I met a guy last Tuesday at Sam’s cross country meet who’d knocked of fifteen Ironman races, a few ultras, including a fifty miler, and numerous marathons, and he said that the Mercer Island Half Marathon is the most difficult race he’d ever run. Well now that I live on Mercer Island and my house is only fifty yards from the course I decided yesterday afternoon that I’d better check out what all the hub bub is about. According to my bike odometer from my door, around the island and back is 13.1 miles – a half marathon - easy enough. So I had a big corned beef and coppa ham sandwich at 12:30 and then took off at 1:00; I was going to regret my dietary choice.
I took off feeling really full and somewhat slushy in the stomach, but I figured I could run through the early digestive phase and things would get better. I did take along a quart water bottle. I came around the south end of the island at a good clip and then started up the west side (as a side note I did flag down a lady who rode by me with her bike helmet on backwards – “sorry I don’t want to embarrass you but your helmet is on backwards”). At mile seven I was tempted to turn right and climb the hill over the island, essentially shortcutting the route by a few miles. My stomach was feeling queasy and consequently I wasn’t taking on much of my nutrition drink, so in hindsight I see that prudence would have been the wisest decision of the day. I’m neither wise nor prude, so onward I went.
I kept a strong pace across the north end of the island and made it to the city hall, it must be about mile ten, in one hour eleven minutes. I figured once I hit East Mercer I could ease up the pace and even if I ran ten minute miles I’d be home in under an hour forty five – not bad for coming off the couch onto a tough course. I made it to the ShoreClub where I had total shutdown. I mean I was so messed up I could barely walk straight. Never before has this happened. I won’t gore you with the bodily function details, but it wasn’t pretty.
I was now faced with the need to hustle three miles home in order to meet Sophia when she gets off of the bus. I was doubled over more than once. I made it just as Sophia’s bus was rounding the corner, I told Sam to go get his sister and I went straight to the bathroom. As it was Wednesday I had five minutes to recover before I had to drive Sophia fifteen miles to piano lessons. I couldn’t cancel as I’d done that the week before and her high school teacher gave me a good dressing down about cancelling without a twenty four hour notice. Actually she was very nice and respectful about it, but the first version is funnier. Anyway I changed and got in the car.
My hands were shaking and I could barely get the clutch in. One minute I felt like I had to puke, the next like I had to crap, I was sweating, shaking, in other words miserable and with no business behind the wheel. I did manage to drop Sophie off and then went to the Safeway to buy some Squirt, which I figured that might help my stomach. In the store I had to use the bathroom and began to worry that I might pass out behind this locked door; that would be embarrassing, so I struggled to stay cool. I got out, grabbed two bottles of soda and headed for the express checkout. Well I got behind a cashier who felt like she needed to discuss every little detail of the fourteen items the lady in front of me was buying. I about told her that either she picks up the pace or I puke on her shoes.
Sitting in the shade drinking the Squirt helped me a little bit, but it was still touch and go picking up Sophia and getting home. I walked in the door and hit the couch- I’d made it. It took me another four hours to even begin feeling normal again.
Whether it was a bad lunch choice or the eighty five degree weather or something else I don’t know, but whatever happened had never happened before. I’ve never shut down like that. Weird.