Monday, October 8, 2012

St George Marathon 2012 - The tale of a sick little kitty

Even as I lay here typing up the saga, I am nibbling crackers and fighting the urge to vomit them all.  Looking forward to the moment that I click publish, slink out of bed over to the dresser, grab an anti-nausea pill, snuggle back under my covers with a warm corn bag on my belly and hopefully drift off to a stomach ignored sleep.

The bottom line?  I shouldn't have attempted it.  I got cocky.  I got over confident.  But when the words St George and Marathon are said together, it's like the siren call of the sea to the captain of a ship.  It can't be ignored.

Really, I had started to feel pretty good.  Actually quite good.   Until the few days prior and then some nausea crept back in.  Nothing huge, but enough to tick me off.  I agreed to work the Expo for WRC for a little bit Friday afternoon, and since Splenda Daddy couldn't take more time off work, I hit the road solo early Friday morning.  A quick stop in Orem for some FOT donations (more on that in another post), another one to refill my water and I hit town around lunchtime.

I love the expo!  So many people, such energy!  In fact as I drove down, about every other car I passed or passed me had a running sticker of some sort on it - it's like the energy was all over the place and I was getting so amped!  I quickly grabbed my bag and bib, worked for a few hours at WRC 's booth and then took a break for a rest.  I found some wifi, talked to my mom and then coordinated dinner with some friends.

An all you can eat pasta bar at the Pasta Factory with Sheri, Don, Christine and her extended family was fun!  Nice runners convo, great food and just what one needs to keep excited for the race!  After helping clean up the booth at the Expo, I headed to the hotel in Hurricane.  Once I finally got settled in my bed, I realized that my lower back was aching and the nausea was hitting.  Should have known at that point that the next day wasn't gonna be my day.  Unfortunately for me, I'm such an optimistic sap that I was pretty sure neither of those things would bother me. I just needed to get running and everything would be fine.  I fell asleep quickly and didn't move again until the alarm went off at 3:10am.

Sheri, Kimberly and I headed back into St George, and made it on one of the first buses.  At the start line after a pic (waiting until Sheri's phone is fixed to post), we found a fire, settled in and waited.  I tried to lay down and go back to sleep but moving just that little bit away from the fire was too cold.  Instead, I fussed around getting my stuff ready, making a little small talk here and there and basically just waiting.

Each of us around the fire had different goals for the race.  For some it was a PR, for others it was just a finish.  Mine?  I wanted a respectable finish.  Sub 4:45 would be respectable and reasonable for me.  I would be ecstatic if I could pull that off!  Sub 5:00 would be respectable and I would live happily with that.  The horn sounded, the crowd started moving slowly and we jumped in just behind the 4:00 pacer.  I lagged behind Christine and Sheri for a mile or so while I shed the silver blankie, got my ipod fixed and got my headphones tucked from bouncing.

Once I was set, I had found a nice easy pace.  It felt FANTASTIC!!  Oh, how great it was!  Not too fast, not too slow, I felt fantastic and found myself passing Sheri and Christine.  I knew they had a different strategy so I figured we'd see each other again somewhere along the course.

The first 7 miles were pure joy!  Oh my gosh!  The sun coming up over the southern Utah desert.  Surrounded by runners on every side.  Pavement moving underneath my feet.  Bliss.  I felt fantastic!  I saw the Veyo hill looming ahead and didn't give it much of a thought other than, reminding myself I had done this hill before - no biggie.  At this point, I was into the race about an hour and since I was determined NOT to bonk from lack of fuel, I opened my baggie and started slowly taking bites of my PB&J.  Deeeelightful!  I ran the hill, ate my sandwich and felt fantastic.  I did need the porta potties a couple of times from the sheer amount of water I had been drinking all morning in efforts to hydrate.  But other than that - I felt good.

(Veyo hill in the distance)

The next couple of miles were spent looking at signs people posted for others, thinking about the first time I ever ran this, and checking in with my body to see how I was physically feeling.  Somewhere between mile 10.5 and 11 - things fell part.

