Motion Sickness….and How I am Going to Fix It

Vegas.  70.3 World Championships.  Holy cow.  That sucked.  I’d like to use some other, significantly more offensive words to describe how I feel about Sunday’s race, but to spare you all, I’ll leave it at that.

Sunday was a very tough day for so many people I care about.  It was like we all had been sucker-punched in the gut, then kicked in the head and had rocks thrown in our faces.  Some people’s races blew up more than others, but at the end of the day, we all blew up.  I was bummed for my race, but in the aftermath, not being able to celebrate the success of many – well, that brought me down a bit further.  We all went in with our game faces on and ready to shine, and at the post-race bbq held by one of our Purplepatch teammates, we all had smiles, but the pain and disappointment that lingered in the air was tangible.

We are all tough.  We are all warriors.  That is why we were standing there in the first place.  And so we’ll all bounce back, learn from the experience and use it to become stronger, better and faster athletes.  But man.  That sucked.

I am disappointed and I had hoped for more, but when I take a step back and remove myself from the moment, I do remember the simple fact that I got to race on Sunday, and as a first year pro, that is pretty damn great.  Not everyone has that chance – in fact few of us do, and good race or bad, being able to take that experience, learn from it, and put it in the bank for next year – I am incredibly thankful for that.

Looking at my race, I know what the issue was: My stomach.  Same as it always is.  Motion sickness.  I did everything I had practiced.  I wore the pressure point bracelets.  I ate ginger before the swim.  I wore ear plugs.  I didn’t eat or drink for the first 45 minutes of the ride.  I did everything to settle myself, and let the blood start flowing to my legs and not to my queasy mid-section.  But this time, nothing worked.  And as I have learned in the race simulations we have done over the last month, until my stomach settles, I can’t get my power up.  In fact, when I am sick, I ride 75 to 100 watts lower than what my typical 70.3 race pace would be.  100 watts!  That is a big number for a little person like me.  That is a big number for anybody.

Placid was a blessing in that we finally were able to identify an issue and started tackling it.  At Ironman New York everything worked perfectly.  I had some sickness out of the swim, but my stomach settled within 30 minutes and I was fine.  In Vegas, not so much.  I kid you not when I say I threw up over 40 times in the ensuing 69.1 miles after I exited the water.

So as I sit here thinking about the race, my thoughts are less about feeling sorry for myself and more completely focused on figuring out how the hell I solve this problem.  So I thought I’d throw out the issues to the world and see if anyone has any ideas:

How it begins:  Whenever I swim – whether in the pool or in the open water I get some form of motion sickness.  Sometimes I don’t feel it at all in the water, and other times, like in Las Vegas, my stomach starts doing flips and turns before I get out.  The roughness of the water seems to have no bearing.

When I exit the water I always get one of those massive head-rushes like when you stand up to fast and your blood pressure drops.  I feel like my legs are like lead and my heart rate spikes when I run through transition.  The degree of this also varies based on how I feel in the water.  At IMNYC my stomach was more settled than normal and I felt the best I have ever felt running into T1.  Other times, such as at Eagleman, I felt so nauseous in transition I was dizzy and couldn’t see straight.

Out on the bike, I have no power.  My legs are dead weights, and I throw up a constantly.  And when I say throw up – I’m not exaggerating.  Imagine wretching your entire night’s dinner out – that is what happens to me.  It is only once my stomach settles that my power returns and I can ride properly.  Sometimes in training I wait up to an hour after a swim to ride, and even then my stomach still won’t have settled down.

I now wear pressure point bracelets on both wrists, wear ear plugs and take ginger – all homeopathic remedies.  None of this has solved my issues, but I have found, generally, it has reduced the time from when I exit the water to when my stomach begins to feel better.  I wear the pressure point bracelets on the bike too.

I’ve gone and done the balance testing and everything has come back normal.  And I have visited an ENT specialist.  She says I have ridiculously inflamed sinuses and believes the degree to which my sinuses are swollen impacts my balance, and thus the degree of my nausea issues.  This is entirely plausible.  As I sat back and thought about both Placid and Vegas – I had colds and sinus infections for both.  In fact the days before Vegas my sinuses were so blocked I had a terrible headache as the infection set in and went to bed at 6 pm the night before the race because my head hurt so much.

So that is it.  Kona is 4.5 weeks away.  And I’m on a mission.  Not just for Kona, but for next year.  My performance in races cannot be at the whim of this issue, or, if it is going to be, I need to figure out how to fix it quickly when it happens.  Any thoughts?  Ideas?  Comments?  Are my ear crystals out of wack?  Anyone?  Anyone?  I need help!  There has to be someone out there that has had the same issues…..right?

So – that is the deal.  Now it is back to work – focusing on getting this issue further sorted, putting up a solid training block before Kona and putting up my best performance of the year.

Thank you so much everyone – fans, family, friends, sponsors, coaches, and my fellow competitors for all of your awesome support out there on the race course and in the days leading up to and after the race.  I couldn’t do it without you all!

Until next time.

Don’t dream it.  Be it.




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