Saturday, June 10, 2006

2006 Bellin Run 10km

This is a story of the race that should never have been.

It was 4 days before the Bellin 10km, which in Green Bay is the premiere running event, is the 8th largest 10km road race in the country and the numbers were expected to be over 10,000 entrants this year. All of this hype and I was sick. I had just run a PR marathon 2 1/2 weeks prior and the fatigue had weakened my immune system and I could barely walk. Right up until the race I could not hold any food down, and even water was coming right back up. I had lost about 8 pounds in four days and had no business even getting out of bed, let alone trying to run a race. We tried to go to Olive Garden the night before the race and I made it about half way into my first bite of food before hurrying outside to throw up.

I had thoughts of trying to hit a mark in the 38's and finish in the top 100, but with a pie in the sky goal of sub 38. My previous personal record was a high 38 about a year previous. With the state of my physical condition, I was just hoping to finish, seriously.

I showed up on race morning wearing my elite bib, putting me in the top 200 runners at the start of the pack. I had to qualify with a sub 39 10km previously to be in this grouping at the start. Afterward other runners talked about what it was like to mingle with elites like Ryan Shay, Vanderlei Lima and John Korrir but everything was hazy to me and I don't remember much before the gun.

I went out what felt like at a slow pace in the first mile which was uphill, but ended up clocking a 6:05. At that point, it was like something just clicked for me and I picked up the pace. I was able to feed off of the adrenaline of the competition and find motivation from the crowds lining the streets. I ran low 6's through miles 2, 3, and 4.

With two miles to go, the tides turned and my body wanted to just shut down. There was no energy in the tank and my body was telling me not just to slow down, but to drop out of the race all together.

I decided that I would push on, close my eyes every once in a while and just gut out the pain. Between the stomach cramps, the severe dehydration and the intense lactic acid building in my legs, my day should have been over. The look on my face in the pictures tells the tale of utter anguish.

Yet somehow I was able to climb the last hill and make the final turn with less than a mile to go. Ironically despite a much faster time than the previous year, I passed Jeremy Johanski at the same place in the race.

I pushed on relying on my legs for muscle memory, knowing that my body had nothing else to give. Despite taking in as much fluids as I could and still hold a low six minute pace, I was becoming dizzy which wasn't good whatsoever.

Pretty much right before passing out, I crossed the finish line. I was 94th overall of 10,000 runners. I had shattered my old Pr by 8 seconds per mile. I had run 37:49 in the best race of my life to this point. The photo below capturing the look on my face as I pumped my fist crossing the finish line is really one of the last memories I have from the latter stages of the race and after.

But isn't this the look of pure joy?

I guess that I went to the car and laid down in the back seat. After being 'missing' for an hour, Laura found me and knew right away that something was wrong. It was 80 degrees out and I was shivering with a jacket and pants on. We bypassed the race first aid and walked across the street to the Emergency Room.

They took me in and laid me on a freezing cold metal table and proceeded to pump me with two bags of fluids via IV. I was diagnosed with severe dehydration and the Doctor seriously questioned my sanity for racing. I didn't care that it would later cost me $500 in medical bills, or that I would out be of commission for days after.

When he asked why I would run that fast for that far under these conditions, I just showed him my medal.