Tuesday, November 22, 2011
I think marathons may cause brain damage. That's the only logical explanation for running two of them in a span of 6 weeks. The first one must have knocked some important decision making cells ajar. Perhaps the jostling screwed up their inhibitory and excitatory reactions so that instead of saying, "maybe running another marathon so soon isn't the smartest idea," my brain said "do it! run another one! you're made of cogs and wheels, and it won't hurt."
Let's step back for a second and paint a clearer picture of the crazy. It's been awhile since I've written anything so maybe you're confused. Or maybe you're new to this little splotch of awkward in the internet abyss.
On October 9th, Charrow and I were slated to run the Portland Marathon together. The day before the race, Charrow wasn't feeling great, but it didn't seem worthy of too much concern. We figured an early bedtime and lots of water should do the trick. Sometime in the middle of the night, she morphed into a squirming, stomach-burning, vomiting, explosive mess. When I woke up at 5:30 to get ready for the insanity, she was doubled over on the bed and couldn't stand straight. After two panicked phone calls (one to each of our respective mothers) and a botched attempt to eat, we decided that she would just give it a shot. If she had to drop out, at least she would know that she tried. And she gave it a valiant effort. She went from walking with a noticeable lurch to running 10 miles before she called it quits. Her inability to eat and drink water are what finally made it unsafe. If you can't eat, you can't run. Too much water on an empty stomach while incinerating calories equals major disaster. So we stopped at an aid station that had medical staff and explained the problem. I asked her about 17 times if it was okay for me to leave her there and she said yes every time, so I took her at face value and walked away. It felt incredibly wrong, and I'm still torn about whether it was the right decision.
The rest of the run deserves its own post, but long story short, I finished the marathon at glacial speed without causing bodily harm to myself or anyone else. Considering my inability to walk straight after it was over, the second half of that sentence counts as a feat.
Charrow was absolutely miserable when I got back to the hotel (for multiple reasons, some of which will be explained in the "how I survived my first marathon" post). At some point during the day, she heard from her sister that the Philadelphia Marathon was still open. Charrow was determined to have her mulligan, and the minute she said she was running Phillie, I firmly said "Well you're running it alone because I can't do that again."
Apparently the neurological injuries don't present until several weeks after the incident.
About a week before Charrow's race (November 20th) we were out for a routine run in Prospect Park, when I felt this surge of optimism (first sign of serious injury). I said to Charrow, "what if instead of running a section of the race with you, I just run the whole thing??" She didn't talk me out of it. And she repeatedly said that I wasn't going to steal her thunder if I ran with her, so when we got home from our run I did a little craigslist search and found someone to buy a race bib from. We agreed to keep it under wraps so everyone would be excited for Charrow and not get distracted by my decision to be psychotically supportive and somewhat selfish (because I partially just wanted to see if I could do it).
And that is how I ended up next to the Schuykill River this past Sunday with Charrow and about 25,000 other people who decided to traipse through Philadelphia for several hours. Pictures and details to follow after a short and sweet Thanksgiving visit with the Charrow clan.