Saturday, July 23, 2016

2015 Plano Balloon Festival Half Marathon

The 2015 Plano Balloon Festival half marathon was my husband's first half marathon and my third. However, this race was my first half marathon after my 2013 nightmare crisis, and my first after obtaining my cortisol pump. We had a very simple goal. We wanted to finish the race and not require any emergency medical intervention. Our race time was not our focus.

Hot Air Balloons from the night before.
Photo from September 2015.
Like most runners, I did not train properly. Training for this half marathon consisted of playing weekly indoor soccer games, climbing a ridiculous amount of stairs at work, and a random 10k run in Waco about a month before.

I had planned on at least one long run to practice with my cortisol pump. But when that Saturday came around, I woke up vomiting. A run was completely out of the question. My husband and I were very thankful that we didn't need to make a run to the hospital and could self manage at home.

September 20th, 2015 finally arrived. I was incredibly nervous. My aunt and uncle volunteered to act as our chauffeur so that we could avoid race day parking. I had also convinced a fellow Adrenal Insufficient friend to drive down and complete the race with us.

My aunt made awesome signs for us.
Photo from September 2015.
Naturally, I was rocking my "Steroid Dependent" race shirt. A few miles into the race, a woman approached me and asked me "Are you wearing that shirt for you or your child?"

"Me. I have Adrenal Insufficiency."

"Wow. That is so awesome. Keep it up!"

I chuckled at the knowledge that the gal running beside me also had Adrenal Insufficiency, and she has completed several full marathons!

Around mile ten, my infusion pump site fell off due to a combination of sweat and Texas humidity. I forced myself to remain calm. I had an ample supply of back up oral steroids and I was surrounded by people who could take care of me if things got worse. We were also approaching a golf cart that had a few EMT's and a police officer. The golf cart provided an excellent table for me to organize my meds and regroup.

"Whacha got there? Weed?" an EMT asked, jokingly.

"Nah! Even better! Steroids! But don't worry, I'm clearly labeled." I responded as I pointed to the back of my shirt. He chuckled as we continued on towards that finish line.

I was so excited to cross that finish line. Our time was around three hours, so much slower than my PR. But that was ok!

I did start to get testy and illogically irate shortly after we finished. My friend recognized my symptoms and sternly told me to take more medicine. I under-dosed myself for the race but I was able to correct before I faded too far.

We earned those medals!
Photo from September 2015.
To summarize, this was my first half marathon with my cortisol pump and it actually failed me. Through that failure, I learned several lessons that I can apply to my next long distance race. I was already in the habit of carrying back up oral steroids, but I had forgotten spare pump supplies. I also did not start increasing my HC early enough. For the majority of the race, I was playing the ever fun game of "cortisol catch-up." Also, climbing stairs does not equate to adequate half marathon training.

But this race did mark a major victory. I had to get over the mental hurdle from running a half marathon incredibly well (under 10 minute miles!) to have everything ripped out from under me.

We did it. We earned this medal.
Photo from September 2015.
Will I ever return to my fast race times from before the Nightmare of 2013? I'm not sure. To be honest with y'all, it wasn't like I was suddenly fast. The training to complete a half marathon in sub-10 minute miles in 2013 actually started in 2010 when I began running with my "running buddy." I was working towards that goal for over three years.

I would love to reach that point again, but I need to be kind to myself. I need to slowly build up endurance. I need to not grow frustrated as I compare my current state to my past victories.

Photo from September 2015.
I am still Clearly Alive.

FINISHED!
Photo from September 2015.
And that alone is a victory worth celebrating.

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