Sunday, April 26, 2009

New Experiences

How does that old saying go? "If you want to run something, run 100 yards, if you want to experience something run a marathon."

The entry fee for a marathon gets you so many things. Bag check, a chip to get your exact time, massages after the race, and access to wonderful medical care if you need it.

Today I got my money's worth. I'd never been to the medical tent of a marathon before and I honestly don't remember much about how I got to this one today. It's a wonderful place. They bring you drinks and ice packs. They gave me a nice bed to lay down on. All I had to do was lay there and let them take my blood pressure and heart rate. 80 over 60 and 84 if your wondering. I was a little loopy so I don't have all the details. I'm getting ahead of myself.

Today dawned windy, hot and humid. No thunderstorms which was nice. I made it to the start and fought the crowds to get into the starting corral. I introduced Andrea (see side-story below) to my friend who was also running the half and shooting for about the same time as her. I was so glad they could meet and run together because there weren't any pace groups for the time they wanted to run and I hoped they could help each other.

I woke Paula up and she was grumpy. She refused to link up with the satellites. We were surrounded by buildings so I knew it was hard for her but I also knew she was upset at me for forgetting her on my last 2 runs. As has been explained to me hundreds of times, you can't ignore a women for a week and then one morning roll over and try to turn her on and expect her to perform. Paula was giving me the cold shoulder. She was still not linked up when the gun went off so I ran the first mile without her. I thought I was taking it easy but when I saw the clock read 7:28 I knew I was in trouble. Did I mention it was hot? It was hot. I tried to slow down but the wind was at our backs at this point so it was hard. I didn't catch my 2 mile time but I went through 3 miles in 24 minutes flat. 8 freakin' minute pace in a marathon I was supposed to be running easy! I've never run the first 3 miles of a marathon in 24 minutes. Did I mention it was hot? I was drenched in sweat by mile 3.

Let me stop at this point and say that I was aware of how badly this race could go because of what I was doing. I KNEW I was running too fast for the conditions. I KNEW I was running way beyond my current physical fitness. Did any of this make me slow down? Nope, I acknowledged the reality and kept on trucking. So stupid, so very, very stupid.

I went through the 10K in 50:35. Still feeling good but still too fast. We still had the wind at our backs. This is about the time I heard the rudest comment I've ever heard during a marathon. There was an old lady running next to me that had obviously run many miles in the sun. She had the loose, brown skin that happens after too much time in the sun. A spectator, sitting in a lawn chair, yells "great job" as she runs by and then proceeds to quietly say "Geesh, look at the skin cancer lady". I don't know why but it pissed me off. I didn't say anything at the time but I wish I had said, "Geesh, look at the non-running heart disease lady sitting her fat ass in a lawn chair". Damn I wish I had those thoughts quicker.

Leading up to the half way point, I was starting to feel the effects of the heat. Because I was aware of how stupidly I was running, I had been drinking 2 cups of PowerAde at every stop but I was beginning to think it wasn't enough. I went through the half in 1:49 and that is the last GOOD thing I can say about my race.

Mile 14 turned us back into the wind and I fell apart. We were out at Lake Hefner and running head on into the wind. This is where I first walked. It was depressing. I was completely out of energy and fighting this wind. I eventually started running again but it wasn't pretty. I drank, I ate pretzels, I took my E-Gel, but I couldn't get my pace back. I had no energy. I had stopped sweating so I knew I had exhausted my body's water reserve. I struggled through the next few miles running and walking. I couldn't seem to run more than 1/2 mile before I got totally exhausted and had to walk. I was getting passed by everyone. I went through mile 19 in 2:50. I figured if I could run 10 minute miles I could still get a 4 hour race. I kept trudging along and did the best I could. I saw the 3:40 pace group go by, then the 3:50 pace group, and somewhere around mile 22 I got passed by the 4 hour pace group. This was the final blow. I knew I had lost a sub-4 hour race. I got very depressed. I never thought of dropping out but I lost my motivation to push harder.

My running spurts were getting shorter and considerably more tiring. I basically ran until I just couldn't go on and then I'd walk. Around mile 24 I told myself I can run the last 2 miles without stopping. So I started jogging. I picked up the pace between mile 24 and mile 25 and was feeling pretty good. I hadn't reached mile 25 when I started getting dizzy. I pushed through it and tried to keep focused. I made it to the final turn before I walked again. I was 1/2 a mile from the finish and I was walking. That just wouldn't do, so I made myself run again. I don't remember much of this final stretch. I remember a lot of cheering people but I was barely keeping my feet moving forward. I don't remember crossing the finish line but I do remember a very nice person holding me up and keeping me walking. She asked me a lot of questions that I tried so hard to answer but I was having trouble getting the words out. When she asked me if I wanted a wheelchair though, I answered with a resounding NO! I was not going to be put in a wheelchair. Just not going to happen. She carried me to the medical tent where I found a nice bed and some nicer people. Lot's of fluids and lot's of time with my feet in the air later, I regained my sanity.

Ok so I've run out of time tonight. I'm going to bed. I'll finish the story tomorrow and tell you all about meeting Andrea. Don't let me forget.

Thanks for listening.


Reese said...

A great job considering the unforseen circumstances. My hat is off to all of you for persevering through those tough conditions.

Southbay Girl said...

I'm sorry you didn't have the race you wanted!!! But I bet you will come out a stronger runner for all the shitty things that happened to you! I'm glad you are OK!!!!

Sarah said... better post as soon as you wake up so we know you're ok.

Calyx Meredith said...

Willie - I hope that a stay in the medical tent is an experience you never have again! Take care of yourself! And well done for pushing through.

Sarah said...

A trip to the med tent and STILL got a 4:07 marathon. Dude, total BEAST status!

Just a tip. Paula may have been mad, but she did try to warn you that your pace was too fast for the conditions. When will you learn that we are always right and just listen?

Love you dearly, so, no more med tents ok!

RBR said...

OOPS! A student was logged into my computer. That comment was from me, RBR.


Southbay Girl said...

How do you feel today? Better? I hope so!! Your lovely wife left a comment on my blog-how did she do in Nashville? I know the heat was oppressive and ugly!! Please tell her congrats!!

Miss Tenacity said...

Oh, gak! I'm so sorry you had a bad race.

The key thing now is:
2. Hydrate
3. Repeat

Then you'll be OK next weekend.

I'm writing up my own race story in which Willie will have a feature performance. ;-)

glenstanley said...

Geesh. I totally missed this blog post yesterday. Wow. I'm happy you finished but even happier that you are okay. Thanks for being detailed about what happened. Stories like these help newbies like me understand things better. Don't fret this outing, you'll be fine in Colorado.

Middle-of-the-Pack Girl said...

oh my god, Willie, I just love how you refer to your girl, Paula. Too funny! I'm so sorry it felt so bad those last few miles, but I am glad you met some very nice people who took care of you in the medical tent!