Monday, October 29, 2007


DNF - I got my first one yesterday. I signed up for the Grand Rapids Marathon with Caroline. She wanted to try to qualify for Boston after Chicago turned out to be such a disappointment. So 3 weeks ago we signed up.

When I woke up Saturday morning I felt like I had a cold. You know when your nose feels about 2 or 3 pounds heavier than normal. Scott had to work in the a.m. so we ended up getting on the road late Saturday afternoon. Made it up there by 4:45 p.m. Just in time to pick up our packets and get to the pasta dinner. Loaded up on the carbs. Didn't have a problem choking down the bread stick that was coated with an unidentifiable glisten. It was bread, that was all I needed to know. Caroline and Mary on the other hand didn't seem to care for it. Maybe my full head kept me from tasting what ever was covering it. On the way back to the hotel my throat was burning. Thought I may be having an allergic reaction to something I ate, so took my allergy medicine early. I also took an Advil before getting into bed. I was feeling spent and was in bed early. Everyone else was mulling around but I was asleep by 8:30 (which makes me laugh because that's 7:30 our time) I started to drool and it woke me up. I hadn't been sleeping for long, I don't think. Our room was empty, everyone left. The TV was on tho, "Rev DMC" I think that's his name. That's a pretty good show. Makes you laugh, makes you think. My throat was on fire now and I was having some trouble breathing. Puffed off my inhaler and took my Flovent (a preventative steroid) and got back into bed. Everyone was back before long and lights were out by 11.

Didn't sleep well. The throat, pre-race jitters, the weather. Was up at 5:30 and did 20 minutes of yoga. That always makes me feel good. Had some water, PBJ and a banana. Was to the race site by 7:30. Caroline waited for the pap and I checked our stuff. It was cold! Got to the start and literally began to run. With .25 miles behind us I was saying how good I felt. Our running strategy was simple - 1:55 halves. The throat was bothering me at 3 miles so I popped a cough drop. By mile 6 I was having trouble breathing - so pulled out the inhaler (woofer as Scott calls it) and took a puff. Very, very rarely do I ever need to use it. Sometimes I'll take it just before a race but hardly ever when I run. I did get some relief after I took it but about a half mile later my throat and chest were burning and my chest was tightening. I knew it was to soon to use the woofer again so I tried coughing a little and walked and drank at the next water stop. It helped. We didn't lose a lot of time so that was good. Off we went. I started to feel short of breath again tho. It was coming in waves. I would speed up and then slow it down. Soon I found myself taking another puff. Asthma is funny. Negative thoughts and panic feed it. The longer you can stay calm the better you are going to feel. So I did my best at trying to stay calm.

