This is a very hard race recap for me to write. I’ve waited almost 2 months to write it and although I am feeling better, it still is very hard. On Palm Sunday, Ron and I ran in the inaugural Rock-n-Roll Raleigh Half Marathon.
We were ready to Rock!
However, for 2 men in their early 30’s, this race would be their very last. They both collapsed and died. One man collapsed with the finish line in site and the other man collapsed around mile 10. Both men were reportedly in great shape and had run half marathons before.
I have heard about this phenomenon of people collapsing and dying in races but I took solace in the fact that statistically, running marathons was safer than any other active sport. Usually the people that lose their lives are men in their 30s and they most often have an undiagnosed heart conditions. This time the 2 people that lost their lives fit the profile to a T. However, on the same weekend that Ron and I were running the Wrightsville Beach Half Marathon, a 16 year old girl collapsed and died just after crossing the finish line in the Virginia Beach Half Marathon. This 16 year old was a student athlete and played softball and was on her high school swim team. It was seeming to me that you just couldn’t tell anymore. This was happening to more and more people of all walks of life and was happening much closer to home.
Ron and I did not see the men on the course and had no idea anything had happened. In fact we were at home eating Chinese Veggie Combo Plates when I noticed the news alert on my phone. I was in shock!
My heart broke for the 2 men and their friends and families.
My heart was also very heavy because this race was actually a very hard one for Ron. Ron and I don’t usually run together. Ron likes to listen to music and he is about 1 minute per mile slower than me. For this race, I had decided that I was going to stick with Ron the whole way. I knew he wouldn’t talk to me but since this was a very big race and the course was sure to be crowded, I wanted to stay together. We were doing great until around mile 5 when Ron asked me about the hills. I teased him and told him that the hill that we were on was the last one. I thought he could tell in my voice that I was teasing but he didn’t. Raleigh is one of the hilliest places you could ever imagine. Durham is hilly too but Raleigh comes in right behind them. When the hills just kept coming one right after another, Ron got a little freaked out. I told him that I was just joking and that I was very sorry but it was too late. Running is a very mental sport and Ron was getting so discouraged.
The hills were coming a lot easier to me because I have been doing hill repeats as part of my weekly training. I encouraged Ron to slow down and take short steps. Around mile 8, Ron took off his hat and his headphones and I knew something was up. He told me he was getting dizzy. We walked to the next aid station and he stopped and let the medics check him out. His pulse was perfect so the medic just offered him some Gatorade. At that point Ron cheered up a little but I suggested we run intervals for the rest of the way in. I set my Garmin to run 2 minutes and walk 1 minute. That went along pretty well for most of the way until around mile 12. Ron was really losing steam and walking more and more.
We were run/walking near a group of 3 other people. There was a guy and 2 girls probably in their early 20’s. One of the girls was having a very tough time of it and was just like Ron. Her 2 friends were sticking with her and encouraging her to run to the next block and stuff like that. I was doing the same for Ron but really trying to just take all the cues from him. If he needed to walk, we walked. In fact, I turned my Garmin completely off so we wouldn’t hear the interval beeps anymore.
We made it to the finish line, got our medals, grabbed some food and water, and proceeded directly to our car. This was one race that Ron was very glad was over.
After I heard the news of the 2 men that had lost their lives, I started feeling really guilty. Where do you draw the line between encouraging someone and just not saying anything?
What if our Ready to Rock selfie from above was the last photo I ever had of Ron? You can see, I was a bundle of nerves.
I’ve had several weeks to think about everything and I’m more at ease now. Only God knows the day and time that you’ll be called home to heaven and we just can’t get all caught up in that. I do believe in being careful and not reckless but I have to let it go. I love running marathons and I train for them. Statistically, running distances does make the heart grow stronger.
Here’s a few shots of the Rock-n-Roll Raleigh expo. It was a very well-run race and loads of fun. The expo rocked and was truly the very best one I’ve ever attended.
The course was pretty but like I mentioned, very hilly. Raleigh is my town and I’m getting more accustomed to her and I don’t get freaked out as much over the hills. Funny how training hills will do that for you. Imagine that. Hard things become easy if you practice. LOL Now if push-ups and dare I say pull-ups could ever become easy!
Everything about the Rock-n-Roll series was awesome. I’d highly recommend this race. I really liked the corral start. It was the largest race I’ve ever run in and with the corral start I never felt crowed at all.
The only negative that I can think of is the parking. That was horrible. I know they will work on this for next year so it shouldn’t be an issue in upcoming races. Just know that even with the 7:00am start, don’t panic. The last corral probably won’t even take off until around 7:45 so you’re not going to miss it.
I was thinking about doing a lot of half marathons over the summer but I’m leaning more to just volunteering at them instead of running. I have found a 50k that I can run before my marathon and I’m almost ready to bite the bullet and sign up for it. It is actually a 12 hour race and you just run as much as you can in the 12 hours. Surely I can do 50K in under 12 hours. This might be the very best first ultra for me. I’ve heard about Hinson Lake and it looks cool too but the registration is already closed for this year.
I also just got an email about the Run the Valley race that is coming up in September. I really get sucked in. Just when I say I’m not going to run as many races and email will come and now I want to see if I can tackle Morrow Mountain again. It was a very cool race. Maybe I’ll have to do it.
Happy running friends!