Sunday, July 28, 2013

July 28 Port Stanley Run: Attempted 21 miles, completed 18.86...

I started my long run today at Hully Gully aiming to run 21ish miles from there to Port Stanley. 8 miles into the run, I caught Marc Labreche and Bernie LeForte, who started at Copps for a 19.6 mile run.

Things were going pretty well but at roughly 17.5 miles, I told Bernie to go ahead. We had just climbed the hill at Union and the best I could hit was 8:39 per mile. Shortly afterwards, I stopped at the side of the road and started throwing up (although there was nothing to throw up). Jenny came by and after about 5 minutes of not much fun with my head hanging over the grass, we started walking. 5 minutes after that, I suggested she go ahead and I'd catch a ride from the water stop about a mile ahead.

When I made it to the water stop, I was now pretty sure my heart was doing weird things and I couldn't find a pulse in my neck, wrist or chest. Despite the lack of pulse, I was pretty sure I was still alive, but clearly there was something not right. And I was hyperventilating, which is new.

As a bit of background, I've had issues with a periodically rapid heartbeat since I was 7 years old. As I've grown older and gotten fitter, I generally only have problems on my long runs (and only in the past two years). I've had it looked at by the London Cardiac Institute and I'm safe to run. They tried an 'ablation' to zap the extra electrical pathway within my heart back in December, but they couldn't find the spot to zap after poking around inside my heart for about an hour.

Anyhow, at the last water stop, another runner, Kate Quinlan, asked if I wanted a ride back to the finish with her husband, which I gladly accepted. I piled into their van and Ray, their two daughters, Quinn and Leah, took me to the finish.

Ray assisted me in walking from the van to the finish and passed me over to Jenny.

Apparently I didn't look very well, nobody could find a pulse still, and I was still hyperventilating when I'd try to speak. Plus I was shivering and fingers and arms were tingling and my face apparently looked gray and my nose to my chin was a purple hue. Out came the beach towels to bundle me up, Carolyn sat beside me to keep me warm (I suggested others join in, but no takers), Dr. Kate Brown was checking for a pulse, Dianne Morley, Erin Visser, John Ferguson and my vet, Brian Watson, we're all looking at me with concerned looks. (Well, Brian and Jenny not so much -- they've seen me finish many runs before). Anyhow, we decided that I should get to a hospital so that at the very least we could get an ECG on my heart for the London Cardiac Institute folks while it was still racing. Kate made the call to get an ambulance, and then things got exciting!

The beach patrol must have heard the call and were there within seconds, it seemed. One of the beach patrols, Kate, took charge and got me some oxygen. They still had a hard time finding a pulse but when she got her stethoscope she pegged it at 140. Yep, definitely still racing.

The ambulance arrived and the paramedics got me onto a stretcher and into the the ambulance. New oxygen and then electrodes for a heart monitor (I'm not sure if it was a full ECG) and then lots of questions from paramedic Kyla so that she could give the emergency folks a heads up as to what was coming in. Almost as soon as I got in the ambulance, though, I could feel my heart rate go back to normal. And Kyla's reports confirmed it. My heart rate was down in the 80 to 90 range where I'd expect it to be after a long run.

We got to the hospital around noon. After checking in with the admitting person, we were almost immediately taken down to the curtained bed areas. They were very nice and brought us sandwiches as by now we were both starving. 4 hours later I was released and the doctor is sending a note to the London Cardiac Institute to get me back in to see them about a portable Holter device that I can wear on my long runs to monitor the details of my heart's rhythm so that they can hopefully figure out where my heart is screwed up.

I'm also going to start wearing my heart rate monitor that works with my GPS (as much as it is an annoyance) so that I can track it and hopefully tell if it is racing while I'm running.

So, my crappy finish to the run to Port was almost certainly due to my heart not getting my legs enough oxygen - and then things went downhill from there. Up until that point, I was having a very good run. Targeting 8:30 per mile, we were feeling strong until the wheels fell off my run. Here are my splits:

8:26 (felt something not quite right)
8:39 (symptoms starting)
14:32 (0.86 of a mile, mostly walking)

So I am quite happy with how the first 18 miles went. But this just goes to show that not every day is going to be 'your day'. Sometimes things conspire against you having a good run - heat, wind, cold, rain or, today for me, a heart that was misbehaving.

I can't thank the Runner's Choice group enough for the attention and support I received at the water stops and finish line to figure out a plan and keep me comfortable until the ambulance arrived. One great big awesome family!!!

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