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? :)


RunBubbaRun said...

Okay, I might have stayed with you a little bit or at least brought you back some hot chile.

Don't worry about the DNF, you did what you had to do this year.. lots to be pround of.

Scott said...

Wow, I felt the same way last week.
The throat felt horrible.
Good for you for even trying, you're a terrific athlete.

Tom said...

Great job Pam. you didn't have to run, but what an effort being sick! I'd like to think we're all human and just not 'training machines' for the next event. See-ya