© 2019 Terry Swails

I EVEN HAD CONNECTIONS! (RACE DAY CAME AND MAN WAS IT HOT!)

September 26, 2017

 

The 20th Annual Quad Cities Marathon arrived during a record-breaking heatwave in the Midwest. New high temperatures were being established all over the board. On Saturday, Iowa City broke heat records with a high of 95.  I didn't know it at the time, but we were set to break a record high in the Quad Cities on Sunday (91 degrees).

 

Seriously, the timing could not have been worse. 

 

Because of the medication I take for breast cancer, I have a weird sensitivity to heat.  So I put a word in with the house meteorologist to dial the heat back. (A blank stare from said house meteorologist.) Apparently it doesn't work that way.

 

The average temperature at race time (7:30 a.m.) for the Quad Cities Marathon is 55 degrees.  

 

Sunday morning it was around 72 degrees.  And just getting started.

 

I was a nervous as a cat on a scorching hot tin roof. 

 

From the podium, athletes were exhorted to take it easy.  Already on board.  Advice was also given to take advantage of every water and gatorade station.  Check.  

 

The starting gun went off and I stood around with the rest of the runners (It takes a while to make it up to the starting line).  But bodies started moving, rhythms were established, and we were off. 

 

I first hung out with Chet.   He was one of the paid pacers.  Chet was moving along with his flag announcing he was averaging a fat 12 minute mile.  Conversations were swirling in the breeze.  I swear some dude closed a real estate deal with another runner just he was cresting the bridge.  I can also tell you one runner is expecting her first Grandbaby in November. That started a whole thread of conversation on the delights of grandchildren versus children.  Another runner was getting medical advice. I chatted up a gal about the weather and we agreed it was gonna be a tough go.

 

Exiting the bridge, I parted ways with Chet.  I felt I could do better.  So now I was down to about an 11 minute mile (and going downhill).

 

For my preparation before the race, I decided I did not want to be hanging on to anything.  So I left the cell phone in the car and relied on water stations rather than carry a water bottle.  I also securely fastened my key fob in the back pocket of my running shorts.  The pocket is located directly in the middle of your backside.  At mile three I could tell I was having some issues.  I felt the shorts being tugged down by the weight of the fob.  But I hiked them up and tried to tightened the string at the waistband.  Then I decided to not get consumed about it, but just let it all flow.

 

Bad idea.

 

"Excuse me," a woman said to me as she jogged alongside.  "I don't know you, but I think you should know I can see your underwear!"  

 

Extreme mortification.

 

"Oh, I have my key fob back there and it keeps weighing down the shorts!" I tried to explain. 

 

"It's okay I just thought you should know!" she replied cheerily.

 

I thanked her profusely.  Fished out the key fob.  Carried the dang thing the rest of the way.

 

I was in a pack of runners that were alternately being passed and passing each other.  So every time my running buddy came up from behind she would let me know all was good on the back end.

 

By mile seven, I could tell the heat was getting to me.  My hot flashes were piling up.  There were boaters docked alongside the river path offering cans of beer to the athletes.  I declined.

 

But I did take advantage of every water station which helped immensely.

 

At mile ten, I was flagging.  We were now running down the interior of Arsenal Island where there was little breeze, little shade, and it was hot.  I noticed a woman ahead of me had taken off her running shoes and was jogging down the road in fresh white socks.  Until she lifted her feet and you could see the black soles of her socks.  

 

This is weird.  I began to obsess on how she was going to get those stains out.  Maybe bleach the socks.  Would Shout It Out work?  I kept following the gal down the road and mentally planning how to turn those black socks shiny white again.

 

I blame it on the heat.  

 

Because now while I was running, I could have probably walked faster.  Chet had breezed by me killing my dreams of (for me) a decent finish time. My days of passing runners were over.  I was getting stampeded over by superior athletes.  

 

I hadn't seen any mile markers so I couldn't rally myself with the good news I had only a mile or two left to go.  At the next water station, I didn't grab and go.  I stood and drank the water.  

 

S.L.O.W.L.Y.

 

And carefully deposited the cup in the trash bin.  Out of excuses, I began to run again.

 

And finally heard a megaphone in the distance announcing I had less than two tenths of a mile to go.  Then I heard cheering crowds. Not wanting to embarrass myself, I threw my heart into the last two blocks and ran across the finish line.  

 

I wish I could tell you I rallied enough to make up my lost time on the island.  But I did not.  I finished.  But my time was a disappointing two hours and 50 plus minutes. Ummm...did I mention I ran the half marathon (13.1 miles)! Many of the marathoners were already done by the time I finished the race.

 

I wobbled around like a drunken sailor after coming to a complete halt.  I just couldn't get my balance.  But sitting down and drinking water for about an hour was all it took to get back on my feet again. I did walk away with a medal that was belt buckle worthy!

 

So lessons learned.  Train better.  Find shorts with front pockets.  And.  Try not to run races on days where new heat records were being hit.

 

Carolyn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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