Badwater 2011 — Crewing for Pam Reed

A couple years ago at Thanksgiving, I watched with fascination Running On The Sun, the 1999 account of the Badwater Ultramarathon.  I wrote a review on it here.  I knew I would never run the race but it never even occurred to me that one day I would be crewing for it because I didn’t even know anybody who wanted to run 135 miles in a human BBQ.  All that changed when I met Pam Reed.

I had crewed for Pam in Jan. of this year when she did a 24-hr. run near my home in California.  So when Pam asked me to join her crew for Badwater, I didn’t hesitate.  In his pre-event news release, race director Chris Kostman said, “The necessary favorite is Pam Reed, 50, of Jackson, WY, the 2002 and 2003 overall champion who also won the women’s field in 2005 and placed 2nd woman and 7th overall in 2009.”  Pam had also recently qualified for the Ironman World Championships and the 70.3 World Championships, and won the Keys 100 in an impressive time.  She was more than ready; at age 50, she was in the best shape of her life.  Most people do Badwater just to finish or win a belt buckle.  Pam was here to win it, and that creates a sense of excitement and a dynamic with the crew that other teams don’t get a chance to experience.

A week before Badwater, one of our crew members had to drop, so my running pal and training partner Dr. Kevin Stuart joined the crew.  I was thrilled to be doing another epic event with Kevin as we have shared some really awesome experiences over the years.  Still, we weren’t really sure what to expect as rookie crew members.  Race rules state “runners accompanied by conveyance such as hovercrafts and helicopters will be disqualified.”   Why would “hovercraft” need to be in the rules?  At the general store at Furnace Creek Ranch, I found a t-shirt with the instruction, “Bring a compass.  It’s awkward when you have to eat your friends.”  Such rules and words leave a lot to the imagination.

Yikes! Try not to buy gas in Death Valley. Ice is $4 a bag but we would have gladly paid $10.

This year’s crew met for the first time two days before the race in Las Vegas.  Led by crew chief Susy Bacal, we were joined by veteran crew members Craig Bellmann and Jim Cady.  Nike running coach Kenley Ferrara joined us from New York City.  I could tell there was  a good vibe with this crew right from the start.

Pam figured she had one person to beat–Sumie Inagaki of Japan.   Pam had run with Sumie in France at the 48-hr. world championships.  Sumie is the world record holder at 48-hrs. but this was her rookie year at Badwater and had probably never run in this kind of heat.

Eventual women's winner Sumie Inagaki gets some much needed sleep at the pre-race meeting.

Early on race morning, Pam got a phone call and heard some difficult family news.  At breakfast, she told the whole crew.  We knew it wasn’t the kind of thing she could just block out of her mind, but we tried to keep things light-hearted since the race was starting in just a few hours.

Kenley and I waited at Furnace Creek (mile 17) in the second van to take over support when Pam arrived.  We watched the entire 10 am. group come through.  Something was wrong.  The crew said Pam seemed fine the first ten miles, then started slowing down and walking with a sharp pain in her back.  We couldn’t tell if it was a real injury or if the stress of the news from home had her tied in knots.  Whatever it was, Pam was suffering.

When Pam finally arrived, she had to lay in the shade.  We did our best to calm her down, help her relax and find a new groove.  She took a dip in the pool at Furnace Creek Ranch and we hoped that would help her snap out of her funk.  Eventually we were back on the road and tried to keep moving.  We took turns walking with Pam for several miles as she struggled mentally and physically.

Pam tells race officials she is dropping.

One race official pulled up behind us, shocked to see Pam in very last place.  Without hesitation he said, “We will bend the rules for Pam.  She can do anything she wants out here.”  It was indeed an honor to be crewing for Badwater royalty.  She made it another few miles but decided to drop before things got worse.

Even at her lowest point, Pam wanted to check on her fellow runners.  We drove ahead to find Amy Palmiero-Winters in bad shape on the side of the road.  We pulled over and Pam gave Amy some words of encouragement.  Amy recovered like a true champion and finished the race.

We also caught up to Luis Escobar who had returned to Badwater after a five year hiatus.  Pam and I had a fantastic time with Luis last Sept. when we took him to Jackson Hole, WY  to do a photoshoot of Pam in the Teton Mountains.  He’s an amazing photographer and an outstanding runner, finishing his third Badwater this year.

Luis Escobar shocked to hear Pam is dropping. He goes on to earn a buckle.

