Yesterday I completed my final “test” walk in a series of trial walks that started a month ago to see if training for a future marathon might be doable. The plan was to do the Portland marathon this October ( my 3rd time) and then hopefully obtain a qualifying time to enter Boston in 2014 . By pacing myself, the majority of those walks went OK, it was the respiratory symptoms that followed the majority of them was not OK, or even normal for me. Most of the time these post- walk symptoms are relatively mild, manifesting mainly as dyspnea caused by increased air trapping which usually diminishes overnight. But after Friday’s 6 mile walk I got so tight and progressively short of breath that I thought I might actually end up in the hospital on a ventilator. In addition to the expected air trapping symptoms, were talking bronchospasm, decreased PFs, dropping sats, the works! I’ve spent the last 48 hours doing every I can just to stay out of the hospital, including using an epi-pen, nebbing morphine and albuterol and bolusing with pred. This is not the way training for a sports event should go.
Something else I noticed during this trial, is that my lungs are getting more and more unpredictable in the way they respond to physical exertion now. I can feel fairly decent after doing a hard 10 miler, but then feel like I’m suffocating to death after doing an easy 1 miler. Just another example of the uncertainty Id have to face every time I want to take on a physical challenge. Bottom line, but not surprisingly, is the realization that my lungs are just too messed up and unforgiving now to push forward with a plan A. Even if I were to somehow miraculously make it through to Portland, Id be confronted with the same challenges and risks all over again in preparing for Boston just 6 months later. And for what? another medal? to make myself feel important? to be a role model? Been there done that. If I do another race I want it to be because I can.
While obviously not the outcome I was hoping for , it’s not the end of the world. Ive already proven myself by completing an astonishing 8 full marathons and 12 half marathon, including the most prestigious race in the world, all with in a 4 year period. Few people can say that, and even fewer with an FEV1 as low as mine.
Now, this doesn’t mean that I’m gonna stop training all together. I’m thick skulled and have a short memory. No, there’s still a little something out there to fall back on called a half marathon. Maybe not as impressive as a full 26 miler, but nothing to sneeze at either. A half marathon race is a slightly more tamable creature and is something that I’m now seriously considering if plan A doesn’t work out. While not as daunting as training for a full distance marathon, a 13 mile race is not exactly a walk in the park either( or is it?). It still requires a huge commitment to training, but at least it exposes me to fewer occasions in which to exacerbate my breathing issues. Another nice thing about plan B is that there are lots of half marathons here in California, including the SF and the SJ Rock&Roll locally. And with the money I’d save by not traveling to Portland and Boston, I’d be able to take another Adventure trip somewhere in the fascinating world as early as next year.
( In loving memory of Doug’s Papa Jerry Gagle, a truly gentle, genuine, beautiful person and Doug’s best friend. We both love you very much buddy)