I ran the Dallas White Rock marathon on Sunday. This was supposed to be my Boston qualifier but, as you remember, I gave up on that dream months ago. Lucky thing I did.
A group of us from the running club road-tripped to this race. This is becoming my favorite way to run marathons. I love traveling and going through the race event with a group of other runners. It's so much fun.
I didn't get to travel with everyone this time because I had to stay in town to see my wife graduate with her MBA. Yea! Of course she received every honor possible and all of them in Greek so I can't spell or pronounce any of them here. She is the poster-child for over-achievers which is surprising since, well, she's married to me. I like to think I'm the boat anchor that grounds (drags) her back down to earth. Heck if it wasn't for me she would probably be living in New York making tons of money, driving expensive cars, wearing fine clothes, and basically living a grand life. Wouldn't that be horrible! I saved her from all that, yea me!
So I made it down to Dallas late on Saturday stopping at Olive Garden for some carbs. I was able to resist the wine. My friend had already checked into the hotel so I went straight to the room. Since it was 65 degrees we decided that a quick dip in the hot tub (which was outside on a roof top) would be nice. It was. In hindsight this was probably not the best idea. Hot tubs always dry out my skin and that means water loss but I'm getting ahead of myself. We had all noticed on the weather report that it was going to be windy. As we sat in the hot tub, we were able to feel it first hand. IT WAS WINDY!
We got up early to catch the first bus over to the starting line. As we walking out the hotel door Bart Yasso was walking in. I stopped him (because I'm a horribly rude celebrity junkie!) and he chatted with us. He is so nice, He looked just like any other runner and we talked like old friends. I was with my friend who was planning on running a BQ that day and Bart started talking about how windy it was out that morning. He said something like, "I hope no one was planning on running a Boston qualifier today, that'd be hard in this wind". I cringed and told my friend to not listen, he's just kidding. But he wasn't, holy crap it was windy and it was right out of the South which meant we would have it in our face for the second half of the race. Great!
I was thirsty from the time I got up which should have been a warning sign. Oh and Starbucks was there giving out free coffee. I couldn't say no, it was free Starbucks! I know, I know, I should have known what was coming but I didn't see the signs as they were happening, it's only looking back that I can say "Good Lord I was stupid! What was I thinking!".
The start was extremely crowded. We squeezed our way up to the 3:20 pace group and waited. I turned Garmin on and she immediately told me she had a low battery. I couldn't believe her! I took her off the charger a day ago but hadn't asked her to do anything and now she has a low battery!?!? We had a little fight right there in front of all those people which was embarrassing. Luckily a friend who was running the half offered to let me use their Garmin. This was beyond generous to me and I can't explain how thankful I am. I really like to know my pace in a marathon because I have a tendency to run a little fast if I don't keep myself in check. It was at this time that I also noticed how thirsty I was again. I told myself I'd be fine if I just drank a lot at the first water stop. STUPID STUPID STUPID STUPID.
It stayed crowed for many miles. I was only able to get 2 cups of water at the first water stop but I kept going. I wasn't feeling comfortable in my pace yet but knew that was normal. I expected to settle in any time soon. I never did. I lost all my bearings because of the large crowds and didn't know which pace group I was near. I saw balloons up ahead so I concentrated on catching them thinking it was the 3:40 pace group which is where I wanted to be. I got a little more water along the way but still wasn't feeling comfortable at all. I eventually caught the balloons and realized it was the 3:30 pace group. Oh my! That's faster than I wanted to run. My Garmin stand-in was having trouble displaying a steady pace so I must have gotten confused as to how fast I was running. No problem, I thought, I'll just hang with them for a while and drop back when I start to get tired.
