The curse of IMCHOO

It all started last September when a big group of us happily paid World Triathlon Corporation our $650 for the privilege to do an Ironman. This was the inaugural year for Ironman Chattanooga which boasted a wetsuit legal river swim, a 2000 ft of elevation bike course and a scenic river walk run in downtown Chattanooga.  It was close enough to Atlanta that we could preview the course as many times as needed and would not require shipping bikes or extended time off for travel. It seemed like the perfect race to get back into triathlon after a year off.

Since then we learned the bike course is closer to 4000 ft of climbing, the run course has a nasty hill and we might not get to start our race until almost 8:00 giving us an hour less to finish. F’n fantastic! Then in the last month or so, our usual training crew has had 2 serious bike wrecks (one resulted in a concussion and stitches the other with a shattered elbow and dislocated shoulder), a cancer diagnosis, 2 parents pass away and a last minute overseas work assignment. Up until now, I guess we have been lucky – we only had a house fire last year! All kidding aside,  I guess life just sometimes gets in the way when you plan an event a year in advance. Especially one that requires such a big time commitment for training. That’s what makes your training group so important. We depend on each other to get through the bad days of training and help keep each other sane.

The training season started off strangely. Instead of the usual 24 week schedule we were opting for a more intense 20 week schedule.  Group trainings became fractured due to the usual life stuff like work and scheduling. But we still managed to do most of our long bike rides together. As one by one our training group began to shrink, those long bike rides just got more tedious and lonely.

Last weekend was supposed to be a big training weekend mixed with a little relaxation and fun. The majority of our training group was back together and staying at Cloudland Canyon for the weekend. Those that could no longer participate in this years Ironman (they have dubbed themselves the misfit toys) were on hand to help support our long bike ride. We arrived Friday night and the plan was for a 100 mile ride on the IMCHOO course on Saturday and one lap of the run course on Sunday. The rest would be hanging out with good friends away from life and stress back home in Atlanta.


The bike ride started out uneventful although we knew we were in for a sweltering hot day. We had lots of ice and support and it was going to be tough but doable. We made it through 40 miles when I was told that our dog Betty had been in a dog fight at her daycare/boarding facility and was going to need medical care. One of her legs was hurt pretty bad but she was going to get stitched up. I decided to keep on riding but we would return home once we finished the bike ride. At 55 miles I was told it was much more serious and Betty was probably not going to make it. Bike ride over we started the process of getting back to the cabin, packing up and heading home.

As we were leaving we got a call from our emergency dog contact/doggie godmother and I was able to talk to the vet. Betty had been transferred to the emergency vet clinic and was going to have surgery. The vet said she was stable but her front left leg was in very bad shape. Given her age surgery is always a risk but she was staying strong. We only heard later that during all of the initial stress and excitement that she stopped breathing at one point.

We got to the clinic and went over the X-rays with the vet who was going to operate on her. We learned that she had no broken bones, no internal injuries but her legs were a mess. She in fact had a tooth embedded in her left leg. Also, somewhere in her sad history before we rescued her she had been shot with a pellet gun and she still had a pellet in her back. Poor thing. She is the sweetest dog and everyone loves her. So gentle and sweet.

We settled in to wait. The surgery took almost 6 hours. Finally, we got to see our baby. She looked drugged and sad but she was OK. We headed home and looked forward to taking our baby home the next day

I checked in Sunday morning and the vet told me Betty was going to have to stay another night. They wanted to be sure she was stable enough and was properly hydrated. She had not been eating at this point so they wanted us to bring some treats and try to get her to eat.

We arrived at the clinic and when they brought Betty is to see us we both burst into tears. She was walking but very slowly and she looked terrible. Drains and sutures everywhere and she just looked so sad. I don’t really know if she knew it was us but she laid down and ate a little turkey and even slept a bit.

Monday morning I tried to get back to the training schedule and make up my 13 mile run. I was 5 miles in when I found out that Betty was ready to go home. I got back to the car and we headed back to the clinic.

Betty walked out on her own steam but she had 3 different colored bandages on 3 of her legs. She wagged her little nub when she saw us and we were so happy to be taking her home. Betty has a long road to recovery but dogs heal fast. Her left leg will probably never regain full range of motion but we hope she can get back to at least walking with a slight limp and navigating stairs.


Currently, we have a dog rehab center in the living room with a pile of medications and warm compresses administered multiple times a day. Yesterday we found out she has a fever and now has another antibiotic to take but she is hanging in there.


I am now faced with trying to get back to normal training when my heart is just not into it. Last month I had to give up on trying to do crossfit and training because I was just too tired all the time. I feel my muscles getting smaller and that makes me sad. I am going to have to start from scratch with pull-ups I am afraid. There are so few training buddies left and that is sad too. And now my poor puppy is all beat up and every time I go out to train I am leaving her. I also feel bad that John is having to shoulder so much of the responsibility of taking care of Betty because I have to train. He also has coaching duties that are getting neglected right now.

Now more than ever, I just want this race over so I can get back to my normal life. I also know that many of us would give anything to be healthy and to be able to do this race. I keep trying to remind myself of that when I start feeling sorry for myself but you know what?




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