Thursday, November 18, 2010

I still succeeded (part 3/3)

We stopped at mile marker 18 to take a photo together. We made it to “the wall”. And I hit that wall at full force. I felt like there was nothing left in me, We struggled on, fighting against my legs which didn’t want to move, we kept taking one step after the other, breathing into my gloves to get some warm air into my lungs. We pushed on towards mile 19, right before entering the Bronx. Joan wanted me to stop at the medical tent to warm up and see how my breathing was. They wrapped me up from head to toe in a warm wool blanket, and gave us pretzels and OJ. We sat there for about 10 minutes before my body stopped shaking but my lips were still purple.
Maybe if I wasn’t sick at the time, maybe if I didn’t have that asthma attack a month earlier, there are so many maybe’s that keep running though my mind. Maybe if things were different we would have decided to keep pushing on, mind over body. But because of my recent exacerbation, neither of us wanted to push too hard and risk something serious so we made the crushing decision to stop there.
At that exact moment I felt defeated, like a failure, I had disappointed everyone, most importantly I disappointed myself. We got on the bus which was already full of ‘drop outs’. I didn’t want to be one of them. I wanted to cross that finish line and get my medal.
Side story…the bus ride…oh, the horrible bus ride. Not only because of how I was feeling but we had the worst driver ever! Instead of sticking to the route he was supposed to take he announces that he’s skipping the other stops because the bus is full and we’re going directly to Central Park. Good right? Wrong. The guy makes every wrong turn he could possibly make, instead of pointing out to the police he was a “official marathon bus” badge so we can turn down the closed streets he drives all the way down to 53rd street and is headed to Times Square. We’ve been on the bus for over an hour already and it looks like we will be on at least another hour the way he was driving. Joan turn to me and says “I’m sorry, I have to pee, I have to get off the bus!” So we talk to the driver who drops us off on 53rd and 5th. We stop to use the restroom at a bar and then walk to 78th and Central Park West. Close to a two mile walk. Thanks for the ride bus driver!!
We picked up our belongings from the UPS trucks, bundled up in our hoodies and sweats, finally cozy warmth, and met up with our family outside the park. I was still bummed out about not finishing, and there was still a lot worth celebrating so we went to get burgers and beer at a place in the village. I don’t think I have ever eaten a burger that fast in my life. I was starving.
As much as that moment, the moment when I had to say, I’m dropping from the race, crushed my spirit, I know I accomplished so much more. From the beginning of this journey it was never about crossing the finish line, but more about challenging myself and pushing myself to be a better me. And I succeeded. I ran 19 miles, a personal best. Seven months earlier I couldn’t even run a mile without getting out of breath. I was able to increase my lung function over 50%. I learned so much about myself and have become a stronger person. This journey also brought me closer to the CF community by sharing my story, starting a blog and meeting others who share in my struggles. I met some incredible people by being part of Team Boomer and together we made a difference. My story was shared on the NYRR website and my CF clinic is sharing my success with younger CFers to encourage them to exercise. I feel very proud to have accomplished what I did in those 7 months.
Now here I sit, 10 days after the marathon with a PICC in my arm waiting for my nurse to ring my doorbell to change the dressing. Who goes from a marathon to IV meds? All in a normal day for a CFer!
So now what? I’m going to continue running and swimming. I’ll probably run about 10-15 miles a week (3 days a week) and swim 1-2 days a week. It will be nice to run just for fun, not with a set distance or set pace in mind. Just get outside with my IPod and run. I want to run a few ½ marathons including the one in Disney World. And part of me, the competitive side, still wants to cross that finish line and get my medal. So maybe I’ll be out there again in a few years! Anyone want to join me!?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Breathe, Enjoy the Moment (part 2/3)

