|Waiting At The Start – Best Friends|
By mile 5 I knew I was in trouble…….
I asked myself What do you do when you know something is wrong during a marathon, that there is a good possibility your body might fail you?
While waiting in Athlete’s Village for the race start the wind was blowing and I was shivering. I remarked to a fellow blogger that I hoped I wouldn’t get cold during the race. She was worried about it being hot. I said OH I ALWAYS am colder than everyone else.
As I gathered my belongings and said goodbye to my mom before heading off to check my bag, she one last time tried to convince me that I would not need my beanie or gloves and that I really DID NOT need music. I defended my choices and she knew better than to argue. She knows that for most things in my life I have to learn the hard way, that she can give me advice, but ultimately I must fall before I learn.
When the gun went off for the 1st wave, I was comfortably warm. Why at that point in time I didn’t just take my hat, arm warmers, throw away shirt, and gloves off, I’ll never know. In the first miles, I slowly took them off. I tossed the gloves, tucked my hat into my shorts, threw away my t-shirt, and pulled off one arm warmer and tucked it. I hadn’t planned on taking my hat off so my hair was a mess and was flopping all around bothering me. NOTE TO SELF: always make sure your hair is tightly secured even when you think you will not need it to be.
By mile 5 I had already drank over half of my water bottle. I was hot, but surprisingly wasn’t sweating all that much. Hmmmm….oh no…oh no……
It clicked. The wicked headache I had all weekend was not from lack of caffeine, it was from not enough water. Yes I had been hydrating the whole weekend but not as much as I should have been. I drank more than I normally do, but I would venture to say that I’m pretty much always in a mild state of dehydration. Between running and nursing, I loose allot of fluids and I struggle to drink 8 – 8oz glasses of water a day. Morning is the worst time for me because my son still night nurses and I do not drink water all night. Couple that with the fact that traveling by plane also dehydrates you and I was unknowingly dehydrated before the race even began.
Dorothy how could you do this? You think about everything. You plan every race down to a t. How could you over look your water intake?
I was mad but decided that I was going to make my mind run my body.
Ever since running the B & A Marathon I no longer run with a pace band. I run on feel. I don’t calculate and recalculate my pace at all during a marathon. I reminded myself to run on feel even though I didn’t feel good.
I told myself that I didn’t do a post on my Boston goal, because really my only goals were to run strong and have more fun than the previous time I ran it. In 2009 I wasn’t in a good frame of mind while running, I was mad from very early on. I wanted a PR and once I had figured out it was next to impossible to do so I just sort of lost it. I didn’t care that I was at Boston. I didn’t care that I was running fast, it wasn’t fast enough. That race taught me allot of what I don’t ever want to feel like during a race again. I reminded myself that I wasn’t there for a PR today, even though I would have loved one, I was there to have fun. I needed to make sure my mind was in a good place if I was going to survive this marathon.
At the expo friends asked me how I was feeling. I remarked that I knew it defied logic but that I felt that I was ready for another fast marathon, how fast I didn’t know, and I didn’t really care. I had the unique position of having already run a 3:26, 3 weeks prior at National Marathon. Boston was not my peak marathon, National Marathon was the race I had put into my training plan as my peak race. This took the pressure off. I reminded myself of this during mile 5 when I knew my body was not running on a ‘full tank’
I eventually ran into a friend. I wanted to say to her – I’m dying. I couldn’t voice it out loud though or I knew my mind would believe it and I would be in even worse shape than I already was. Somewhere around mile 10 I finished my water bottle. I said to her – I can’t believe I just drank that whole thing that fast. In my heart I wanted to cry. To give you an idea of my typical water intake during a race – I finished my water bottle around mile 17 at National Marathon.
Somewhere around the 1/2 marathon mark I felt my skin. It was dry. Drier than dry. I freaked in my head. I knew things were going from bad to worse. I had stopped sweating and I knew this was VERY dangerous.
At this point I was still running what I would consider a strong pace. Maybe if I got water at every water station I could fend off the worsening dehydration? I would get water and dump the extra on my head to help cool my body temperature.
I knew the Saucony crew was going to be between mile 19 and 20. I could walk off there. They could help me get to the finish and to my baby. What? Really Dorothy you are this bad. You are thinking of quitting? It was as if I had an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other shoulder. One was telling me that I was in a dangerous state, that it wasn’t quitting, it was saving my body from total shut down. The other was telling me I was being a baby and to suck it up – marathons never feel good – you are fine.
