else - I couldn't stop saying to Karel "I should be racing right now." It was a sad and frustrating morning and as the day went on, it became more and more difficult to handle.
Around 2pm, I felt like I was ready to get out of the house as I was feeling almost back to normal (besides feeling like I was punched in the face) so I headed down to the race venue with Karel, my mom and Campy as it was time for Karel to check-in his bike. Karel was not in his normal race mode due to my fall in the morning but there was no way that I would let him miss his race as I needed him to race for the both of us.
As I walked to the transition area, tears started to flow into my eyes as I saw the many female age groupers walking around with their finisher medals. I didn't think I would be so emotional but it was very hard to process the fact that I had just missed out on the race that I had dedicated my entire season to. As I was picking up my bike and unused gear bags, I ran into several of my friends who had raced and had to explain the situation of me not racing over and over again. Although it was tough to hear myself say that I didn't race, somehow, talking about my fall and hearing the reactions from others who were concerned about me, was very therapeutic. Although I was still grieving about not racing, I knew I had made the right decision not to race as I am a huge proponent of health first, performance second. As the day went on, I started to physically feel a lot better (although tired all day). By evening, I was so exhausted, mentally and physically and I was quick to fall asleep.....but not quick to get out of bed on Sunday morning.
I want to thank everyone who texted, emailed and commented to me on social media. It means so much. I am not one who likes to make excuses or talk about my problems but it really helped to share my story and to hear from so many of you who have experienced something similar or expressed your sympathy.
Now that I feel completely back to normal (ego is healed and my face is healing), I have already started my process of trying to figure out what happened by getting blood work done on Monday, seeing my sport doc on Tues and today, I will see a cardiologist. I am hoping that there is nothing underlying going on and it's either blood pressure related (freak accident) or related to my fluctuating hormones/menstrual cycle (ex. blood volume/blood pressure). If you know me, I am very passionate about the sport of triathlon. This sport means so much to me and I really don't want my season to end like this. So far, everything is coming back normal so if the cardiologist doesn't find anything serious/alarming, I should have the OK by my doc that I can get another race on my calendar to finish out my season. I'll be sure to keep you updated on my health but in the mean time, I have Karel's race report to write and it's a good one!!