My stomach seized into a huge spasm and I literally thought everything inside of me was going to fall out any open orifice from my belly button down.  Every girl part, every piece of gut and intestine  I slowed to a walk and wondered what the hell was happening. So much pain.  I made it to the next porta potty and desperately went in with hopes that if I could expel (TMI?) everything in my gut, I would feel better.

Expel okay.  Better?  Not so much.  For the next several miles I hobbled along with intense stomach pain, cramping and a stop with each porta potty I could see.  As we came into the beautiful Snow Canyon, I tried hard to stop thinking about my body and just enjoy the scenery.  To me, Snow Canyon is the pay off for making it that far into the race.  While gorgeous, it's also downhill and at this point, every step downhill was excruciating on my body.  Each pound of my foot and contact with the asphalt making impact caused my stomach to scream.  And sadly, it was now more than just my stomach - it was my lower back.  Complete muscle spasms.  I wanted to cry.  Okay, I did cry.  A little.   Okay, a lot.

I was starting to see the sag shuttles and oh did they look so appealing!  I had convinced myself to go ahead and get in and call it good.  My body couldn't take any more, I needed to respect and listen to it, I was too frustrated.  I wanted off this crazy ride.  And then, in my mind's eye I saw the results page.  It looked like this:
Melissa Catmull - DNF

A DNF?  No.  No. NO!  I couldn't do it.  Unless I was absolutely sure I was going to die on the course, which while I felt like it, I knew I wasn't going to keel over, there is no way I will have a DNF next to my name!  They will have to pull me off the course in an ambulance to have to get a DNF.  So there, at mile 20, I decided that no matter what, I was finishing this damn thing.  Sub 4:45 went right out the window but so far the 5:00 pacer hadn't passed me (I didn't dare look back) so I kept a glimmer of hope for the respectable finish.

Trudging on.  Every aid station, I stopped and let them rub biofreeze or icy hot on some spot or another.  My knees, my calves, my lower back, my hips.  I didn't care, it was merely a distraction and excuse to slow up.  I walked through every water station.  The porta potties were no longer needed which was nice, but then I lost the chance to sit for at least a minute or two : )

Trudging on.  Noticing that the later you are in the pack, the less spectators there are on the course.  You lose some of the energy and vibe that comes from strangers cheering you on.  Making mental note of that for future spectating experiences.

Trudging on.  Now into town and every step is making me scream in my head in pain.  My entire body now is completely pissed.  My gait was now a walk/shuffle run/walk/shuffle run.  I was able to shuffle run a little more than the walking only because it was no longer downhill, but more flat and that was less painful.  The 5:00 pacer came up on me.  I tried really hard to stay with her.  Nope.  Can't.  Cry.  Watch her and the group with her move forward.  Cry.

Trudging on.  Love me the Popsicles that are usually right here.  Thanks for not disappointing me. I had been dreaming of a root beer Popsicle for 3 miles, so when a little girl stood holding out a brown one that I KNEW was rootbeer was like manna from heaven.  I took my time to walk and enjoy such a simple treat.

As I wound my way closer to the finish, through town I started seeing finishers coming backwards for friends.  They look so refreshed!  How can they possibly look so good?  I think I might die right now on the spot!  It's now mile 25.2

One measly mile left.  One mile. I can do one mile.  I would NOT walk that last mile so back to the shuffle/sorta run style.  As I turned the corner and saw the finish line, I never felt happier!  The death march was almost over!  Thankfully there was still a pretty good sized crowd, so I pulled out my ear buds and listened to the cheers.  Those alone got me to the timing strip.  I approached.  Stopped. And then JUMPED on the timing pad.  I.WAS.DONE!  I hit my Garmin, looked at the time, cursed and then moved through the runners chute.

The last thing I wanted was anything to eat.  I took a bottled water and kept walking to keep my legs loose until I stretched.  One thing about St George Marathon - they do a fantastic job with their runner's corral.  You didn't run it?  You don't get in.  The food and drink is there for the runner's and there is plenty.  It's completely in the shade and while everyone there is stinky, tired, and stripping off their shoes and socks, it's full of positive energy.

