May 23, 2018
Hi, it has just hit me that I did not tell you guys how the Boston marathon went. Blame it on Facebook, follow me here I post a lot of these stories there. Here is a recap;
After months of training, I eventually got to Boston on the 13th of April. We were three training mates from Kenya-Felicita, Jack and myself. We went to the expo on the 14th and did the route tour on the same day, had lunch of Ugali, sukuma and meat on the 15th prepared by Felicita and went to relax in our rooms early in the afternoon.
I took a cab to the bus pick up point all wrapped up in plastic bags to keep the rain away,boarded the school buses that were ferrying us to the start line.We met up at the start village tent with Jack and sat there together with the thousands of other runners to keep warm as we started for the start time.The rains were already pounding.The weather on race day was expected to be harsh, but nothing could have prepared us for the actual experience. I have talked about hypothermia before in my posts, today I experienced it firsthand…serious hypothermia and it’s by God’s Grace that I finished that race.
Back to the race,we eventually headed out to the start pens and at 10 Ocklock set out Jack and I ran behind each other to clear the congestion at the first 3 kilometres.My drama started as, early as 15 kms when I had trouble taking my concoction in the running bottle. That water for me is a life line due to my severe sweating causing extreme loss of salts. Today however it was so cold and I had a huge challenge squeezing out the water with frozen numb fingers not to mention that I could hardly carry it because I couldn’t feel my fingers. Whatever I could squeeze out would also freeze my throat, which is good friends with tonsils.
At 15 k I told Jack that I would get rid of it and threw it to the side. We progressed but my head was getting migraines when the rains were heavy and at some point my vision was getting hazy. I kept asking Jack if he could see well and of coz owing to the cold rain he said a number of times that he could only see so well(This folks is not the rain we joke about in Nairobi. This is like continuously pouring ice cold water on your forehead).
At some point, I thought I was staggering and dismissed that but eventually I confirmed to myself that I was indeed staggering. I asked Jack to proceed and pulled to the side. I felt extremely dizzy and decided to take it easy. When I set off again a calf that was feeling tight in the run became very stiff so I slowed some more. The other side also froze. My lips were feeling heavy, big and numb. That feeling you get after a dentist injects you to numb your gum so that he can pull out your teeth. I struggled to 30 kms but was shivering so much and I checked into a medical text. In there were like 60 other guys some in stretchers and covered in blankets and in one room that they called Sauna there was a huge group sited next to a big heater and taking hot fluids. I joined them to warm up and made a resolve to terminate the run. After 15 minutes however, I felt better and after a huge thought process, thinking of family, friends and wondering if it was fair to expose myself again, I took a calculated risk and decided to run till the next medical tent and see whether I would manage. I got wrapped in more plastic bags and was signed out of the tent..(they would sign in all runners coming in).
I broke down the remaining distance into 5 and 7 kms and out I went.5kms for me was a point on Oloitoktok rd in our daily runs from Heron and I used that to count down the kms. I stopped taking the cold Gatorade and water in the water points and would walk into an alternate medical tent and take the hot water there. I knew that the people tracking were anxious. Every time I crossed a timing mat I knew that they would all get a relieve and that was my communication of hope to them.
The goals had shifted from finish time to just any form of finish but a finish in one piece. I have never in any race before hoped that I could get to the finish line like I did on this run. I also prayed that the decision to proceed was the right decision. I’m grateful it went well not because I was monitoring my body but because of Gods Grace. I remembered when I decided to go on with the run, a mzungu (white man) who was shivering uncontrollably and had to be assisted to sip the hot water said to me “Are you crazy? I ain’t going out again. I met the devil out there.” I still took a step of faith.
I always like to take the lesson from any occurrence good or bad. I know as runners just like any other people we do put certain expectations on ourselves and those around us also have expectations on us, which is an okay thing to do. However, at the end of the day, there are occurrences that require us to rise above these expectations and while sober be able to make the best possible informed decision despite the tides. Today I had to take that call to stop chasing time and focus on my health and well-being. The decision to carry on is on the borderline and could have gone haywire but I’m grateful to God that it went well.
It is also important for us to expect the unexpected. We saw it in the case of one runner last year that couldn’t run last minute due to injury even after travelling all the way to New York. Thank God he’s back. Some of these issues if we never imagine they can happen can depress someone severely. My comment is to prepare for the best but expect that the worst can happen. To be able to also manage expectations. Like they say there are many races but we only have this one body. Learn your body and be alert to distress signs from it.