Once we gathered ourselves and realized the race was over for us, Pam said she wanted us to drive to Stovepipe Wells at mile 40 to give the rookie crew members a flavor of the race.  We passed many runners and just about everyone looked like they were suffering greatly.  It was 125 degrees and everyone at the time station remarked how it was so much cooler than last year’s 134.  We all jumped in the pool at the Stovepipe Wells Village Hotel.

I didn’t get to experience the full measure of Badwater but I saw enough to appreciate the magnitude of what these runners do out there for 135 miles in unimaginable heat.  And to consider that every year the field gets better, stronger, faster.  I can’t help but wonder just how fast someone can run this course.  The men’s record is 22:51:29 and some were expecting it to be broken again this year.

It’s hard to know if Pam will make a another run at Badwater.  I’m not sure she knows herself.  It would seem there’s really nothing left to prove but a DNF doesn’t seem like the way to end her career at the event that brought her  worldwide fame in the ultra running community.  If she decides to go for it next year, I hope to be there.

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Kapalua Coastal Trail

Boardwalk at Oneloa Bay, Kapalua Maui

I’ve been running in and around Napili and Kapalua, Maui every year on vacation for about 15 years, so it was a pleasant surprise to find the new Kapalua Coast Trail.  The trail stretches 3.5 miles along the West Maui coastline, linking existing  coastal recreational areas, including Kapalua Bay, Oneloa Bay, D.T. Fleming Beach Park, Mokule‘ia Bay, and Honolua Bay.  It also includes two spur trails that allow trail users to detour off the main route to experience unique places such as Hawea Point and Namalu Bay, and an arboretum of Hawaiian plants.

There are three places to access the trail. On the south end, it begins at the entrance to Kapalua Bay from the parking lot of the Napili Kai Resort. You can also access the trail in the middle by parking in the public lot outside the Ironwoods tract in Kapalua. On the north end, you can park in the public lot and DT Flemming Beach, but I don’t recommend it.  There isn’t as much to see on the north end and you’re basically winding through the back of the Ritz Carlton resort.

Part of this trail is preserved for the Wedge tailed Shearwater, or “Ua’u kani,”  a protected seabird.  Seabirds have lost most of their nesting grounds in the main islands and were once hunted for their feathers and eggs.  If you have ever noticed there are few seabirds in Hawaii, it’s because most are ground nesters and therefore prey for cats, dogs, rats, mongooses, and people.  The Ua’u kani mate for life and return to the same area each year to raise their young.  I was lucky enough to see a whole clutch of these birds nesting along the lava trails.

Trail head from Napili Kai parking lot.

My favorite run starts in Napili on the Lower Honoapiilani Rd.  Heading north, turn left into the Napili Kai Resort parking lot and catch the Kapalua Coastal Trail at the other end of the parking lot.  Enjoy the beautiful stretch of trail through Kapalua resort, across the boardwalk, then follow the trail up to the Ironwoods tract.  From there, I follow the main road up the hill past the Ritz to Hwy. 30.  Turn right on Hwy. 30 and enjoy a long downhill view of Lanai in the distance.  At the bottom of the hill, turn right past Napili Market back to the Lower Honoapiilani Rd.  This loop is about four miles.  You’ll be lucky to find anything better anywhere in the world.

Hashiru = “I Run”

Recently, I met Japanese runner Hiroshi Yamada on Daily Mile sporting a fantastic T-shirt that immediately caught my attention.  Painted in brush strokes of the ancient Japanese art of calligraphy called Shodo, it says “Hashiru” or simply, “I Run.”  Shodo focuses on simplicity, beauty, and a mind-body connection achieved by applying the elements of line, shape and space.  It was the same fascination with the boldness of the brush strokes that captured Hiroshi’s imagintion in the Fall of 2008.  When he inquired to find out who had created the artwork, he was even more impressed to learn it was an 8 yr.-old disabled boy who had never run in his life.

Inspired by the boy, the art and the message, Hiroshi founded Hashiru.jp, a Japanese non-profit organization dedicated to supporitng disabled children in Japan. I love stories like this.

I’m told I was the first person to buy the T-shirt outside of Japan.  It was only $30 including shipping and a good quality running shirt.  I now encourage others to do the same.  I like how the simple phrase, “I Run” captures the imagination of runners anywhere in the world and can serve to unite everyone in a common cause.  You can place an order at http://en.hashiru.jp and pay via PayPal.  Proceeds from T-shirt sales are the primary way Hashiru.jp supports disabled children.

