“Course is Closed!”

This morning was the Green Bay Cellcom Marathon.  My brother, Shawn, and I were both full of nerves and anxiety yesterday as we went through the expo and talked about our big race day.  We were both tackling the marathon for different reasons and it was going to be a very fulfilling race for us!

My hotel wake up call got me out of bed at 4:00 this morning.  Usually, I greet my wake ups groggily and enjoy the liberty of hitting snooze a couple of times.  Not this morning, I bounced out of bed when the phone rang and turned on all the lights in the room to get me fully awake.  I ate right away so it would be digested by the time the race started in 3 hours.  Then, I took my anti-diahrea prescription that my doctor called in for me last week, and took my time getting ready and stretching.  Shawn called me a little after 5:30 to let me know he and my dad had pulled up to the hotel to meet me.  My hotel is just across the street from Lambeau Field, which is where the race started and finished, so the plan was to walk over together.  We posed for some pictures and chatted with my dad for a few minutes and then headed over to the stadium.  This was a brand new experience for me.  I have NEVER been early to a race… with the exception of the Tucson Marathon where we were bussed to the start- you had to be on the bus on time to get to the race.  It was actually pretty nice not to be racing to the start line and jumping into the coral :).  We had enough time to use the Porta Potties twice and check our gear bags before meeting up with my pace team.  One thing I noticed though was that it was warm.  At 7:00am.  It was already 70 degrees and this would have perfect weather for the finish… and I knew it was only going to get warmer as we ran.

It wasn’t long before we headed to the start line with the pace team.  There was a pregnant woman, about my age, full of energy and bubbliness (yes, I just made up that word!).  I thought, if SHE is going to run the marathon at this pace, I CERTAINLY can!  She ended up being the wife of one of our pacers and was just starting with us to run the half marathon.  Still impressive, but it did take the worry away of being outdone by a preggo :).  Another guy in our pace group looked at Shawn and I and asked if I was running with my dad- soooo funny!  Sorry Shawn, but the humor needs to be added to this post too :).

The National Anthem was sung, I gave Shawn a big hug and wished him luck, and we were off!

Immediately, I did not feel well.  I tried to tell myself everything was fine and kept going.  The pace felt good.  The pace team was talkative and I was enjoying the company.  At mile 2, I couldn’t shake that I didn’t feel well.  My mouth was dry.  Like cardboard dry.  I didn’t know why.  I had properly hydrated (I know because my pee was clear 🙂 TMI, I know… get over it).  I kept on.  Neighbors were out cheering us on and several had their sprinklers and hoses out, which was much appreciated this morning!  Every time I ran through one, it took my breath away slightly with the cold water.

As I was running, I just couldn’t shake the feeling that I didn’t feel well.  I noticed that I was breathing way too hard.  My legs and everything felt fine, but my breathing was off.  At mile 4, I fell apart.  I had a side stitch and it HURT!  I felt like vomit was making its way up… I actually stopped in someone’s driveway to avoid puking on the course.  As I stood there, I contemplated whether I should wait for Shawn and run the race with him.  But no, I wanted a PR too bad to give up that easily.  After a few seconds, I got back on the course, running again.  Since we had driven the course yesterday, I knew we would be heading to my old neighborhood soon.  I was feeling much better after the brief stop and taking a gel.  I was enjoying the camaraderie along the course that was shared amongst all the strangers running together.  I could see my pace team up ahead of me and I knew I still had a chance to catch them and PR.

Mile 7 had 3 small hills in a row- the kind that you make it up the first and then see you have another… and another… I kept my pace going up the hill and one neighbor even yelled out “nice job runners- you’re at an 8:30 pace!”  I felt good about that and I knew my parents were waiting for me at mile 8, just on top of the hill!  That kept me going.  I quickly spotted them and heard my niece shout out “Nikki!”  She was a ways out from my parents so I called to her to run with me and she joined me on the course for a tenth of a mile :).

I turned down another street on the course and grabbed water from the “fluid station.”  It immediately came back up.  And immediately after that I got the worst side stitch I have EVER had!  It took my breath away.  I could not breathe without severe pain.  I felt like I had no choice but to walk it out so that I could actually get a few good breaths.  I started running again and not long after had to walk it out after the jabbing in my side started up again. At this point, it hurt so bad, I did not know if I was going to be able run again… I started asking myself if I should make the turn and run the half marathon instead.  I figured, while I was walking, it was a good time to take in another gel.  That actually did the trick!  The side stitch went away and I started up again, albeit slow.

