Monday, February 3, 2014

Insane turned out to be pretty true after all. Debrief of the Miami Marathon. A difficult race for me, but you bet I am glad I tried it.

So, I always kind of assumed that this race would go well and that this blog post would be one big sunshiny one.  Except man plans and God laughs. Nothing like a little asthma and  a whole lot of humidity and neuropathy to throw a monkey wrench into your plan to be queen of the Miami Marathon!

I realized as soon as we got off the plane last Wednesday morning that the humidity is one of the things I completely never anticipated.  And although there was pouring rain that day, heat and humidity are killers for me.  I LOVE the desert.  Give me Eilat or Las Vegas where it can be 115F and I never feel wet or sloggy.  Miami this week is hugely sloggy.

From the beginning, our coaches, Jaz, Cara, Yoav and James, all made serious suggestions about how to best prepare for a marathon in heat like this.  They suggested ingesting salt packs (for those of us who don't 'do' gatorade and of course drinking lots of fluids as well as ingesting extra calories and carbs (carbs, I knew about but calories specifically, I had no idea- because our bodies burn more calories trying to stay cool we need to provide more- even those who , like me have plenty to spare in fat stores.)

So the good news is that I was well hydrated, carb loaded and ate a good, solid breakfast this time.  We got on the bus to the start line and had another team pic and then off to the corrals, where they put you according to the time they expect you to complete the race.

Our group did not get started until about 45 minutes after the starting gun.  For some reason this did not occur to me as a possibility so i was essentially blind with regard to knowing how long I had been walking or how far. I love my runkeeper but it does not work without GPS and we don't have data down here.

In any case, I had a terrible time breathing from the start.  I was really trying to walk 'slowly' but felt like I was running a marathon, so to speak. And the whole race continued like that.  Worse, in the time between the starting gun and the time corral "I" left, the sun had come up and it was instant hot and humid on the course.

By mile 4, I was DYING. My breathing was totally out of control and trying to control it meant making me dizzy... I was so far behind and really getting very dejected. They were shutting down the course ahead of me as I  walked and at some point the pick up bus at the back of the line told me that I was two miles behind pace and they were going ahead so please walk on the sidewalk because the race course was shutting down!  

An incredible lady who was a spectator cheering us on saw how upset I was and decided to join me for a walk.  Carol is a most gracious lady and insisted that "I" was doing her a favour  because she wanted to go for a nice long walk but was not motivated to until I showed up!  She walked 5 miles with me!  What a lovely and accomplished woman!  Together we endured the shutting down of the race course (yes, I was going that slowly) and a wicked storm that blew up around mile six and lasted till about mile nine.  Mind you getting totaly soaked like that was very cooling but it also made for quite heavy clothing and a wet iphone.

I walked /stopped often - my neuropathy flared up and I was still having breathing trouble.  Thankfully Coach Yoav showed up somewhere around mile ten (the course was completely taken down by then) and joined me.  It was hot and sunny and still humid again and the whole thing was becoming just unbearable.  I have to tell you that if he had not shown up, I absolutely would not have finished.  As it was we walked together and I dealt with my breathlessness/back issues and we lost the trail at some point but somehow made it back to the finish line although we hit it at a pedestrian point and had to show the police officer my bib to even get him to let us in (since it was a crossing for pedestrians.)

Still, after it all, I did finish.  I finished and while I actually think that the right thing to do would have been to quit. As soon as I finished, I grabbed some water bottles and headed for the medical tent because honestly, after how badly the race went and the inability for me to catch my breath, I was kind of worried I would drop dead or something.  It turned out that the blood pressure and breathing were back to normal quickly but I was tachycardic, which means my heart was racing, even ten minutes after sitting in the tent.  I don't know why, and today, I seem fine but that must have been going on all afternoon.  So insanely, I did finish.

Weirdly it does not particularly feel like much of an accomplishment.  It took me an hour and 45 minutes longer than the Road to Hope and I hated almost all of it. (after further consideration, I actually consider it miraculous that I finished at all and that it was a MAJOR accomplishment in so many adverse conditions!  My husband finished in exactly the same time he finished the Road to Hope half, so it really was me and my reaction to the heat, neuropathy and asthma!

The accomplished feeling TOTALLY comes from having done this marathon with TEAM YACHAD! (and honestly, whether I finished or not, I still did that!)  And the great thing is that even though I am pretty sure I would not want to do this particular marathon again (due to the asthma and likely weather conditions), I am THRILLED that I want to keep doing timed races of all descriptions!

This whole thing has been such a learning experience for me and the discoveries I have made about myself are endless!  I even love the debrief process about races.  I know it might sort of sound like complaining but actually, its really just a process of learning and analyzing.

Also, a cool new thing is that you can support Team Yachad in any Marathon you run in!  I believe that I will dedicate my 2015 Road to Hope Marathon to fundraising for Team Yachad!

I also just want to add that BOTH of my children were inspired by the weekend to run it next year and that my husband will happily complete it again!  So, net gain +2!  Running room lessons, here we come!

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