Hashiru.jp is also very active at the Tokyo Marathon, now in it’s fourth year.  Hashiru supporters wave banners at the 40 km mark.  This race is on my bucket list since I’m born and raised in Tokyo.  Now I have some new friends to meet in Tokyo.

Sporting my "Hashiru" shirt at the Golden Gate Bridge, Aug. 2010

2009 Year In Review

2009 was a nearly perfect year for me, and I am very grateful for it.  I had set some lofty goals:

1.  PR at all distances, all events (swim, bike, run, tri)
2.  Complete the Transrockies Run
3.  Qualify for the Boston Marathon
4.  Register for a 2010 ironman
5.  Become a RRCA certiifed running coach
 
Due to the poor economy, I had decided to enter fewer races than 2008, but then 24 events would be difficult to repeat anyway.  I replaced quantity (experience) for quality (performance), entering a more reasonable 15 races and setting 9 PRs in the process.  The thought of saving money this year was a nice idea but after spending more than $3000 for the Transrockies Run, I knew frugality was no more than a good intention, and my wife wasn’t buying it.  I took comfort in knowing I had PR’d at the 10-mile, half marathon, marathon, 5K, 50K, one-hour swim, half ironman, one mile swim, and my local sprint triathlon.  The only remaining distance I really would have liked to PR in is the 10K, but due to my race schedule, I never really trained for a 10K PR and never even raced it once all year.  The only goal I missed was my BQ and I didn’t take it very well.  I was so well trained for it and suffered from the effects of statin drugs I take to keep my cholesterol in check.
 
 The Transrockies Run was easily the biggest highlight.  I’m sure I’ll continue to look back at that experience over the years with fond memories.  I think it also changed my perspective on running and racing.  I know I’ll always be extremely competitive, but you can’t spend nine days in the Rocky Mountains for the sole purpose of running a foot race and not be shaped by the experience.  My world of training, running, and racing got bigger this year.  It only left me wanting more.  The Trans-Alpine Run is now firmly planted in my head and I’m not sure how I’ll ever pull it off.
 
I’m really glad I decided to use the Transrockies Run as a fund-raising event.  Just weeks before the event, I decided to see how much money I could raise for the National MS Society in honor of my youngest sister who suffers from the disease.  I was amazed to raise nearly $10,000.  I don’t know if that’s a lot or a little, but it gave my sister an incredible emotional lift, made my effort and the event so much more satisfying, and inspired me to do more.
 
Looking ahead, my world is about to change in a big way.  I’m taking a new job at my company that will result in tons of travel all over the world, especially Asia.  It will have a huge impact on my training schedule.  I’m prepared to employ some creative training methods, including leaving a tri bike and trainer in Bangalore, India so I can train when I am there.  But I’m worried all the extra work and intense travel schedule will keep me from performing at a high level.  I’m registered for Ironman Couer d’Alene in June and intend to do it.  I’m also concerned about the time away from my family, but we have decided to bite the bullet for a year or two.  There’s no way I’m going to travel like a madman once my daughter starts high school in 2011.
 
I capped off the year by completing my final goal, becoming a RRCA certified running coach.  I’m not sure where it will take me.  I have images of coaching legions of runners in India, but for now, I’m just happy to have the extra foundation of knowlegde.  I’m prepared to embrace whatever 2010 brings me.  Somehow, setting nine PRs again seems a bit unlikely, but it promises to be another exciting year.

RRCA Certified Running Coach

Last month, a few of my running mates and I took a 2-day class in San Jose, CA to become certified running coaches through the Road Running Club of America (RRCA).  Our motivations for becoming certified were all very different, and as I discovered, not everyone who takes the class is even interested in coaching.  Some people just want to expand their knowledge base, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  For me, I’ve been day dreaming about drop kicking the corporate job most of my adult life to pursue my real passions that generate zero income.  But since I’ve never been a gifted athlete, maybe teaching others what I’ve learned over the last 32 years of running might be one way to give back to a sport that has given me so much.

The RRCA course has been taught for over 20 years by Patti and Warren Finke who split their time between Portland, Oregon and Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.  They are both decorated runners.  My own coach, Andy Froumis, thought he might be the most experienced runner attending the class with me after surpassing 100,000 miles earlier this year.  We quickly learned Warren has run 140,000 miles, including a few years when he ran over 6,000 miles a year.  Warren is an instructor for the RRCA coaching certification program.  He has been coaching beginning to elite road and trail runners for more than 25 years. He has competed in over 170 marathons and ultramarathons, winning more than 20.  He is two-time U.S. track record holder for 100km and was the 2nd place veterans finisher in the 1992 Boston Marathon.  Patti is an exercise physiologist and current chairperson of the RRCA coaching committee. Patti has been coaching runners and walkers for over 25 years and has held individual U.S. age records for 50km and 50mi and has three times been Oregon Road Runners Club Age group runner of the year.   They are the founders and directors of the Portland Marathon Training Clinic and authors of Marathoning, Start To Finish.  OK, so I figured I could learn a thing or two from these people.