The course was beautiful. Lots of trees, changing colored leaves. Not a lot of runners. The occasional pack and then a string of strays. This was a nice race. We passed mile 10 and I started to think I wasn't going to make it. Stay calm, stay positive I told myself. Caroline was saying she had to stop and use the pap, she was worried about time. I was told her how important it was to stay in the moment we were in right now. Don't think about anything but the step you are taking. We stopped at the next pap. I took out the inhaler and used it and stretched. I was breathing heavy and fast. We only lost 3 minutes with the stop. I knew we could make it up. Caroline then got away from me. I tried running to catch her but couldn't. Things started to look fuzzy, like I was in a tunnel. Crap. CRAP. I called to her. I was gasping. I had my hands on my bent knees. I was hunched over and someone asked me if they could help. I was saying no, shaking my head. I was trying to cough, to get the air moving but nothing was happening. Caroline was right by me. Mary ran by but I told her to keep going. There was no need to ruin her race too. Ugh. Every time I tried to straighten up my head would get fuzzy. My chest was burning. We were close to a medical point. This totally, totally SUCKS! What the hell is going on I thought. I had my inhaler in my hand but really it was useless. I would walk and stop and try to catch my breath. We got to the medical area. They told me take another hit off the inhaler. That would be like my 4th in an hour and a half. It's not working I told them but used it anyway. I sat and tried to catch my breath. It was hard to talk. SHIT! Is this really happening? My throat and chest were tight. After about 10 minutes I started to feel better and stood up but felt dizzy and short of breath. Again the throat felt tight. It was so weird because with asthma, it's my chest that's tight, I couldn't figure out the burning and tightness in my throat. It had to be the cold I thought and the running was making it worse. Well, if it wasn't the asthma I told myself then we could go on but go slow. We wouldn't reach our goal but we could finish. I didn't want a DNF. And honestly, that was all I was thinking about. Ok, let's walk, I told Caroline. "Oh, we can't let you go" the volunteers said to me. SHIT, SHIT, SHIT!!! It was over. Damn it. I sat again. I really couldn't breath. Why wasn't the inhaler working. Why was my throat so sore and tight. I looked up and saw the mat for the 13.1 marker. I wanted to tell Caroline to go run across it. I told her to just go. Keep going but she wouldn't leave me. A short time later a car came by and 2 young men in orange jackets told me they would take me back to the finish line. The car was warm. We drove about 20 feet and it started to get really hard to breath. I heard a little wheeze coming out now. Now I started to panic. I need a steroid - I said it out loud. "What?" the man in the front passenger seat asked? I need a steroid I gasped. I know he said - we're gonna get it for you. Then I lost it. I started to cry. I know that was the worst thing I could have done but I couldn't keep it together. My chest and throat felt like the were being squeezed shut because I was crying. I grabbed Caroline's hand. I know I scared her. I told her I was panicking. She told me to yoga breath. I was trying but my nose was so stuffed up nothing was moving. I was afraid the crying was going to cause me to hyperventilate. Got to the finish line and to the medical tent. The cold air felt good. It was actually a little easier to breath. Paramedics were there and put a pulse ox meter on but could get it to work. They started a nebulizer treatment. They used albuterol and a steroid mixed together. After about 2 minutes of the treatment I was feeling better. I didn't feel like I was in a tunnel anymore. I wanted to ask them why the mixed the 2 meds - now the breathing treatment was going to take forever. Everyone was very nice, accept for this know it all in a white shirt and badge. He was bossing everyone around. I wanted to ask him to leave, his bad karma bringing everyone down. I obviously didn't. I had to sign a release that I refused to go to the hospital and assured them that I would call my doc on the way back home to get a steriod.

It was a long drive home. The last hour I got tired. I felt like a truck had hit me. I insisted on driving home. I talked with my doc and we both agreed the steriods weren't necessary but that if I felt like I needed them in the morning to call her and she would see me. Just before dropping Caroline off I told her I was going to stop at a doc in the box. My breathing felt fine but the throat was burning. I had to do something. She had her mom's b-day party to go to or I think she would have come with me. There was no one at the doc's office. I got right in. The nurse took a strep culture right away. Took my temp and it was normal which made me realize I was dehydrated because I felt like I was burning up. The doc came in and I told him about my day. He looked at me like I was making the whole thing up. I guess it does sound kind of crazy. I started to laugh, and shook my head. I told him I know this sounds crazy but my throat is killing me and I was worried about having something that needed attention. He checked the ears, nose, throat, glands. Yup, things were red, puffy, full of fluid but he said it looked viral and not bacterial. Then he started asking about the asthma and me running and how things felt. Then he said something that made so much sense I wanted to kiss. He said that he didn't think I had an asthma attack. He thought I had (still have) adult croupe. Gracie would get this when she was a baby and we would go back and forth, was it her asthma or croupe. He said by mile 6 my throat was so irritated by my breathing that it probably started to swell shut, the inhaler relieved it slightly, or I would slow down, then he started saying something about VO2 max blah blah blah, stopping blah, blah blah, the heat from the car, blah, blah, blah. And with each word I was feeling better. Cause while I was out there running, I kept thinking this doesn't feel like asthma but I can't breath so what else could it be. He gave me a sheet on adult croupe, told me to go home and rehydrate and eat then take some Advil for the pain and an antihistamine for the congestion. I smiled cause that's exactly what I had been doing. Then he told me that this could linger for a while to be patient and get a lot of rest. So, I left him feeling better not because the throat felt good but because I had an explanation of what happened that day. Something that made sense to me.

So, I now have a DNF. It stings a little saying it. Pain is temporary, quiting is forever. I had to. I really don't think it was smart to keep going. I'm reassuring my self here. I think I'm feeling this way because I let Caroline down. If I wasn't there she would have kept going. She's a good friend for staying behind. Especially when I panicked. So, today is already tomorrow and the race is now just another day in my past that I will have to learn from. Soon this "hit by a truck" feeling will leave my chest as will my "adult croupe". I have to ask myself if I will every run again when I have a cold. I know I will. I'll just have to tell myself to slow it down. Is that possible? :)

Monday, October 22, 2007

7 Cards, 10 Pins and a Whole Lot a Fun

Scott and I don't go out much and when we do it's just me and him. Usually a movie and maybe dinner. We are always back home to tuck the kids in bed by 9:30. We've never been party people. Which is starting to work against me. I had the club over to my house a week ago and was freaking out because I literally didn't know what to do. I cleaned the bathrooms and swept the floors but I wasn't sure what to serve to eat or drink. Sounds unbelievable huh? Well, I thought I was doing a pretty good job winging it until a guest asked me for ice, and guess what, I didn't have any! Frozen water and I couldn't give it to her! Well, live and learn. My next party will have ice.

