Conversations With Dead People
I'm going to cheat a little and post an only slightly edited version of something I wrote on Facebook last night (although it only went up today, because I messed up the privacy settings). For reasons that will become clear, I'm not really in a condition to come up with anything new.
Yesterday, I ran a trail race. This has not been a great running year for me, for various reasons I'll expand upon in future posts. Anyway, I'm gradually starting to get back into the game, and since in a bout of optimism I'd signed up back in September for a fall series of races, I went ahead and did a 10k a few weeks ago. Even on minimal training, it went well, so while I knew yesterday's ten-miler would be a bigger challenge, I wasn't all that worried about it.
If I were the real worrying kind, this would be supporting evidence that fretting is what actually keeps bad things from happening, and this is where I dropped the ball.
Anyway, I set out feeling pretty good. I knew I needed to take it super slow--I was not going for any PRs, not least because this would be the longest distance I'd run all year, much less on a trail course. I've done quite a number of races at this park by now, but this was an unfamiliar track to me. Actually my favorite kind of terrain: semi-technical single track, rolling hills with only a few steep climbs/descent, minimal sandy washes (I hate running in sand). I was optimistic, happy to be out in beautiful surroundings, and generally pleased I'd forced myself out of bed in the dark to make the trek.
This is where I get lazy and mostly just go with cut-and-paste from Facebook, although I did add a few salient details here:
- I finished the race. All 10 fucking single track, hilly, technical, and sometimes muddy miles of it.
- About 7 of those involved varying levels of queasiness (not new), and, more alarmingly (and new), vision issues. It was as though the world was covered in an overexposed, blotchy Instagram filter.
- You know where is a bad place to not be able to clearly see where you're going except through a weird Instagram filter? A remote mountain single track, hilly, technical, and sometimes muddy trail. Remarkably, I did not fall even once. This is a miracle.
- I stopped at the first aid station to refuel a bit, sit for a few minutes, and eat some candied ginger (which usually helps me with nausea). Up until that point (mile 4), the vision issues had been off and on, so I was mostly dealing with the queasiness.
- I also stopped at the second aid station (mile 7), more briefly. At this point things were a bit worse, but I was still convinced that it was just a matter of powering through. After all, last year I ran a nighttime trail race during which I started puking about two miles in (very bad pre-race nutrition decisions), felt like utter crap, and still managed to more or less "run" across the finish line and even drive myself home, so I assumed this was just another of those challenges people who do weird shit in the mountains sometimes have to deal with. I didn't spend much time at this station, also because it was plagued by bees.
- Almost immediately after leaving aid station 2 was where things totally went off the rails. The vision issues intensified and became constant. It was kind of fascinating, really, like the way they film drugged sequences in the movies sometimes. I think detaching and trying to describe the experience in my head was a coping strategy. My ears were also plugged up, which I assumed was due to forgetting to take my allergy medicine in the morning, so I could hear my breath really loudly inside my head, like Darth Vader. I started imagining myself as Darth making his labored-breathing way through some strange planet. Since I only saw the first Star Wars movie (in the theatre, when it first came out and I was in junior high), the fact that I was even thinking about Darth Vader should probably have been a sign that I was not of sound mind.
- I had manually turned off my running tracker by accident at some point, and once I realized my mistake and turned it back on, I had no idea just how far off it was. I knew I couldn't be that far from the end, since I'd passed both aid stations, but every time I came to the top of a rise I'd look around, and it was nowhere to be seen. These race organizers do an amazing job of marking, so I knew I was still on course even though I hadn't seen any other runners in ages. I just kept moving forward, more and more slowly.
- Finally, I came to a peak where I could see the tents of the start/finish area in the distance. I was simultaneously elated ("Land, ho!") and completely discouraged that it still looked so very, very far away. How could I possibly keep going that long? Somehow, I did.
- After I finally staggered across the finish line following this seemingly endless ordeal, one of the volunteers tried to hand me my finisher's mug. I shook my head, squatted right there on the ground, and said loudly, "I am NOT OKAY!" I was given a chair, then helped over to the medic's tent, even though I kept insisting I could walk fine on my own. I tend to be very stubborn, especially when I am NOT OKAY.
- For once, I was not being a drama queen. I had low blood oxygen, hypothermia (?!), was severely dehydrated, and my blood pressure was around 72/50. The vision issues were a sign I was on the verge of fainting. For 7 miles. The medic told me, "You are not a wimp!" Heh. Apparently, by all rights I should not have been able to walk, much less make conversation. Which I did because I hated being a bother and wanted to make sure no one around me worried too much. ::eyeroll:: I am such a dumbly instinctive cruise director.
- Hence I got to ride in an ambulance with two very nice fellas. (Including a super cute one, who rode in the back with me and admired my tat while hooking up my first of a long series of IVs. In other circumstances, I totally would've flirted with him.) They took me to the hospital, where I was monitored in all the places with EKGs and CAT scans and other fancy stuff, covered with some lovely warm heated blankets, and pumped full of liquids. I think they said 9 liters in total.
- I spent $50 on a cab to get me home, since I was (am) in no position to drive. My car is still at the park, so some friends are coming to get me later to go pick it up.
- I am still not feeling super great, even the next day, which is causing me some serious work issues as I have immovable deadlines. But I am drinking lots of fluids and eating soups (even though they're not my favorite food category and I am super picky about them), and I slept hard for about ten hours last night, so I'm pretty sure I'm on the mend.