The Woodlands Marathon 2012

We did it!  March 3rd we woke up to 50 degree, low humidity weather and spent the morning running our road races.  It was definitely a family event, which made it that much more memorable.

The whole clan just before the half and full marathoners split into their corrals to start the race.
My lovely parents about to start their first road race.  My dad ran the full marathon and 
my mom ran the half-marathon.

 The two couples.
Thanks to the long and slow moving line at the port-a-potties, my dad and I barely made it into our corral before the gun shot off to begin the race.  We crossed the start line and my dad said in a surprised voice, “Whoa…we’re really starting this aren’t we? Are we really about to run this??”  I just laughed and told him there was no going back now…
The course was different than most; it was a 13.1 mile loop.  This meant that those running the half-marathon ran the loop once…but those running the full marathon ran the loop twice.  
Completing our 18-week training programs separately and in different states, only to come together on race day and run 26.2 miles side-by-side, was not ideal; but my dad and I had no choice.  He would tell me throughout our training how slow he was and how he “just wanted to finish” the marathon and didn’t care about completing the race within a certain amount of time.  I didn’t mind and was in full support of his request.  The only detail I cared about was running the entire race with my dad, no matter the pace.  If he wanted to push himself and give it all he had, leaving him wasted by the end of the race, be my guest and count me in.  If he wanted to take it easy and finish the race stress-free, crossing the finish line at 5:00 hrs, I’m happy either way.  My dad jokes that he flew me to Texas to run the marathon with him only because I’m a paramedic and would know how to save his life when he collapsed during the race.  
Come race day, the truth came out!  I knew all along that he could run faster than he thought.  I knew he would become the tiniest bit competitive once he soaked up the race’s atmosphere.  As we were running the first few miles of the race together, I would call out our pace to him {using my gps watch} and he didn’t believe me.  He expected himself to be keeping a 10:30/mile pace, but we had maintained a 9:30/mile pace in the first several miles, and we both felt awesome.  The excitement and adrenaline of the race was  contagious.  As the course winded through the neighborhoods and streets of this community I grew up in, we spent time reminiscing, discussing changes in our lives, noticing the changes  to the community in the last few years, et cetera.  We were running at a good and comfortable pace, keeping constant conversation.  We made sure to grab cups of water and gatorade at the water stations posted every mile and a half to keep hydrated, in addition to eating our Gu gels.
At about mile 9 and even more so at mile 10, half-marathoners were racing past us left and right.  It gave off an exciting vibe to be running the same course as them.  Several people we knew were passing us as they neared their finish line of 13.1 miles.  Zuriel passed us at about mile 10 and it was so exciting to see him!  He was running hard and finished the race strong.  As we came up on the mile 13 post, it was interesting to pass the turn off for the finish line and continue running the same loop again.  We grabbed orange slices just before mile post 14 and they tasted a-mazing.  
Running the loop the second time around was a reminder of how few people were running the full marathon in comparison to the half.  The crowd of runners had definitely thinned out by now.  I knew this was it…the mental battle would begin during this second and final loop.  The weather was still beautiful, our pace was still comfortable, our legs weren’t tired or cramping, and we were feeling good.
And then came mile 18.  My dad was feeling great, and so was I, but I was suddenly getting a hint of nausea.  It was subtle, but I knew it was there.  I continued running happily, but nervously, waving to the sporadic groups of people cheering. I decided to cheer along with them because I couldn’t resist their enthusiasm and encouragement.
Mile post 20 came and the nausea unmistakably intensified.  I had to say something at this point.  I asked my dad how he felt and he said he was a little tired but he was doing fine.  Then he asked how I was doing.  I admitted that I felt pretty nauseous and was hoping it would go away but that it was unfortunately getting worse.  
Just after passing the 20-mile marker, a couple friends ran into us and began to chat.  They told us their finish time goal and my dad told them we were also probably going to be finishing around the same time.  A second later I felt that dreaded feeling in my stomach and grabbed my dad’s arm while telling him I had to stop.  I took two steps into the grass and threw up more fluid than I knew I had in me.  It wasn’t a weak-sauce ‘spit up’ but a legitimate projectile vomit of water+gatorade+Gu gels.  I shook my head, looked at my dad and he was half turned away from me {I don’t blame him}.  I then took two steps, and threw up again.  I thought, “Seriously?!”  And two steps later, I threw up again.  I stood up and looked at my dad again.  This time he asked if I was okay.  I said yes, and started running again.  