Last Friday we had plans to go out. Not just a movie but actually go out and talk to other people. It was card night to raise money for the football program my husband coaches for. I usually don't go to these things but I haven't seen much of Scott lately so I told him we should go. I warned him I didn't really know how to play cards but he assured me that wasn't a problem and we would have fun. So, I dropped the kids off at my moms. On my way home I practiced my poker face and thought about everything I had seen on ESPN's World Poker Tour. We got to the party and my heart was beating as if I had just finished some speed work. After we signed in Scott got a deck of cards and reviewed the rules. His boss was there so he helped with a couple of practice games. It was 8 o'clock and time to start. Fortunately there were only 10 of us playing and it didn't seem like anyone was going to take it to seriously. I got a bag of chips and cheat sheet indicating how much each chip was worth. We drew cards to see where we sat and then the games began. Well, I felt like I just finished my second set of speed drills. Practicing my poker face was a waste of time because nervous was the only face I was able to show. I messed up with betting, when to check, call or fold. My shuffling needs work as does my poker face. Like I said, I was glad no one was taking this seriously.


Before long things fell into place. I think I started to get the hang of it. I won a couple of hands. There was one point where I was holding the king and 8 of clubs, the ace, queen and 10 of clubs where on the table. I was to nervous to show the excitement. Yes, I did win that one. Before long the 2 tables were merged into one. I was feeling a little crowded and the mood of the game changed. Some of the guys were in it to win it. I had a 3 and a 4, the 5 and 7 were showing. I went all in. Another guy did the same, with pretty much the same hand. He end up winning cause he had a high card or something like that. I watched for the next hour. It was fun. Scott took 6th. His boss took 4th. We were home by midnight. My mom had the kids and we were able to enjoy a good night sleep that lasted until 8 a.m.!
Saturday night was spent trying to stay awake until 9:30. That's when Candle Light Bowl started. My girlfriend invited us about a month earlier to join her and a group of her friends. I was excited to see her. We usually meet for breakfast a couple of times a year so to see her away from the eggs and coffee would be a nice change. When Scott and I were dating, heck even before me and Scott, me and my girlfriend, Cin, would go to this bowling ally. I was afraid I was going to walk in and see the same smokey place, same tile floors and same bowling shoes. Well, we were pleasantly surprised to see that the owners did some nice updates to the place. There was a big sign when we walked in that stated smoking was no longer permitted - whoo hoo!!! And everything looked clean and new. Maybe not as new as I'm remembering, I'm usually sleeping by 9:30-but I have to say it was nice. The only thing that was the same was the music. They were playing 80's stuff and showing the video's. Every time they showed Micheal Jackson, Scott would ask - "Who's that?" Of course Scott's corny jokes always make me laugh.
I'm not going to kid myself or anyone reading this, when it comes to bowling I stink. Luckily Scott does too and fortunately that didn't interfere with us having fun. Cin and her husband and his family and their friends and neighbors made us feel like one of the group. Cin ended up winning 2 raffles and a couple of door prizes. I won tickets to a planetarium program at Harper College. Something different for me and the kids to do. We ate and drank and caught up on all the stuff going on and then talked about being there 20 years earlier. Time went by quickly. Scott and I were going for the perfect game #3. By the 5th frame we still hadn't knocked anything down. For those who have never been to candle light bowl, the 3rd game you have to do goofy stuff like throw the ball with your opposite hand or stand with your back to the pins and roll the ball between your legs. Well, our hand eye coordination needs some work because we were BAD. But it was all good. We made it home by 1:30 and I think Scott was sleeping by the time I got into bed.
Gotta say this. GO BEARS! What a game they gave us Sunday afternoon. Holy smokes that was a great ending.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The 50 Mile Question

While I was making dinner Sunday night I asked Scott -

Me - What would you say if I said I wanted to run a 50 mile race?

