Short: 4:14:07, bad cold, #51 for 2006
The weekend before, my husband and I got our Christmas tree. We returned to a tree farm in Enumclaw (WA) where we got last year’s tree. It was cold and foggy out and as usual, it took a long time to pick one out. I told my husband that I didn’t want one as big this year because it took too long to decorate the year before. I don’t know if it was the darkness setting in or me getting my ass frozen off that led me to choose a tree that was even bigger than last years. The guy at the tree farm said that the open space outside is misleading in that when you get your tree home, it turns out to be larger than you expected once inside the home. He was sure right! He used his BIG chainsaw to cut it down and getting it into our truck was quite a chore.
It was well dark when we arrived home. I moved some furniture around to make room for the tree and Ken set about getting the tree stand on it. We learned from last year that getting the tree stand on it before bringing it into the house was much smarter than trying to wrestle with it to get into that little hole with it upright. We called Cliff, his brother, to come help us drag it into the house. In my efforts to keep the cat out while the door was open, I slipped and fell on our hardwood floors and landed firmly on my left hip. The pain was immediate and I laid there in shock for only few seconds. I needed to get up and help with guiding the tree in. I don’t know how they were able to squeeze this huge tree through a regular doorway, but Ken said that it took all his strength to get that tree in and upright. Cliff was huffing and puffing in agreement. Ken figures the tree had to weigh about 300 pounds. Its trunk is massive at about 10 inches in diameter, standing 13-14 feet tall, and laden with far-reaching, heavy, and healthy branches. I limped around as we cleaned up for the night and called Mary canceling our run for the next day. I slept on an ice pack all night and my hip was better the next day but not good enough to run on. Mary took advantage of the time off and slept in. Ken and I spent the entire day decorating our tree after he had trimmed off some branches to open it up more. Even with that, we still ended up using 400 more lights this year than last year with it probably now having a total of 3000 lights. It’s a beautiful tree!
Anyway, having this very fragrant tree in our house and working closely to it triggered my asthma, which made me susceptible to a cold. My cold kept getting worse as the week progressed, but it was not bad enough to prevent me from doing four double runs during the week in my quest to reach 3000 miles for the year. But by Thursday night, it had really affected my sleep. That, coupled with a very stressful day at work, culminated in the peak of my cold by Friday night. My husband welcomed me home with an endearing, “Hello, sicko.” I was coughing up thick yellow stuff that was plugging my airways. They were coming from deep within my chest. Even simple tasks like going up the stairs from our basement left me short of breath. This did not bode well for my marathon the next day. I had another restless night before having to wake up at 4:45.
I met Mel Preedy, Tony C, and King Arthur at the park and ride at 5:30. Mel drove and we sat in the comfort of his brand new car. I felt bad carpooling with them sick. I was a veritable petri dish! I tried to keep my talking down to a minimum and covered my nose and mouth every time I sneezed or cough. I hope none of them got sick. We arrived before 8AM and the race was to start at 9. Scott Krell, the RD, had not planned on having an early start, but there were about 10 of us there who wanted to get going including Bob Dolphin, Stan Nakashima, Dave Dutton, and Rick Haase. Scott didn’t think that Tony, Arthur, and I needed to start early and called us “troublemakers.” But he let us go anyway and we were off! The weather was actually pleasant for a change.
