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Sunday, May 27, 2012

The day I (almost) finished a half-marathon

I started writing this post several weeks ago and never finished it. The scorching temperatures this weekend and an overheated Charlie yesterday reminded me of it.

Yesterday (now a few weeks ago) the 500 Festival Mini Marathon took place in Indianapolis. It's a pretty big deal -- 35,000 crazies runners and walkers set to start and finish a 13.1 mile course through downtown and around the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I must have a lot of self-punishing ambitious friends because my Faceboook newsfeed that day was full of people heading to the start line of the race. Once a long time ago, I was one of them.

It was early May 2000. For a variety of reasons ranging from wanting to get into shape to needing to get out of the house, I agreed to join some friends in signing up and training for the Mini.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppWhen race day came, I felt ready. I'd done the 11 mile training walk a couple of weeks earlier. I had shoes that fit right. I wasn't planning to wear anything new -- didn't need any surprise scratches or rubs. I got up bright and early to join my friends for what was sure to be one of the crowning athletic adventures of my life. Annie and Charlie were ready, too.

Once we got downtown, we stopped to pee at the State Capitol building -- hey, we paid for those flushes with our taxes -- and then worked our way to the 15-minute mile walkers corral. Here's our group before the starting gun:

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We had discussed a strategy. Though we were starting together, we would each go at our own pace. We'd stay together while we could, but if someone hit there stride and was really moving, she was free to keep going.

The race course was fun. It wound through downtown, past the zoo (I think. It was 12 years ago.), through some neighborhoods I probably wouldn't usually go into by myself and on to the Speedway. There were random people who'd set themselves along the sidelines to provide entertainment. Singers, a one-man band, a dude with a guitar. The neighbors in the 'hood called were all on their front porches cheering, some along the street giving out high fives to anyone who wanted the encouragement. Some of the people had even set out their sprinklers, which was awesome because the weather was really warm and humid.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppBy the time we hit the Speedway, I felt like I was in the zone. It was mile 7 (I think). Because of the heat, I'd been sure to hit every water station. My legs felt like they were on autopilot and I was feeling pretty good.

Except I was freezing. And it was 80+ degrees outside, 130-ish degrees on the surface of the oval race track.

I mentioned that I was cold to my friend Kris, who convinced me to stop by the nearest ambulance, which was just a short walk away. I told the paramedics that I was doing great, but that I was just so cold. That bought me a first class ticket on the ambulance to the in-field hospital at the track, which is where they take the race car drivers after a crash.

I'm pretty sure I walked into the track hospital on my own. As I gave someone my name, I asked if they had a blanket I could use. I was sooo cold.

Within seconds, I was on a gurney with an IV in my arm. A nurse came and said she needed to take me temperature.

Obligingly, I opened my mouth. Wrong end. It's a good thing that heat stroke alters your mental state because I might have been mortified. But (haha, no pun intended) I didn't take offense and offered up my backside.

Core body temperature: 105 degrees F.

Diagnosis: Heatstroke.

Despite my repeated request for a blanket so I could warm up, the team came and dumped buckets of ice over my body. As they hung another bag of fluid on the IV pole, I asked if I could finish the race once that bag was empty.

"Oh honey, your race is finished," one nice nurse told me.

This was in the days before cell phones were another bodily appendange, so I worried a little that Mike, Annie and Charlie, who were waiting to cheer me on just outside of the Speedway, would be left wondering what happened to me. (Kris saw them and let them know what happened.)

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppI don't remember much else about the infield hospital, except that I posed for pictures with the doctor and the nurses. I was an avid scrapbooker back then and I knew this was scrapworthy. Then it was time to head to the finish line -- via ambulance.

That's when the altered mental state of heatstroke reared it's inappropriate head.

There were about 4 women in the back of the ambulance and I started complaining -- loudly -- that there weren't any men back there with us. I tried to convince the paramedics up front to keep their eyes out for cute men that we could stop and pick up. I don't think I stopped talking the whole time in the ambulance. I'm sure the other women back there wished they'd had buckets of ice to dump on me, too.

In the end, I was no worse for the wear. Exhausted. Happy to be reunited with my family. And with quite a story to tell.

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Moral of the story: If you're going to be outside in extremely hot weather, drink water, drink water, drink water. Also, your mother was right about clean underwear. I was glad I was wearing mine.


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Darlene said...

WOW! Good someone recognized you weren't "right!" I know how heat can get you...I ran the MORE mag 1/2 marathon a few years ago in record-breaking heat. It ain't for the faint hearted!
Happy Memorial Day, my friend!

booksandcandy said...

Last year I was watching some Dragon Boat races it was hot and for some reason I decided I ddn't need to eat breakfast or anything for that matter. My mom called to tell me that she was at the races with my dad and I ran up the steep cement stairs to meet her, saw her, hugged her and then went blind. I mentioned that to my mom who sat me down. My dad went to find my husband and then I took a ride to the hospital via ambulance. Ya fun times.

Rachel said...

Oy... laughed and laughed and gave myself a bladder emergency!

Stinkin' hilarious - glad you were able to find the humor.

Though I still think you are somewhat nuts for even running when no one was chasing you...