Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Oh, Boston...

...will you ever go away?  I'm sorry to still be talking about Boston, but it's just necessary.  I've always said I'd never run that race. I've always felt like the righteous thing to do was to boycott it entirely.  I BQ'd in my first marathon, but made a point NOT to mention that in my race report (and I've deleted and retyped that three times because I hate to even mention it now).  When I was deep into a blow up in Chicago, my goals kept shifting from 3:10, PR, sub 3:25, and let's just finish this thing standing up.  Never did I even set "BQ" as a goal.  I did BQ in that race, by a lot, but it meant nothing to me. 

For any non-runners (are there any?) who read this blog, let me explain the BQ (Boston qualifier).  Depending on your age and gender, you must run a certain time in order to qualify to even TRY to sign up for Boston (it sells out quickly).  So that means that if you can't complete a marathon in a certain time, you can't run Boston (unless you do it for charity--but woe to you if you mention that tidbit to any runner who has actually "earned" a BQ).  There is nothing wrong with that--it's exactly how the Olympic Trials work.  It is, of course, a ploy by the BAA to create prestige about their race, which, in turn, creates uber profits. But there is nothing inherently wrong with having a race like Boston--one that you must qualify to run. In fact, there are others, like the NYC marathon, who also use a qualifying standard..though they supplement that with a lottery to allow slower runners in.

The problem is the divisiveness that a race like Boston brings to the running community (please recognize that this is based solely on my experiences and therefore may be completely inaccurate.  But it's my blog).  Running is not like other sports.  For instance, I love to watch speed skating.  I'm not, however, able to go out and speed skate.  I also love to watch gymnastics.  Again, not going to happen.  I'm not built for it, nor am I talented in that way.  But with running...almost ANYONE can run.  Maybe not fast, and maybe not terribly long (though I wager you could if you go slowly enough), but you can run. God built humans to be able to run. So you can be in love with a sport in which you can actually participate.  You can watch the elites and then go do it yourself (although more slowly).

Then there is the Boston problem. I've only been a runner not quite 4 years (gasp, I know).  And I've been on a lot of message boards and been exposed to a lot of runners.  A lot of the time, the talk is about Boston.  When I was a brand new runner, I can remember hearing some people talking about Boston during a long run, and thinking "Why do they keep talking about that?"  So, finally, I asked.  I was given several "are you kidding me?" looks and was then told that Boston is special.  So I asked why it is special.  Then I found out the truth, at least from the viewpoint of these runners (which, by the way, include no one from my local running group): only fast runners get to run Boston. Again, that is not an inherently bad thing (though, I admit, I am clearly biased against this race).  The people in that conversation immediately identified themselves as either BQers or non-BQers without any prompting. It was clear that the non-BQers were quite ashamed of their status, and they wanted to make it known that they were certainly still training to try to BQ.

Since that time, I've experienced that scenario over and over.  Runners stress themselves out over meeting or not meeting a BQ.  It becomes this sort of quest.  I can't tell you how many times I've seen people say to a newly BQ'd runner "Congrats, now you're a real runner."  Really?  So that person was not physically completing the action of running before then?  No runner's self-worth as a runner should be completely dependent on being able to cover 26.2 miles in some pre-determined time frame.  I'm not at all against time goals.  What I am against is "slower" runners being hard on themselves, and other runners turning their noses up at them.  And I can't deny that I feel a pain in my gut every time I hear a newly BQ'd runner say something about finally being a "real runner" now that he/she has BQ'd.  That is just wrong.  Running is too natural and versatile a sport for anyone to feel that way.  I have no idea why I'm even on this rant, but please know that you should be proud if you've qualified for Boston.  But also should you be if you've run a marathon and not qualified for Boston.

So why did I run Boston?  Because I love my running group and they were all doing it.  Yeah--peer pressure.  Actually, I happen to be married to someone who's kind of in love with the race.  I refuse to drink out of his Boston Marathon coffee cups, but we have plenty of them.  And lots of jackets.  We even have a mouse pad and he may even have, in his office, a framed Boston poster from his first Boston--complete with bib number and space blanket.  Clearly this race means something to my husband.  He really wanted me to experience the race at least once.  Given that + lots of Bedford folk (again--none of them use Boston to make other runners feel inadequate...they are class acts!)...I decided to run it.

I can say, at this point, I shouldn't have. What really prompted this post is that Boston is still lingering in my life.  No, not the jacket (haven't worn it all week in protest).  I'm sick.  I've felt bad since the minute I crossed the line (actually, it started about mile 20!).  The night of the race we all went out to eat and I could hardly keep my head up.  Eating some Mike's Pastries helped, but I just felt horrid.  I kept telling Tim that I didn't understand it.  I've run marathons and an ultra marathon and I'd never felt this bad.  Everyone seemed to have this energy that I just didn't.  Not just tired legs, but a tired HEAD.  I felt dizzy, fuzzy, nauseated.  I figured it was just the race and it would go away.  But it was there the next day....and the rest of the week.

I felt really awful last week, to the point that, a couple of times, when trying to work at my computer in my office, I had to just stop and lie down flat on the floor.  I was so dizzy.  Driving made it so much worse.  My appetite was gone (I didn't even have Starbucks!) and I was having night sweats and still occasional muscle cramps.  I hadn't been getting better, but worse, and Monday night things got very bad.  Tim was out of town, so I was home with the kids, and I was freezing.  Chilling.  I went to bed wearing long sleeves and pants, and I still was shaking.  Clearly, I had a fever but I had no energy to get up and find the thermometer.

Thanks to Amelia's help, I got the kids to school and daycare the next morning, and came home....and the vomiting started. And it's only just now stopped.  I won't go into details, but it was the most vomiting I've ever done in that time frame.  My entire body hurt.  My back, my abs...and I had a fever of 102.  I barely got through the day and my mom had to come take care of the kids last night.  All I could do was lay in the fetal position and moan and pray for relief.

Today, I went to the doctor.  I had some labs drawn.  It was not pretty.  I'm severely dehydrated and have electrolyte disturbances which point to something called "exercise-induced illness."  My doctor is convinced I had a heat stroke during the race and have never fully recovered, getting progressively more dehydrated.  This led to dangerous changes in my sodium and potassium, which played into the nausea and vomiting, and it became a big cycle.  I got some anti-nausea medication and two liters of fluid and I'm feeling MUCH better.  I've got a ways to go, but I don't have to crawl up my stairs any longer.

So there are two points to this post.  Okay, three:  1) I shouldn't have run Boston.  You don't badmouth a race that much and get away with it. 2)The truth is I, as a daughter of my father, who is known across the world for his heat intolerance, should not run long distances when the temperature at the START of the race is 87, and 90 is reached halfway in.  And when I don't stop long enough to take in water (I don't do well at all drinking on the run.  I usually carry a straw but forgot to get one for Boston). 3) I am better suited for smaller road marathons and trail races.  I have never had a good experience at a big race.  Now, I've only done two, but I'm kind of bitter about it will be hard to ever get me in a big one again.

Okay.  Goodbye, Boston...putting you to bed.

1 comment:

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