After taking that 60-second ‘break’, I {naturally} felt significantly better.  There was a water station a mile away and as we jogged past it, I grabbed three of those half-filled dixie cups of water.  I drank one right away and sipped on the other two for the next quarter mile.  By mile 24 I started to feel pretty shaky…you know, the weak and shaky feeling after throwing up?  Yeah, that one.  Just two more miles…just two more miles…just two more miles…
Just as we were diagonally crossing a 4-way intersection, I felt ‘it’ in my stomach again.  Perfect.  Right in the middle of the intersection, in front of the cop directing traffic, and in front of the lines of cars waiting for these crazy marathoners to cross the street.  I tightly closed my mouth and started making panicking sounds, which made my dad look at me with concern and confusion.  I sped up to get through the intersection, but I knew it was coming.  I turned to the grass, then wished I hadn’t because a group of nearby kids were conveniently watching my every move.  I ran about 10 feet ahead of the kids, turned my back to them, and out came the projectile vomit once again.  This time I couldn’t ‘shake it off’ and keep running.  My vision became a little hazy and I felt a little bit like the trees were spinning.  Then I took a couple steps and threw up one last time as an ‘encore’ to the exciting show.
I could hear my dad at this point.  He was telling me to keep running with him, that the finish line was right around the corner.  I didn’t believe him.  I hadn’t seen the 25-mile marker yet.  Sure enough, after a few seconds of running we saw the 26-mile post.  Hallelujah!  I told my dad I couldn’t believe it was the end, that we were really about to finish this race together!  We both ran the last 0.2 miles of the 26.2 mile race at a dead sprint and crossed the finish line at the same time with tears in our eyes.  They were tears of joy, accomplishment, and a bit of exhaustion all mixed together.  
Tired and in awe that he finished his first marathon…way to go!

Once we finished and took a couple pictures, I grabbed onto Zuriel and told him I needed food right away.  He held me and walked me over to pick up my ‘finishers t-shirt’, then walked me over to where they were handing out food.  I walked through the line, was handed a bowl and an orange and I just sat down on the grass.  I felt so weak.  After a couple minutes of sitting and eating an orange slice, I got up to finish getting the rest of my food.  I walked out from the food line and told Zuriel I needed to lay down in some shade.  Everyone was sitting at tables and it made me feel sick to my stomach when I thought of sitting in a chair.  I was laying halfway under a table, crying, when a medical person came over and asked if I was okay.  Zuriel said, “Well, she might need someone to help her…”  He didn’t need to say anything else.  Within two minutes a paramedic was by my side, asking me what happened.  Another minute later I was taken by a golf cart to the ‘medical tent’.  Being a paramedic, I was embarrassed to be a patient, but of course, I was as compliant as I could be.
Once in the tent and laying on a bed, two nurses and a doctor were by my side asking questions and doing their assessment.  I thought they might want to give me an IV and I was hesitant to allow them, until I heard how low my blood pressure was.  I knew that if I were the paramedic and had a patient with my same symptoms and vital signs, I would make sure my patient got an IV.    So there I was, getting a couple bags of fluid, trying to recover and make the nausea and dehydration {from all of that vomiting} go away.  My concerned mother decided to capture the moment by taking a picture.  I wasn’t going to include it, but it’s a memory–embarrassing or not.

I didn’t realize until after I had been ‘recovering’ in the medical tent for a while, how confused I had felt and how hazy my vision was prior to receiving any treatment.  Zuriel says that now I know how my patients might feel…  
Besides being able to see and think more clearly, I knew I was feeling better when I had an appetite again.  I told the nurse I felt hungry and she said “Well that’s a good sign! You just ran a marathon!”  Then I admitted that one of the many reasons I run is because I feel that I have more liberty when I eat than I would otherwise.  She said she felt the same way and told me that she responds to friends who ask her why she runs with, “I run because I like cheeseburgers!”  Fair enough.
I’m not sure what caused my nausea and vomiting this time around.  If anything, I felt more ready and prepared for this race compared to my last marathon {including what I ate, drank, and how much I slept the week of the race}.  
Despite it all, I have no regrets and I had an incredible and unforgettable time running my 2nd marathon with my dad.  Ironically, It wasn’t my dad who needed the medical attention afterall…
*my blog post about my first marathon can be found here

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5 thoughts on “The Woodlands Marathon 2012

  1. Oh my gosh was a crazy experience. Very memorable indeed and one you will tell I'm sure again. When I was a runner that was my same reason lol so I could eat whatever. I'm normally a healthy eater but here and there we buy ice cream and get the occasional slice of piece or burger. Anyway, I'm glad you had a great experience whatever the challenge and you are back to tip top shape again!

  2. That is such a great story- you are a great writer and I laughed and had tears in my eyes at the same time.Congrats on a race well run, I am so glad you didn't give up!!! Even if you were puking your guts out and felt so sick… that encourages me. I am going to sign up for another half marathon-thank you for the inspiration.

  3. gosh i was getting emotional again and i already knew this story… such good writing. but you did it!! i would have not been able to finish after all the projectile vomiting… props, woman.

  4. Pingback: Provo City Half-Marathon Race Recap | Keeping Pace

  5. Pingback: Provo City Half-Marathon Race Recap | Keeping Pace

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