In the spirit of the infamous dehydration race report from 2008, we have a new set of firsts:
1. First blackout
2. First memory hole
3. First hallucination
4. First overnight hospital stay
83 degrees, 69 dewpoint, mostly sunny. From my dewpoint musings post, when adding temp and dewpoint: “if it’s above 150, forget pace altogether and just focus on finishing.”
I got some great advice from running mentor Adam on how to handle the race, as I’d been freaking about the temps for a few days. He said bring ice and ice cold water so I did, stashing them in a bush for after the warmup. Brilliant call on the ice, btw, I suggest everyone do that in summer races.
I go out for a little over a mile, do 4 strides and as usual, they’re slower than shit, about 30 seconds away from my usual stride speed which always happens pre-race but I never get used to it. “At least I won’t have to worry about leaving the gate too fast”, I think to myself.
As I return to the clump of people standing around, a teenage girl wearing a walker t-shirt calls to me, “Miss…Miss, is that water on you?” I’m not sure what she’s talking about, then I look at the thick suit of sweat on me and laugh, “Yep, it’s hot out here!”
I go to my ice stash and coat myself with a few cubes, stick a couple in my sports bra, drink some water, visit the porta-potty and line up. It’s an out and back on the usual race course by the museum, so I know what to expect. Small field today, more of a walker event.
I look down at my Garmin and think I see 6:59 and I get pissed with myself, but then look again, realizing it says 5:59. I have never done such a stupid start in my life, didn’t think it was possible with that sluggish warmup so maybe it was Garmin acting wacky, still, I slow down and the first mile clocks in at 6:40. Just right.
There’s only one girl in front of me, a young thing, and I pass her around the 1/2 mile mark, then realize, “Wow, if I can keep this up, I can win this thing!” There’s a water stop at the turn-around point and I take a cup of water and dump it on my head (again, as per Adam’s stellar advice) …ahhh.
The folks going the other way are yelling out at me “first woman, wooohoo!” “you go, girl!” and other fun stuff like that. I have to admit, it’s a fantastic feeling. Second split clocks in at 6:48.
I’m definitely hurting at this point, but I want to win, dammit! And I wish I had eyes in the back of my head so I could know what kind of lead I have (didn’t think to watch for gals at the turnaround). I’m slowing and I see guys in front of me stopping to walk but I barrel on, thinking, almost there, just a few minutes more, but at the same time, “man, would I love to stop.” Nothing that I don’t think at least twice in every 5K.
Then, out of nowhere, my legs go jello, I stumble and fall on the ground – that same knee that’s opened up twice already, gets it again. Another racer is at my side in a heartbeat wanting to help me up, but I wave him away saying, “You go ahead, I don’t want to ruin your race” but he tells me “This race doesn’t mean anything, c’mon, we’ll run in together”. So I get up and slowly we go, then I remember stumbling again and my next memory is in the hospital being lifted from the stretcher to the ER bed.
What I’m told happened
Until this afternoon, I thought I had a DNF, but when I got home, I called the StridesForStroke place and spoke to a girl who was there and who gave me the lowdown (what she missed, her parents saw). I crossed the line with the help of that guy and whoever was standing there. Then I went over to the sidewalk and I collapsed again, they put me on a chair, then they put me, still sitting in the chair, into an ambulance. Now that she explained this to me, I’m just this evening remembering little tiny snapshots.
Btw, someone from the race called me while I was in the hospital but I didn’t think to ask about what happened. Nice of them to check on me, though.
Once in the hospital bed, I didn’t realize till an hour later that I had a big memory hole. I was too freaked because the 3 friends I could call to get me were all out of town, I didn’t have a cent on me or a phone and I felt utterly alone. On top of it, I was thinking, “This is humiliating, that’ll teach your stupid ego, you should stop racing for a few months, maybe even forever, you really have no clue of what you’re doing, blah blah…”
About an hour later, I was able to compartmentalize this where it belonged, as a medical/heat related problem and not the end of my racing “career” but it was breaking my heart up until then.
