Noah works full-time,but has Wednesdays off. A fact I’d forgotten, until he padded down the stairs at 11:11 (his number). “You’re home!” he said. I’d just returned the night before from a much desired, very fulfilling, A+ training run. “Let’s go to lunch”, he continued.
I love my 1:1 time with my boy. We talk about anything and everything. Today’s topic was his next marathon. “I’m just not sure why I’m doing it. I don’t have the same reasons as last time”. Granted, I found out he wanted to do another marathon on Facebook…’Today I start training for marathon #2’. Wait...What???
Sigh...how do I explain it to the boy? “Noah, you do it because it’s hard, but you are tougher. You do it because you can learn about yourself. You do it because once it’s done, no one can ever take it away from you. Noah, you do it because you can.”
Fast forward to the Montour 24. This was another training run for me. I registered simply to get in some heat training. I had very loose mileage goals, I simply wanted to keep moving for the 24 hours. The course is a 1.5 mile loop with an awesome hill. Oh, I do love finding my inner mountain goat! I’d originally wanted to sign up for the 12-hour night run, but me being me, decided to go big. This would have been an entirely different blog, had I stuck with my original plan.
My first few laps were great! I was completing them in 15 minutes or less. I kept a moderate pace, as I knew it was going to be a hot one, and took advantage of the relative coolness of a 7 am start. I slowed my pace as needed. I stopped to watch kids jump off the pretty covered bridge. I eavesdropped on a couple of guys who are thinking of trying a “hardcore” race in Lockport. “The Beast,” they said, “is hard. If you want heat training, there is no better place for it”. Again, I didn’t care about mileage or time, I just wanted time on my feet.
It hit around lap 10. It was HOT. No worries, I’ll walk. But, oh the lure of that hill. I am absolutely addicted to the pull of a gradual downhill after a challenging climb. That straightaway was made for running, and in hindsight, I think it is what did me in.
I remember at the six-hour mark, the announcer stated, “We have just had our hottest six-hour race in our history. Stay hydrated.” I was feeling pretty strong, and I was keeping up on my hydration. I had a full bottle of Endurolytes that I kept at the aid station. I had been popping them frequently. But, when I looked for them, they were gone! What? NO! The race had some at the aid station, and I popped in the last two in the bottle. I assumed they had other bottles, and I took off on my next loop.
I was wrong about the extra bottles. They had salt tabs, but I know from experience that they upset my stomach. Ok, no worries, I’ll take in salty food and electrolyte hydration. It will slow my pace, but I’ll be ok. They announced it was 97 degrees.
I did a few more loops, but couldn’t maintain a run. I power walked, If you’ve raced with me, you know I can power walk with the best of them. Again, my goal was to just keep moving.
Then, a lap or two later, things got bad. I ached. I was mentally beating myself up, “You phoned in a few of those training miles”, “If you had signed up for the six hour race, you’d be done”, “Why do you always have to push so damn hard?, “What’s wrong with you?”. It gets worse, but I’ll leave it there.
It got worse. I started two loops without eating anything. I had a headache. I was still drinking, a lot, but I couldn’t stomach food. I was very nauseous. It felt like someone took my batteries out. When did that hill get so big? I tried following the edge line of the trail, but it kept moving. I recall thinking, “girl, you are not doing well...get yourself back and sit yourself down”.
There are two ways I check to see if I am bloated. One, I know I can fit my hand around my wrist, thumb to pinky, in my resting state. I wasn’t able to do thumb to middle finger. Two, I look at my fingers, and try to interlace them. No go. I had an additional indicator, I normally take my rings off when I race. Today I forgot. In my normal state, I can spin and clank them. Those suckers weren’t budging. The nausea was pretty bad, too.
I got back to the aid station. I’m not sure where I thought I was going, but I knew I was wandering. I don’t remember going down, but I remember being helped up. The kind folks in the medical tent put me in a chair. I had both my feet and my hands elevated trying to bring down the swelling. The EMT looked me over and said, “hyponatremia. I can get you an IV, but if I do, you’re done today”. Damn, I wish I didn’t have to take care of me at that point. I’d already done more than a marathon, and should have cut my losses. “No”, I said, “let me see how I do with rest”. Sometimes, I’m dumb.
I rested an hour, I was weak and disoriented. I see that I had sent a few texts, but I don’t remember doing it at all. I rested another hour. I felt better. Somewhere in my mind, I was formulating a plan to rest until sunset and then get up. I wasn’t keeping anything down. My mind was willing, but my body just couldn't keep up.
One more loop, I thought. Let me see how I do with one more loop. I felt a bit better. I stopped at my friend Deb’s tent on my way. She was in her own struggle, so we sat for a bit. I had to laugh. She told me, “Jim Pease would tell you to have a beer”. LOL! Then I felt a text. It was Roger. I don’t remember sending one to him, but I said to Deb, before looking at it, “If I asked him advice, I’m taking it”. This is, in part, our conversation:
So, game over. I death marched my loop, turned in my number and sat at the aid station. I think I fell asleep, but I was in a fog. I woke up and scrolled through my phone. “You’re done right?”, “You be careful”. “Get some Himalayan sea salt”. Damn, I could only find Mediterranean.Noah called. “Mom, I only got 9 out of my 12 miles in, but I don’t feel great. What do I do?” “Stop honey. Just stop. You’ll live to run another day. You are tougher than the heat, so be smart, and don’t let it take you out. You can go out another time. Learn from the experience, and use it. No one can take that experience away from you”.