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#32 Not Good in Jersey

I almost not like writing about this marathon, okay, I really don't like writing about this marathon. It's because it was my worst race time ever.

So there are a lot of reasons why it was my worst marathon. However, I don't like making excuses. I started off the year with an amazing set of goals that would have allowed me to accomplish nearly 20 marathons in 2018.

Unfortunately, that was not what was in the cards.

I started off the year pretty strong I was preparing for my first marathon in February. I was anxious to accomplish so much more than what I had done in 2017. I had came back from Achilles surgery, finished eight marathons plus a 50 mile charity race for Run Eugene Run including a Personal Record PR in OBX…by 10 minutes!

I was also able to finish three marathons in eight days, two of them back to back. My times over those three marathons got better and better. I felt super strong!

And then I went to my doctor, and the diagnosis of type II diabetes was changed to type I. It required a change in insulin. And that insulin unfortunately cause me to gain weight. Note: I have a lot of people tell me that it isn’t the insulin but my lifestyle. COME ON! You run 8 marathons and gain weight and tell me… IT’S A FACT!

I was bound and determined not to let it alter my goals. I pushed hard in January and was working diligently in February preparing for the first race. It just so happened on Valentine's Day, February 14 2018 that I woke up feeling very tired. My neck hurt like I slept on it crooked. I slept restless all night. The week before I felt like I was coming down with the flu. My arm was killing me, from my shoulder down through my elbow to the fingertips. I just didn't feel right. However, I shrugged it off and proceeded to go to work. My son encouraged me to rest and possibly go to the doctor.

I hated that idea.

With some reluctance…Okay…A lot of reluctance, I went ahead and took his advice and decided to go straight to the emergency room. At that point my chest was also hurting and I was having a difficult time taking a deep breath. I have watched enough TV shows to know that this was not a good thing. But I didn't really want to believe it.

I got into the Emergency Room and they quickly whisked me off to the surgery unit. I saw the nurses look at each other awkwardly as they called in various doctors. They did a heart catheterization with the belief that I was having a heart attack and they felt 80% sure that my arteries had to be blocked.

No way! I run marathons! Not possible.

The doctor was amazed. My arteries were completely clear. No indication of blocked arteries. But what was wrong? They had no idea! After a lengthy period of stay in the hospital overnight and several more tests by various doctors it was discovered that I had pericarditis. Fluid around the heart. What was the cure!? Rest, no elevated heart rate.

You gotta be kidding me! I have a marathon in one week!

They said, “No you don't!"

For 6 to 7 weeks I was not allowed to do any strenuous exercises at all. Nothing. I postponed four marathons that I had already signed up for and was prepared to demolish. This was frustrating. Because I couldn't exercise the weight continue to creep on me because of the new insulin.

No exercise. I became extremely disheartened.

An opportunity came up for me to run in a marathon in New Jersey alongside my friend Jack Daly. He was completing his 50th state and was celebrating with several people joining him in the challenge. I looked forward to going and being part of the celebration. The question remained was I going to be able to accomplish this task?

With three weeks remaining before the marathon the doctors finally cleared me to start exercising again. So my comment to them was, great! I have a marathon in three weeks. I'm running that…

No you can't do that! They exclaimed. But I refused to listen and set out to join my friend in New Jersey.

It was a pretty cool adventure. I got to meet up with a lot of friends that I had known and made new friends as well. All of them there to celebrate his 50th marathon state. I think it was his 91st marathon overall. He is amazing. An inspiration to me.

I did not want to be a hindrance to his goals and his ambitions. For me this is just another marathon in another state to mark off my list. His goal was to take off fast while mine was to begin with a steady pace. Pretty early on in the marathon I recognized that I was struggling. I was having a hard time breathing. In my legs did not feel very strong.

This was one of those marathons where you basically run 13 miles out and then 13 miles back so as I'm running along while several of my friends have already turned around and headed back. I was about on mile 10 when I met a few of them. They asked me how I was doing. I lied I was okay. I pushed on.

By the time that I got to the turnaround point at mile 13.1, the halfway, I realized that I was in deep trouble.

I was the very last runner! You have got to be kidding me!

I pushed on continuing to struggle. I knew that this was going to be very difficult. The further I went, the more winded I got. I texted my wife and told her that I wasn't sure I was able to finish this. She was running the 10 mile race that day. She had already completed the race had gone back taking a shower and was heading towards the finish line to meet me. I wasn't sure I was going to make it there.

I wasn't sure I was gonna make the cut off time. I was resolved to not let them pull me off the track no matter what! I run around them. They were not gonna stop me!

I pushed, I pushed, I continued to push. Like a tortoise. More walk than run.

It was about mile 20 when I told my wife I did not think I could finish. I think I'm done. She texted me back and said don't! I'll be right there.

I thought that she would probably be driving the car to meet me someplace however that was not the case. She walked from the finish line after running her own 10 mile race to meet me at mile 23. She walked beside me as I struggled putting one foot in front of the next, slowly working my way to the finish line.

Friends drove by and said it are you okay! They're getting ready to shut everything down!

I felt terrible. A failure.

Michael and Megan drove back to the finish line and told the officials that I'm still moving! I'm still coming! Don't take anything down! What awesome friends, and we just met them the day before!

I chugged along… got to the last stretch and pushed as hard as I could with everything that I had left to finish the race barely under seven hours.

My worst marathon time ever!

It never really makes me feel any better when people say “But, you finished! That is better than most people!” Yes, I did. I guess.

So when I finished the marathon they gave me a banana and a bottle of water and I turned around and I saw the inflatable finish line arches deflate. I was the last one to finish. The very last one to finish. I never thought that I would ever say that.

There was a great celebration at the conclusion of the race where we all got together to celebrate Jack's 50th state. Fantastic accomplishment. Can you imagine? Running a marathon in all 50 states? He is amazing and always encouraging to those around him.

The marathon was a humbling experience.

I recognized once again that any marathon on any day is always a challenge. I can never take it for granted again. It takes a great amount of perseverance to prepare for a marathon…especially when you're in your 50s, but no matter how old you are.

I'm thankful for having accomplished this race. And I'm thankful for the friends that were there to support and encourage me. Even when I thought that I was finished long before 26.2.

As always, I share my story as a diabetic and why I run.

That is important to me.

Continue to spread the word.

Thanks for all your support and prayers.

Eugene Thompson

Run Eugene Run

Diabetic Runner

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