Scott - What, like one of those Ultramarathons?

Me - Yeah.

Scott - Well, I was worried about you passing out during the Ironman or messing all over yourself and then crawling across the finish line, like that woman we watched 20 years ago, but since that didn't happen I guess you can do what ever you put your mind to.

Me - So you wouldn't mind if I did one, say next spring?

Scott - Nope, knock your socks off.

Silence. Then in typical competative Scott mode

Scott - How long do think it would take you? Probably 10 hours huh!? Figure your worst marathon time and then double it ....

Monday, October 8, 2007

Marathon Madness

I was so excited to help with the Chicago marathon this year. I've wanted to pass out water since 1994 when I saw that the volunteers got cool looking jackets. Ok, that sounds a little self serving, I really did want to help and not just get a free jacket.

We got into the city by 5:45 a.m. Caroline was running so we dropped her off at the Hilton. She was nervous/excited the usual gambit of emotions just before starting a race. She kept teetering on her finish time. She was well prepared and had her nutrition and hydration plan in place (she wasn't running with water just Accelerade, she planned to get water on the course) but the heat was causing her to question her plans for a final time. That would be decided when she crossed the finish line. We agreed on a meeting place after the run, hugged each other good bye and Keri and I headed towards mile 10.5.

Had some trouble getting to the right EL train. The first station we went to didn't have the train arrive until 7:20 - an hour after we needed to be to our water station. So we walked a couple blocks to the subway and got on a train that took us about 3 blocks away from where we needed to be. I got us lost coming out of the train station but managed to get us to the aide captain just before 7. Keri and I signed the waiver, picked up our jackets and caps (bonus, a cap too!) and found a table to hang out at. Met a mother and daughter from the West side. Turned out the daughter went to school with Keri's boss's son (the world is so small). Realized for some reason our table was placed on the sidewalk and not the street so we recruited a bunch of high school boys to help us pick up the table, which was stacked 4 cups high with water and put it where it belonged. Keri and I walked down to Starbucks to get a caffeine pick me up before all the mayhem began. We could see the helicopters to the east of us following the lead runners. It was exciting. Then a man with a bull horn came by asking us to step away from the street. The wheel chair participants were coming thru. The pulse of their race was truly palpable. These men were flying! It was very inspiring to watch. For the next several minutes they would fly by in packs of 3 or 4. It was obvious they were in an unshakable zone that not even the heat could interrupt. Then the helicopters were over us. We knew the lead runners were coming. They came. They went. It's unbelievable how quickly they move. In the blink of an eye they were gone and now our race began. It started like a slow drip. Runners came in small groups. Occasionally the cup would leave my fingers. Then it became a steady stream. Keri and I started to keep track of who had more cups taken, I think I was winning. Then the stream turned into a rushing river. The runners just kept coming. Grabbing 2 cups of water at a time. Before we knew it the table was empty. Keri was putting cups out. I was pouring. Then I was putting cups out. Chaos was an understatement. Runners were grabbing empty cups from the table or they had their own bottles and we filled them. The next hour passed quickly. I was trying to fill cups and felt someone hugging me. I turned around and it was Caroline. I hugged her back and I could see she was fighting the tears. I heard her say she couldn't go on. My heart sank, it actually hurt for her. I took her by the shoulders and told her she could. She has run in weather like this so many times and today was no different than being out on the lakefront with me and the guys. She started shaking her head yes. I hugged her again. You can do this I told her. I know you can. She kept shaking her head yes but was saying this was the hardest thing she has ever done. Keri came up to her and hugged her and then I gave her one more. Just before leaving us I told her she was going to be ok. She gave me a glimpse of a smile and took off. I wanted to go with her. I didn't want to leave her alone out there. Not if the rest of the race was going to be as chaotic as mile 10.5. I prayed she would be ok.

