Monday, February 18, 2013

Race Recap: TinkerBell HM 2013, Part 2: Race Day & Beyond

So...where did I leave off...oh yes, we're moving into race day.
Second part of a two part post. See Part 1 here.

Race Day (Sunday, January 20, 2013)

Minnie themed race outfit.
The day started much as any race day would...except with four women in a room! lol! Woke up early, showered, dressed and made sure everything I needed was in my gear check bag. We made our way over to the corrals I think a little after 4:30am. Settled everything that we needed to like checking our bags, last minute nature breaks, etc. then headed to our assigned corrals. We made our way into the corrals and looked for others that we knew. Then came the waiting. I wasn't quite as excited as last year, but still the energy was there. I ended up moving a little further away from the group since I decided that I would just go my own pace rather than stay with a pacer. I think it's just because I've done so many of my races alone that it's just instinct for me now to do my own thing. As the start drew near I made sure my music was on and that I was as warmed up as I was ever going to get. Finally our corral was moved to the starting line and then...GO!!

I tried to start out slow, but the energy caught up with me and I was going at a faster pace than I should have. The first 5K or so wasn't bad as we ran through the parks first off compared to finishing in the parks last year. I was feeling pretty good but early at some point the "plague" of runners hit me...not bad, but bad enough to cause me several stops in the ladies room before we even left the parks. Thankfully, things seemed to settle down a bit although I did notice that my footing wasn't very sure and I stumbled several times luckily being able to catch myself on a fence or wall without going down to the ground. I just ignored it and kept going doing my run/walk/run, standing totally upright and smiling (or trying to) for the photographers on the course.

Proofs I used to demonstrate to doc the nearly
7-10° lean that eventually developed.
 First pic early in the race and totally upright;
2nd pic towards finish trying to remind myself to stand upright (FAIL)
and finally coming across the finish at full lean.
As I neared the 10K mark, I noticed that my upper body was leaning to the left. Not a muscular based leaning was just I could not stand up straight to save my life! By the time I actually hit the 10K mark I couldn't stand upright at all without really working on doing so. I also noticed a slight headache that came and went plus more stumbling. The panic started to set in...was I having a TIA (more commonly referred to as a mini-stroke)?? I texted to the group I was with at the start to see where they were because at this point I had become afraid to complete the race by myself. As luck would have it, they weren't too far behind me so I waited until they reached me. By that time I was near, if not in, tears from the sheer anxiety...but still I refused to stop. One of my Tink friends, Kat, stopped her race to walk the remainder of the race with me to make sure nothing happened and so that I'd have a safety net. For the next approximately 6.5 miles she encouraged me, listened to my panic and fears, whining and tears! It was slow going and she made sure I was aware of any changes in the road so that I wouldn't stumble/trip over them.

As we passed medical tents and photographers I did my best to stand up straight and used my left hand to remind me to try to get upright. By the last few miles of the race I had pretty much given up on doing just wasn't working. Once we crossed the finish and got our medals Kat ushered me into the medical tent where they started a neurological evaluation and eventually transported me to a nearby emergency room. Thanks to Kat she was able to get my gear bag and get it to my roomies who had long since finished the race.

My hardest earned medal so far,
harder even than Spartan Sprint!
Not even a picture of my own finisher pic this year.
As a nurse you'd think I could take this medical situation in stride. I was able to give a summary of what had happened and then I totally lost it. How stupid I felt.  Twenty two plus years as a nurse...I shouldn't be panicking like this! They finally got me to the ER by ambulance where I stayed for nearly 6 hours. They did a CT scan without IV contrast, a slew of labs, repeated neuro evaluations with the continued mild, intermittent headache, slightly blurred vision during these headaches and an ever so slight continuing leaning of my upper body even when laying back on the gurney.

After nearly 6 hours the labs and CT had all come back clean. The ER doc wanted to be admitted for 1-2 days for observation, but being the obstinant nurse/person that I am I signed out AMA (against medical advice) to arrange a flight home the next day instead of flying home on Tuesday. Partly because I didn't want to be hospitalized away from home, secondly because the cost of hospitalization even with TriCare benefits would have wiped us out!! No joke!!

By the time I got back to the room around 5pm or 6pm I ordered a pizza (hadn't eaten since 3:30am) and packed everything up. I also got on the phone and was able to arrange an early flight home the next morning. I think I actually only ate 2 pieces of the pizza once it arrived and I was probably asleep by 9pm.

Race Day +1

I awoke really early at around 4am to get ready to head out. It's still kind of a blur. I think I showered but I know I went to turn my key in and make sure all the costs were taken care of only to find that the desk clerk I had called the night before to let her know that we would be leaving a day early had actually checked us out the night before. Really not what I needed that early in the morning especially the way I was emotionally. After finally getting that straightened out, I waited for the Disneyland Resort Express to pick me up and take me to LAX.

I wasn't having any real issues other than being extremely fatigued with the occasional short, mild headache and accompanying blurred vision. Because of this I didn't trust myself walking around the terminal so I had arranged for a wheelchair at each stop. I felt a little stupid doing that but I just felt that it would be better to be safe than sorry.

The trip home was uneventful, but I did worry about the 1 1/2+ hour drive home. Luckily everything went smoothly and after I arrived home I pretty much walked up to my husband and began crying uncontrollably. I was so tired the next couple of days that I didn't finally make copies of my hospital paperwork to drop off at the VA clinic until Thursday or Friday after I got home. Luckily by then some of the proofs for the race pics were already online and I was able to include some of those to demonstrate the physical appearance of symptoms during the race.

The Aftermath

It's taken weeks to get a doctor's appointment which I finally had last Friday. I was cleared to begin running/exercising again (something that I had pretty much put a stop to myself with the exception of Spartan Sprint). I also have an MRI of the brain and lumbar spine scheduled tomorrow morning. So I'm only partially out of the woods right now. In talking with the doc there's a possibility of a labrynthitis (improper functioning of the balance mechanism in the ear)/Meinier's Disease probably the most viable diagnosis to be ruled out, an actual TIA, a mass or a multitude of other things. I probably won't know the final result of the MRI until Friday at which time I'll already be in Florida for the Princess Half Marathon at Walt Disney World. So as far as I'm concerned I'm finishing the Princess may be walking most if not all of it, but I will finish. And this time around I'm hitting as many of the parks as I can as well!!

So, until I find out the results of the MRIs and any limitations that they may place on me I consider myself somewhat ready to go and do what I need to do for my second Coast to Coast medal and 4th race of the year! :D  I will update the blog once I know the final results of the MRIs! :)

What I liked about this race:
The fact that I actually finished for one, but even more grateful for running friends like Kat who expressed concern, caring and encouragement during and after the race (there were several of you out there on the course asking if I was OK...I don't remember who you were but I'm thankful for your support) and in the days that have followed. I have a wonderful group of online running friends!! :D

What I did not like about this race:
The fact that this medical issue even happened. There was no just happened. I hate the fact that I slowed Kat down, even though I know she didn't mind. I tried to get her to leave me behind, but she wouldn't! Big, huge hugs Kat!! I hate the fact that it took nearly 4 hours to finish!! OMG!! But other than was a great time before all the medical stuff started happening. I wouldn't change a thing.

Would I do this race again?
Hello?? Can you say 5 year legacy runner?!?! LOL!! I would have stopped if I didn't plan to do it again!! ;) So, as far as I'm concerned I'm in for 2014, 2015 and 2016!!

Official Time: 3:53:16
Gender: 10370/10553
Age Group: 960/985
Overall: 11729/11937

So much for being middle of the pack last year!! LOL!!

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