Shaking off the Fail {Bouncing Back from a DNF Triathlon}

Recovering from DNF Triathlon setback is the subject here, and I include my plan for my next triathlon.

Shaking off the Fail {Bouncing Back from a DNF Triathlon}

D. N. F.

Did not finish. I knew it was bound to happen at some point, but man does it sting. The Hutchinson Half Ironman was just not my day.

So here is how it went… (remember, a Half Ironman triathlon is a 1.2 mile open water swim, 56 mile bike, and 13.1 mile run.)

Shaking off the Fail {Bouncing Back from a DNF Triathlon}

The swim.

I had an epic good swim. Not epic as in fast …epic as in I actually swam straight. I had a solid swim in rough surf with no panic or fatigue. No imaginary sharks. Or real sharks… With a wall of people rising in front of me, I went under each wave and never got pushed back getting out to the race line. Then I swam steady, around each buoy, and all the way to the end. I did not even recognize myself. Because the half ironman swim usually sucks a lot more for me.

Shaking off the Fail {Bouncing Back from a DNF Triathlon}

The bike.

Shaking off the Fail {Bouncing Back from a DNF Triathlon}

For the first half of the bike leg, I cruised averaging over 19 mph. Mid-way, we had a causeway to go over and back, and then I set out for the second loop. But within a couple miles, I started to slow down. My legs caught fire – random cramps and burning muscles trying to speed back up. Was I spent? Had I gone out too fast? My speed dropped to 16 mph and I could not figure it out. But then, around mile 42, my rear wheel shimmied …and it hit me. I had a flat tire, my first ever in a race. Merde.

I pulled over and laid my bike down. I stared at it for a few seconds, my legs throbbing. Then I got the wheel off, found the culprit bastard little metal shard, and I changed that flat out the fastest I have ever. Triumphantly, I stood my bike up, bent over to the air valve with my CO2 cartridge to fill her up and get back underway and… my tube had a short stem. I needed a long stem. Crap. I had just bought this tube the day before and missed this! The adaptor would not connect. I tried to fill it anyway, wasting the CO2. Then I tried again with my spare CO2. But I couldn’t fill it.

And with that, I was out of the race. All I needed was a stinking bike pump.

So this is where I was. I do not take failure lightly. I do not take failure at all. Driving home with my daughter, she thought I should direct my frustration at the bike shop, but that wasn’t right. I could only blame myself. And the feeling was just awful. Months of work went into getting ready for this race. And I had nothing to show for it.

But, you know what – I think one of the lessons in life is dealing with life when it does not go your way. And I want my kids to see how to handle setbacks when they come. No, I am not a professional athlete. Triathlon does not feed my family. I am a middle-of-the-pack-age-grouper that podiums once in a while when there aren’t many in my age group, and I do this for fun. But that does not mean I shouldn’t take my race goals seriously and go on a mission to bounce back.

So that afternoon, I arranged to have my next race, the Rocketman Triathlon at Kennedy Space Center November 15, bumped from the short Sprint distance to the Half Ironman.

Shaking off the Fail {Bouncing Back from a DNF Triathlon}

So, now to get ready for it. It may have been a bike problem that took me out of Hutchinson, but I want to come back with a vengeance at Rocketman. And whether you are training for a Half Ironman, doing a Couch-to-5K program, or just want to be healthier, the same principals of nutrition and consistency apply and if my experiences can help, that is what I hope for.

First is training, and I want to work on bike speed and run endurance especially. Interval or HIIT workouts are effective to increase speed, then run endurance just comes from, well …running. This was this week’s schedule as an example. I am sure a triathlon coach or someone more experienced would look at this and have all kinds of suggestions and I know this is not a perfect plan. But what I am trying to do is get in each discipline 3 times a week, with a long session, an interval/HIIT session, and a moderate distance session for each and that approach to triathlon prep is pretty common.

Shaking off the Fail {Bouncing Back from a DNF Triathlon}

Crazy, I know. And it never all happens as planned – life gets in the way. I just try to do my best.

Then there is the nutrition. I have shared in lots of posts how I eat leading up to races like this Olympic distance triathlon and how I fueled during my first Half Ironman. Half of training is eating right, balancing protein for muscles, carbs for fuel, and anti-inflammatory fats and veggies to prevent illness.

Here is my plan for this week. I do better when I eat similarly each day of the week, because then I can just tweak the calories up or down depending on the workouts that day.

Shaking off the Fail {Bouncing Back from a DNF Triathlon}
Click the photo to save or print!

*Note: for lunch and dinner, I stick to portion sizes of ~4 oz protein, 1/2 cup carbohydrate (rice or pasta), and a cup or more veggies. I also add some healthy fat like avocado, fish, or olive oil.

Shaking off the Fail {Bouncing Back from a DNF Triathlon}

This is my back-bone plan, and it comes in around 1600 calories. On days with long workouts, I add more rice or pasta, more banana, carrots, sugar snap peas, a couple more goodnessknows® squares – something like that anyway. Generally, I try not to add too much more those days because I do fuel during those workouts (you can read about my sports drinks here). I also know I will eat more on swim days. Nothing makes me ugly hungry like a swim.

Also, since I am talking about nutrition, one thing I never ever ever do is let myself just be hungry. When the stomach grumbles, I may have some water first to make sure I am not just thirsty, but if that does not do the trick I eat. Always. No matter what I am doing I will find something – nuts, veggies, milk, a goodnessknows® snack square – whatever. A hungry body will get what it needs from somewhere, and I do not want that to be my muscle and I do not want to mess up my metabolism.

Shaking off the Fail {Bouncing Back from a DNF Triathlon}

So let’s talk about these goodnessknows® snack squares for a second. They come in 3 varieties: Cranberry, Almond, Dark Chocolate; Apple, Almond & Peanut, Dark Chocolate; and Peach & Cherry, Almond, Dark Chocolate. Of course, I am a New England girl, so Cranberry it is for me. Good ingredients like fruit, dark chocolate, and nuts, but two pluses for me: First, I believe in taking a time-out every day to just savor something extra good. If you have a sweet tooth, then you know exactly where I am coming from. So, yeah – it’s the chocolate. And second, they are in SQUARES. I have have 1. Or I can have 4. Funny how something so simple can actually be a big help when you are trying to reach fitness goals.

…and goodnessknows® squares fit conveniently in my bike bento pouch, so I can munch and ride.

Shaking off the Fail {Bouncing Back from a DNF Triathlon}

So that is my little story and where I am at right now. Hutchinson did not turn out the way I planned, but I am trying to make even better come out from it. I think how we deal with life’s curveballs shows the kind of person we are, and I choose to be the kind of person that gets up and hits the next one out of the park.

…excuse the cheesy baseball reference, but it is T-ball season.

Shaking off the Fail {Bouncing Back from a DNF Triathlon}

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