I had been coughing and hacking before the start and it continued for a few miles before I settled into a reasonable pace. Usually when I do the one nose blow, anything that comes out lands on the ground with a smack. On this day, it was so thick that it was flapping in the wind until I wiped it off. I had never run a race this sick. But I didn’t want to cancel it because the next weekend I planned on finalizing my race for the 23rd. I didn’t want to enter last minute in the Christmas Marathon and pay a lot of money. And, I wanted my race to be my 52nd. So I plodded along feeling like I was working as hard as I could but still running over 9 minute miles. I was miserable the whole race but after reaching the one aid station after about 14 miles, I got a lot worse. I had stopped to get more fluids and Gu. But the stopping was what made it worse. My body had settled into a rhythm of breathing and needed to start all over again. I walked out of the aid station very short of breath and my chest was killing me. It felt like someone had punched me there several times and I had a deep burning pain. All the coughing had overworked my chest muscles and every breath was painful and shallow. I had to stop and walk a few times to catch my breath before I was able to run steadily again. Plus, my body felt weak, and I struggled with the weight of my water bottle, constantly needing to change hands, something I usually don’t notice. I walked the one steep hill that is in the first half of that loop. I had to walk when I ate my Gu and go through the process of getting my rhythm again. I knew that a sub-4 hour marathon was not possible and decided to take it easy. I ran through the aid station before the last 2.5 miles to avoid stopping. The wind had picked up by now. I finished in 4:14 and dropped my bottle next to Mel’s car.
Tony and I had talked about running a few extra miles after the race, but it looked like he changed his mind and had already changed into warm clothes. I had been debating what I would do. On the one hand, I was obviously very sick and stopping would be the prudent thing to do. On the other hand, what damage I had done probably already had been done and running a few more miles would not make that much difference. Besides, I was feeling a little better by the time I finished the marathon. I decided not to stop to think about it and just dropped my bottle and turned around. I told Tony that I was not going to be long. My plan was to run out to meet Mel and run in with him. What I didn’t know was that Mel was struggling out there. I saw Arthur at about 2 miles out and decided to turn around at the 2.5-mile point where the aid station was after hearing that Mel was not near. When I set out, the wind had become much stronger. What I don’t understand was how it was a headwind both ways because when I turned around, the wind was fierce! It took me 50 minutes to run that extra five miles, making it a 50K day for me. As soon as I finished, I got into Mel’s car and tried to catch my breath. Again, the stopping led to coughing and difficulty breathing as I had anticipated. I changed slowly into dry clothes between breaths and was warm. It had started to rain as soon as I got into the car. I was worried about the people still out there.
I emerged from the car and went to get something to eat. First it was hot chicken noodle soup. I visited with some people I had not seen in a while like Mark Hartinger and his dog Bruce, who ran the marathon with him. I had two hot dogs, something Scott has learned is a favorite of mine and others after running. He told me that Stacy “Possum” was unable to finish. She apparently was not feeling well and was throwing up. Unlike me, she was smarter and listened to her body. There were only two other women in the race. Karen Wiggens came in while I was eating. Chris Ralph was still out there. I felt embarrassed to learn that I was the first woman with a time for 4:14! John Bandur came in, then Chris Ralph and Tom Ripley, then Bob Dolphin, and then finally Mel. Each of them had spent a good hour out there with the rain and wind. Tony and Arthur ran Mel in the last stretch. Arthur said that he commented to Mel, “It was a personal worse for me today.” Mel replied. “Is that supposed to make me feel better?” I just love Mel! He can find humor in a situation even if he didn’t have such a hot day. But I’m glad everyone returned safe.
Arthur was kind enough to drive us home in Mel’s car. I was in no position to drive. My cold continued to attack my body. I coughed up some big wads after the race and my body ached. What really hurt most were my head and eyes. I had a fierce headache and my eyes felt like they had been punched. It was probably from all the pressure I created when I coughed. I took a lot of Advil, but it only took the edge off. We arrived home at the park and ride a half-day after starting our journey. We departed ways, but not for long before the next training run or race. My next one will be #52 at my race. I hope to healthy again by then.
I drove the short distance home. I became very short of breath just going from my car to the house carrying my bag. It was hard to imagine that this weakling of a person had run 51 races this year including the one earlier in the day. My breathing would only improve after clearing my chest of the secretions plugging my airways. My husband told me that I sounded like I was dying when he got home. I am better today, although not yet back to normal. At least I was able to clean the house without having to catch my breath. Looks like I may be on the mend.