They say “nothing new on race day.” Well circumstances beyond my control did not allow for that though I did not expect them to have such a profound effect on me. These included: flying from Hong Kong to Miami two days before the race, taking a sleeping pill on the plane ride so I could quickly get back onto Eastern Standard Time and sleep during the night (which I had never taken before), running in the 70 degree weather when I had trained in 30-40 degrees, and I imagine a number of other things.
I had a GREAT training season, read every email that our coach had send out about pacing, race plan, nutrition before/during race, how often to drink… literally EVERY email and handout, and a couple times over again at that! Nothing could prepare me for my toughest day ever…
I ran with my buddy Josh Cunningham who was running in Vibrams. We were set to start out at a 9:45min pace and hopefully move up. The 1st half was awesome. I was high-fiving spectators in South Beach and even did an honorary cartwheel in front of 1200 Ocean Drive saluting my old pad. Other than a right foot blister that developed early on from my shoes getting soaked at the water stations… I was feeling fine. I even helped pace a fellow TNT-er thru miles 9 to 12. I ran the half in 2:06 which was great for me. But after the half it was a different story…
I started hurting after mile 14… I don’t know what happened as I had run distances of 16, 18, and 20 two times during training. I experienced quad and calf muscle cramps for the first time and I had to slow my pace down considerably and sadly watch as the 9:33, 9:55, and 10:15 pace groups passed on by.
At that point I made the decision to forget about time and focus on finishing. I also made a personal pact to only walk while at water stations as I gulped down massive quantities of agua. Josh had to fall back around mile 18. We saw our Miami friends at 17 and 19 which was amazingly refreshing and energizing. I had the music going but at that point it was step by step… very slow going. My legs started hurting and my nipples began chafing even though I applied generous amounts of lubricant before the race (and during the race too as I passed a couple of shocked cheerleaders… oh well, no one said this race was going to be pretty.)
Finally I had to walk while turning onto the Rickenbacker. I got sponge doused which felt great, as we all were running directly into the sun at that point in the now 75-80 degree weather. When I hit the Mile 23 water station I was not feeling well at all. I stopped at the AID Station to see if someone there could tell me if something was actually wrong with me. There were these two non-medic ladies there whose only job was to apply bengay apparently. They called a real medic for me but after 5min of waiting I decided to sit down and rest my legs. That’s when it hit me. The not-so-proverbial “wall” came up and smacked me in my face. I felt dizzy and nauseous and the lady told me I was extremely pale with fingers, lips, and gums that were blue!
I looked up and happened to see my buddy Josh run by so I called out and stopped him. He said all the right things… “your health is what’s most important” and “if you want we can finish the last bit another day” he was awesome. FINALLY after what felt like hours later which was probably only 30-45min later the ambulance arrived.
They carried me in and laid me down, elevating my feet. They took my blood pressure and looked at each other when they told me it was 80 over 60. That apparently is really bad. I began shaking uncontrollably due to the A/C and sweat on my body. They pumped me with 700cc of saline and offered to take me to the hospital. I told them I’d like to finish if they thought that was ok. Two of them said no way but the head guy said let’s wait and see how I felt after the IV drip.
Again it seemed to take forever but was probably about 30min before my blood pressure finally started to go up. They allowed me to walk around outside with my IV still in my left arm and I was carrying the bag myself. I then signed a waiver basically saying if I keel over and die after leaving them that it wasn’t their fault. All I wanted to do was be in the sun. I was still shivering very violently. They pulled the IV out and I was on my way!
I started feeling a little better but I knew I was so close and Josh was down to walk with me to the finish line. I was crawling at first but eventually we got up to a brisk walk. At mile 24 Coach Michael found us and walked with us. The other coaches and him got us to 25.5 miles and then let Josh and I run the home stretch. I started sprinting when I saw the finish line. As I came down the pipeline I raised my IV-bandaged arm up for the crowd. A cheer rose and a sense of euphoria washed away the encroaching dizziness.
It felt amazing to cross the finish line partly to defy the odds (Coach Mike told me he had people finish and people not finish and go to the hospital but no one in TNT history had got an IV and still finished) but mainly I was ecstatic that it was over.
I don’t know if I will ever do another full marathon again, but the people in TNT who I met along the journey, the people that donated to my cause, the people that were in Miami cheering me on, and my friends and family who believed in me… they all truly made this one of my ultimate life experiences. And I am grateful for it all…
P.S. Enjoy the video below... apparently I have the wettest arse that Danny has ever touched!
|Sprint to the finish!|
|"breaking the tape"|
|Crossing the Half Marathon marker... still got WAY more to go!|
|Danny & Cassy providing power up!|
|SIT DISCO SIT!|
|Cassy, Josh, Michael, Dani, Danny, Kevin, Lydia|
|Didn't even see this sign on the course!|
|Holding up the IV!|
|Everyone got a gold medal that day :)|