Today I completed my second half marathon. Since last Tuesday, the weather forecast called for 90 degrees and humid. And it delivered. It was a pretty miserable experience, honestly.
It began near the Summerfest grounds on Lake Michigan. We got to run over the Hoan Bridge, which was pretty cool, actually. Thankfully there was a breeze at the top.
I remember coming down the bridge around mile 4 after spending the entire time in the blazing sun and thinking, well the worst is probably over. Obviously I was already delirious by this point. It was at this point that I realized I would not be beating my previous half marathon time. No friggen way.
By mile 6 I felt pretty crappy. I began to realize that I had to play it safe. Which meant taking many, many walk breaks. By this point, I was so hot, I didn’t really care too much about my time. At water stations, I would take 2 cups of water. One to drink and one to pour over the back of my neck, my arms, chest and head. Little kids lined parts of the course with Super Soakers to douse runners. Man, that felt good.
Mile 8 – MIS. ER. A. BLE. I felt terrible. I would say miles 8-11 were the most uncomfortable miles I have ever run. But if there was a silver lining, it was this – my shin splints didn’t hurt at all. I didn’t have the splitting headache that I normally get when I run in the heat. I was just uncomfortable and hot and wanted to go jump in Lake Michigan. Around this time I saw 2 people pass out and paramedics (calmly, slowly) walk over to them. I realized that I was very lucky and decided to keep doing what I was doing. Walk, then run a little, then take water and/or half a banana at the water stations. Run a little more. Walk a whole lot more. Be glad I’m not feeling like I’m going to pass out. Then curse Wisconsin in July. Then curse the idea of running 13.1 miles in Wisconsin in July.
Around mile 11, they put out a red flag. I knew that that meant caution, which was laughable. I was already running so cautiously, I didn’t really know what else I should be doing.
At mile 12, I had saved up my energy and was determined to run the final mile. Finish strong and all that good stuff. But then, they put out a black flag. I wasn’t really sure what that meant, but I figured it wasn’t good. I trudged on.
Then a volunteer said, as I ran by, “The black flag is out, they’re no longer timing the race, and you should walk.”
I started walking, confused. I saw a young woman being tended to by paramedics on the side of the course. She was probably the palest person I’ve ever seen. A little ways away, more paramedics were helping a guy, too.
I noticed other people around me were running. I felt like I still had some gas left in the very hot tank, so I started running too. The crowd got denser. I heard music. And then, the finish line. Hooray!
The local news and the Internet have been fired up about the planning of this race. A 10K race took off shortly after us half marathoners. There was not enough water for the 10K-ers. There were complaints that there wasn’t enough medical personnel. According to this evening’s news, 15 runners were taken to the hospital and 50 were treated at the grounds. Some of that is Mother Nature’s fault. Some of that is the race director’s fault. And some of that is the runner’s own fault.
Either way, I’m just thankful that I finished safely.