The water station was now completely out of water. I walked down to the palates that were once full of cases of water and they were empty. Keri and I said this would happen but seeing it happen left me feeling desperate. I grabbed a stack of cups from an empty table. I didn't want anyone putting empty cups out and frustrating the runners. Another volunteer was walking by talking to himself saying he couldn't believe there was no water left. A runner yelled to me that the gatorade station was out of cups so I ran down there. They were actually out of gatorade, they had plenty of cups and thirsty, sweaty runners. I couldn't just stand there. There had to be something I could do. I thought of running down to Walgreens, about a block away and buying what ever water I could. Then I saw 2 volunteers coming out of O'Briens. They were carrying water pitcher. I grabbed an empty gallon gatorade bottle from a table and ran into the restaurant. I don't know if it was the owner or the manager directing his staff and some volunteers but he was getting us water. He filled my bottle and a pitcher for me. I was back to the street filling cups and runners bottles. Within 30 seconds I was back in the restaurant. He was now filling buckets and 10 gallon gatorade dispensors. While waiting for my containers my phone rang. It was Keri, I told her I was in O'Brien's getting water to come down here and by the time I got back outside she was there with the young girl from the West side that we had met earlier in the morning. An older woman who could barely speak english was asking me something. She was a runner and I thought she wanted water. After several attempts she got the word GATORADE out. I couldn't even answer her. I couldn't tell her we didn't have any. I shook my head no and gave her water. She slowly walked away from me. UGH!!! This SUCKS I thought. Runners were thanking us. They were all walking now. No one was running. No one was smiling. Most of them were very quiet. This was the back of the pack. I kept going into O'Briens and refilling. I came out to Dennis and his buddy Hector. This was Hector's first marathon. Dennis told us that this was the 1st aide station that had water. Thanks to O'Briens that is. I high fived Hector and hugged Dennis. Told them to be careful and have fun. They were off. The sun was shining in full force now. It was hot. Volunteers were raking up cups into piles. I was looking around and it didn't look anything like it did at 7:00 a.m. when we got there. It looked like 35,000 hot, desperate, thirsty runners made there way thru a very narrow space in the matter of 120 minutes . I gave the last of the water I had in my gatorade container and Keri and I walked away. I was emotionally spent. I felt for every person on that street. The volunteers, the runners, the business owners, the spectators. Most of us were quiet. All you could really hear was the rake mashing the cups and concrete. Keri and I were talking softly, like if we talked loud we would disrupt the chaotic mess that surrounded us. As we walked we saw runners sitting on the curb. Some were laying on the side walk. We actually saw one guy lying on the side walk and it looked like 2 police officers were attempting to start and IV on him. I have never seen anything like it. This was supposed to be a fun experience. It wasn't fun.
Caroline finished!!! Unfortunately we didn't see her come up Michigan avenue. It may have been the police cars cruising up and down the streets telling the runners to walk that caused us not to see her. Or maybe it was the firetruck parking its engine right next to us and then turning its hose on the runners. Or it could have been the countless ambulances screaming to the north and south of us taking away yet another distressed runner. I wished I could have seen her. Been there for her. She described her finish to us on the way home. She said that she saw the sign for Roosevelt road and she said to cry. Not the gasping, choke just tears. Keri asked if it was because she did it, and Caroline said no it was because it was finally over.
Congratulations to everyone who participated. You proved that the human spirit is alive and well. When the going gets tough, we do take care of each other. Life is as good as we make it for each other.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Me and the Blue Squid

We got out the door with time to spare. When the weather is nice we love to walk to school and it was beautiful on Wednesday morning. We usually play games on our way pretending we are dinosaurs and have to run from the cars so they don't catch us. Other days we play red light green light. This is usually played on the way home because it can take a long time, especially when you are 4.

Wednesday, Zak kept stopping and then catching up to us and then stopping again. Finally I asked what he was doing. "I keep dropping the blue squid mom" he said. Ugh I thought. You see it's against the school rules to take toys into class which meant the squid would stay with me. I was planning on running 6 miles Wednesday. Alone. Me and my music. Now it would be me, my music and the blue plastic toy. We got to school and Zak showed his classmates the new toy and then reluctantly handed him over to me. I promised him he would be waiting for him as soon as he got out of class. He kissed both of us good bye and joined his schoolmates.

Running with the blue toy wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. It could have been worse. I could have but stuck with a "Optimus Prime" the transformer or "Heatblast" the guy from Ben Ten. These guys are big. I was laughing at the thought of me running up the street with one of these dolls clenched in my hand. Swinging back and forth. Luckily this little thing was small and I actually got used to running with him. By the time I finished I almost forgot I had him with me.

I did some yoga. Showered and even folded some laundry before I headed back to pick up the kids. Forgot to take the little blue guy with. Was worried about explaining to Zak that he's at home waiting and not with me but Zak could have cared less. After 2 hours of class time his attention was focused on something else now and the squid was just another toy. I'm gonna have to keep an eye on him when leaving the house. Like I said, I don't want to be running down the street with Spiderman or some other action figure!