Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Week 15 - blaaaaaaaaaah

Ugh. What a week. It started out well enough. I spotted a new boat in the harbor - Perseverance II. I'll have to consult the archives, but I believe I saw a Perseverance I earlier in training. It's been tougher and tougher to get up at the ass-crack of dawn to run. It's pitch black outside and the sun doesn't rise until after 6 a.m. now. I feel like I'm up in the middle of the night and just jogging around the neighborhood for the heck of it. I couldn't get up Thursday morning and as I hit snooze for the 10th time told myself I would run after work. Well, the financial market craziness made work very busy towards the end of the week so I never got my 5 mile run in. Oh well, with the economic world crashing a little 5-mile run seemed rather insignificant.

My long run this week - 20 miles - was on Sunday. Jenny and I ran in the Ready To Run, which is not a race but rather a training run -- the last long run before the marathon. So we joined 5,000 other people to run from one end of the lakefront to the other end. They started us in waves of about 50 people - according to pace. I thought I would have a great run - I was ready for it. While walking Bailey at 5 a.m. I found a dollar on the sidewalk so I thought the mo-jo was flowing. Then the thing I hate most in the entire world started rolling into the city - HUMIDITY. It's my kryptonite. I just cannot run in humidity. The race started out well enough - I take that back. Jenny had to go to the bathroom before the run started. I didn't really have to go but figured what the heck I may as well while we're in line. Big mistake. I walked into the porta-potty and walked right back out. What I saw in that toilet will scar me for the rest of my life. Just thinking about it makes me want to vomit.

I knew I would have a tough day when I got to about mile 4 and could really feel the heat suffocating me. I was having flashbacks to the awful 16-mile run about a month ago. I tried to just focus on completing a whopping 20 miles. Besides the heat, the run itself was good otherwise - pretty scenery, lots of people on the path, a lot of gravel instead of asphalt... We cruised through the water stops at a brisk walk so the overall pace of our run seemed faster but we were running just under 11-minute miles like in our Saturday runs. I made it to mile 10 and it really didn't seem that bad. I knew the heat was taking a toll on me but the actual mileage was going by pretty quick. The run officials had yellow flags out for caution due to the heat and I could see people starting to wilt. The fog was so thick you could barely see the buildings downtown. Thick, nasty humid air.

I hit a "wall" around mile 12 and made Jenny go on without me. I had to walk up a hill by the museum campus. I got up and running again and cruised by the Bears tailgaters along Soldiers Field. The smell of that barbecue was torture. I prayed for someone to throw me a porkchop but no luck.

Jenny waited for me at the next water stop but I had to send her ahead again as I walked through a stretch of shade. I figured I may as well prolong my time out of the sun as long as possible! I ran through the stretches in the sun and made it to the water stop at mile 14. I still thought I could do this thing and ate my last packet of goo. It didn't seem to be giving me energy like it normally did but it was keeping me up on my feet. People were dropping left and right. One girl was having a mental breakdown and I passed her, very slowly, but at least I was passing someone. I had a running conversation with myself in my head after mile 15 to just keep going that I could do it. I made it mile 16 and still thought I could do it - this part of the course was my territory - we ran this stretch every Saturday! I was still feeling pretty sick from the heat and noticed from mile 14 on that I had stopped sweating and was actually getting the chills. Because I literally was shivering like I was cold I thought it best to swing by the medical tent at the water stop at mile 16 to have my temperature taken. I was having flashbacks to the handout in the run packet that described heat exhaustion, heat stroke and death. The death paragraph was rather shocking - I guess that was the point. Something about 1 in 10,000 runners die in these long distance runs. I thought this is not the time to turn up in those odds so to the medical tent I went! As soon as I got there and sat down on a cot I started crying. I had a total meltdown - literally. I was so sick and shaky I couldn't even hardly talk. They put an ice pack on the back of my neck and that helped after about 5 minutes. It took the girls 10 minutes to figure out how to use the thermometer so I don't know what my temperature was when I first got there. I'm sure I was cooking. The ice cooled me down right away though. After about 15 minutes I felt totally fine and was itching to get out of there so I could finish the last 4 miles but they wouldn't let me go. They said with those symptoms of heat exhaustion I was done. I was so mad. I wasn't mad at them - they were just keeping me from turning into the 1 in 10,000. I was so disappointed I couldn't finish and wouldn't finish the last long run of the training program.

I had to wait forever for a medical transport to the finish line - when it finally came it was slow going as we picked up runners along the way. One poor girl was puking in the grass and someone had called an ambulance for her. It was like some kind of warped pilgrimage of hot, sweaty people who had all lost their minds. They had changed the race flags to Red for caution, extreme conditions. Ya think??

By the time I got to the finish the run was almost over. The volunteer dropped me off and I had to walk around the corner of the cultural center to the finish line. I was hoping Jenny was waiting somewhere by the finish line and didn't leave thinking I already got a ride back to the car. This was the best part of the day: I walk around the corner and now I'm on the course again and about 10 yards from the finish line. People start cheering for me like I'm actually finishing the run. lol. I'm just strolling along like I could give a shit. Didn't they think if I was really finishing legitimately I could muster the strength to run the last 10 yards?? Nope, I just sauntered across. The photographer got into position to snap my picture and I tried to wave him off to no avail. God bless there was Jenny waiting on the other side of the finish line clapping saying "you did it, you did it!". I was like yeah - I just got dropped off by the medical truck. There was a resounding groan by the crowd and the clapping stopped. lol. Oh well. What can I do? I had a meltdown people!!

I'm praying for 30 degrees and snow for October 12.

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