To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.
-Steve Prefontaine
Make it simple, but significant.
- Don Draper

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Shamrock 15K Challenge

...aka Attack of Meniere's Disease.

Packet Pick-up:
I aimed to be at packet-pick up early to help calm the nerves. I am always on edge that maybe they won't have a bib for me so I aim for early just in case I have to scramble and make things happen. But this went smooth. Got my number, chip and shirt without a problem. I was kind of disappointed though. Granted the website is filled with information, I like to have tangible things in my hands at race time. I would like to have had maybe a small map of the course with water stations marked, and maybe a slip with information about clothes check, line-up times for each race distance, etc... I guess I just worry, so I like to have reminders. This had nothing. We did look around and found one map on display with all 4 water stations marked. Seemed like not many - but maybe I was spoiled with the frequent stops at Disney? This confirmed my decision to race with my hand held water bottle for the first ever. (Glad I chose this!!) And during packet pick-up I had the slap in the face of a minor Meniere's attack. Not too bad, but still enough to make me use hand rails and pause now and then to sit and gather myself. Lovely timing.

I had so much fun at dinner! I got to finally meet Cilley Girl in person, as well as her friend Julie. We met for pasta at the Old Spaghetti factory in Portland. I opted for the Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli with marinara sauce. Yummy, and I ate the whole thing - which is rare for me. And a piece of cheese bread, 2 pieces of sourdough (?) AND ice cream. I was a good girl and drank water, too. After talking at our table for ages we migrated up to Cilley's house to continue race talk, look at photos and play with her adorable dogs, Maggie & Ginger. They are so cute! I've been stalking her dogs for a while now, so I was happy to get to meet them face to face! The clocks were changing at 2am, so we all decided we had better retire for the night, but not before deciding on meeting times and parking strategies for the next morning.

Ronda, Cilley Girl & Julie
I was a bundle of nerves. I tried to eat my bagel - in the end I ate just under half of it. I was more successful with the banana and ate just over half of it. The rain was coming down pretty good - all day. I think that added to nerves. I just wanted to cry and/or throw up. I couldn't even tell which. I think I was nervous about racing in a new city, on new hills and in "new" weather. I mean the last race was hot and humid and this one was cold and rainy. I didn't know what to do! The crowd was insane! I think they said there were over 30,000 people racing - plus you add the volunteers, vendors, entertainment and cheering family members ... it was a zoo. But l like that! Although I didn't have to go, I jumped in line for the porta-potty. By the time I was up, I had to go. Good plan, Ronda! Once that was done I met up with Cilley and Julie and we were ready to make our way toward the start. In the end I went out in a hat, arm sleeves, tank top, skirt and a very lovely Princess Half Marathon jacket.

Around the half way point.
Did I start off too fast? Not really. I just went with what
 felt good. I knew I'd be walking a lot of the hills, so I wanted to do my best when I was able to easily run. The hills started half a mile into the course and I unzipped my jacket immediately. I regretted the decision to wear it. I was going to call my cheer section, but then I knew he would be watching ... and I was right. I spotted my support staff, pulled off my jacket, passed it off and kept going. Nice & smooth! Glad something was nice and smooth. Around mile 3 at the start of the REAL hills, it happened. I started feeling off. I crashed into TWO girls back to back when trying to get water. I felt so bad. I moved to the side to drink and then tried to go again. Oh - I was good, I fueled in the start corral, and then at miles 2, 4 and 6. I learned from my mistakes! Anyway, I was hit with the reality that I was having a pretty bad Meniere's attack mid-race! This was my first time having it happen during a race. I pretty much freaked out. I was alone, I wanted my mom, I wanted to throw up (bad attack's do that to me), I wanted to cry. One girl was nice and asked if I was okay - she must have seen me totally lose my balance and then immediately rush to grab onto a pole. I called my mom and told her what was going on and said I just needed a pep-talk to help me get through it all. So she did, and I went on my way feeling a little better!

