Columbia Triathlon: Lessons from a DNF


It’s been a long time since have DNF’d a race. I have some “drama” filled races in my tri life, but not a DNF before I even got really started.


Sunday was just not my day. Hind sight is a mofo; however, I am blessed to have a coach that refuses to hear the negative before I can rattle off some positive. I don’t know if I can say anything positive; but I did learn some valuable lessons…


1. Respect the Weather & Water

Mother Nature is a straight up BYOTCH and she will kill you if she can in the midst of creating such beauty. It was going to be cold the morning of the race (45 degrees and slowly rising) and to add insult to injury, the water temp was 62. Brrrrrrrr.


I came prepared. I had my neoprene cap, ear plugs, neoprene booties, wet suit, change of shirt & jacket for the bike. DO NOT think that you are even remotely prepared to endure a race of any distance without the proper gear for the air/water temp. YOU ARE NOT. Unless you get 10 bags of ice and put them in your swim spa, practice in an ice bath or swim regularly in a frigid body of water ALL THE TIME ( and NO, your pool is not that cold), then you best bring the gear. IJS.

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Unfortunately, they did not let anyone get in the water before wave starts. No acclimation. The race start was different than I’ve ever done. It was a timed start, run in 2 at a time in your wave and start swimming. I didn’t even think much about it. – BIG MISTAKE. HUGE. I am accustomed to in water starts (or jumping off a ferry and treading water for a min as I move away from someone jumping on my head). With an in water start, yes, it is crowded, but I get to tread water for a few minutes, get used to the water, center my self and start swimming when I get good and damn ready.


Naw – this knuckled head, just ran in the water and started swimming. HOLY COW! THAT WATER WAS SO DAMN COLD. My breath was just sucked from my body. But I can do this…I swam in Lake Michigan for gawd sakes at the Chicago Tri…but OMG!!! I started panting. I tried to get my breath. I grabbed a kayak and tried to get my breathing under control. I knew the longer I messed around, the colder I was getting, so get going. I’m shivering and I tried a few strokes, but my heart was pounding…I couldn’t catch my breath. Kayak #2…I was so cold…BUT I CAN DO THIS. I’VE DONE IT BEFORE. DA HELL IS HAPPENING. I try again…and I just can’t. I can’t breath, my heart is going to come out the top of my head and I’m flailing in the water…OMG I’m gonna drown.


Another swimmer grabs me and holds me up (can I really sink in a wet suit?) I had no more energy, I’m shivering, panting, my chest hurt. Next thing I know, I’m in a boat…and then there are 5 others in the boat. Me and 4 men. I’m bawling. How did this happen to me? What went wrong. The man sitting in front of me starts talking to me – he was 71 years old and done 60 triathlons. He says, don’t be upset. This was not our day – this won’t be the first setback and it won’t be the last.


2. Listen to your body – Live to Race Another Day

Okay. Something was wrong. My body was reacting. I needed to get out of that water…and THANK GOD I did.

I get to the med tent and my blood pressure was 189/90. I was in hypertensive crisis. What might have happened if I had not asked for help? I sat in the med tent for almost 30 min until my blood pressure was at least high normal.


It is not worth it to push on (SHUT UP – I’ve done it – I know – DO AS I SAY NOT AS I DO), especially if this is not your A race. Is it worth getting injured to the point of not being able to race at all for a long while…or getting DEAD. NOPE.




3. Remember your WHY.

Why do you do all of this swim, bike and run madness? My why is I do it for me. It is my personal accomplishment that is all mine – my challenge to be a better me each and every day. AND I do it because it is fun and to collect BLING. I’m a BLING Ho! PERIOD. DEAL WITH IT.


I wiped my tears and pulled myself together because THERE ARE NO TEARS IN FUN!


4. Transfer the negative energy into POSITIVE.

I had over 30 MMTC members and almost 10+ BTA members out on the course. My race was over. I could have pack it up and went home. NOPE. I can stand and wait and cheer then home. So many of them have been there for me, in training and in races. The least I can do I stand at that finish and wait and cheer. To get to see my Coach win – OUTSTANDING! To see all my friends make it, through tears, fears and struggle (some less, some more than others) and hug them at the end was the best, most rewarding use of my time…and FEELZ



5. Every setback is the setup to the comeback!

When I got a little down in the dumps about my DNF, I took a look at my racks of bling. My confidence was restored. I CAN! I HAVE! I WILL! I didn’t get them by not living, learning and toeing the line again and again.