At mile 12, the 3:50 pace group caught up to me.  I have to say, I was pretty pissed by this.  I knew then, that I was not going to PR.  My focus changed to just finishing the marathon.  I had to run my own race, and this was clearly not my day.  The heat was taking its toll on me.  And to think, I was the one scoffing at the emails going out this week warning us runners of the hot conditions.  I thought they were over-exaggerating and discarded the warnings.  As is always the case with me, I learned the hard way to take those warnings seriously.  I started to think about how much this run sucked.  Then, I reminded myself that just 3 miles ago, I didn’t know if I was going to be able to finish!  Instead, I gave thanks to God that I was uninjured and I was running!  I had much to be thankful for!  That remained my focus as I kept on.

I skipped the water station at the halfway mark since I had just taken water at the 12 mile mark.  That was a bad decision.  The course said they would have water every 1.1 miles.  Not on this stretch.  There was not another water stop until closer to mile 16.  And this 3 mile stretch was ugly, desolate, and offered absolutely no shade.  It was hot!  And I was thirsty.  I grabbed Gatorade, water, and ice at the next water stop, shoving the ice down my bra and under my hat.  Ahhhh… it felt so nice!  I knew I had 1 more mile until we would get on the trail along the Fox River and I had 4 miles until I would see my family again at mile 20.

The change of scenery at mile 17 was welcomed after that ugly and desolate stretch.  It offered a little bi more shade, but there were still spots where it was under the blazing sun.  I started hearing sirens in the distance and thought “this isn’t good!” I tried to shift my focus off of that noise, but then saw up ahead on the trail a rescue truck with a police car behind it and a runner curled up in a ball off to the side.  As they were giving that runner attention, the medic called out to us “Trail is closed!  A shuttle will take you the finish at the 18 mile mark!”  What???!!!???  I didn’t believe it.  So, me being me, shouted back “What if we want to finish, can we keep going?”  The response “ABSOLUTELY NOT!” Whoa!  I didn’t like that.  In fact, it pissed me off.  Yeah, it was hot, but Boston started last month in 88 degree weather and they didn’t close the course!  Yeah, it’s hot and I’m going slow, but I could finish!

I approached the 18 mile mark.  It was a mess.  There were lots of volunteers, who were actually keeping things running very smoothly.  Runners were now walking and stopping.  I was not ready for that.  I grabbed some water and ice and asked a volunteer if she had a cell phone I could borrow.  She did!  I called my mom, who I knew was just 2 miles down the trail.  When she answered, I told them not to move, I was going to keep running to the 20 mile mark.

I don’t really know why, but I don’t take no lightly.  After hearing that the course was closed, I wanted to finish all the more.  So, I pressed on.  As I ran past runners, they were yelling encouragement “good for you!  keep going!”  “you’re doing great!”  Spectators were yelling the same, encouraging those bandit runners to keep pressing on!  It was great!  I saw my mom and my niece just before the 20 mile mark.  I stopped and explained I wanted to get 20 miles in, so I was going to keep running for a bit.  My niece was all too anxious to jump next to me and together we ran the nearly half  mile to the 20 mile mark.

I decided to stop there.  Shawn had called and was already at the finish line, he had been shuttled in from his spot on the course.  I climbed in my parents car and demanded (yes, I did get a little snippy and demanding at this point) that the air be turned on full blast.  As soon as I stopped running, I noticed I was dizzy and a little nauseous.  I kept burping.  I just didn’t feel the best.  Yet, I continued to rant and rave over why they wouldn’t let us finish the race!  It was only 84 degrees out.  My mom tried to talk rationale with me that it was also the humidity and the heat index was high.  It was not what I wanted to hear.  I started to regret not pushing on and just finishing the course.  At the same time, I was feeling sicker and sicker.

My dad dropped my mom and I off at Lambeau Field where I picked up my gear bag and found where I could get my medal.  It felt wrong to take that medal.  I did not finish.  And now, I have a t-shirt I bought at the expo yesterday and I didn’t finish the race.  Can I still wear it?  Can I still count this marathon as one I’ve completed?  I have mixed emotions.  I’m disappointed.  At least I didn’t finish because I was injured or just gave up.  I was forced to stop.  So, does this still count?  Running 20 miles is a training run.  It’s not a marathon.  I worked so hard for so many months, for… this??

I am so glad that I have the Women Rock Marathon on Labor Day.  I’m ready to just keep going in my training and set out for a PR at that race.  The course is flat and weather permitting, could be a good one for my goal.

Ughhh!  Margarita time.  Cheers!

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