Hang on to your hats, this is by far the strangest and most gut wrenching recap I have ever written for a race. It has a strange start and a strange end, so stay with me!
As I have mentioned on the blog I have been dealing with some pretty scary health issues since my cruise 2 weeks ago. I ran a half marathon 2 weekends ago and was very sick the whole race, ended up at urgent care that afternoon, then the doctor again later that week, and now a cardiologist today. I was seriously considering dropping out of this race, as I didn’t even know If I could get through it, let alone have a “good race.” However, I LOVE this course, and was sponsored by the awesome folks at Rebootizer, and I was feeling ok the couple of days leading up to the race so decided to give it a go, but not really expect much in terms of time.
Saturday morning, Bobby and I drove to the start in plenty of time for the 7:00 start of the race. We made it to the parking lot where Bobby stood in line for over ten minutes waiting to pay at the machine. It was dark, VERY windy and about 54 degrees, which is chilly for New Orleans! We ran to the start because I didn’t have my bib yet. There was a mix up, long story, so I had to pick it up there. We ran around the park area and finally found out where to get my bib. We ran to the port-o-potty lines, me pinning my bib on as we went. That’s when we realized the line was SUPER long and there were only TEN potties for thousands of people. Race #fail! I HAD to go to the bathroom, (TMI alert) not only because, well, I needed to pee but it was that lovely special time of the month and I needed to get to a bathroom. SO we stood in the cold, slowly inching up, as they called for the race start over the loud speaker. What can you do?
I looked at my watch and we heard the start….still far back in the line. Oh well, at least we had chip timing.
I decided to carry cytomax with me in a bottle because there were only 6 aid stations and only gatorade at the last three! Best decision ever.
We finally get to go, and run towards the start. We were with another guy who we had been chatting with in line, and there were no runners anywhere, we saw what LOOKED like a starting line and we started jogging toward it, asking bystanders if this was the start! It was ridiculous.
The empty start line as we are running towards it
The first little bit of the race is an out and back for about a mile and a half or so. I told Bobby bye and have a good race and he took off. So….there I was….running…by myself….a few stragglers in front and behind me who also were in the bathroom lines. Then, on my left I saw going the other way….all the other runners! Basically everyone was staring at me in my bright pink shirt. Yes, I was “that girl” who missed the start of the race by about eleven minutes. Awesome.
My goal for this race was to start out slow, see how I felt, and then pick it up later. Well, that went out the window when I started to play “catch up”. Yes, yes I am aware I was chip timed and that it didn’t matter, but I feed off of others, and NEEDED to run with others. As it was I missed the big adrenaline boost of the start, which keeps me going at a good pace for awhile.
So I waved at Bobby as he passed going the other way, I wasn’t too far behind him, and made it to the turnaround. I made it back to the start area as the 5k was starting…which was at 7:30. I just had to laugh at how it was playing out. Not much else to do, it WAS pretty comical. So I eventually started passing the power walkers, and then the run walkers. I got slightly annoyed at the power walkers walking 4-5 people across the ENTIRE road forcing me onto the sidewalk, but in all fairness, the runners had all passed them…except for a few like me, but still…move out of the way!
I was feeling really good, but realized I was going too fast. My first 3 miles were in the low 9:40’s, and I made myself slow down. I also took the time to wave at all the police officers and thank them. There are a TON of blocks, streets, etc in NOLA and they had cops EVERYWHERE keeping us safe. I knew later in the race I would be more tired and not as likely to be as upbeat and talkative, so I was sure to do it early on while I could. I was listening to the Black Eyed Peas radio station on Pandora, and every song was a great upbeat song, perfect for running. I was having a great race, despite all my health issues of the past three weeks and lack of training.
I took a GU at miles 3 and 6, and was so thankful for my Cytomax, just to be able to take a couple of sips whenever I wanted. Typically running holding a bottle bothers me and slows me down but it was worth it. Miles 4-6 I made myself slow down and was running between a 9:55 and 10:05 pace, still feeling pretty good. At mile 6, the arch on my left foot started to hurt, which has NEVER happened before. I didn’t think a ton about it, and chalked it up to bad form b/c my right foot had been bothering me since my last race and I figured I was favoring it, causing the pain in the left.
Mile 7 took us into Audubon Park, which is a beautiful place to run with a golf course. It was getting slightly more difficult to keep the same pace, but I was still holding on at 10:00 give or take a couple seconds. We passed mile 8 in the park, and got to about 8.8 when it happened….my calf acted like it wanted to seize up and cramp (please someone tell me you know the feeling) I froze, and it thankfully released and didn’t fully seize. It scared the crap out of me though, and I got to the side and stretched my calves while I tried to get my breathing back on track from how much it scared me. I said a quick prayer for that to be the ONLY time it happened. Well, sometimes I don’t understand God’s ways, but things would only go downhill from here.
I kept running, but was cautious. Mad that I had wasted a good 20-30 seconds stretching. I hit mile nine, and as I approached mile 9.4ish, it happened again, but this time, it did NOT let up. Not only did my calf seize up, but the toes in my left foot COMPLETLY curled underneath my foot inside of my shoe, and I had no control. I immediately fell off into the median and to the curb. I ripped my shoe off, and had to pry my toes back straight. When the cramp finally released, (after about 30 seconds) I tied my shoe, stood up, and stretched both calves, losing about one minute total. Petrified, I started walking not sure what to do. There were no medics around…I was plenty hydrated… I thought about calling Bobby for help, but knew he was trying to PR and didn’t want to upset him. I thought about just letting him know I was having a bad race and would be awhile, but since the cramp had let up I just decided to try running again.
