Sigh. This is the first time I have posted a race report which begins with that word, but here I sit 9 days after the event and still have vivid memories of it, mostly favorable ones.
Having participated last year in this event in the half marathon distance, Sandy and I committed to it again this year, only to stretch ourselves a little more by signing up for the 30K (19-mile) distance. Since we have a 50K looming in a few months, we thought it would be a great training run. In the few days preceding race day, we roped in Peg and Sherri, two other seasoned athletes who would enhance our experience.
As is the case with most race mornings, the alarm was set for a time that only a runner would know and be agreeable with. On this day, the 4 o’clock hour urged me out of bed and I quickly referred to my “list” of needs, having set said needs out the night prior. These included bib number, hydration pack, a few nibbles within its pockets, hat, and extra layers to wear at the starting line. The forecast had been predicting rain in the week leading up to March 3rd, but race morning found the sky to be partly cloudy with a good chance of sunshine.
By 4:45 a.m., I was out the door and made my way a few blocks north to where Sherri was ready and waiting. She followed me in her car to Unity Park in Ivins, driving separately so that I could leave right from the race to attend my grandson’s #5 birthday party. From the park, we caught a bus which took us to the starting line a few miles away, and there we met up with Peg and then Sandy. Brrrr! We were grateful for our extra layers and the big debate was whether to shed them before the race was started. It has been my experience that running quickly creates warmth, so at the very last minute — and I am talking the minute before the countdown — I was taking off my $15 faux down coat from Costco and stuffing it into my drop bag, then I tossed the bag into the back of a U-Haul truck.
Sandy and I were familiar with the course and the fact that it started in an uphill manner. This kept us from going out too quickly, but it was not long before runners were starting to spread out across the course. The four of us stuck together initially, going with the flow and only going as fast as the people in front of us. There were wider sections of the well-worn, rocky trail where we could pass or double up, but for the most part it was single-track and we found ourselves in a comfortable pace, being able to converse easily.
Here in this photo is Pal Peg, to the right. Please note the full moon in the sky.
We climbed farther and farther up the hill until it seemed we had reached the crest. By then, the sun had come up and the sunrise was crazy cool. There is always time to stop and take a few photos, for without them our memories of the amazing scenery would become diffuse, and this morning was no exception. In fact, it was better than average!
Up and down, all around the hill we went, until at about mile 7 or 8 we approached the one and only Aid Station which served as a home base for all three of the routes. At this Aid Station, there were tents erected over banquet tables on which were offerings that every runner loves, including potato chips, pretzels, peanut M&M’s, jelly sandwiches cut into fourths, as well as a myriad of other tastebud tantalizing treats. I spied a can of Dr. Pepper that was calling my name, so I asked a volunteer to pour me up a little cup. It was ice cold, and the burn lasted all the way down my esophagus.
More scenes from along the course:
At this point, indulging at the Aid Station and feeling a tad more energized, we took off on the next loop which is called the Barrel Roll. It consisted of more rocky single-track trail, about 5 mies of it in a zig-zag-like loop. Here, the views were again pronounced and photo worthy. We made our way along this section of the course easily, realizing that we were making decent time. This is especially impressive considering how many times we stopped to take photos!
It was about halfway through the second loop, Barrel Roll, when I began to notice a “hot spot” on my right foot in an area that has been problematic before. I have had blister upon blister in that area over the years to the point where a thick callous has formed and has to be filed off each time I submit to a pedicure (which is not often enough). I opted to accept Sherri’s offer for some special tape, so the two of us stopped while I sat down on a rock and removed my shoe and sock to apply the tape. It felt so much better afterward! Taking time to do this meant that Peg and Sandy continued on ahead in the lead. Shortly after application of this bandage on my foot, I passed Sherri so that she could draft off of me for a change. Almost immediately, as I was pushing ahead more quickly than usual in an effort to put more distance between us, I caught the tread of my right shoe on a rock and the next thing I knew, I was going down…. and going down fast! My first reaction was to put my hands out in front of me to stop the fall, and I caught myself on the pisiform area of both palms as well as my right knee. But yay! This time (compared to last year) I did not plant my face on the trail!
Sherri helped me up and I brushed myself off, noting immediately the pain in both palms and my right knee. Much to my chagrin (I have often wanted to say that), my new black Lulu Lemmon tights, the ones I handpicked just for this event because of its functional bilateral pockets, had a big hole in the right knee. There was evidence of blood, but I would not know to what extent the damage was until I could roll them up later, for they were too tight in the ankle to deal with it right then. My right palm was bleeding, and Sherri quickly handed me another piece of tape to cover the gaping wound. I assured her that all was well and that I was okay to press on. I mean really — what else could we do, out there in the middle of nowhere? Ha. I surely could not crawl in the state I was in, so I bucked up (or buckled down?) and we made our way back down the trail to the Aid Station just about a half mile away.
