Friday, April 22, 2016

Salt Lake Marathon, 2016

I decided to run the Salt Lake Marathon on April 16 as a fundraiser for Huntsman Cancer Institute. This was the fourth time I've raised money for Huntsman, and it's always something that I'm proud to do. Of course, I run in memory of my mom. I have also had the pleasure of knowing my coworker and friend, Heidi, who has been fighting colon cancer for 18 months. She's amazing.

However, about a month before the marathon, I learned of the passing of another friend of mine, Sue Daylor of our Boston sales office. I worked with Sue for a couple of years back in 1998 and 1999, and we've stayed in touch since then. I didn't talk to her as often as I should have - something that everyone realizes only when it is too late. I didn't even know that she was sick; she never mentioned it which isn't a surprise... She was so funny, and so much fun, and she talked SO FAST! A single mom, she raised a beautiful daughter named Danielle, and she was loved by everyone. I promised a few people that I would dedicate certain miles to Sue on their behalf.

My training leading up to the marathon was good. I totally should have lost more weight, but since the first of the year (in 3.5 months) I ran 10.4, 12.3, 10.3, 13, 17.5, 10, 18, 13, 19.5, and 20.5 mile long runs, so I know that my mileage was there. I had the distance. Not the speed, but - well - I never have the speed.

I was hoping to PR, but I realized that my fastest time was at 10-12 pounds less weight. But, that's OK - I was fine with finishing around 10 minutes slower than my PR (knowing that a PR would have been the best...). Hey - I've done this before. This isn't my first 'thon. I know what to expect. I know that it's going to be a suck-fest at some point. I know that I'm going to struggle. I know that I'm going to finish. I know that I can do this.

Woke up at 4am to get moving and get my tummy moving - you know what I mean...
I did the dishes from the night before. I pottied. I got dressed. I pottied again. I hopped into the car and drove away. (Bub and the boys were staying home because nobody was feeling all that great.)
Uneventful drive into SLC. Found a parking space 1 block from the finish line (score!).
Hopped on the train and rode to the start line.
Met the Huntsman team for a picture, and then hit the line for the porta-potties.
Dropped my sweatshirt and pants at the gear check.
Got in line with "my people" (the slow, shuffling, 5+ hour runners).
Boom - race starts. It's all going according to schedule/plan.

I started my watch, crossed the start line a second later, and then high-5'd Mayor Biskupski!
The race started north into Federal Heights. All of the hills would be taken care of in the first half of the race, so what's not to love?
It was COLD, but I knew that I would warm up.
I was running at my pace (slow), and moving right along.... for an entire half of a mile.
I'm not even joking.

At mile 0.5, my heart started POUNDING. Not beating heavily. Not elevated. FREAKING POUNDING.
So, I stopped and walked in order to get it in line with my body and the actual effort. It didn't work. (Plus, I was mortified to be walking in the first mile.)
Fine, I think, I'll just keep running. It will come around.
I stopped, walked, crouched on my haunches, folded forward - you name it... But, nothing seemed to help. Not in Federal Heights, not in City Creek Canyon, not headed down State Street. It just kept pounding and pounding. I thought I could run through it. That's what runners do, right. We run through a twinge in the knee. We run through a side stitch. We keep going because everything works itself out, right?

At mile 5 - after running for 4 miles with my hand on my chest to feel the pounding (pace and strength) - I decided that I would walk until it stopped. I was was done trying to run through it. I was starting to get scared, and I was breathing like an asthmatic.
So, I walked.
I didn't power walk. I strolled.
There were times when I tried to run again, but I never made it more than a block or two.
My heart still never slowed down or softened in it's intensity.
My left arm was cold and tired.
Each passing mile, I got more and more frightened. This had never happened to me before.

So, at the split point (mile 9) where the full 'thon went left and the half 'thon went right, I chose to turn right because my friend/running partner/nurse was volunteering at an aid station. I figured that if I was dying, she would at least know what to do. I had walked for 4 miles.
Now, I've had many moments (every marathon) where I've said "Oh, I'm going to quit. I can't do this. I hate running," but I've always also had in the back of my mind that voice that says "No, you won't quit. You'll finish; you know that you will." However, on this day, I knew that if Tracy said to stop, I would stop. No questions asked.