That mile (nine) ended up being about 11:00. I knew I had to make up time, so I pushed off hard, engaging my left calf….and it seized again. I couldn’t help it….I burst into tears. I was so angry, scared, and in pain. I could FEEL the PR. As I was running I was envisioning crossing the finish line, smiling, arms raised in triumph…and then this. Why. WHY?!? I stretched again, and took off, but this time, keeping my leg flexed/straight, trying not to “push off” or engage my calf. This worked somewhat, however I could only keep a 10:45ish pace doing this “hobble/run”. Every time I tried to pick it up…you guessed it, had to engage my calf, and cramping started. I had a few “almost seizes” where I felt like it was ABOUT to seize up but didn’t, but I also had three other times where I had to stop, and pretty much fall over onto the curb until it subsided, then stand up and stretch it out. My right calf did the “try to” seize thing 2-3 times, but it never actually did thankfully.
My Garmin was a few tenths off the whole race, not sure how many, so after I saw the mile 12 sign I wasn’t sure exactly how far I had to go, I was panicky and not paying much attention. My pace for miles 10-2 were between 11:30 and 12:10 I think. It just kept dragging on and on. I thought I had a lot longer to go, but then I heard cheering, turned a corner, and saw the finish line! It was about 200 yards away (I am TERRIBLE at judging distances so I could be way off here) and I looked down and saw I had 1:15 and I could STILL PR! Mind you it would be by mere seconds, but considering how this race had turned out I couldn’t believe it was still possible. I had PLENTY of gas left, I was barely breathing heavy, and other than my crazy calf and foot I felt FINE. I decided to kick it in and try for the PR. If you guessed I triumphantly sprinted to the end for a PR by the skin of my teeth….you would be wrong.
It was like you see in the movies…you know the ones where they are racing, everything goes to slow motion with the runner falling, and the only noise they pipe in is the beating heart of the runner, as they fall in agony then look up to watch everyone cross the finish. That was me. My “kick” turned into the worst cramp yet, toes curled under and it wasn’t letting go. I was in the middle of the road this time so I just flat out fell on all fours on the pavement. I didn’t care who saw or had to go around me. A sweet woman stopped and knelt down next to me. SO SO kind of her to stop just short of the finish to check on me. I had my headphones in so I’m not 100% sure what she said other than “are you ok I have been following and watching you.” I said my calf was cramping, but waved her on. So incredibly nice of her. I did the “runner’s stretch” on the pavement, hands on the ground, legs out behind me. I stood up, tried to walk, seized again. Wanted to cry, fall over, and just could NOT believe this was happening to me, and then SO CLOSE to the finish and a PR. The seconds ticked by, and I was finally able to “jog” very slowly. I am usually a sprint my butt off through the finish kind of girl, but this was a near walk. I finally got close to the finish and managed to catch Bobby on the side…video taping me, fabulous. I just looked at him with a look of death, then back straight ahead, and jogged through to the finish. Missing my PR by two minutes.
I got my medal, found Bobby, and immediately burst into tears. I didn’t care that people were staring. I was in pain, I was so disappointed in myself, and totally blew my chance. How did I go from running 9:40 miles to laying on the side of the road? This is a bad dream right? I was on track to PR by 5-6 minutes at least. I told Bobby the whole miserable story, and he felt awful that while he was PRing (which I am of course very happy about) that I was crying on the side of the road in pain. I stretched out my legs, dried my eyes, and took our after race photos.
We got cold pretty fast, got some food, and walked for a bit.
I heard someone yell “Heather!” and turned around and saw Jennifer, a fellow run pink ambassador!
We chatted for awhile, I told her about my race, and she told me about her race in which she did really well!
We couldn’t tae the cold much longer, so we headed back to the car and headed out of town. I took my Rebootizer to help with recovery as well, which really works!
Keeping it real, I was pretty ticked off the rest of the day. I didn’t understand why this was happening to me. I know God works in mysterious ways and has a reason for everything, but I was really starting to doubt anything good could ever come of this disaster, and I am still not sure exactly what is going on.
So friends, I need your help. I would be lying if I said I was ok with this and wasn’t scared of it happening again. Something else I should mention is 2 weeks ago in the half marathon I ran sick, one of my calves (I can’t remember which) did the “try” to seize up thing towards the end of the race, but never did, and that was the only time it happened so I thought nothing of it. But now after this I am wondering if they are related. A lot of people are quick to say it’s low sodium or potassium, but here’s why it’s not:
1.) at the doctor last week when I was so sick they tested my potassium and sodium levels, both came back fine
2.) I ate a banana that morning (among other things) and had plenty of gatorade and water. Plus it was in the 50’s and I was barely sweating. If I was going to cramp, I think I would have during my summer long runs when I was sweating buckets!
3.) I had 3 GU’s during the race in addition to a bottle and a half of cytomax and gatorade, plus water.
PLEASE tell me I am not alone and someone else has gone through this. I have heard of calf cramps while running but not with the toe cramp too. Also, was the arch pain a part of that, a pre-cursor? Or totally unrelated? I woke up yesterday morning with my calves very tight and sore, and my arch hurting, with a big knot right in the middle of my arch, bulging out.
Check out my left foot , right in the middle of the arch how it’s bulging out to the right towards my right foot? That is where the big knot is. I am open to any suggestions, advice, or reasons as to why this happened and how to prevent it in the future. Keep in mind I have run 15 half marathons and have NEVER had this happen ever, not even on a training run, except for that one time in my last half, that didn’t completely seize up. HELP!
I loved the race itself (aside from lack of potties) and am so thankful to Rebootizer for the chance to run this race. The product really works, and helped me recover after feeling sick, and also after the race and my training run. Be sure to check out their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter for more news and info on this great product! If you have any questions about it I would love to answer.
QOTD: HELP ME! Advice? stories of this happening to you? Solutions?