Monday, October 17, 2011

The Morning After

It's the morning after the big race, the Baystate Marathon in Lowell, MA.  I am happy to report that I actually walked down the stairs this morning without too much pain and made it down to the bus stop and back!  The legs are feeling pretty good and no blisters!  But this is not to say that the marathon was uneventful.  It was anything but.  What would life be with just a little drama, right?

Mike, me,  Leslie, Beth and Sarah before the race

Yesterday morning, Mike and I woke up very early to make sure we could have a power breakfast of oatmeal and 1 cup of coffee.  With that, we woke up the kids up and we were out the door by 6AM.  It was a beautiful cool autumn morning.  Fantastic day for a long run. A little windy but overall just beautiful. Our first stop was to drop off the kids at Beth's house and pick up Beth and Leslie.  They were running the half marathon along with Mike.  Once we reached the start of the race, we were all excited and our nerves were in check.  We of course had to capture some pre-race shots!  Notice all the smiles!  When it came time to leave Mike and the others to get in the marathon start line I was feeling confident that I was going to have a great race.  Suzi and I had trained so hard for this day.  The miles we clocked, especially in the heat of the summer.  My only hesitation, was how I was going to get through the last gruesome miles after mile 21 without  Suz.  She injured her hip about a month ago, and unfortunately could not run.  This was such a disappointment to both of us.  But, she would be on the sideline cheering me on.  She was certainly going to be in spirit with me every step of the way.  But, I knew those last miles were going to be the most challenging.

MIke and I before the race

A good luck kiss!

The start of the race was great!  For those who have not experienced it yet, just the sight of all those runners together all setting out to run the long 26.2 miles.  Everyone was there for different reasons.  Some, to qualify for the Boston Marathon, others as a goal to check off their bucket lists.  And then there was me. Why was I there?  What did I have to prove?  Well, it has been 11 months since my stem cell transplant.  Eleven months since I was given the gift of life again.  I can't help think how all of my health issues have affected my 4 children and my husband not to mention, my parents, siblings, and close friends.  I felt like I needed to prove to them and to myself that I am strong and I am determined not to be defined by my illness  But rather, accept it for what it is, (a crappy diagnosis) and live everyday stronger, happier and so determined to win in the end!  So that's how I started the race.

 I reached the 13.1 mile mark at 1:58.  Halfway there, and so far I felt great!  I met some great people along the way, and really found my groove. Now, if I could only keep it up.  My next goal was to reach 16.   I passed 16 and was on to 18 still feeling great.  No pain, no major issues.  I tried to be good with fueling.  I finished my water pack and was on to the water give at every couple miles.  I finished off a package of Clif Shot Blocks.  I was really going to do this and do it within 4 hours.  I was so pumped.  The head winds started to pick up a bit, which added a little challenge as well seeing runners dropping out.  But, I tried to stay focus at each step, and move forward.

By mile 21, fatigue had certainly set in.  My left quad was really tightening up and my stomach was not feeling so great.  I so much wanted to stop and stretch, but I knew if I did, it would be hard to get running again.  So, I tried to just run through it.  My pace certainly was slower, as many runners were beginning to pass me.  It began to feel like each mile mark was 10 miles away.  Mile 22, only 4.2 more.  I can do this.  I kept repeating myself.  After all that I have been through in last year and a half, this is nothing. Well,  it sounded good.  But my body did not agree, and did not want to listen.  My stomach was feeling weaker and nausea had definitely set in.  Fatigue was at a high and my quad was burning.  God, did I want to stop. But I couldn't, not with my kids at the finish line waiting for me.  I tried every mind game to ignore how I was feeling.  Finally, I reached mile 24.  Only 2.2 left.  I could do this. I grabbed a cup of water from the sideline, took in some pretty deep breaths and tried to kick it in. Of course, at this point it felt like my legs were barely lifting up.  Seriously, I think I could have walked faster.  I finally reached mile 25.  Only 1.2 left.  At the most 10 minutes left  and then I would be done.  For a brief moment I felt a high and a little burst of energy.  But that was quickly replaced with sharp pains in my stomach and feeling light headed.

My amazing kids literally pushing me to the finish line!


Well after the excitement of the finish line, the drama set in.  I guess I was looking very pale and even a little green. As well as the fact that I couldn't walk a straight line.  I was quickly escorted to the med EMT's where I was put on a stretcher to the med tent.  Just as I suspected, my blood pressure had severely dropped.  I usually have very low blood pressure to begin with, but it had dropped to about 80/48.  At the same time I was shivering.  Well, this was nothing that a bag of fluids couldn't fix. So that's what they did.  After several attempts, they finally got an IV in me.  I guess being so dehydrated, even makes it hard for people like me with great veins. I think the worse part of all of this, was the fact that my legs began to really tighten up as I was lying there.  Fortunately a nurse by the name of Maureen, was also a massage therapist.  She was the woman with the magic hands!  She also hooked me up with some warming blankets!  This wasn't so bad.  It almost was like a little spa treatment with the exception of of the the IV!  Ironically Maureen, shared with me that her brother-in-law also has Multiple Myeloma and was just released from the hospital from his stem cell transplant.  She was amazed that I ran and she shared with me that she couldn't wait to tell her brother all about me.  He is an avid skier and hopes to hit the slopes soon.  I told her to tell him to do it as soon as he feels strong enough.   Getting back to things I love and are passionate about has been the best therapy for me.

After a couple of hours, my blood pressure finally reached 90/62.  Low for some, but pretty normal for me.  So, they let me go!  Once we picked up the kids, I took a much needed hot hot shower , as I was still shivering.  After my shower I collapsed on the couch and slept for 3 hours.  I woke up just to drink some water, and eat a bowl of cereal.  Finally my stomach was feeling a little better.  And then I was back to bed by 8:30.

So after some much needed sleep I am finally feeling alive again.  I now finally am realizing all that occurred yesterday.  My husband had a major accomplishment.  He not only ran his first half marathon, but he did it in an impressive time, 1:58.  I am so proud of him! He says I am his inspiration for running.  I think he had it in him all along.   Also, my friends Beth, Leslie and Sarah had an awesome race as well.  I am so proud of all of them!    Although, I did not sprint across the finish line with a smile on my face, I did finish it.  And I have the photos to prove it.  They are not the most flattering photos, as I look pretty pale and pretty slow.

So what's next?  Well, some very much needed rest and recovery.  I am looking forward to taking a little time off from the long runs and maybe switching it up a bit with a little boot camp and kickboxing and much needed strength training.  In another month or so, it will be time to start training for the Boston Marathon.  Hopefully I can learn to fuel better during the race and hopefully avoid another trip to medical tent!

The MMRF Gala is coming up on Oct. 29th and I am so excited.  I just got my dress and now I just need to find the perfect shoes.  Mike has decided he is going to wear a tux!  I can't wait to see him all dressed up.

Thank you all for your love and support.  So far living with Multiple Myeloma isn't so bad!  You all really know how to make a girl feel loved and special!  Enjoy this beautiful day for all it has to offer!