Due to Patti’s background in exercise physiology, the first 2 – 3 hours of Day 1 was a blur of sports science, physiology, biology, and a few other subjects I struggled with in high school.  I quickly realized it wasn’t so important to understand every single detail.  The idea is to learn their proven system, which is well documented in their class material.  Patti and Warren are the first to admit students may not agree with their system or may prefer other coaching methods, but the test is based on their system, so you had better learn it.  if you don’t score at least 80% on the test you need to take the whole class over and that would be a serious bummer.  I was happy to learn one entire training system even though some things certainly sounded different than anything I had ever known.  And that’s why they’re the instructors.

The first day is intense; you need to pay attention.  They cover a lot of ground and move fast.  Think 10K pace but it lasts all day.  The second day is dedicated to creating real training plans.  It’s the hands on piece and they put you on the spot.  The exam is 100 questions in an online test.  It’s open book and they encourage everyone to take the test with someone else in the class so you can discuss the answers.  Four of us from my running club studied together and I passed the test with a 90% score.  Wish I knew which 10 I got wrong.

The final requirement is CPR and first aid certification.  I took a full day course at the Red Cross.  Can’t believe it’s taken me this long to learn CPR and I’m glad I finally did it.  My very knowledgable instructor was retired Navy.  Let’s just say he kept my attention.  I learned how to treat a choking infant, administer full CPR on an unconcious adult, use an AED (the “paddles”), and treat various injuries.  I actually now feel like I could respond in an emergency situation and know what to do.

I highly recommend the RRCA class if you’re interested in coaching runners. If the class is not offered in your area, they’re willling to come to you.  They just need a local host who will take care of planning and logistics.  The class I took wasn’t offered in San Jose until one of my friends took it upon herself to organize it.  Patti and Warren explained they will also be offering an advanced coaching class soon.

So, I am now a certified running coach.  I’m fully aware that simply having a certification does not make a good coach.  Any kind of coaching is half science, half art, and all people skills.  I was surprised with how little running experience some of the students had in my class.  I felt confident I could properly coach a beginner or advanced runner before I took the course,  but it’s nice to have a proper set of core principles as a foundation.  Patti and Warren said if you only buy one book on running, get a copy of Lore of Running, by Dr. Tim Noakes.  My mother-in-law gave it to me for my birthday earlier this month.  It’s a whopping 804 pages and would keep an RV from rolling downhill.  There is always more to learn.

Thoughts About Running Injuries

If you’re looking for a resouce on how to cure a nagging running injury, this is not it.  For a great resource on learning how run injury-free, pick up a copy of Running Strong & Injury-Free, by Janet Hamilton.  You’ll learn there are five main causes of running injuries–training errors, inappropriate footwear, inadequate flexibility, inadequate strength, and poor biomechanics.  The trick of course, is learning how to train while preventing injuries.  Triathlon is the best thing I’ve ever done to prevent running injuries.  The cross-training helps prevent overuse and repetitive use injuries.

Most Common
I’ve had plantar faciitis and it sucks.  It feels like the bottom of your foot is being ripped off.  It’s one of those injuries you can try to run through until it cripples you.  If you don’t recognize it, you’ll easily spend lots of time and money with a battery of doctors, podiatrists, accupuncturists, chiropractors, and other gurus.  My physical therapist used massage, ultrasound, stretching, heat/ice, and then taped my foot in a manner I would never be able to do myself.  Then after an extended break from running, I started with a 2-mile run and added a 1/4-mile each day until I was back to my normal training regimen.  I bought a calf stretching device which I should really use more often.

Runner’s Knee is very common.  I’ve had it on and off this year.  When my PT diagnosed it as patellar tendinitis–the technical term–I figured it was the result of running 60 – 100 miles a week on trails.  Knee injuries comprise about 55% of all sports injuries and approximately one-fourth of all problems treated by orthopedic surgeons.  A bad knee convinces lots of couch potatoes to stay on the couch.  Don’t do that.

I haven’t had shin splints since high school but it’s very common with new runners.  I sort of think of shin splints as a rite of passage.  Lots of rookies get it.  If you can get past this annoying injury, you can probably train for a lot of different things.