I wasn't in the mood.  I was so disappointed in myself, and felt so betrayed by my mind and body that I bolted out of there as fast as I could.  Instead, I wandered over to the WRC tent.  Chatted with friends and runners that stopped by.  Stretched out my legs, got my drop bag and out of my shoes, into my chaco's and continued to stretch.  Once I was assured I wasn't needed at the tent, I hit the road.

I wanted home.  First, I wanted solitude in the car.  I wanted a huge diet coke. I wanted a good cry.  I wanted Splenda Daddy.  I told myself I would only let myself be sad for the 4 hour drive home and then I was going to move on.  I lied.

It's now two days later and I'm still ticked.  Clearly, I have set the recovery I was making with my body back a step.  But not as bad as I thought I was on Saturday.  Yes, my muscles are sore, but not nearly what I expected nor as much as other races this season.  So that's a good sign.  Just back to the whole stomach issue.  Of which there are no answers.  That is more than frustrating.  I'm going to scale back again and lay off the long distances for a little bit.  More cross training.  More bike, more pool, more strength training.  Less pounding of my innards.  All while keeping my fingers crossed that this isn't going to be a permanent state.

Now, I can see it was a good decision to defer USMC marathon to next year.  I wouldn't be able to do it.  That's the sad reality.  Glad I didn't book the airfare after all.  In fact, I've backed out of pacing the Halloween full and will do the Halloween half instead.  My innards can handle 13.1 much better than it can 26.2.  Guess, I'll look for 5k's and 10k's to finish the year up with.  All while trying to come to terms that my performance for this marathon wasn't even respectable. It was pathetic.  It is embarrassing.  It is beyond disappointing.

BUT............It is what it is, and I can't change it.

I shall embrace it.
*snort* Like that's gonna happen



sheri said...

I think you are wonderful! I felt the same way about the runners corral. I wanted to stay and enjoy it but I wanted out of there as fast as I could and wanted to go home! I will join you in the pool any time! you name the time!! I will hold your hand through this sucky marathon we both shared!

Chief said...

you ran the sunbitch.

embrace that ya dumbass

I personally find you inspirational so there.

Mae Rae said...

Embarrassing? I think not. I think at this point you need to take a really good look at YOU. You got out there and moved 26.2 miles with physical PAIN. Not just a mental block saying that you can't do it but some physical pain that said no and you said YES.

You are the best. I cry just a little for you too. Tears of strenghth and hope. And most of all love.

tammy said...

I'm sad....not because of your time, but because you're so upset and discouraged with yourself. You are, and always have been amazing. Your stomach issues make me sad too. When are they gonna get that figured out?? I get extreme pain when I eat certain things like avocados. I feel like I want to die or puke to make it go away so I feel like I can sympathize a little. It's not fun.

Tom said...

I love your marathon recaps! They are so vivid that I am doubled over in pain just reading. I really feel your pain. I ran Top of Utah several years ago and hurt my knee just three miles into it and hobbled the rest of the way. I know how horrible it feels when you actually go faster when you walk/shuffle than when you are trying to keep running.

At least you didn't get the DNF next to your name. Rest up well and give yourself plenty of time for the next one. Congratulations on surviving a rough one!

Crumpy said...

Just like an overachiever to get discouraged over finishing a marathon in over 5 hours but at the same time having to deal with health issues that would normally put someone in bed. are amazing. I really don't know how you do it.

Connie said...

I'm sorry you're dealing with this pain! I'm not sorry about your time! I'll trade my marathon time for yours!
Hoping you can find a cure for whatever this crap is you're dealing with!

" Hit It......." said...

I am so bummed for you that your stomach issues created so many problems for you. You need to look at the still ran this race! Melissa, I am so proud of you that you continue to push on even when you physically don't feel like it. You are an example of "The Little Engine that could."

Hugs my friend. Please don't be so hard on yourself.

Pedaling said...

I'm sorry that your illness is interfering so much with something you love so dear.

but,wow, you've got some major determination!