It was a perfect day for a race in San Francisco’s Ocean beach. This was a much bigger event than I thought.( 8,000 runners) Nevertheless, it seemed to be well organized and it started right on time
I’m not the best writer but, let me see if I can recap my day at the race.
Well, I ( we) got up at the usual 4:30 am , took off for the city at 6am and arrived at ocean beach just before 7am. It was then that I realized that this was a larger event than I had expected. There were thousands of people lining up to catch what seemed like an endless caravan of shuttle buses . Traffic was total chaos ,so my partner dropped me off and went to look for parking. I wanted to make sure I could get some warm up time in before the race, so rather than take one of those yellow school buses into the park, I decided to walk it. Little did I know that the starting point for the race was 2 miles away. Anyway, I made it to the staging area with 20 minutes to spare,though a little worn out. I met up with a couple of my friends and before I knew it the starting gun went off.
Since I was at the back of the pack, there was the usual bottle neck at the starting gate and it seemed like it took forever to get moving. According to my Garmin , which I set when the gun went off, it took me over 3 minutes to get from the back of the pack to the starting line. Since this race was not chip timed, that’s 3 minutes that I would have to make up on the course to break even. OK… so now we’re off! During the first half mile or so the course was still quite congested, even the runners were walking. Finally after mile 1 , people started to thin out. The runners doing the 5K had split off onto a side road, leaving even fewer people on the course that I was on.
The next few miles took us from the center of the park out to the center of the Haight Ashbury then back into the park. Unlike most of the days that I’ve walked this Golden Gate , today it was fairly warm and not too shaded. Miles 5-7 were mostly downhill. I think it was at this point that I got a pebble in my shoe and had pull over and get it out. Because it was downhill from there, it only took me a few seconds to catch up with the others whom Id been pacing with earlier. Mile 7 took us out of the park onto ocean beach. It was here that I began to get really short of breath. I was starting to breath-stack which was making me feel very uncomfortable and I had already used my inhaler 4 times during the first 6 miles and didn’t want to over do it. So, to compensate, I started to walk slower , it was either that or risk having a full out asthma attack. This slower pace seem to help for a while but, I still had to purse-lip constantly. At this point I decided I would ration out my albuterol to 2 puffs every mile. I knew that the last 6 miles of the course was completely flat and as long as I didn’t try to increase my pace, that I would make it. Well, as soon as I crossed mile 12, I could tell I was starting to get into real trouble. For one thing, I was getting way to tight and on top of that ,I didn’t drink enough earlier in the race. Then I got this bright idea that I would make up for it by gulping down the bottle of Gatorade that carried with me. Now, I’m not so sure if that was such a good idea. As I was approaching the last corner to the finishing area, I got really nauseated and diaphoretic. With less than 50 yard to the finish line, I nearly collapsed . I had to get down on my knees because I thought I was going to pass out. Then I started having the dry heaves. Talk about embarrassing. Here Im on my knees puking, while this lady pushing a baby stroller , is staring at me . (babystroller and dogs on the course, thats another story). Anyways, when I tried to stand up ,my feet and legs started to cramp big time. One of those roving paramedics on a bicycle saw that I was having problems and came over and helped me massage the cramps off. They asked me if I wanted some food or wanted to lay down. With the clock still ticking, I told em, I just want to cross the finish line. Appx 3 minutes after this incident…….I did just that.
Today, I’m suffering the usual post race aches & pains and blues . My asthma has also flared up and Im now back in the yellow zone. I’m not sure if this is due to the stress of yesterdays activities or just coincidence but, Im sure my immune system took a major hit. As far as the heat stroke incident, ( if that’s what is was?) I think that was my own fault. I was extremely dehydrated and had been hyperventilating for nearly 3 hours. I just wish I would I have collapsed on the OTHER side of the finish line. That would have shaved a few minutes off my finish time. Ironically, someone who had been observing me throughout the entire ,race made this statement ” You made it look so effortless” If they only knew……..