Tuesday, February 26, 2019

State #37: Nevada

Let's put it this way, I ran the Saints and Sinners Half Marathon in Nevada and when I left ... Hell Froze Over!

The trip started with an immediate drive to the local Medi-Center. With the Crohn's Disease, I usually get a warning that I have an infection or I am getting a cold - this comes in the form of a canker sore. 
Well, I had several!
I know I have been pushing it, starting a new business and training for the Tokyo Marathon. So I thought I would be safe and get checked out.

Unbeknownst to some, I also have had a few bouts of passing some kidney stones/crystals. This is common with not hydrating properly (likely due to the new business along with the intense training) and Crohn's. Long story short, I was fine - just a touch of bronchitis. Which, isn't great when you are starting a race at 2600 feet, aka Altitude. But, I chose this race because it was a downhill race, and that can help when running at altitude. 

After about half a mile of running straight downhill, I started to call out to nearby runners, "Anyone run this race before?" I screamed it out a few times, until a woman ran up alongside me and said, "Yes, why?" I asked, "Is it the downhill this steep the whole race?"

For those who live around the Montclair, NJ area, I can only describe the downhill in this race to be almost as steep as Alexander Ave or the top of Mt Hebron going from Highland to Upper Mountain Ave. I often walk down those hills after running about mile 10 or 13 because I want to be cautious not to blow out my knee cap. But there I was in Nevada, getting thrown down the side of this steep embankment for a good 3 miles, to which then I had to climb a steep hill, only to be thrown down more hills, for another 3 miles.

By the time I got to mile six, my chest was burning. I was coughing and coughing. I drank a Gatorade, and then a water. This young volunteer ran up to me, "Miss, Would you like another glass of water?" Through this terrible barking cough, I replied, "No. Thank you." Then I tried to start to run again. My legs were so banged up - they felt exactly as they did in mile 22 of the New York City Marathon. Holy Schmoly - the legs didn't want to move. I got so nervous - I just started repeating, 
'I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me'.

Next thing I knew we were running a slight incline that felt as if I were climbing the Dolomiti! My legs were so heavy. And then, we were running on a ledge, about 4 people wide. I hate, hate, hate heights.

So even though there was a beautiful view of Lake Mead (I think) and the mountains in the background, all I could think of was how I could fall off the side of this gravel path. I was dizzy, and nauseous - which is how I get when I am up high. I was praying out loud, "Lord, please get me past this tunnel section." It was very quiet through this section - if anyone heard me, they must have thought I was a wack-a-do!

I went really slowly in the tunnels because I couldn't see. After 2 retinal surgeries (thanks again to the Crohn's), it's really hard for me to see in dark places. So, I just kept praying ...

Views from this Tunnel Section Were So Very Pretty,
But I was too scared to look down!
After the tunnel section, you had more downhill, not so steep, but my legs were shot. At first I was like, "Oh good, a break from that incline," - and then I was like, "Ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch."

All along the course, I looked for Ron. He wasn't at the 1/2-way point, he wasn't at another spot where supporters were cheering. I wanted so bad to tell him - someone - "MY LEGS HURT". 

Finally, I saw Ron. I only snarled - too exhausted to talk, he just got an, 
At that point, we were near the end, and we had to cross over some roads. I started seeing runners coming up from a hill-ish part. I yelled to a volunteer, "Where's the finish?" He yelled back, "It's over that way."

The volunteer was pointing behind him. That meant that I had this small (IDK 1/4 mile) stretch downhill, but then we had to turn around and climb back up about 1/4-mile to make a left (in front of other runners) in order to make our way to the finish. I thought I was going to cry - how the heck were my legs going to go back up this incline - yes, it was small, but how?

I have chronic left hammy issues from all this running (This was my 41st half!) - so my quads - particularly my left quad, does a lot of work pulling me uphill - and that poor little quad was shot!

So, more praying. I started to go through the alphabet and pray ..J- I prayed for Juliette, Johnny, Joel - and then I thought of someone special....

Before I left for Nevada, my Coach, Joel Pasternack, came to visit me at my new business, Beyond Cryotherapy. He told me that he wanted to tell me something. Of course, having PTSD and being Italian, I thought,' Oh my Lord, who is dying?' I bulleted questions,

  • Are you sick?
  • Is Bonnie well?
  • Your daughter?
  • Your son-in-law?
  • Oh my God, Joel, is it one of your granddaughters?

He said, "Everyone is fine, just type into your computer 'Benjamin Fairclough'" Joel's my coach - I naturally do everything he tells me. Together we sat, and watched this wispy blonde, child of God, walk across a gym floor to perform holiday songs with her pre-K-3 class:

Then Joel proceeded to share with me that his Granddaughter, Carli, has Cerebral Palsy. I was at a loss for words. I could only think out loud, as I called on God. I refused to cry in front of Joel - he is so proud of his granddaughter, and it was actually a celebratory moment for Joel. I sat, and watched my coach, the man who ran his entire life ran - and still does - even after knee surgery - talk about his granddaughter, Carli. His eyes, bright, full of hope, proud of her accomplishments, and he told me, "You know, she has braces on her legs - that helps her walk with her walker. It's amazing what they have for her to help her walk. She's a toughy - a real fighter."

So, there I was, climbing this sort of incline. People were dropping like flies. Ron said even the guy in 1st place struggled coming back up that section - that he could see it in his face. I yelled out to a guy next to me, "Quicksand, I feel like my legs are in quicksand." That's when I thought of the video that Joel showed me. I thought, if Carli can make it across that gym floor, God, I can make it up this section and on to the finish." 

I dedicated that last mile to Carli, knowing that I have no idea what she struggles with, what it feels like for her to move, walk - and I hope, maybe, one day - to run ...with Joel." God have mercy.

I started to approach where we had to turn left, and shouted to a young girl facing that last incline down and back, "C'mon baby doll," and I waved her in front of me. Once you make that left, the race shoots you about 300 meters or so through another steep downhill. I thought, 'Make some time back, you can heal later." I looked at my watch - I could only squeeze out an 8:15-minute mile pace for that last section. people were yelling, "It's right around this bend. Kick it Out. C'mon, Kick it out!"

I tried to kick it out - and you can see in this picture, the pain in my face as I finished. I didn't even realize there were two chutes - a saintly one, and a sinner one. Looks like I'm a sinner! LOL!

My Poor Quads!
It took me about 4 days to be able to walk down the stairs in the morning on alternating legs! The Saints and Sinners Half will go down as the hardest half marathon that I have run so far! Thank God for the cryotherapy at Beyond Cryotherapy!
Getting ready for Tokyo 3/3/2019
Maximizing Recovery in the JUKA 
at Beyond Cryotherapy!
Fourth Place Age Group 

Keep Moving!
Stay Strong!
Run Happy!
Train Hard!
Recover Harder!
Run For Peace!