I wrote most of this after I ran the race on February 13, but I figured I’d wait to post it until I took it from a tired rambling train of thought to a coherent post….
I really hate getting out of bed early. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy being up and awake in the mornings. Heck, one of my favorite things is being a few miles in to a run and seeing the sun rise over the trail you have all to yourself. I just hate those few minutes between being mostly asleep to mostly awake.
I hate them even more when it’s below freezing out and seriously chilly in my bedroom, it’s not light out, it’s 5am and I went to bed only 3 hours earlier. Not a happy girl.
Fortunately, I am physically addicted to running. So my little brain gets excited when I realize I’m going to go run, eagerly awaiting the endocannabinoids (yes, that’s a real thing and yes, it’s the human-made equivalent of the phytocannabinoid THC) that lead to a runner’s high. (For the record, endocannabinoids are not endorphins. Scientific research is showing that ‘endorphins’ are cannot be responsible for the ‘runner’s high’ since they are too large to pass the blood-brain barrier — all of the previous studies showing endorphins were responsible for the runners high found endorphins in the blood stream. For a good lay-person explanation about the last decade of research on the runner’s high and endocannabinoids, read this article. For slightly more ‘sciencey’ explanations about endocannabinoids read these articles and abstracts. When reading, know that the endocannabinoid pathway effects proteins called neurotrophins, such as BDNF)
So my little addict brain was ready to run, but my muscles were not so much. I ran the Houston Marathon just 4 weeks prior, and I had a kick-my-arse cold for the two weeks after the race. Plus my back was killing me since I spent the Friday and Saturday before this race raking a triple-jump and long-jump pit for an indoor college track and field meet (more on this whole thing later). So I layered up (it was under 20 degrees out and never got above freezing the entire day), knowing I wasn’t going to be running that fast so warmth really mattered, and headed to the race.
Standing around in the corrals waiting for the race, talking to random strangers, I realized one of my YurBuds ear pieces wasn’t on my ear bud any more. For those of you who don’t know what YurBuds are, go buy them right now. I’m not kidding. You’ll love them. I guess I looked pretty desperate as I was searching for them because a woman named Robin who was standing next to me asked what I was looking for and helped me search. Despite the fact that my YurBuds are bright white, I hadn’t moved much, and there was plenty of space around us, we couldn’t find them. About a minute before the race started, we gave up and I went to fix my cap and get ready to run. Then Robin exclaimed “oh! it’s in your ear still!” and reached and grabbed it. So a stranger literally found something I needed in my ear. It was like a real-life magic show.
Then it was off to the races.
It was so incredibly cold all day. The wind wasn’t too terrible, but just a few minutes without my gloves on made it unbearable. I’m not sure whether it was my prior exhaustion, my mental attitude or the temperature or a combination, but the race felt longer than my marathon.
Adding to the “bad race” equation was the near-complete lack of crowd support. I think I saw maybe 100 people total along the course. Which was a stark contrast to the Houston Marathon. I understand it was miserably cold out, but didn’t all of these runners have family members that were coming to support them?! Also, I counted four instances of country music-to-slit-your-wrists-to being blared on giant speakers. Ahh, Southern races…
Then there was the fun of almost getting run over by a police SUV around mile 11. The marathon course is a double loop of the half marathon course, so the marathon leaders were around the same area as me when I was at mile 11 or so, and one of the police SUVs that drive out in front of the leader nearly creamed me and another runner. Thanks, Birmingham police.
According to my Garmin, I ran the last 0.27miles at a 6:30 pace, picking off 8 people. Which, I’ll be honest, is really the only part of the race I’m proud of. The rest was “meh.”
After grabbing my medal and a lovely space blanket, I headed to the food table to eat five oranges. Not five slices. Five whole oranges.
And then I almost passed out.
I was hit with a huge wave of dizziness, unlike any I’ve ever experienced in my life. It was incredibly creepy. But I was too interested in my oranges to care. I braced myself on a random guy standing next to me and his friend asked me if I was ok. I told them I was fine – I just thought I had low blood sugar and said just yell really loud if I collapse, but I’m sure I just need water and some sugar. The feeling mostly passed. So I ate some more oranges, got my finisher’s hat, and ate even more oranges.
It was fifteen minutes after my dizzy spell and I still wasn’t feeling great, despite all of my oranges and water, so I went to visit the medical team. They had me lay down and they checked my blood pressure. It was 92/42. Yeah. 92/42 a full twenty minutes after my dizzy spell. [Normal/good is ~110/60.] I wonder what my blood pressure was when I was dizzy!
So I laid there, freezing (despite the 4 blankets I had on me), and chugged 3 bottles of water waiting for the decreasingly-intense waves of dizziness to completely subside. I had them fix up my nasty blister from raking (I’ll cover that soon), which the P.A. said was a particularly impressive blister (go me!), and met a few other folks who came in. One guy had to get a DNF for the marathon because he was actually getting frostbite in his fingers. Needless to say, it was a rough race for more than a few of us.
All said and done, I’m pretty sure I’d say I probably shouldn’t have done that race. I finished with a respectable 2:29:11, and got to run the Mercedes again for probably the last time. So it wasn’t a total disaster. But hey, another 13.1 miles under my belt.