Making Lemonade: A Great Example of How to Use a DNF to Your and Other’s Benefit – TriCoachGeorgia


Mrs. Taylor Lewis, aka HFT and one of Coach Slayer‘s (Dr. Harvey Gayer) long term athletes, is an Ironman already. She’s run ultra marathons. More importantly, she’s a great mother with three children, wife, and works full time as a registered nurse. Taylor values balance and we all know how hard that can be to find in endurance sports.

Taylor knows how to grit out the hardest workouts in the worst of conditions living in the Florida Panhandle. Unfortunately, the race selection of and build for Ironman (IM) Boulder were plagued with some challenges. However, she had a good swim, smashed the bike, and did not finish (DNF) by fainting just past 12 miles into the marathon run. Medical personnel ended her day as she struggle to regain her sensibilities. This led to some valuable introspection that we thought would be useful for others.

List of HFT’s 15 Takeaways from her IM DNF

What follows is a list of what she learned from her DNF. Taylor was kind of enough to allow us to share her thoughts:

I am very fortunate in so many ways. I have a great support system. I strive to have a positive attitude even when the chips are down. Even though it hurt to not finish the race, I choose to view it as a win in the process of my athletic development. There are so many take-aways from this race. I learned so much about IM and about myself.

  1. I still love IM.  There is no doubt that I want to do another. I’ve had a very hard time finding motivation for this. I was sick to death of 3:30am wake-ups, always being tired, and feeling bad about myself when I didn’t complete a workout.  I started this race with the fear that this might be my last IM.  But it’s not.  I love this lifestyle, the good, the bad, and the ugly.  There will be more IMs and that idea thrills me.
  2. I will never again underestimate an IM swim. I got through this swim, but it was a miserable experience. I don’t want to feel that way again.  I realize part of this had to do with location. I think the same swim at sea-level and I would’ve been okay.  But I also wonder if I had done more swim training if I would’ve been better prepared.
  3. I fell in love with cycling again. Riding indoors all the time is mind-numbingly boring, but it’s safe and it’s convenient.  After seeing that accident where one of my fellow competitors died, I don’t have any desire to ride outside. That could’ve been anyone. My understanding is that the rider swerved into the car lane, but if I had been 10 minutes ahead of where I was, I could’ve been involved. That scares me. Also, indoor training prepared me very well for this course. There was approx. 4400 feet of climbing on this course and I feel like I handled this was confidence and grace. Indoor riding is what’s best for me.
  4. The mental game is as tough as the physical aspect of a race. I almost psyched myself out about the bike course before the race even started. I didn’t trust in my training as I should have and the truth is, Coach Slayer had done his job and I was well prepared for this bike course. Trust in your training.
  5. Don’t underestimate the effects of altitude.  Enough said.
  6. Don’t underestimate ‘dry heat’ and lack of humidity. I didn’t hydrate enough in the weeks leading up to this race and during the race. I also underestimated what it would feel like being a mile closer to the sun.
  7. Always face IM one piece at a time. It’s overwhelming to think about the entire distance. Buoy to buoy. Aid station to aid station. It’s not impossible. How do you eat an elephant?
  8. I should’ve spent more time practicing nutrition. I didn’t do well with keeping up with water, electrolytes, and nutrition and I couldn’t remember when I had taken what last.
  9. Lose weight. This would be easier if I were 10+ # lighter! Duh!
  10. People care about me and support me and I don’t always recognize that. This event brought a lot of that to my attention and I’m grateful for all of them.
  11. Sunscreen is my friend. The arm coolers saved me, but my hands were so sunburned. So were two small spots on each side of my back between the tri top and the edge of the arm coolers.  My lips were sunburned too.
  12. This course is one of the best I’ve ever raced on at any distance. This was hands-down the best marked course I’ve ever seen. The volunteers were all incredible.  And the course was breathtakingly beautiful.
  13. My coach and team are phenomenal. I am blessed to have Coach Slayer as a coach and to be part of this incredible group of people. I know I’ve been difficult to coach for this, but he’s hung with me and supported me throughout it all.
  14. My husband makes a great Sherpa.
  15. IM is not a family event. It’s a selfish athlete event that my family goes to. I find that it’s difficult to make an IM trip a true family vacation. I’m stressed already about the race and then worrying about making sure they have a great vacation adds another layer of stress that isn’t fun for anyone. I don’t know that I’ll drag my kids and mom and sister to another one. Family support cannot be taken for granted and that support happens throughout the IM journey. From the first time that IM crosses my mind, I have to have buy-in from those who are going to be most impacted. IM is a very long day for spectators and it’s just not a place for kids to hang out. Once they’ve seen me race it’s not so much fun for them to watch over and over again. They were there when I did IMFL in 2014. They’ve seen the finish line and they understand what it is about. They don’t need to keep doing it. I’ve already talked to my husband and kids about IMFL in 2017 and they are behind me all the way. But the kids won’t be there for all of that one. Maybe for the finish line, maybe not. They cheer for me in training sessions and all the time already.