I told my friend that I was looking for Saucony and was going to give them my extra gear.
My eyes searched and searched for my friend Emily. I knew she would understand the state I was in. My eyes were not working properly – I could see people but not really see them. I wanted to throw my ipod. I was so frustrated I had it with me. It was annoying my ears, it was making it even harder for me to focus on my mind. NOTE TO SELF: Don’t listen to music at Boston ever, you don’t need it.
As I passed the Saucony people, and my friend Emily, I heard them cheering for me, but couldn’t even muster the energy to turn back and look at them. How did I miss seeing them? I had been searching. I felt inside that God had not allowed me to see them ahead of me because I would have stopped running. Once past them I felt that I had to keep going.
On the last of the Newton Hills I saw my friend powering up the hill. I felt like an egg being fried and knew that I could not go with her. I couldn’t even say good luck to her. I couldn’t do anything but attempt to put one foot in front of the other.
Shortly after this I saw medics and police surrounding a downed runner. As I ran past I looked at this man. He was covered in blood. That is the point that I went from very bad to worse. I started dry heaving. I heard the water in my stomach sloshing around and knew that my body was no longer absorbing the water I was drinking. With every step I was getting more and more dehydrated.
Getting to that finish line was going to be MIND OVER MATTER. I had to make my mind run my body because it was failing worse than it ever had before. I was scared.
My goal is to run for life and no race, not even Boston is worth hurting myself. It’s why I will never run a race injured. I plan on running Boston when I’m 60 and I won’t be able to do that if I don’t take care of myself for the next 31 years.
I wanted to stop. I saw a medic tent and had to talk myself out of walking over to it. Why you may ask did I not stop? I just told you that no race NOT EVEN BOSTON is worth hurting myself for.
I kept running for my baby. I finished Boston because I knew he was waiting for me at the end. I had no idea how much milk my grandmother and mom’s significant other had brought with them. After all we had calculated that at most it would take me 4 hours to finish. So I would meet them at the finish before or a little bit after 2 pm.
My abs started cramping. They were tightening around my ribs which was making it hard to take deep breaths. It wasn’t a side stitch that you could breathe through. Nothing seemed to help. I massaged my stomach as people on the sidelines kept cheering. You can do it girl, you can do it.
At mile 24 I wasn’t sure if I could even make it to the finish. How would I get to my baby if I collapsed now? My pace was slowing – but I kept on pushing. I NEVER ONCE WALKED. I kept on going. I knew if I walked – I wouldn’t start running. I did not walk the last time I ran Boston I would not do it now.
When I made the turn onto Hereford, I was overcome with emotion. There is NOTHING in this world Dorothy that you can not do. You will get to your baby. You will finish this Boston happy. You will sprint to the finish. You will pass others on your way. You have completed the hardest race of your life. I looked down for the first time in a long time at my watch and saw that it said 3:29. HOLY S**T. I had felt so terrible that I had mostly stopped looking at my watch. I had no idea I was going to finish with what I would consider an impressive time.
I started to tear up – but felt no tears.
I finished and almost fell to the ground – 3:30. A volunteer helped me up and brought me to another volunteer. It was then that I saw my best friend Amy who had been waiting for me at the finish! I was so happy to see her but was whining about how dehydrated I was. Once I saw her I thought – okay maybe you exaggerated this. You are fine Dorothy. I told I would meet her at the baggage buses. The volunteer who was still with me helped me walk. I told him I was fine and he said oh no you aren’t. You are going to the medic tent. I said oh I’ll be fine – he said NO – you do not look good – you need to go to the medic tent.
When I got there I told them I was a nursing mom and that I felt severely dehydrated. I assured them I wasn’t exaggerating because this was my 15th marathon and I know what feeling bad is and what feeling TERRIBLE is. It was the worst I have ever felt not counting labor.
They lied me down and I was instantly surrounded by people. They said they needed to draw my blood to test my sodium levels. While trying to get the needle in my veins, they kept collapsing[I have a giant bruise on my hand now]. It hurt. Finally they got some blood and sent it off to be tested.
I was sunburnt and hot, yet I started uncontrollably shaking. They kept piling blankets on me. The dull headache I had felt during the race continued to get worse – it felt as if I had been hit in the head.