Everyone calls it ITB Syndrome.  That’s Iliotibial Band Friction Syndrome.  Sounds like a world of hurt and I’ve never had it.  Now I’ll probably get it.  I’ve always dreaded this one, partly because it seems unavoidable.  The iliotibial band starts on the outer hip, runs down to the outer knee, then attaches to the lower leg bone.  It spans so much of the leg it’s a miracle I’ve avoided this one.  I even have an ITB strap for running but I’ve never used it.  I’ve also had the good fortune never to have had blisters.  I think it’s because I have a good foot strike and I take great care with shoe selection.  I’m not sure blisters are really injuries, although the ones you see at Badwater or other ultras look far worse than most injuries.

Most Painful
The worst injury of all may be a torn Achilles tendon.  The few people I’ve met with this injury have never quite returned to their former running condition.  This can be a career ending injury.  I watched Brad Pitt go down in the movie Troy when they shot him in his Achilles.  It looked like it really hurt.  Crashing my bike into a rock wall was more painful than any running injury, resulting in a deep gash in my right hand and plenty of road rash. I’ve also broken my back in seven places while tree skiing and separated my shoulder in a separate incident at Lake Tahoe, but that’s a story for another time.  Suffice it to say I understand pain.  What I have learned is that recovery and rehab from a serious injury requires more mental toughness than physical effort.

Hard To Diagnose
Chronic Exertional Compartment Syndrome
is not easily diagnosed.  Lots of runners have never heard of it.  It’s a lower leg injury that occurs when muscle groups outgrow their normal “compartment” size.  I’ve never had this one and hope I never get it.  Maybe I should train less to avoid it.

Plica Syndrome or Plicae Band, also known as synovitis, is an irritation of the synovial membrane in the knee.  It’s a thin, slippery material that lines all joints.  There are four plica folds in the knee, but only one of them seems to cause trouble.  It won’t show up in x-rays or an MRI so it’s hard to diagnose correctly.  My physical therapist thought I had a pinched miniscus.  I had to see sports medicine doc who specialized in running injuries to get this one treated.  I opted for an immediate shot of cortisone in my knee, which allowed me to run a marathon five days later.

The Shoe Conundrum
There’s been a lot of hysteria and hoopla this year about running barefoot or wearing the glove-like Vibram Five Fingers after the launch of the wildly popular book, Born To Run, by Christopher McDougall.  I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and I’m amused by Tweets from Barefoot Ted and Caballo Blanco, but I’m not at all interested in taking off my perfectly comfortable runnning shoes.  You can do what you want, but I’m pretty sure I was born to run with shoes.

I’ve been watching my left big toe change form and color since I nearly destroyed it in July doing the Tahoe Rim 50K.  I had inserted my road shoe orthotics into my trail shoes which are a half size bigger.  Tha’ts not a good thing when you’re tearing down a hill 25 miles into a 50K.  Haven’t we all calculated how long it would take for a toenail to grow back?  Will it grow back in time for this or that race?  What if it falls off in the middle of a long run or race?  Will it hurt?  A black toe generally doesn’t even hurt, but the sight of it makes it look like an injury and so we look at it every day as if we’re injured.

I’d like to think my experience has taught me to be a smarter runner and triathlete, but I think it’s more a case of trying to do fewer really stupid things.  If training, racing and working out is a lifestyle thing for you like it is for me, you’ll probably get injured.  Unless you are Dean Karnazes, who claims he has never had a running injury and credits his perfect biomechanics.  Dean is a baffling example of staying injury free, but that’s not to say he has never been injured. He fell and cracked three ribs at the Transrockies Run this year and could not finish the event.  It’s possible to have perfect biomechanics but it’s extremely rare.  It’s like saying you’ve never had the common cold.

Bizz Johnson Marathon–My First DNF

It’s been a few days since attempting my BQ (Boston Qualifier) at Bizz Johnson so I’ve had some time to reflect and recover from the physical and mental agony of a DNF (Did Not Finish).  I can deal with not qualifying, but a DNF messes with the mind like nothing else.  It wasn’t until the day after the race that I was convinced about what went wrong.

