I finished my walk. Another item checked off my bucket list. This was less fun than the last item (last fall's tour of Paramount Studios). Unlike the tour, this is something I doubt that I'll want to repeat.
The day started cloudy and cool. Raindrops sprinkled the windshield as we neared New Albany. Those scattered showers called appeared to be scattering in our direction, but they never appeared. While we waited for the walk to start we talked about the weather, our training times, the fact that this year's race did not have the pack broken up by those times. I chatted with the woman with the 18 minute mile sign. To finish the half marathon you had to stay in front of that woman. I had told her that my nightmare was to have her on my heels or to step out of the latrine and have her pass me by. But, I'd walked 11 miles at 16:11. I wasn't too concerned about that really happening.
We stepped off and, with the crowd not separated by pace, it was almost 2 miles before things sorted out comfortably. Most people were walking the 10K, so they were talking as they walked. The thought ran through my head as I tried to push my iPod past the highest volume level that if you can comfortably talk without sounding winded, you're not getting a good workout. I knew I wasn't walking a 16 minute pace, but the crowd was too large. I'd have to make up some time if I wanted to catch a potty stop in the half. I knew that the latrines would be too crowded on the 10K route, and they were. I'd just wait for the "back nine".
About a mile out from the end of the 10K, we were passed by 2 of the half marathoners. I'd been looking for them. Seeing them this late in the race was encouraging. Only 2 had lapped me. I had hope that I wouldn't even see the 18 minute mile lady.
Near the finish line for the 10K, the half marathoners are waved off to the right. I made the turn, my husband and my brother-in-law were there to cheer me on. I thought, now were's the latrine? I made a couple turns onto not-closed roads, grabbed a new water bottle, and settled into my stride. It was quiet now. The cackling crowds were gone. I was alone. Two women passed me. I thought about trying to keep up with them, but I knew they were walking too fast a pace. I reached into my fanny pack and pulled out the bag of almonds and dried cherries for a quick pick-me-up. After the noise of the 10K, this was nice.
Then I heard a couple of voices behind me. I turned to look and there was the 18 minute mile lady and her walking companion. I have no idea where she came from or how they how got there. My nightmare had come true. I'm on the back nine and the 18 minute mile lady is nipping at my heels. I put my snack away and kicked up my pace. Nearly a mile later, a couple of medics on bikes passed me, talked to my nemesis at the rear, then passed the other way. I asked one of them how far behind me she was. He told me about 200 feet. At least she wasn't gaining on me.
I focused on the next walker less than a mile ahead. I recognized him as someone I'd spoken to in the queue for the latrines before the race. We'd both walked 11 miles the weekend before and were just interested in finishing. I set my sights on catching him. As I neared the corner, I saw latrines ahead and considered stopping, but when I rounded the corner, I decided that the 18 minute mile lady was still too close to stop. My nightmare would be complete; she would pass me while I was preoccupied. I kept walking.
At some point during the doldrums that were that part of the walk, I passed the guy ahead. At some point between miles 9 and 10 I passed two younger women. I considered stopping at the latrines at mile 11, but at that point I was only 2 miles from the end and decided that keeping moving was the important part. The dreaded 18 minute mile lady was nowhere in sight.
I walked most of the last mile with the next woman ahead of me, a woman named Melanie who was walking raising funds for cancer program. As we reached the 13 mile mark, my family was there. My granddaughter, dressed in orange right down to her nail polish, had a shirt that said, "Go, Grammy, Go." She joined me for the walk across the finish line. I let out a whoop, hugged my family. I'd done it.
Then it went pear shaped.
I started wheezing. I've never done that before and I have a whole new appreciation for people with asthma. I went to the curb and sat down and felt much better immediately. I drank water, broke open a Clif bar, ate 1/2 a banana, and felt pretty good again. I watched the two girls I passed cross the finish line. Then a bit later the last walker crossed the finish line walking with the 18 minute mile lady. I got up to go congratulate him. Gave him a hug, then started wheezing again. I thought briefly about heading for the truck, but then started feeling a little lightheaded. I sat down again and this time told my son to find me some oxygen. He returned with the medics.
After taking my BP and pulse and asking a bunch of questions, they decided to take me to the squad for some IV fluids and O2. My BP was a little low, the good looking captain told me. They wanted to run an EKG. I assume that checked out OK, but the big concern was by blood pressure, which at one point was as low as 66/30. They decided to transport me to the hospital.
The ER itself is a whole other story, but suffice it to say the issue was apparently dehydration. A couple of bags of IV fluids and I finally got to get up, without being dizzy, and go to the restroom. I don't have an official time for the race yet, but I know that I walked 13.1 miles in less than 3:55:07. That was the time I crossed the finish line on the race clock. I'll post the official time when I have it. Meanwhile, I'm happy to have finished the race. I'm looking forward to just walking again and not training--but not today. I'll think about that tomorrow.