It’s a tie game between me and the beast called the Peachtree Road Race. I didn’t win, but I didn’t lose.
It started this morning when I woke up at 5:00 to get myself ready for the Peachtree Road Race. I was tired, but otherwise feeling fine. I staggered got out of bed and stammered to the kitchen to make my pre-race breakfast. As soon as I popped my bagel in the toaster oven I began to feel a little nauseous. I figured it was pre-race jitters and would get better once I got down to the race; I wasn’t too concerned. As I sat down in the living room to call my cheering posse to make sure they were awake and were running on time, my nausea increased to the point where I asked Husband to get me a carbonated beverage. When he brought it to me, I was too ill to even drink it. I got off the phone and went into the bathroom, where I was not only nauseous but also having GI issues. As the next few minutes progressed, I grew worse. I was dizzy and shaking uncontrollably. I started feeling a tingling at the base of my scalp and my vision went black. The next thing I know Husband is sitting beside me on the floor calling my name. I had passed out. He carried me to the bed since I was still shaking and couldn’t walk straight so I could lie down.
As I lie in the bed, I wondered what could be wrong with me but came up with nothing. I had hydrated and fueled myself properly the two days prior to the race. I had received a good night’s sleep. I didn’t take any medication that was out of the norm. I had no idea what was wrong, but my symptoms weren’t getting any better. I feared I would never make it to the race in the shape I was. Normally I can run through anything, but when Husband asked me if would be able to go, I whimpered and tearfully told him no. I couldn’t even dress myself, much less make the effort to get to the race and run.
As I heard Husband on the phone with my cheer team alerting them we were going nowhere, I started feeling better. My nausea subsided and the room stopped spinning. I started to wonder if my symptoms were due to anxiety since they were receding at the knowledge of not racing. The visceral reaction I had experienced was retreating.
I was able to fall back asleep, albeit fitful rest. When I woke up around 7:00, I was a little wobbly, but otherwise okay. No nausea. No shaking. No dizziness. No tunnel vision. I made myself my pre-run breakfast again and contemplated what had happened to me. I had invested so much emotionally (not to mention financially) in running the PRR, that I was stunned and shocked not to be at the race. I couldn’t believe I was missing the world’s largest 10k, the race that was going to define me, the race that was going to prove that I was getting better, the race that would prove that I could handle life on life’s terms.
I alternated between berating myself for not pushing through the symptoms (how do you push through fainting?) and trying to find the silver lining of one of the darkest clouds I’d experienced in a while. Since insulting myself for symptoms beyond my control would only make me feel worse, I decided to do something positive. I thought if I couldn’t run the Peachtree, I would go run my own 10k. So I put on my Peachtree Road Race outfit, replete with my new socks and headband, and hit the trail running. I ran 8 glorious, exhilarating miles. No problems.
Given my symptoms this morning and the fact that I was able to still run 8 miles without incident, I’ve concluded that my symptoms were psychosomatic. Even though I was intellectually ready and prepped for the Peachtree, psychologically and subconsciously I perceived it to be too stressful and traumatic and so my fears manifested themselves somatically.
So, sadly, I wasn’t part of the racing community today, and I’m left feeling defeated, broken, and damaged. But I’m trying to look at the positives of the WHOLE Peachtree Road Race experience.
- I took risks. Just signing up for the race was allowing myself the possibility to dream that I could run a large race like a “normal” person.
- I went out of my element and drove myself to downtown Atlanta to join a group of runners to do a practice run of the course.
- I took MARTA down to the Peachtree Road Race Expo, where I was packed in, elbow to elbow, with thousands of other runners picking up their race number and playing with new products and treats.
- I am able to submit my race number to the Atlanta Track Club for a guaranteed spot in next year’s race.
I wrote in “More than just another race” that this race would prove that I can tolerate new, unfamiliar situations. I wrote that the race would be either the beast that I tame or that would eat me alive. Well, this year, I didn’t tame the beast, but it didn’t eat me alive either. In my list of positives, I did prove I could handle new, unfamiliar situations. Even though I didn’t have the success I wanted, there were moments of triumph along the way. Now, my hopes are set on next year, when I’ll have the opportunity to toe the start line with the beast again. Until then, I think the beast and I will just call it a tie for now.