After my best year of running in over 30 years, I had only one big goal left.  I had put in 100-mile training weeks to complete the Transrockies Run, knocked out two solid 50Ks in two weeks, and set PRs at the 10-mile, half marathon and marathon distances.  I had run 3:35 at Napa in March in pouring rain, and I wasn’t even trying to qualify.  I know I’m faster than the average runner but I don’t think of myself as fast at all.  Yet, all that was left to accomplish this year was a BQ, and somehow I’ve always thought you need to be pretty fast to qualify for Boston.  I was probably in the best shape of my life and my marathon training had gone reasonably well.  My Yasso training predicted a 3:23 marathon and I needed a 3:30 to qualify.  I tapered well, ate well and slept well.  I felt good about my prospects even though I knew I would still need to have a very good day to qualify.

The first eight miles of Bizz is a very gradual climb starting at nearly 5300-ft.  Marathon pace was 8:04 but I was willing to go 8:15 for the first 6 miles and make it up on the downhill.  The trouble started early when I realized in fhe first two miles I was putting out a fairly significant effort just to hold an 8:15 pace.  Eight miles into the marathon I was done.  At mile nine I was walking.  I was stunned.  What the hell just happened?  Seconds were ticking by, quickly turning into minutes, and just like that, my BQ was gone.  Anger quickly turned to confusion.  Was it the altitude?  Could I really not handle running at 5,000-ft. after running at 8,000 – 13,000-ft. for six days in the Rockies just six weeks earlier?  Come on, it should not be this hard.  I should be cruising through the first half comfortably at 8-min. pace.  So I started running again.  Wow, now I was having trouble just keeping a 9-min. pace.  I slowed to a crawl.  I was angry again.  Like really pissed off.

I reached the halfway point in just under two hours and realized if I finished, it would probably be in the 4:30 range.  I started thinking it’s not even worth running 26.2 miles to go that slow.  I didn’t know if I was mentally checking out or if there was really something wrong.  But what could be wrong?  I felt fine.  I just couldn’t run.  At the aid station at mile 14 I started asking if I could get a ride to the finish.  Everyone thought I was kidding at first.  But there was no way off the mountain.  The entire course is a dirt road with few access points.  It was the aid station at mile 20 before I found someone who could give me a ride to the finish.  3 hours 10 mins. and I was done.  I was completely spent, nothing left in the tank.

It was when I arrived at the finish that it occurred to me.  I’ve been taking red yeast rice to control my cholesterol.  I’ve been taking it for years so it never occurred to me that switching brands a week before Bizz could result in such dire side effects.  I was more sore the day after Bizz than the day after I did AR50 and I only ran about 16 miles at Bizz.  In fact, I was very sore for two full days.  That can’t be the result of altitude, training, stress, diet, sleep, or dehydration.  It must be medical.  I switched brands for red yeast rice when I learned the stuff I had been taking was no longer effective.  It had been re-formulated after the FDA cracked down on yet another manufacturer.  I started taking the new pills just six days before Bizz, completely forgetting that the two most common side effects of statins are muscle pain and muscle weakness. 

It has taken me a few days to put a DNF in perspective.  early on, I was angry for several reasons.  First, this was my BQ and I had trained for it.  My coach and running partners were confident I could qualify, and I knew I could, too.  I even thought I had a chance of running the best marathon I would ever run.  Everything was in my favor.  Second, I could have prevented it if I would have considered the side effects of statins.  It didn’t ever occur to me.  Third, I drove 650 miles round trip on a weekend to run a marathon for which I had no chance of running well.

So here’s the perspective, for what it’s worth.  My youngest sister nearly slipped into a coma this week after suffering from another MS exacerbation with other complications.  That right there sort of makes my DNF rather inconsequential and makes me an idiot for getting upset about a foot race.  I’ve set nine PRs this year in the swim, run and triathlon.  There’s a good chance I’ll never be able to say that again.  A DNF sort of puts a nice stamp on the year, don’t you think?  Amid all the PRs, I also had a DNF.  I’m also not the only one who suffered out there at Bizz.  Charles and Kim, two friends from my running club, also failed to qualify.  They have run over 100 marathons between the two of them.  They finished, but they were far off their BQ.  Turns out I ran about seven miles with Kim and she said it really helped her get through it.  I’m glad to have been able to help her even in my condition.

Someone asked me if I wish I would have finished and not taken myself out of the race.  Yes, I wish I would not have DNF’d.  But I think it was the right thing to do.  I’ve done the IV at the finish line with a severe bonk at the Way Too Cool 50K and been carted off to the hospital.  I hope I have learned to listen to my body and not do something stupid.  Of course no amount of perspective will change the fact that I did not qualify for Boston.  And so it sits out there as the one that got away, and a goal for next year.  I probably need a redemption run just to get it out of my system, but as I have come to my senses, I’m eternally grateful just to have the chance to run another day.