A plane passed overheard flying a banner which read “Breathe. Enjoy the Moment.” I think that is the perfect saying for what lied ahead. And just like that the cannon blew and we we’re off (well after the 10 minutes it took for us to walk to the starting line amongst the crowd). I was lucky enough to be in the wave that was running on the lower level of the Verrazano (insert sarcasm here). No sun, decently strong winds, I was so glad I had kept me sweats and hat on.
It was a slow two mile span weaving in and out, passing and being passed by runners from all over. It’s amazing to me how many people from other countries enter the lottery to run in NYC. I couldn’t count the amount of different languages I heard in the starting village. On the bridge alone we passed runners from the CF Trust and a group from Ireland running in support of CF. How cool is that?! And speaking of charities, the NYC Marathon raised over $30million for charities in this years marathon. Team Boomer rose over $500,000 alone.
Back to running… as we passed the two mile mark at the end of the bridge we made our way up to the local streets of Brooklyn. I tossed off my sweats and hat but luckily kept the gloves. Here is where the race really began for me. The streets were lined with spectators cheering us on. The energy the crowd gave off was out of this world. People were blasting music from out their apartment windows, local bands were out on the street performing. Fire departments had their ladders out hanging banners and cheering everyone on. Signs were held in the crowd, some quite humorous… “hurry us, they are running out of free beer at the end.” Little children had their hands out hoping to get a ‘high five’ every now and then. Some were even passing out Halloween candy. And what I thought was totally cool was the few that stood before the port-o-potty’s holding toilet paper! Much needed, thank you! Most runners (including us) have their names written across the front of their shirts and when someone saw your name you would her “Come on Karen, you can do it, let’s go, you’re doing great!” What a rush! I didn’t even thing about running the first ten miles of the course. I literally “relaxed and enjoyed the moment.” And for those first ten miles the crowd never died. They were just as full of energy at mile ten as they were at mile 3.
As I ran up to the Gatorade station at mile 10 I saw Joan there waving at me. I stopped to stretch, took some salt tablets and off we went. Between mile 10-11 I could start to feel the energy slowly drain from my body. I didn’t expect this feeling to start until mile 13 but the weather conditions were much colder and windier than I was used to running in so it was taking more energy to keep my body warm. We kept running at a slightly slower pace though mile 13.5 when we hit the Pulaski Bridge into Queens. I had been running for just under 2.5 hrs at this point and I still felt great but started to feel my muscles starting to cramp. Nothing I haven’t felt before and nothing I couldn’t handle. We stopped to stretch and walked over the bridge. Then off we went again to the Queensboro Bridge.
Unfortunately my leg cramps were not getting any better by the time we got there (mile 15) and we had to go across the lower level of the bridge. The cold wind hit me like brick and I had no choice by to walk the bridge.
Here is where my memory is a little foggy. We started running again when we got over the bridge (mile 16) and I made it to mile 17 with much encouragement from my friend but I needed a break. We started walking, my knees didn’t want to bend, my muscles ached like I have never felt before and the cold air was hitting my lugs and making my entire body cold. I think it was somewhere around mile 18 that Joan knew I wasn’t going to be able to finish. My body was shaking I was so cold, I was physically and emotionally drained. I started crying, I don’t know why… because I was so cold? Because I hurt so much? Because the cold air was now preventing me from breathing in deeply? Because I knew deep down that I wasn’t going to make it 8 more miles

Monday, November 15, 2010

Marathon Morning (part 1/3)

I just haven’t had time to blog lately but there is so much I have to share about my experience with the NYC Marathon. I’m going to quickly sum up my race week experience…
I met Joan my former Peds CF doc and close friend of mine at the Javits Center for the expo. Since I have CF I was able to sign her up as an “official guide” for me and she is jumping in at mile 10 to be my running buddy for the remainder of the race. I’m soooo happy she will be with me to share this experience with me.
Saturday evening Boomer Esiason himself took the Team out to dinner and gave us a “pregame talk”. His son Gunnar was there as well. During dinner I got to talk with a few members of the team and we shared our CF stories. I loved how it felt to be closer to the CF community, not only though the computer but in person. Dinner didn’t last long since it was race day evening and we all had to get home for a good night sleep!
After a horrible nights sleep, my anxiety levels must have been through the roof, my alarm went off at 4:00 and it was time to quickly get dressed grab my bags and head to Central Park. The day was finally here, November 7, 2010. The day I was preparing for since April, the day of the NYC Marathon.
So down to Central Park we drove, hubby dropped me at our bus, I grabbed a bagel and hopped on. The sea of busses lining Central Park South slowly began to move and a large lump gathered in my throat. Off we went on the drive though Manhattan, Brooklyn and finally to the start in Staten Island. As we were stopped on the bridge we all looked out the windows toward the Manhattan skyline and thought “really? I have to run all the way back there!?”
We made our way off the bus and to our tent in charity village. (I’ll save you the bathroom etiquette – or lack there of – of my fellow marathoners). It was now 8:30ish and I was in wave three of the race, my start time wasn’t until 10:40, so needless to say I had a lot of time to kill! I ate a bit, drank lots of Gatorade, ‘glided’ up, pinned on my number and dropped off my bag with the UPS trucks. Walking around the start village with 43,000 other marathoners was crazy! The NYRR had everything very well organized but it was still hard not to feel intimidated by the sheer number of people.
10:00 came and it was time to get into the corrals. Three other woman on Team Boomer came to my corral with me, Whitney a mom to two CF boys, Haylie a college CFer and her running partner. The cannon went off for wave two and we saw 20,000 people run across the Verrazano Bridge! WOW!! What an amazing site that was.
It was on the colder side so I still had on my sweats, hat and gloves as I made my way to the starting line with Whitney who was going to be my running buddy for the first 10 miles…