So, as I approached the aid station, I could see the surprised look on her face. We had joked because she volunteered so that she could cheer me on/up at one of the hard miles, but then she was assigned to a water stop on the half-marathon course. As soon as I made eye contact with her, I started crying. I waved her towards me, and I'm sure that I looked awful. She ran towards me and asked what was wrong, but I could barely tell her because I literally could not breathe.
Tracy hugged me and tried to help my breathing calm down as I gasped "I can't breathe! I can't breathe!"
I explained - as well as I could - what was happening to me.
We sat down on the curb, and she tried to take my pulse, but it was so cold, and she couldn't get her hands to warm up enough. But, that's OK because I could feel it POUNDING in my chest.

I sat there for 10 minutes, possibly more.
I felt comfort and care from Tracy's presence. My heart eventually started to slow down.
Then, as suddenly as it started, it stopped. All at once, I was just fine. It was SO weird.
I asked Tracy what she thought I should do. She suggested that I just walk in the remainder of the half. I rolled my eyes and said that if I was going to do that, I could just as well walk the full....
(I know. Logic goes out the window during a race. Runners aren't very bright. What was I thinking? Say what you want....)
I promised Tracy that I would turn around and come back if my heart started up again. Honestly, I was certain that it would start pounding again in just a couple of blocks, but I had to give it a try.

So, I made my way back to the course, and started moving again. After about a half mile, I found myself running at 10:20, 9:58, 10:40, 10:10, 11:00, 9:50, etc. I ran like that (with a few walk breaks) until about mile 17 or 18!
Then, the Gu and banana bites that I had eaten were right at the threshold of coming back up, so I slowed down.

My friend, Polo, was waiting for me at mile 19.
I knew that I just needed to get to that point. After that point, and running with Polo, I knew that if I had a heart attack then Polo would be able to do CPR for me.
So, I walked (WALKED!) up to my friends - Polo, Carlene, Mindy, Rose, and Mariah - and he was ready to go. Unfortunately, I made him walk for about a mile and a half while I tried not to barf. I was successful, but everyone knows what happens when you walk too long in a marathon: you never want to start walking again...
Finally, Polo talked me into running, and we ran, walked, ran, walked, ran, walked.
I walked longer than I wanted, and probably took up WAY too much of Polo's time, but he never let on.
He just kept saying "I think you can pass that guy in the green/orange/blue shirt/shorts/hat."
He talked about movies, his son's trip to Thailand, relays that he wants us all to run - whatever. He talked; I growled. He pushed; I grumbled. He waved and thanked volunteers; I glared. He laughed; I laughed - you gotta' laugh when you're around Polo...
So, he helped me slog out the final 7 miles, and I love him for that!

Finally, we saw the finish line, and there was one more person that I wanted to pass, so we pushed and finally passed her right before the chute.
I finished in 6:10:14. Son of a bitch! An hour and 10 minutes longer than what I wanted. Not 10 minutes, but an HOUR and 10 minutes.

I made my way to the Huntsman tent where they were tearing everything down. They thought that they had just missed me and that I had finished long before. Sadly, no.
I relayed my story to Coach Elfi, and we commiserated. She can't figure out what the problem might have been.
I said "I'm so pissed! Now, I just need to run a redemption marathon!"
Jen - the event coordinator for Huntsman athletes piped up and said "I can get you into Ogden if you just raise $400 more!"
I'll be honest - I'm 99% there....

I don't know what my mile splits were because I erased my watch in my anger. I do know that they were all over the damn place. 11:20, 16:50, 13:30, 9:58, 10:45 - nothing consistent.
I cried when I got home before I got into the tub.
I drank three beers that night and ate cheetos.
I walked 3 miles the next day.
I did DDPY and ran 3 miles on Monday.
I ran 5.5 miles on Tuesday.
In other words, my body was fine - well, unless you count my heart and lungs....

I'm running 10-ish miles tomorrow with friends. I hope Meg is there as she is a doctor. I would love to tell her my story and see what she says.
Right now, I haven't made an appointment to see the doc. If she says to go, I probably will.

Some (Kelley, Elfi, Carolyn) think that it was an anxiety attack. But, really - what did I have to be anxious about?
It wasn't my first 'thon.
I knew what to expect.
I knew that I wasn't going to win.
It was just another long run.
Yes - I was a bit nervous because I hadn't run a 'thon for 5 years, but I wasn't scared...
What the hell?
Others (Nate, Heidi, Charlie) think that it's just a fluke.
One (Linda) thinks that I might even be related to peri-menopause.

What could/should have gone differently:
weight loss
better mileage throughout the week
speed training
better hill training

Will I run Ogden or Utah Valley? We shall see....

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