Last weekend I was supposed to race 2 miles in the open water.  My dad and I have done this race the last four years and Matt joined last year.  As you can see from the title, I didn’t swim. 

After waking up in the morning on Saturday, I saw it was pouring rain.  I thought it was summer time and I’m going to be swimming in the water anyways so it really didn’t matter.  As long as it wasn’t thundering or lightening they weren’t going to cancel the swim.  Dad, Matt and I went to the ferry station got marked up (I was lucky number 7) and boarded the ferry.  By the point of being of the ferry I was already pretty drenched. My clothes (including rain jacket) were soaken wet.  My core temperature had dropped a little bit and I wasn’t warming up.  If anything I was continuing to get colder.

The swim itself goes 1 mile out into the Long Island Sound and then 1 back.  You get into some deeper, colder and more choppy water out into the Sound. 

The Course
The Course

I was bundled up but poor packing on my part was also an issue.  I had known it was pouring rain (my two eyes showed me that) and thought a rain coat and sweats would have sufficed.  IThough even both of those were not enough as the rain had soaked through my cotton sweats and I could have used a sweatshirt under my rain coat to protect me from the wind.  Maybe if I had had appropriate and rain pants and had been able to stay warm I could have done this race.  The wind blowing directly onto the island made the temperatures feel colder (though it allowed huge negative splits for the racers…both Matt and dad had great races).

At 8:20 (with a race start of 8:30), I made the executive decision not to swim.  I was shivering before entering the water and being cold before a swim race for me, is like being thirsty before a road race.  Nothing good can come out of it.

Was there a possibility I would warm up during the race and all would be fine?  Yes.  Was there a possibility that I could come out of the 2 mile swim, half delusional and hypothermic as I did 3 years ago?  Yes and that is something I never want to repeat in my life.

Preblogging world I did this race three years ago and came out hypothermic.  The conditions were similar and I had thought nothing of it.  My body and core never warmed back up despite swimming two miles.  I had come out of the water unable to talk, half delusional and was immediately assisted into the medical tent.  I really don’t know how I finished the race or the next series of events.  What I do know is that I layed in the 90 degree sun with the medics for about an hour before warming up enough to be able to talk coherent sentences.

This was three years ago.  You can see how cold I was.
This was three years ago. You can see how cold I was.

I don’t need to write a novel about how serious hypothermia is and I will never regret not doing this swim.  Am I bummed?  Yes of course but I don’t regret it.  I could have easily decided to risk it made it a mile out, gotten so cold that my body shut down. Would I regret being in the water then?  Honestly this isn’t a big deal for me.  Many people DNS races for various reasons and I’m not going to cry and whine about it.

What could I have done differently?

Wind breaker and hoodie underneath a rain jacket to protect myself even more from the rain and wind.  Even then I’m not sure I would have been able to maintain a high even core temperature to start the race.

I’m upset, sure, but I know I made the right decision and I can’t live my life worrying about individual races.

Questions for you:

Have you DNS a race before?

Obviously this race but there was a road race a couple of years ago that I didn’t do as well.  My legs were feeling very injury prone and I had no interest in risking it.

Do you like the rain? 

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  1. Never suffered a DNS. Nearly didnt start through stupidity, mis-reading the race details and leaving around 5 minutes to register and set up transition on a half ironman!

    Had DNF when I punctured! Was so disappointed with myself and not being ready!

    Nice story though!

    1. Thank you!

      What a day that must have been. I can’t even imagine the stress with getting there and being rushed in a road race let alone half ironman.

  2. DNS’d a marathon one year because my iron dropped way too low. These things happen, better to keep an eye on the big picture (i.e. staying alive) and having fun 🙂 Sounds like you made the right decision, good luck w/ your next race!

  3. Way to go for listening to what your body needed! There will be plenty more races. Now you know what you need for next year. I have a stress fracture and wasn’t able to do triathlon championships and it sucks, but there is many years of races to come…that is what I tell myself!

