April 22, 2012

Yesterday I ran a race that I had no business running.

I was well-prepared for the course – it was flat so elevation wasn’t an issue, and it was only 4.2 miles long—a distance that I’m well-trained to complete. What I wasn’t prepared for was the temperature.

When we arrived at our corral at six in the morning, it was “only” about 75 degrees. The race started at 7 a.m., it was only 4.2 miles long, we’d be fine… right?

Wrong. We were in corral 18, smack in the middle of the “jogging” corrals, and we didn’t even start the race until almost 8 a.m. because of the wave release pacing. By the time we started, both my running partner and I needed to pee, and we were well aware of how the Tempe streets were starting to suck in and hold onto the sunlight. I was also painfully aware that I had developed a severe case of cotton mouth in spite of what I had considered adequately hydrating for the days up to and the morning of the race.

Still, mile one was fine, even when we turned onto Curry and went up the hill facing the still rising sun. By this time we were starting to pass people that had to slow down and walk. I was happy with our pace, and I was feeling fairly confident in my ability to keep it up… for about another .2 miles when I realized I was hotter than I had ever been in my life, and I was so thirsty that I was tasting some kind of chemical in my mouth, some kind of chemical that my body was apparently producing. I knew I was in trouble, and I let my running partner know that I was going to need to walk as we approached the second water station. (It was this or wind up lying on the side of the road like the girl we saw halfway into mile one.) We each had two cups of water, and stopped to use the port-a-potties.*

We walked away, the course took a turn into a shady street, and we started running again.

And then the course turned back into the sunlight, and then I needed to walk again… a lot of people needed to walk again. As we reached the mile 3 marker we decided to try to finish running, we made it a little ways before, again, now with the sun beating against our backs, I said there was no way I should be running. (I swear I could taste music at this point, which is not my kind of synesthesia.) At this point we’re seeing people sitting along the side of the road, in benches, on the ground in shade, gathering themselves before they can start again, and we keep pushing on, walking a brisk pace. I’m feeling a little spacey and out of it at this point, and just before we pass a man holding a mister, we see another person on a stretcher.

As we approached the opening to Sun Devil Stadium Kelli began picking up pace and I grudgingly swallowed my doubts and followed her. We finished, sprinting across the football field and the finish line. My eyes filled with tears** (betraying any common sense I had, my brain sputtering, “I DON’T HAVE THE FLUIDS TO CRY RIGHT NOW BODY, STOP IT”) as people clapped and cheered, and we stumbled around, looking for something to drink.

Final verdict: we ran about half of the race, but finished strong. Initially, when we started walking, I was really disappointed in myself. But, towards the end of the race, my feelings shifted. I began to realize that my goal was no longer running the whole race but to finish the race and not on a stretcher. I felt good about the fact that it wasn’t my muscles that were wearing on me, I was having no issues with my breathing, I was just so hot and dehydrated that I had to do what I had to do to ensure my health.
What I learned:

    1. If you’re in corral 18, you have time to wait and pee before you get to your spot.
    2. Register early, so you don’t wind up in corral 18, so you can start closer to 7 a.m. and 75 degrees. (Instead of 8 a.m. and 85 degrees, which will quickly be 95 degrees.)***
    3. Eating a banana 2 hours before the race helped me not have the same woozy feeling I had crossing the finish line.
    4. Any race above 80 degrees requires water on my person.
    5. If you get dehydrated enough your kidney may start to hurt, and then you’ll think you pulled a muscle in your back, but then you’ll start pounding water and say, “Wait… I think that was my kidney.”
    6. People who throw their water cups in the race path suck.
    7. If you’re training in 45-degree weather running a race in 75- to 95-degree weather is probably not going to work out for you.

*I have never been so happy to pee in my life, but it took every ounce of will I had to not sit down to pee. I have been more excited to pull my pants back up, since they were sweaty, I was sweaty, and I was so hot that my face looked like a strawberry. (Whose idea was it to put mirrors in port-a-potties? Mirrors are our priority here? Not anti-bac dispensers? Really?)
**I don’t even know why, relief most likely.
***Temperatures in Tempe topped out at 103 yesterday.

Dad will be running with me tomorrow.
This is my father’s dog tag.
This is also a new running shoe, since I forgot mine at home.

Taking the train in, realizing I’m one of the assholes closing down Rio de Salado.

Heading into the staging area.

So naive, so dry…

Beyond the finish line.

Sweaty, tired, happy to be alive.

Pizzeria bianco
Pizzeria Bianco.

The long drive home.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Rae April 23, 2012 at 7:53 pm

That’s so awesome that you did this! Finishing must have felt so amazing. And all in new shoes, too!

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