That happened around mile 15. We had turned into the wind and it really killed me. Once my form broke I lost all my energy and was really struggling to keep a good pace. I got a little burst of energy that got me through mile 17 but then it was over. I was walking. Ahhh! I decided that shuffling was faster than walking so I started running again but it wasn't pretty. I was just trying to get to mile 19 where I knew they were giving out PowerBar Gels. I figured this would help get me some energy. I made it there and they had Hooters Girls handing out the gel!! This gave me some energy but caused me to lose all concentration and I grabbed the first gel they had. I resisted the urge to grab other things but figured I could claim partial insanity due to extreme fatigue if I did happen to "bump" into something. I got past the scenery and opened the gel and took some. It was Double Esspresso! Ugh! It tasted awful and said it had 3x the caffeine! All in all, absolutely horrible!
Mile 20-22 were a blur. I honestly don't remember them. I was shuffling along in a daze. I needed water so badly but when I drank it just sat in my stomach and sloshed around. Somewhere around mile 22-23 I had begun to have pain where I've never had pain before. I felt the urgent need to hit a porta-potty or a tree (I'm a guy sorry!). Way too many people around for the tree so I had to wait until the mile 23 aid station. I hit the potty and stood there, and stood there, and stood there. Nothing! But I still felt the need. This is when I saw the blood. (sorry should have warned you this was a graphic post). Holy Crap! I've never had this before. I didn't know what to do. I wasn't disoriented or feeling light-headed but I knew something was wrong and didn't know how to handle it. I always worry about bothering the medical staff with something minor and keeping them from something more important. I figured if I was able to stay conscious I must not be that bad so I kept going.
By mile 24 I was in real pain. I was still shuffling but was beginning to get that weird feeling like I was about to lose it. I wasn't near any large crowds or aid stations so I kept running as best I could. My emotions began working on me. I got really low and actually said a prayer to God to take care of my kids if something should happen. At one point I was walking and decided that if I was going to die out here I wanted to do it running so I began running again. This is going to sounds insane but I also heard my Grandfathers voice. I'm not one of those people who believe in ghosts or that spirits talk to you from the dead but I do think my mind was out-of-sorts and playing tricks on me. I can't remember what I heard but it was in his voice which I haven't heard in 20 years and it sounded so much like him that it stopped me in my tracks. It was like I was back on the farm and he was talking to me. I had forgotten what his voice sounded like but recognized it the moment I heard it. It shocked me so badly that I stopped in the middle of the street and stood there looking around. It must have shocked me back into reality too because I immediately became aware of where I was and what I was doing. It shocked me back into reality.
I struggled to the finish and crossed in 3:51 something. I wanted water so bad but my stomach was a mess. I gulped as much as I could take though. I still had a lot of pain and it was hard to walk. I walked to a bathroom and tried to go again, this time it was better with no blood so I new I was getting better. It still HURT really bad!
I eventually came around to remember that they had beer down in the American Airlines center so I stumbled DOWN THE STAIRS (That's right, they made you walk down stairs after running a marathon! Masochists!) and grabbed a beer. What better way to rehydrate and flush out the system right? OK I know it wasn't the smartest thing to do but when have I ever done the smart thing? I wouldn't be Willie if I did what I know I should do.
The beer did the trick and I was back to some semblance of life in no time. We all met up at a BJ's just north of Dallas and had a wonderful time. I ordered 1 of everything I think and wolfed it down like a starving dog. Artichoke and Spinach dip? Yes please, Mozzarella sticks? Oh yea! Pizza? Hell yes bring it on, Margarita? Bring two please and a straw! Oh yea and WATER, lot's of water.
So what has Willie learned? Well nothing really, BUT he has found a new respect for hydration. I believe I took this marathon much to casually thinking that I could handle anything that came along and that I didn't have to prepare as diligently as I have before. I was taught a lesson the only way Willie can be taught, the hard way! I always say the thing I love most about the marathon is that it never is easy. It is such a distance that you cannot just go out and do it anytime you please. You must respect it. Well I didn't respect this one and it bit me. Makes me love it even more.
Thanks for listening