Wednesday, June 13, 2007

2001 Rock 'n Roll 1/2 Marathon: Lessons Learned

I started running sometime in 1997. I was a sophomore in college and was supposed to share an apartment with my then-boyfriend and a friend of ours. Just before classes started, the boyfriend decided to do a co-op assignment (alternating semesters of college and work) and the friend decided he didn't really want to go to college so I ended up in a 3 bedroom apartment by myself. I got a puppy to keep me company in the apartment, and before long, the walks I was taking her on weren't calming her down very much. That's when I started running, mainly to wear my dog out so I could study without her dropping frisbees and tennis balls on my notes.

Fast Forward: I ran my 3rd ever 5K on Thanksgiving morning in 2000, with my Mom. We really enjoyed the race that morning, and decided to sign up for a training program to run the Charlottesville Ten Miler in April 2001. We followed the training plan and successfully ran the Ten Miler, so we thought we'd try a 1/2 marathon next and the Rock 'n Roll 1/2 Marathon in Virginia Beach sounded like fun. This would be it's inaugural year. I think we trained OK for the 1/2 marathon, but not really as much as we probably should have.

One of my very best friends went with us for the weekend, and the 3 of us went shopping the day before the race because the weather wasn't great. It was nice to get out to the mall and get my mind off the race anyway, because I was getting nervous. Mom and I were SO NERVOUS Sunday morning while we were standing around waiting for the race to start!

I decided not to wear my insulin pump for the race since I'd taken it off for most of my training runs. I did not take any other/extra insulin to make up for not wearing the pump because just didn't think about it. I think I was OK for the first 9 or 10 miles, then things got kinda rough. By that time it was getting hot out there, and we were running on the boardwalk the last 3 miles so there was no shade.

At mile 9 or 10, we were all offered Powerbar gel and, seeing how exhausted I was, I took one. Double Caffeine Tangerine. Sounded good to me and was looking forward to the energy boost from the caffeine. I'd never used an energy gel before, and didn't even think about how much sugar was in them.

Even though I started feeling worse and worse after I ate the gel, I managed to finish the race. The longest run we'd done in training was only 9 or 10 miles, so it was a huge accomplishment for me. I was so proud of myself for finishing!

I thought I'd grab a bottle of water, meet up with my best friend, then watch for my Mom to finish. I found my friend first and told her that I was going to get some water and that I'd meet her back right there. I went and got the water and, before I could drink any of it, started throwing up. This didn't concern me because I knew that I'd felt sick to my stomach after running a hard 5K. But I couldn't stop. It was embarrassing. And I still couldn't stop.

I finally decided to check in with the Med Tent. I told them I was diabetic, that my Mom was running the race, and that she had my insulin pump in her waist pack. They checked my bloodsugar and decided that I needed to be put in the ambulance and taken to the hospital. I asked if we could wait for my Mom to finish because I didn't want her to worry about me, but they said I had to go now. They promised me that they would watch for her to finish and let her know where I was.

At the hospital, I waited and waited for my Mom to show up. When she got there, she told me about the adventure of trying to get to the hospital: She looked everywhere for me when she finished the race. She found my friend, who told her I'd gone to get water and never come back. She finally made her way to the Med Tent, where they informed her that I'd been taken to the hospital. She asked them how she could get there, because our car was still at the hotel, several miles from the finish line. Nobody had an answer for her. She found a police officer and begged him to drive her to the hospital, which thankfully he did. I'd hate to find out what she would have done if nobody would take her to the hospital!

I'm sure it was just because this was the first year of such a large race, but Virginia Beach General Hospital was not prepared for the flood of runners that day. The hospital rooms filled up quickly, so I was on a hospital bed in the hallway with lots of other runners. Most of us had IVs to help rehydrate us. They gave me some insulin along with my IV, so my bloodsugar started coming down and I was eventually able to stop throwing up.

I don't like being in the hospital at all. I think I can rest & recover better in the privacy and quietness of my own home (or in this case, hotel room). Besides, my Mom is an RN, so if anything terrible happens she'll know what to do. So I put on my best "I'm all better" face, and convinced the ER nurse & doctor to let me go, even though they wanted to admit me. Mom knew I was lying my butt off, but she kept my secret.

My friend made her way back to our hotel, got the car, and came to the hospital to pick Mom and I up. The two of them were starving, so we stopped at Burger King on the way back to the hotel, but I certainly didn't feel like eating much. I slept most of the afternoon and evening. My friend was able to meet up with another friend of mine to go to the post-race concert. Whenever I finally woke up, I was starving! Mom ordered a pizza for me, so I ate and then went back to sleep. Woke up the next morning and felt great!

These are the lessons I learned that weekend:

1. Even if I'm not planning to use any insulin, I need to keep my pump on me at all times!
2. When experienced runners say "don't try anything new on race day," they know what they're talking about!
3. Drink plenty of water when running on hot days!
4. Be sure to put in enough miles during training!
5. Pizza is truly a comfort food :-)

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