My blood work came back and they said my sodium levels were very low and that they needed to get an IV of fluid into me instantly. While there I had 3 IV bags of fluid. Not once did I have to pee – that’s how dehydrated I was.
When I was on the 2nd bag of fluid it finally occurred to me that I hadn’t gotten a medal. I started to cry and felt tears. It was the best feeling – I would be okay. I just needed some fluid. A volunteer came to check on me and asked me what was wrong. I started crying that I didn’t get a medal. She uncovered me, unpinned my Bib number and went and got me medal.
While bag 3 was slowly dripping in, I felt good enough to sit up. At that point I ate two salty bags of chips and started to drink water.
I was in the medic tent for about the same about of time it took me to run the marathon. It was honestly one of the scariest moments of my life. I did not have my bag, so I did not have my phone. No one knew where I was. I was wearing my Road ID but since I typically do not run a race on a Monday, with my mom, and have my grandmother watching – every phone number on it was useless[my husband was at work and I only had his cell number on my bracelet]. I know my grandfathers number by heart, so a kind volunteer let me use her cell phone and I called him and told him I was in the medic tent and to please get a hold of my grandmother.
When my family finally found out where I was they came to see me. They would not let Colton in the tent though because there was too much blood, and they didn’t feel it was safe for him to be in there. My heart ached. Thankfully he had been an angel the whole time I was gone. They had packed extra milk for him just in case, so he was full and didn’t really have a clue that I had been gone for hours longer than I should have been.
I was sent home with the orders to drink broth that had alot of sodium in it and to make sure I keep hydrating as much as possible.
I sit here days later with a smile on my face. I still have a dull headache, and my abs are the ONLY part on my body that is sore, but I feel strong. I feel excited for life. I feel excited for the next time I try to take on the Boston Marathon.
I’m not even second guessing myself like I typically do after a race. Could I have gone harder? Could I have pushed more? 3 IV bags of fluid tell me that I did push my hardest, that sometimes your mind can not push past physical limitations. My blood was sludge.
My name as usual needs an asterisk after my finish time – Dorothy Beal **with allot of help from my grandmother and my moms significant other who cared for my sweet Baby C for what amounted to almost 10 hours, Eric Beal who watched our babies every Saturday morning for months so I could go on long runs, my mom for giving me the courage and the tools to start running, the volunteers at the medic tent who pay their own way from the different places they come from around the country to help runners like me, and last but not least God was watching over me as I ran….I could go on and on……
It takes what I would consider a small village to get me to the starting line of each race. I am so thankful I have so many WONDERFUL people in my life who care about me. People who understand that I literally CAN NOT LIVE WITHOUT RUNNING. Running is my air, my water, my food – it’s essential to my life.
So you may ask if I am happy or upset with my time.
Happy beyond a shadow of a doubt. If can push out a 3:30 on what amounted to physically the hardest marathon of my life then the SKY is the LIMIT in my eyes of what I can do on a good day.
When I ran Boston in 2009 over a year after the birth of my second baby I ran a 3:39. A 3:30 is awesome in my book, but especially since I just had a baby 5 months ago! In the 5 months since Colton has been born I have run a treadmill mile PR, an 8K PR, ran a 3:26 marathon on a course that in all honesty I think might have been harder course wise for me than Boston, won a 5K on my birthday weekend, and then ran the Boston Marathon for my 15th marathon 9 minutes faster than my previous time. How could I be unhappy?
My mom, in case you were curious, at the age of 48 re qualified for Boston with a time of 3:57:00. I’m so proud of her on so many levels and look forward to hopefully running the Boston Marathon together again!
Here are my mile splits if you are a running geek like me and into those sorts of things:
Mile 1: 7:52
Mile 2: 7:33
Mile 3: 7:34
Mile 4: 7:20
Mile 5: 7:33
Mile 6: 7:19
Mile 7: 7:20
Mile 8: 7:28
Mile 9: 7:27
Mile 10: 7:33
Mile 11: 7:37
Mile 12: 7:31
Mile 13: 7:34
Mile 14: 7:31
Mile 15: 7:34
Mile 16: 7:23
Mile 17: 7:55 (The begining of the hills)
Mile 18: 7:57
Mile 19: 7:47
Mile 20: 8:09
Mile 21: 9:00
Mile 22: 8:24
Mile 23: 9:08
Mile 24: 9:32
Mile 25: 9:55
Mile 26: 9:51
Mile 26.2: 3:00 (7:28 average for .4 miles)