What lifting my tights revealed post-race:
Regeneration took place at the Aid Station once again, and with a handful of peanut M&M’s and another handful of potato chips, we were on our way down another part of the course towards the finish line, a distance of approximately 6 miles.
Those last 6 miles were a little bit more laborious, at least for me, I felt due to my bruised pride. I had SO wanted to complete this race without a fall! My new tights were now needing a patch and my right knee was hurting! Peg and Sandy were long gone, and my dream of the four of us finishing together would not be realized. Sherri and I alternated jogging and walking, taking nearly 2 hours to go that last 6 miles. Nearing the finish line, we crossed the highway and made our way through some residential area, then the finish line arch was visible across a big grassy field. We ran the last quarter mile and finished in a time of 4:25, about 15 minutes behind Sandy and about 30 minutes behind Peg. Having other obligations that day, Peg had taken off but Sandy was still patiently waiting there, phone/camera in hand.
We took the obligatory Finish Line Photo and parted ways. I drove straight to the birthday party, where I spent the next hour and a half with a dozen “little people” in party mode — make that Mario party mode. It was a blast!
No race is complete without rubbing shoulders with the one-and-only Cory Reese, author and many-time 100+ miler finisher, and fun guy extraordinaire….
Now comes the rest of my story.
After the party, I went home and showered, then decided to take a short nap before taking in a movie that evening. I woke up from my nap just shy of an hour with the most pronounced vertigo I have ever, EVER experienced. In fact, I would have to say that I have never had a sensation quite like that before. When I opened my eyes, my pupils were bouncing all over the place and I could not focus on any one thing. This lasted only a few seconds, but I will never forget the sensation that the pillow next to me was on the ceiling, and that the window was on the opposite wall, etc. It freaked me out, honestly. I arose and went on with my evening, though told Todd what an odd experience it was.
That night, sleep came easily but then was disrupted countless times by the same vertiginous episodes, each with the eye rolling (“nystagmus”). I really had no sense of what was going on, and when I finally arose for good in the morning, I labeled myself as being stricken with the flu; I was extremely nauseated and had subsequent vomiting. I was so dizzy that I could barely stand. Hence, I spent the day in bed, flat on my back, waiting for some relief. Relief did not come.
During the next night, history repeated itself with the same annoying frequency of vertigo and nystagmus occurring a few times per hour. I had high hopes of a productive day at work Monday, but after showering and dressing, I realized that these hopes would be dashed. I spent another day in bed, aside from the few times I got up to dry heave in the bathroom sink.
Tuesday rolled around, and I had to cancel more plans secondary to my “illness.” By this time, I had begun to research my symptoms on the internet, and all of them pointed to a diagnosis of BPPV which stands for benign paroxysmal position vertigo, thought to be caused by calcium crystals becoming dislodged in my inner ear and tricking the brain into thinking I was sensing movement though I was still. It was the worst! I made an appointment to see an ENT physician, but not without first trying several maneuvers suggested to eradicate BPPV (none of which helped). My patient husband was concerned and convinced that there was something else going on.
I saw the ENT doctor on Wednesday, and I described to him my fall and subsequent symptoms, even stating that I felt that I was “in a fog.” He had his nurse perform the Epley maneuver (been there, done that — many times) which again did nothing to squelch my symptoms. I was advised to sleep sitting up, so I fashioned some pillows on my bed and was finally about to get more sleep. I went to work on Thursday, still with dizziness and a foggy feeling, and by Friday, I knew we were missing something. At that point, I posted my symptoms on a Runners’ Forum on Facebook, and for the next few hours I had several runners post their comparable stories and offer suggestions. However, early on one of them commented, “It sounds like you had a concussion.” That word — concussion — turned me loose on a Google search, and as sure as I am sitting here typing these words, the symptoms matched and I knew I had pinned down my problem. I must have given my little brain a pretty good jolt when I fell on that trail.
Concussion. I learned a great deal about this. I learned that one does not necessarily have to hit his/her head to incur one. I learned that some people get a concussion without even knowing it until symptoms develop later. I learned that there are varying degrees of severity, and that a concussion can be life-threatening. Obviously, in my case it was mild…. but so scary just the same. It has been 9 days since I met the mountain in such an intimate way, and I am still suffering from brain fog, dizziness, constant headache, fuzzy memory, and fatigue. I have been advised that REST is the only treatment. I have been told that it takes 3-4 weeks to completely resolve, and that starting back too soon can lead to more problems to a more severe degree. Therefore, I am adhering to doctors’ advice to TAKE IT EASY in an effort to allow my brain to heal.
I have some big goals coming up in May and June, so I am hoping that about three more weeks of chilling (which means just walking or stationery bicycling in the interim) will be enough to recuperate fully. Stay tuned! And thanks for following me on my journey of Fit Following 50!