Running With Cold Realities: Account of My A1A Fort Lauderdale 2013 Marathon

IMG_0625Yesterday morning I got up at 3am, quickly fueled my body for this marathon, and grabbed a prayer from my Pastor B. Francois.  It was expected to be in the 40′s, so I wore my old Nike Pro Tight long sleeve shirt, slipped my green “I am a RunningNurse” T-shirt over it, and jumped into some Nike tights.

By the way, when you are running a marathon, make sure you don’t burst out in all new gear (gloves, headband, cap may not be a problematic) which could cause skin irritations and discomforts.  Just the same, make sure you don’t roll out with too old of a stuff.  I ran the ING Miami 2013 marathon with an older-than-Methuselah, not-so-benevolent bra that left me chaffed.  I mean, the sisters were bouncing too much, and so you need to be aware that there is a middle ground here which you would want to respect–not too old, and not too new running gear.

After eating, dressing, and using the bathroom (a most important pre-run ritual), I left the house and gave myself ample time to be caught up in one line that was the source of most of the traffic on Broward Blvd and 5th Avenue–the designated parking garage.   It cost $12.  Cash only.  I found out later, it only cost $5.00 at a city garage a few meters up the road pass this garage, same side of the street.

When you start running and sign up for a 5K, 10K, half or full marathon, you will have challenges–your dog chewed your bib half to peaces,  you had technical bathroom difficulties, you ran with a big blister cutting your soul the whole time, the heat was unbearable, granny hurt your feelings when she passed you–that are not uncommon.

IMG_0626 Yesterday as I was shivering in the crowd of people–many who were complaining about the weather, “I thought I was in Florida,” said a Philippino man–freezing my hands, nose, ears, and butt off (not necessarily in this order), with the wind cutting my soul, I questioned whether I was mad to have crawl out of bed to punish in the cold.  “You will warm up,” one shivering marathoner said while he quickly rubbed my right shoulder, and another soul dressed in a black garbage bag said, “Just wait till we start running.”  Garbage bag–easy and light to run in, and easy to drop–a bright idea I wish I had (putting this on my pre-marathon list).

It was 10 minutes to start time when I felt my bladder screaming (I drank one liter of coconut water prior to leaving home).  The fellow next to me said the portable toilets were located pass the starting point.  “Oh, well,” I mumbled under my breath, “a good nurse knows how to hold it.”

Once again, my focus jumped on the cold, and from there on it was… waiting, waiting, dancing the Macarena, and waiting…  After the second gun shot was fired, we ran through the start line and everything was fine.  Except my fingers.

I was running while the chilly wind was wearing boxing gloves.  Brrrr!   My fingers soon started to tingle on my left hand, and my ICU-ordered mind quickly kicked in to assess whether I was having a  TIA, stroke, or MI (the big one).  It was neither of these.  My wrist on my let hand was uncovered, and so were my fingers.  I tried to loosen the big ‘ole Garmin watch with the right hand that was also gripping a 500 ml bottle filled with coconut water.  It didn’t work.  I put the bottle under my arm and tried to loosen the watch or pull the sleeve over that hand. This didn’t work either, so I sucked it up, and kept running.

Soon the fingers progressed to numbness, bilaterally.  Finally, about mile 9, I spotted a port-a-potty station with less traffic, and I got off course to make some critical adjustments.  I couldn’t take it anymore.  I was tired of running with my cold realities: fingers dumb numb, a bladder not letting up, and a resolution to carry a bottle of coconut water until it was done, I reached the end, or Jesus came.

The portable bathroom was also cold, but I did my private business.  It was more technically challenging trying to grab and maneuver the toilet paper than pulling a sleeve over a hand (Finally figure to do this with my teeth–the sleeve, okay?).  LAWD!  I know this may be sharing too much or TMI (too much info), but the cold reality is that when you are running a marathon, you leave the princess “glam” life behind.  I was just happy there was no rain in the forecast!

It’s funny how one soon forget how it is to run a marathon–kinda like having marathonesia (marathon amnesia).  And when I reach that 21 miles, I ask myself (it seems religious  now), “Why?  WHY? Why did I sign up?”

In a marathon you will learn to count your blessings and move the hell on if you wish to go on ’till the end.  After I made my slow adjustment, I quickly got back on the field before the body got confused in believing the deal was over. ING Miami 2013 taught me a great lesson.

For all I know, the stop at mile 9 was a Divinely led one.  You see, after this point, I ran into Jim, the marathon pacer for the 10:18 minute mile runner, and I kept up with his group until mile 18.  It was a steady good pace for me, good talking company, but 9 miles later, I felt an ache in my left knee–same place that bothered me in ING Miami 2013.  I also felt that little pinky toe, same foot, trying to mumble something in a blistered language familiar to me, so I cautiously slowed down.  At this point the sun was warming up, I took the last haul from the coconut water, pitched the bottle in a can, and ran my race, my own pace, once again, focused on reaching the end.

IMG_0621OYE!  The lessons I learned in this race is to make your pre-marathon list.  Check it twice.  Check the weather report.  Check the list once again, and make sure you are very prepared and have all points covered (from your scalp and eyeballs down to your feet).  It won’t hurt to have a black garbage bag too, or some old sweater you don’t mind disposing in case of running in cold weather.  One more thing, some marathons are differently organized than other.  There were many hydration stations–and a neighbor-offering-beer station, which I unfortunately passed up (I hear it is an excellent recovery drink).  There were many beautiful volunteers (I love you guys!) serving water and some often watered-down tasting Gatorade (What was up with that?  The economy?).  When the knee started aching, I looked around every corner  for a First Aid station.  I found nothing!  I asked the fire truck people, and a couple of police men if they had any BIOFREEZE for the ache, or if they knew where the First Aid Stations were.  Nada!   I’m not sure if First Aid was there or if those good people went out on a “It’s too damn cold!” strike, but I would have had a better chance getting Bengay from some of the older folks leisurely walking the streets.  Now about rating A1A Fort Lauderdale Marathon?  Beautiful course, my best marathon record (I BEAT MY PR!), beautiful finalist medals, almost flat course, hardly any music (not good), no BIOFREEZE!?   I’ll give it a 6/10 score.  Now, it’s rehab time.  Getting prepared for my yoga session this evening.   Got to iron out some bumps.  YOGA NURSE, Annette Tersigni, RN, would be pleased to hear this.