A “Do Epic Shit” Weekend

What does a “Do Epic Shit” Weekend look like? It starts with a drive to the Poconos for CIGAR FEST followed by going to West Point to the Athena Arena: 40 Years of Women at West Point and sealed up with a 40 mile bike ride through New York City at the FiveBoroBikeTour. Whew!


Thursday morning (April 28th), The Queen Momz and I leave out to go to CigarFest and attend some of the free events at the Cigar International Stores. We went to the Drew Estate event in Hamburg and then over to the Perdomo Event in Bethlehem.

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We met up with some other Lodge members for the Loyal Order of the Water Buffalo Cigar Club, hung out for a while, spent a lot of moolah and then we hooked up with Lodge 19 (I am the Grand Poobah of Lodge 19) member, IlaGator. Lodge 19 moved the party to Split Rock Resort where CigarFest was being held and attended the Daniel Marshall “Modern Day Campfire” Event.

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I was sure that one of us was going to win one of the awesome prizes, but alas, it was not meant to be. I still have my Daniel Marshall Gold Cigar and plan to take it to Puerto Rico with me to celebrate my 29th anniversary.


Friday, Momz and I were up early to get to the breakfast for the VIP CigarNUTs (yep, that’s us) and scored one of the nice large ceramic ashtrays, although I thought I was going to have to build a defensive perimeter around it or go all ham on some guys who thought that two women smoking cigars would need an ashtray. Beat it, bub. MINE!


We picked up our great military style back packs filled with CigarNut goodies and made our way into the “tent” to go around to meet, great and pick up a cigar from over 50 different Cigar-makers and brand owners. IT WAS AWESOME!

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So, after we made all of our rounds and had spent all of our monies, we loaded up and made our way to West Point to meet up with the Class of 87 Women for a get together and then the conference on Saturday.


It was fantastic to spend time with women grads and to hear from some phenomenal speakers including hearing from the 1st Women Ranger Graduates – all of whom are West Pointers. It was a glorious day for a conference, a parade, Spring Football & Class of 87 Tailgage. Just Simply The Best!!!2016-04-30 11.38.12 2016-04-30 12.00.122016-04-30 12.15.00  2016-04-30 12.44.152016-04-30 16.31.57

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After the tailgate, we (me, ConnieB and Momz) drove down to NYC…and that was an adventure itself – missed a turn and ended up having to go across the Brooklyn Bridge where I made a U-Turn where I probably was no supposed to causing a tad bit of havoc on the road, but I got back across and to our hotel which I would say was not really in Chinatown but actually China. It was GREAT! We picked up dinner at a carry out (yes, Val…it had an A on the door) and Connie and I had to spend a little time reading over the menu and trying to figure out what to get – there was no General Tso Chicken or Schezuan Beef anywhere to be found. What we did end up getting was SLAMMING though. Connie and I pulled our stuff together, debated on whether we should even do the race as it was calling for some serious rain, decided we would play it by ear, and went to bed to get ready for our 40 mile FiveBoroRide.


We decided to go since it was just cloudy and misting a little, picked up some gloves under the Manhattan Bridge from a street vendor (they were Clutch!) as we rode to the start line – we grinned and kept each others spirit and humor up. I couldn’t have picked a better person to ride with in such miserable conditions. Mark Twain once said if you want to know if you really like or hate a person, travel with them. Not only did I travel with my classmate & friend, but we survived 40 mile in the freezing rain together with laughter, good humor and comradery. I wouldn’t have done it or kept going without her there with me. I HAD A BLAST! A perfect end to an EPIC SHYT WEEKEND!


I have been asked would I do this ride again. Probably not. It was so crowded – 40K people on almost as many different bikes and with so much various experience – mostly a lot of people who don’t have the faintest idea of the rules of the road. People would come to a sudden and complete stop in the middle of the road. Stop on the left side blocking people from passing and weaving erratically in and out of the people without saying a word. I saw a lot of unnecessary and/or preventable accidents of which I had no interest in being part of. I was pretty much over it when I saw a guy bite a jersey wall. Yep. No.


I put together a little slide show from the ride. Enjoy