My final kick!
After about 2,500 miles of hills, we finally hit the downhill (only to be met with a couple more uphills, then more downs). I made up for some lost time on the down. When we hit the flatter part into the finish, around mile 7, I found myself again and started to just run and not have to pull over as much. It was really hard though, not gonna lie. Had I not been having this whole Meniere's thing I could have probably been 5 to 10 minutes faster. After mile 8 I just let it go. I wanted to bring it in to a nice finish. My cheer section caught me as I was coming into my final kick - of which I sped up once, then amped it up one more time! I was so focused on the finish line that I didn't even see him. I flew through the finish after 1 hour and 53 minutes and immediately started getting sick.... until some guy gave me stink eye. What? Has he never seen a runner puke at the finish? Well he scared me out of it; I don't know how! **Upon uploading my Garmin data I see I crossed at a 6:18 minute mile pace. YES!! I knew I went into high gear, just didn't know it was THAT high!

I got my medal, and immediately brought out the beads and bobbles! I was able to see Cilley Girl and Julie cross the finish line, and bestow the beads and bobbles upon them as well. I was so happy I got to see them finish. I never get to do that since I rarely know other racers. We wandered around the after party in the mud and pouring rain for a while until we realized it was freaking cold and miserable and we were all hungry. Before we said our good byes we took the mandatory post-race photos ... gotta think of the blog after all!

It was a great experience. I learned a lot from this one... mostly that I CAN survive a race during a Meniere's attack, although it is not my preferred way to do it. I guess mentally I am stronger than I thought. I just hope my next race I will start out strong mentally AND physically, and then just stay that way. I'm glad I did it. Another race in the books! 3 weeks off, and then we do it all over again at the Corvallis Half Marathon!

**If anyone has any tips or ideas of things to read, I am open to suggestion. The topic? Pre-race jitters. I get them BAD before I get to the race site. I usually drive an hour to a race, so that's A LOT of time to feel sick and constantly pull over to the side of the road.


  1. Great pics..sounds like a fun race. I'm reading "Unbroken"..very good so far. I also just finished "The Tenant of Wildfell Hall" by one of the Bronte sisters..Ann? Not sure how I missed this one. It was awesome.

  2. Sorry to hear about the attack, but how rad are you to power through and finish!? My idol.

    Plus, you looked great doing it :D.

  3. Those hills are NUTS. I'm glad you were able to call your mom to help you through. Moms are the best.

  4. Oh my goodness, you looked adorable in your white skirt and green shirt. Those hills are killers! Great run, fun report. Can't wait for Eugene!

  5. Awesome!

    I can't imagine having one of those attacks during a race - way to go for muscling through it!

    It was great meeting you - hope we get to meet up at another race some time!

  6. So sorry about the attack, tough as nails you are for fighting through to the finish! How cute you look too, ab fab!

  7. Awesome job! How fun that you have all these races coming up! I think it's so cool that there are so many bloggers that live near you that you can meet up with!

  8. It was lots of fun -- although you still owe me a night so we can go see Darcelle!! And lately I'm about ready to ship at least one dog to you, you can keep her! ;) I'll have my race report up soon but life keeps getting in the way....

  9. I hate that you weren't feeling well, I can't even imagine how awful that must have been. I do think that you are super awesome for pushing through and finishing. Those hills look like no joke dude! Hill+rain+running=YOU ARE SO BAD ASS!!!

  10. Gee! Hills like that exist? OH my! Oh my!
    You are totally hardcore!

  11. Hills!! hills! yes! You look too freakin' cute girl!! bummed I didn't see you...I thought of you! Great job on the finish!

  12. Congrats on a great race!! Wow, that is a massive climb. Kudos to you!

  13. Great job toughing out that difficult race, and way to smoke the finish!

  14. a) congrats on the race in general
    b) congrats on killing those hills!
    c) glad you made it through the race safely! Ugh and I get nervous when I feel just a little bit dizzy I can't imagine how you finished the race! So proud of you!
    d) I want that medal.
    e) You look cute!
    f) I'm out of thoughts but for some reason I thought e was a weird letter to end on...

  15. Looks like a tough course! Congrats to you, and I just love your festive outfit!!

  16. Great race!

    So sorry about the attack during the race, though :(
    Glad your mom could help.

  17. Sorry about the attack - but star for you for powering through!! And looking so cute while doing it!! What a cute outfit.

  18. You are a rockstar running through an attack!

    My new heroine!


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