As I finish writing this on Thursday morning following the race I’ve had a lot of time to reflect.  I watched the IM Boulder race video recap that Ironman makes for all the races and I felt sad watching people cross the finish line. I really wish I had been able to do that. But that has been the only time I felt bad about what happened. I have NEVER pushed myself to that point before and I know that I gave everything I had to give in this race.

Swelling in my hands and feet is going down and sunburns are fading. I am ready to go again! Thanks for reading.

TriCoach Slayer Update: 666 State of the Slay Pre-Kona – TriCoachGeorgia


Everyone including me is so tied up with so many things and people in their world, I’d like to say welcome back to mine! As a professional listener in my coaching and licensed psychologist positions, I rarely get to talk about me and there have been some real golden nuggets.

As I am wanting to do, here is a quick little update of where I am in the Kona build. I can’t wait to do my job with my dedicated wife and inner circle as sherpas on race day 10/8/16 on the Big Island. Moreover, I get to race with my close friend and hero, professional triathlete Melissa Hauschildt aka The Haus/House, my loyal friend, fellow coach, and athlete Wes Hargrove aka Taz, and other friends like Dynamo‘s Thomas Odom.

Best Sponsors and Affiliates Deserve Shout Outs on the Big Island

Given how well they have treated me and the team, I long to represent and pay back in small way the team’s fantastic sponsors and affiliates. These include GO Race ProductionsTifosi OpticsSpecialized BicyclesGeorgia CyclesportORR Cycling Carbon Wheel SystemsFusion Sports USFleet Feet Sports AthensROKA SportsRunning WarehouseGeneration UCANBASE PerformanceInfinit NutritnNuun HydrationSBR Sports, Inc.

Not Been An Easy Year

Before I start, I should say that my buddy, athlete, and fellow TCGA Coach Seth Waltman aka TaxSlayer told me after I qualified last October that all I had was one job for the next year, “Stay healthy!”. That turned (turns?) out to be a lot harder than I expected.

Blood Clots are a Bitch

In addition to your garden variety of muscle strains an ironman in training gets, I survived the second bout of blood clots or (deep vein thrombosis) DVT’s after the Boston Marathon in April. Dehydration and the trauma from the Armadillo bike wreck last year seem to be at the root. Because of the risk of further clots killing me, I am on anti-coagulants for life so, although I can swim and run outside, I only get to ride outside on a rare race day (the Vascular Surgeon said no more than 2-3x a year for Triathlon due to the risks). That was a huge scare but we adapted when the news came back that I could, in fact, race!

The Hematologist had previously said that, like Chris Bosh in basketball with recurring clots, “the game is over Dr. Gayer” which left us devastated until we went through the full process of all the appointments and the Vascular Surgeon gave me the option to race a couple times a year (off the meds for 24 hours).

An interesting fact is that the Vascular Surgeon told me the travel to and from the race is actually more risky than the race itself as my blood is more dynamic while moving and clotting happens when you are immobile and dehydrated.

Weight Loss Remains an Issue

As I collected my Kona slot on the Ironman Maryland podium as 2nd in the 45-49 age group (AG), the guy in front me who came 1st AG, Edward Walker who had qualified 13 times thus far and making this year his 7th time racing on the Big Island, told me it was a amazing but tough race and would separate the men from the boys. I asked him what he meant.

Paraphrasing what he said, “those age groupers that draft can’t get away with it due to the course, conditions, and closer umpiring. He also cited one other major factor that shakes the age group out, size of the person. In a matter of fact way, and ignoring that I was 6’4″ and just under 200lbs., he said the bigger guys melt. This is nothing new to me and I am not trying to win or place. I just want to finish strong, enjoy the event and our first trip to Hawaii, and hopefully not suck/do my best/race steady.

The Plan

So with 66 days now until my first and perhaps only Kona Ironman World Championship, it’s time to bring the scale down for real (and bring the training up a notch). I weigh 199 today. I want to race this one below 190 and closer to 180 than 190.

Having said that, I have never been down that low so I will take what I can get. I know how to fuel to train instead of train to eat, make smart decisions, and show commitment. For August, I need to run 40-50 miles per week, swim 3x per week with one longer swim, and bike 250-300 miles per week minimum.

That’s Not All Folks

And I need to be a better husband, Dad, and professional and coach. I can’t let any of the balls that I am juggling fall. This will require significant dedication and support. I’ve got it in spades. Thank you all!

Deep Appreciation

As I will be there for you during this time period and hopefully have been in the past, I hope you will be there for me and help to hold me accountable. I plan to lean out, stay healthy as possible, and wreck myself until the taper in 52 days around 9/25. Whatever you are pursuing, I hope you have the passion I have for this life of ours and the people close to me. I believe in us. WE WILL DO THIS. Thanks for following along!!!