The Undeniable Ruth Rotating Header Image

5 Hour Energy

Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon 2015 – DNF

I did the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon yesterday . . . well, more accurately speaking, I started the race. Unfortunately, I was unable to finish it. As many of my friends suggested, this was not my race.

AJ & Ruth at the Starting Line for the Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Marathon 2015 (Photo by AJ Grucky, used with permission)

AJ & Ruth at the Starting Line for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon 2015 – Probably my Happiest Moment of the Day (Photo by AJ Grucky, used with permission)

I needed to have an awesome day on race day to complete 26.2 miles. That’s what I had a few weeks ago when I ran 20 miles and I felt like I could easily run 5 more. Yesterday was a good day, not a great day. I didn’t feel particularly bad when I started the day just after 4am. I got up, made coffee, got dressed for the race, walked the dog, had a banana and a bagel with peanut butter, packed my gear bag, and walked a mile to the light rail station. I had an enjoyable chat with a guy from Minnesota on the rail who was the 3:40 pacer for the race on the ride across town. He said he was going to run the race with a GoPro camera strapped to his chest.

The starting line is pretty uneventful. I met up with my cousin AJ and we lined up in our corral. Just before the race started, I had my usual pre-race 5 Hour Energy and 2 ibuprofens. As our group started the race I tried to be mindful of the advice I heard from so many people – Don’t start out too fast. I tried to tell myself, “We’re just going for a jog.”

I never felt like I found a groove in this race. My music kept me going and I occasionally found someone to pace with. My hands started tingling around Mile 2, and I knew that couldn’t be good, but thankfully a cleared up after a few more miles. My right arch hurt starting pretty early on in the race and I had intermittent hip pain on both sides, but I pushed on. By Mile 9, I was pretty certain I would be losing some toenails after the race.

In terms of time, I had a great first half of the race. My half marathon time was 1:58 (9:07/mile pace). Around Mile 12, I started questioning if I really wanted to finish the race. At Mile 14, I really started to hurt and started slowing down. The 4-hour pacers easily passed me. After the turnaround in Old Town Scottsdale, my chest and my liver hurt so I decided to walk. I was surprised by how much my whole body hurt once I stopped running and how slowly I was walking, even compared to how slowly I had been running. I was done.

Both of my Feet are Sore but this is the Worst of my Toes

Both of my Feet are Sore but this is the Worst of my Toes

I promised myself I could stop at the next medical tent, which turned out to be at Mile 19. A friendly nurse gave me a chair, verified my identity, and asked what was wrong. When she discerned that I wasn’t in imminent danger or in need of significant medical attention, she gave me a bottle of Gatorade and called for the shuttle. Another nurse put a towel that had been soaking in ice around my shoulders. I felt like crap.

Gene, my kind shuttle driver, zipped me to the finish line where I pick that my bag from gear check and met up with my family. I sent out a handful of text messages to the people who I suspected were tracking me via my RFID chip who might be wondering what had happened to me. I was bummed I couldn’t finish the race but it was the right decision. I felt so weak, so lightheaded, and my stomach hurt like a bitch that my aunt took me home instead of going out with everybody else. After a few hours of rest, I started to feel human again.

Thank you to everyone who supported me along this journey to do this race and a special thank you to the crew and volunteers who work the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon and my friends Karen, La Dessa, Valerie, Dannie, and Bill who cheered me on from the sidelines. You guys made my race a lot less painful.

Will I try another marathon? I’m not sure. The next thing on my to-do list is seeing my new cardiologist and getting my heart fixed. My new guy specializes in my type of heart defect so hopefully he can determine what’s causing my symptoms and how to fix it.

Race Day Neuroticism

I got in email last week from somebody asking me to share my race day routine. I love the whole gestalt of doing races – the excitement, the comradery of all the participants and volunteers, and pushing yourself to be your best.

Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Half Marathon 2013 - Pre-Race with my Uncle and Cousin

Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Half Marathon 2013 – Pre-Race with my Uncle and Cousin

I’ll be the first person to admit that I can be a bit neurotic, and so part of my race day routine is all about making sure I am aware of where I need to be, when I need to be there, and with all my gear. My race day routine actually begins a few days before the race when I go shopping for the food I’m going to eat the days before the race. I also print out my confirmation form for the race and alter the waiver so that the organizers can be held responsible if they negligently cause me to be injured during the race. (What can I say? I’m a lawyer.)

The day before the race is the expo where I pick up my race packet, and that’s when I usually start feeling really excited about the race. I love talking to my fellow racers and the vendors about running. I usually grab a few samples of products and I get my legs taped up with KT Tape.

When I get home, I get super organized so I can be ready for race day. I lay out my clothes for the race and pay in my race bib to my shirt. I put everything I will want to have after the race that I can in my gear check bag and I make a list of the things I need to remember to throw in my bag before I leave for the race. (I warned you I’m neurotic.) I try to get everything prepared for the race that I can – even things like having my coffee cup and the toaster out so I can make breakfast that much faster on race morning.

Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Half Marathon 2013 - Post-Race

Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Half Marathon 2013 – Post-Race

The night before the race I usually treat myself to a big plate of pasta with veggies and chicken and I try to go to bed early. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon starts at 7:30 am, so that means I have to be awake, dressed, and get to my light rail station probably by 6:30. I’ll probably set my alarm for 4:45 just to make sure I have enough time to do everything.

Race day itself is always exhilarating. I’m always a bundle of energy as I force myself to eat a bagel and a banana and get some coffee in my bloodstream and get myself to the starting line. In the starting line area, I stretch out my legs and 20 minutes before the race starts, I down 2 ibuprofens and a 5 Hour Energy. I’ve heard you’re not supposed to take painkillers before the race, but that’s always been my pattern.

When my corral is that the starting line, I put my ear buds in my ears and turned on my race day play list of high energy music. My rules for most races are (1) Don’t stop and (2) Don’t die. It’s a pretty low bar to clear.