Meanwhile, I was in a bad way physically, they don’t give you water for a while and you’re dying of thirst, plus I had a fever so I felt like death, wanting to barf, too. They gave me ice to suck on and I started to feel a bit better, eventually everyone dispersed. A short while later, I start to see things.
It’s no secret I’ve had my sampling of recreational drugs but never have I had “visions”. This scared the shit out of me more than anything. It was like smokey gray dancing ribbons everywhere I looked, ghostly because you could see through them. I called for the nurse thinking I’d fried my brain or my eyesight, but she told me it’s normal when dealing with exhaustion.
They gave me tons of tests and took chest x-rays. I’m told I have serious heat stroke, am profoundly dehydrated, my lactic (lactate?) acid is extraordinarily high and they’re concerned about my kidneys. So I have to stay overnight. Super duper suckage bummer of the universe.
On a cute note, everyone was taking a big interest in my plight, the doctors and nurses had running/racing stories and called me the “athlete”. One of the doctors sent in another doc, a 3-time Ironman, to chat with me who told me my case was cool.
Note: The resident that eventually was assigned to me didn’t even think I should stay overnight. She thought I would be fine to go home and that my levels would return within hours, which they did, but she didn’t have a say-so in it.
Overnight Stay In Cardiac
My nurse in cardiac had done a tri-relay with her sisters and was thrilled to have me. She was a nutritionist and wouldn’t stop giving me advice, some of it quite loopy, like next time I race I need to fill a camelback with Gatorade. She also told me a couple times that I’d approached acute renal failure but when I asked the doctor, the doc said, “WHAT??? That’s not true, she had no business saying that”. How’s that for weirdness?
My roommate was an obese woman with Lupus and Crohn’s disease, a funny lady, though we talked through the curtain most of the time. The only bad thing was she slept a lot but left the TV on a channel that alternates Jerry Springer and Maury Povich for hours. That was hell.
I was monitored all night and this morning got an echocardiagram. I should have been able to leave early but had to wait for the main doc to start his shift. So at 3pm I took the “walk of shame”, not in high heels and evening wear, but sports bra, shorts and racing flats. Just as pathetic. At least I’d removed my bib.
Yeah, I pushed, but it drives me nuts that I couldn’t tell the difference between normal 5K suck and heat suck. I was asked if I had chest palpitations or any other warning signs but I didn’t.
As for the dehydration, I had a couple glasses of wine the night before (not so good) but also a few non-caffeinated sodas and some water. Drank a huge glass of water a couple hours before the race and water when I got there. What I’m kicking myself for was not taking S-caps, I keep forgetting to use them this summer – most idiotic, I would have avoided the whole scenario if I’d taken them (or any other type of electrolyte/salt thing).
Other than that, I think my furnace burns hotter than most. I’ve always thought that and here’s why: I would like nothing better than to run in sportsbra/shorts at 65 degrees. The women where I run won’t wear them until it’s near 80. I would die. It’s a little embarrassing to be nekkid compared to everyone else, but I “allow” myself to wear one as soon as it’s 70 degrees. In fact, when it’s 65, I actually wait for it to get to 70 so I don’t have to wear a sopping wet singlet.
I asked a couple docs separately about this today, wondering if maybe it could be due to perimenopause (sorry folks, this is unsexy talk and I hate it because it shows my age, but it’s my reality). Both doctors said it very well could be.
I wanted to do was making myself do these summer races because I felt like a whiner and excuser when I bitched about how I don’t handle heat well, especially when everyone goes “hey, it’s only a 5K!” The whole point was to harden up, but I think I’m confusing guts with self-knowledge, something I seem to lack. Maybe time will give me that. Until then, I guess it’s my achilles heel.
On the good note, even with the silly start and soap opera finish, it was an improvement over the last 5K and in worse conditions. But what to do now? Do I really want to “race for fun” in 80 degrees? That’s an oxymoron. I’d hate racing at partial capacity and getting beat. Stupid ego. Guess I need to set a temperature limit at which I won’t race (which, if I had my druthers would be 65, but then I won’t be racing much).
Anyway, I’m fine, so no worries – a little weirded out but none the worse for wear. Thanks for reading this ridiculously long report. And to think…it was only a 5K.