    1. Thank you Jessica!

      There will be so many more races that you will come back stronger and compete in. Why race when injured? Best of luck with your stress fracture recovery. 🙂

  4. I think you made the smart decision.I love the rain but the cold thing is where it gets iffy- not worth getting sick and having serious issues over.

    I DNS a 5k once, Stayed in bed as I wans’t feeling well….that’s about all I got for DNS. I know there will be more in my future. As much as I love racing- it’s not worth getting sick or injured over if things are not where they should be.

  5. as I said, you were super smart with this. I can’t even imagine doing a two mile swim but doing it in the rain sounds even more painful. there are many races I wish I had just stopped way before I was forced into a medical tent

  6. bummer on missing out, but hey I would have skipped it too had I been that cold and wanting to avoid hypothermia. I DO NOT like to be cold. Unfortunately there was that time I got a stomach bug and missed my half marathon. that was not fun..however there was no way I could have done it so oh well. there’s always more races!

    1. It’s funny because it’s so cold in Upstate NY, yet I never got used to it. That being said it’s every bit as cold in PA where you are from! Sorry about the stomach bug, ugh stomach issues are the worst!

  7. I give you a lot of credit for making this decision. It can be hard to not do something that you enjoy or that you paid for but above all your health and safety is most important. And sounds like the conditions on that day would have compromised both. Definitely a smart choice on your part!

  8. I don’t blame you at all for not wanting to risk it – hypothermia is no joke. I got it snowboarding once, and holy.hell is it scary. I don’t mind rain, but I’m a huge wimp when it comes to the cold. Not really the greatest thing since I live in the Land of Ice and Snow..

  9. Definitely a smart decision to pass on this race given the conditions and your history with said conditions. Thankfully, I’ve never suffered from hypothermia, which is strange considering how I grew up in the tundra. 😉

    1. If I’m bundled up with 100 layers then it could be -30 and I’d be okay but that pesky rain lowers the core temperature like no tomorrow. I’m glad you have never had hypo Carrie and I hope you never will.

  10. Way to make a wise decision, Hollie! You really know yourself and your limits, and I think that says a lot about you and how smart of an athlete you are. Way to be!

  11. You’re lucky to have made it out three years ago when you had hypothermia. I wouldn’t have taken the risk again, either, because if you get lucky once… You don’t want to keep pushing your luck. There are so many races out there and it stinks you weren’t able to do the family race, but there’s always next year! I’d be bummed, but you have a lot of things to look forward to right now!

  12. Given your history with hypothermia I would say that this was a smart decision. I haven’t DNS’d yet, but Mike and I will be DNSing next weekend because we are doing a relay instead of a different race we first registered for. I have DNF’d once, due to injury and I probably should have DNS’d instead.

  13. I’ve never had a DNS… because I don’t race! Haha.
    Good for you for knowing yourself and making a SMART and INTELLIGENT decision. Not many people around these parts do too much of that these days.

  14. That’s too bad about this race, although I understand why you took the DNS, especially considering your previous experience. Hypothermia is nothing to screw around with.

    I’ve DNSed once, and that was because my allergies were so bad that I could barely get out of bed without feeling woozy and sneezing my brains out. No way was I even going to attempt a half-marathon in that condition.

  15. I’ve DNSed a couple races before, and never really regretted it, honestly. I think you made the absolute right call. It’s not worth risking your health for one race, over the span of your entire life you’ll race so many that you probably won’t even remember missing this one 🙂

  16. Good call, glad you made the safe and smart choice! My only DNS was the 10k scheduled for 2 days after I tore my ACL. Suffice to say I didn’t really have a choice on that one. As for rain… it’s fine as long as I am inside and not trying to go anywhere : )

  17. I’m glad you are smart my dear. Some would have done this race no matter what and some probably did and risked their good health. I hope this helps some readers see it’s ok to not do a race it’s not quitting or giving up its saying ok this isn’t the day for me to race if I want to race again in the future or have a good rear of my day

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