As a triathlon wife, I’ve learned the art of spectating the multisport events. I know Donnie’s swim/bike/run times, I know his outfits, I know his style so he’s relatively easy to spot at any stage of the game. I wait at the transition area for each changeover and scream bloody murder for him whenever I see him. And I love doing it.
He had his first big race of the season this weekend. His first race as a Fleet Feet Racing Team member. His first race with his new, leaner, faster body. He was pumped.
Unfortunately? The weather was awful. 42 and raining. The race was “wetsuit legal” so that helped, but as soon as he got out of the water and into his cycling gear, the reality of the weather hit. He went out on his bike in the same outfit he’s worn in those temps before, just fine. He didn’t factor in how much colder it would be in the rain and how much colder this leaner body would get.
Long story short? He never showed up at the transition area on his bike when he was supposed to. I went into hyper-anxiety mode with each cyclist I saw that was not him. I was standing in the rain/cold and wasn’t even aware that I was soaking wet because I was so worried. I knew something was wrong. I waited. And waited. Finally – one of our friends rode in and said, “Do you know about Donnie?” My heart stopped. I followed him into transition where he explained that Donnie was okay, but he was in one of the firetrucks – he was having some sort of cold-weather reaction and they were trying to get him warm.
Then I spent the next 20+ minutes trying to find him. When I did, he was with the race director and when I saw him get out of the car he was white as a ghost and had blue lips. And this was AN HOUR after he had been pulled from the race. He was still shivering. I went into Mama Bear mode and got him to our car where he could continue to defrost and get into dry clothes. By the time I got all of his gear to the car, he was starting to look human again.
It was terrifying. He said his body started convulsively shivering, he was unable to control his body or his bike. That’s when he finally knew if he didn’t pull off the course he was going to wreck. He is still kicking himself today for getting his first DNF (Did Not Finish) but he was not the only one that day. We knew several who had to get medical attention for the same reason. The inability to control their body from the shivering. He couldn’t even TALK at first, that’s how little control he had.
He wanted to hang his race number up in our room as his “motivation” but I wouldn’t let him do it. I told him (while crying, of course), “You see that number and you get motivated, I see it and I re-live a very terrifying 40+ minutes of my life.” I mean, I kinda like that guy, when I knew something had happened to him it was everything I could do to keep from vomiting. I was grateful for the friend who finally let me know what was going on, but seeing him white with blue lips and barely able to communicate thoughts to me? Was a bit more terrifying than I like in my normal routine.
So, he took the number down. He has another race in three weeks that he’s even more determined to kill now. It’s a much shorter one and hopefully will have much better weather. It couldn’t get too much worse, that’s for sure!