Saturday, April 26, 2008

PR = Party Race


I have returned from the Boston Marathon! I had a good time (both in the duration of my race and the trip in general). Two of my friends, however had a spectacular story. The three of us sat down to write it last night. We've discussed sending it to Runner's World. Let me know what you think!

PR = Party Race
A true story of Ms Mileage and Hillene (in the voice of Ms Mileage) authored by the RabidRunner.

You’d think with 24 weeks of preparation, 1500 miles, umpteen hours of intervals, hills and tempo training, I’d be ready to PR at the BM.

Okay don’t get ahead of yourself. The BM is not a trip to the bathroom, it is a reference to the mother of all foot races: The Boston Marathon. In order to run the Boston Marathon, you must 1) qualify, 2) find transportation and lodging, and 3) show up ready.

First: I qualified at the St George Marathon with a PR (as in Personal Record) of 3:08. Check. Second: I bought a plane ticket with friends and landed a sweet deal at a hotel near the finish. Check. Third: I had trained well. Or had I?

One week before race day while on vacation, I went out for a final 8 mile mid-effort run. After six miles, it felt like the oxygen was gone. I began to wheeze, feel light-headed and ended up in the ER. They told me I had severe anemia and shouldn’t attempt a marathon.

So let’s do the math. How many hours did I spend preparing for this? How much money had I spent on massages, energy gel, shoes, supplements, and dashing outfits? What did I spend on plane tickets and hotel accommodations? You want to tell me to throw all of that away for a measly bout of anemia? Sorry.

After returning home from vacation, I phoned a doctor who is also a close family friend. He had several options available that might allow me to run the marathon. One of these options was a blood transfusion. Risky yes. But come on this is the BM! Earlier that week I was informed that my red blood cell count was as low as someone who had four consecutive C-sections. Naturally with a red blood cell count that low, a transfusion isn’t so far out there. Besides, think of how well I’ll perform after blood doping! With the help of my family, we decided on a blood transfusion the next day - Thursday (BM minus 4 and counting).

The transfusion was supposed to take 8 hours. I arrived at the hospital with the latest Runner’s World, three weeks of People and the supplies for a full pedicure. Eight hours is a long time to sit there with many a stranger’s blood being pumped through your veins! But to my surprise, the doc marched in and declared that the cheeseburgers, prime rib, top sirloin, and raw roast beef had miraculously increased my red blood cell count. My cholesterol was up - but at least I had more oxygen carrying Oompa Loompas to facilitate in the upcoming race. The doc ordered an iron infusion in lieu of a blood transfusion. And Yipee! It only takes two hours.

Let’s fast forward to race day (and skip the flight – especially the guy with the stinky feet in front and whiner to my left; the oh-so-fun Olympic Trials; the twelve miles we walked around Boston; and the anxiety-induced insomnia the night before). I was scared to death. What pace do I run?! Will I be able to keep up my friends?! Who am I kidding?! AM I GOING TO FINISH?!

The race starts and I run. But after a difficult first 10k, I knew I was in trouble and had a long way to go. I wanted to stop but didn’t dare show my vulnerability to a crowd of thousands and ducked into a porta-john to have a good cry. Crap!

After shedding a few tears, I was able to regroup and continue. At mile 9, I phoned my husband who told me to be safe and call it a day. At mile 10 the family doc called and said “find the nearest medical tent”. My eyes looked up and behold a medical tent complete with angels and harps and clouds appeared.

I stumbled into the tent hyperventilating and defeated. Between the medical personnel in the tent and the family doc, they decided to hook me up with a hit of oxygen and a bag of fluid – IV style. I was heartbroken, vanquished, and done. I cannot finish. Especially by myself.

That’s when my phone rang.

Imagine if you will the person on the other end. Her name is Hillene. She is a great training partner and friend who had entered the BM to party. Hillene had a phone, camera, more make-up than Cleopatra, and a spiked, ribbon-encased pony tail on top of her head. She was calling herself “Pebbles” (as in Bam-Bam, Fred, Wilma - you get the picture).

“Huuuulllooo?” It was me, not too happy.

“MS. MILEAGE! WHERE ARE YOU!?” amidst hysterical giggling.

“Medical tent mile 10. Where are you?”

“I don’t know. Let me check.” Hillene asks others (in her best Pebbles voice), “Hey guys. Where are we?” Then answers with, “Mile 11. I’m coming to get you.”

And come to get me she did. We were both a little hesitant at first, but Hillene ran upstream a whole mile, threw open the curtain of the tent and yelled “Let’s Party!” After a quick squeeze of the IV bag and a photo with the personnel we were off.

I finished the BM in what would become my best race ever. We stopped to take a couple of pulls on a road side rowing machine, we threw M&Ms and grapes to gaping mouths in the crowd, and we high-fived until our arms were sore. We made phone calls, we took a giant bite out of a stranger’s sandwich, we laughed ‘til our bellies cramped, and we stopped to walk when needed. The best part? We took photos of it all - each with a smile so large no one would know the pain.

With the help of Hillene, I finished a marathon that 16 miles earlier seemed impossible. I started this training season with the hope of a PR but left with a friend for life. And as for Hillene? She says the 28 miles on her GPS were well worth it. Let's face it, who wants to party alone?


Lisa said...


I love the story-send it in! I'm glad to hear that she still had a good race even if it wasn't the race she trained for.

Becca said...

Loved the story! I checked everyone's results on Mon and knew that there was more to the story when I saw Mrs. Mileage's time so I'm glad I now know the rest of the story and I'm also glad that you had a great time. Nothing is better than great running friends, and speaking of great running friends--when are we going to run again?

The McMillans said...

I LOVE THIS STORY. And I dream of having the time of my life amidst struggle. I admire you all for being so close, and doing such a great job in the race.

Lois said...

Oh my goodness, I LOVE LOVE LOVE this story! You must submit it to Runner's World. Even I, someone who HATES running, loved this story.

Oh, I had to giggle because I misread that one line and thought it said "go to the port-a-potty for a good crap."

Big Dave & Lil' Nik said...

Amber....glad you like the socks on Lyndsey's hands...I have bought those stupid newborn mittens for the previous children, and they always fall off! She hadn't had her newborn pictures yet, so I wanted to make sure she didn't scratch her face...I just realized how vain that sounds....I mean, I didn't want her to hurt from scratching her face:) Check out my blog to get the link to some of Lyndsey's newborn pics....I will post the link on my blog in the next hour.

Brooklet said...

Wow. That is a great story. Several things that just boggle my mind though. A- running a marathon. B- that you would keep running after having to be on oxygen (another 16 miles!!) and c- that your friend put an extra 2 miles on her marathon. That is a sign of a good friend, because quite frankly, I couldn't have done it (any of it). Great job!!

Mandee said...

You are a brave and amazing girl! With a really good friend! I am sorry you went through all of that, but it sounds like you had a really great time and made some really great memories! So proud of you!

rabidrunner said...

Okay so I know it's totally confusing, but this didn't actually happen to me. It was two of my friends that I went with. I wanted to write it and the three of us got together. We decided that it sounded better in the voice of Ms Mileage. Hence the "I" instead of "she".


Nigel said...

Amazing story. Like someone said, the idea of running a marathon is already boggling. But stories like this, usually they're about world-class athletes that everyone's heard of--not average folks that could be pounding the pavement in your hometown.

Andrea Brown said...

What a great story. Sorry no PR but still a fun BM.

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