Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Preparing for the Unexpected

IM packed his bags and headed up North for a Half IM over the weekend. Good preparation leading into Hawaii I was told....also good to practise the bag packing and weighing. (will dedicate other posts to packing lists and the weight issue!)

What I want to focus on now is preparing for the unexpected. Or really, the question of whether you can prepare yourself for something that happens which is out of your control?

Our household had some nasty tummy bug doing the rounds last week and IM stayed as far away as possible. A few days before he felt like he had something but it didn't seem to take hold. Training kept going and the excitement built as it always does in the lead up to a race.

The support crew did not have tickets to this race (can't always be there) but there were other friends attending and we were there in spirit.  In fact, maybe we were not meant to go, as the weekend may have been even less manageable if there were kids around.

In a nutshell, IM came down sick with gastro type bug night before race, attempted to race next day and ended up not finishing as was so ill. Then he proceeded to be stuck in bathroom of hotel room for next 24hrs and only just managed to make it home in bus/plane/car. (really felt for his room mate!)

Still not feeling well three days later, IM has been fairly accepting of the situation and is now just focusing on feeling better and getting back on track with the training plan.

What else can you really do? It is something you cannot prepare for and you cannot dwell on too much.

You can have a healthy diet and lifestyle and take all precautions to not getting sick, and you can pack in your bags all sorts of medication, but really when something like that hits it is just the unluckiness of it that it happens to be on race day.

It reminded us both about our China IM experience - well the fact that we were lucky not to get food poisoning in China when so many did (and many attempted to race or managed to race through it but it was not pretty!).

This was a first time experience of this sort for IM. Was there lessons to be learned?

Maybe he shouldn't have raced and it just made the sickness and dehydration worse but thats a hard decision when you have paid money, made the journey and planned so much for that day.

Maybe a few more medications could have been packed - we have since discovered that Gastro-Stop  is a great one to have in the medical kit (think Imodium is similar).....but actually the one most important thing you need is rehydration and most triathletes will have some sort of hydration drink or powder in their kit - perfect! I think a few satchels of hydralyte is also a must for a travel medical kit.

I did find a good rundown on what to do for diarrhea on a US website which talks about natural remedies and diet  ( and I learned a very useful acronym everyone should remember: BRAT - only eat Banana, Rice, Apple and Toast (lots of other useful stuff on this website!)

Back to the point of this post...

There are a number of things that can happen (not just sickness) that may result in not racing to your full potential or not even making it to race day. You can not be prepared for all scenarios. 

However, what you can do (this is not just for the competitor but his supporters too) is to accept the outcome, try to look at the positives of maybe not such an enjoyable journey and try not to dwell on it too much post-race day.

There will be another race. We all know that the most important thing in life is our health and that of  our families, so we need to remind ourselves of this, be thankful when health returns and all is well again, and just look ahead and plan for the next challenge.

In signing off,  I just have to say, that although we may now be slightly more prepared for the unexpected, I really hope we don't have a repeat performance in Hawaii :-)

Here's to our health!

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