I was so excited about finally getting to the point where I was able to no longer talk about it but just run. Just to do this thing. This crazy thing. Seven marathons in seven days. I must be out of my mind. I just wanted to do something that was completely out of the ordinary. I wanted it to be special. I wanted to be special. I figured seven marathons in seven days one in each of the seven cities of our community would be pretty unique. Little did I know how the day was going to turn out.
It was a pretty fantastic morning. The temperature was great and my wife dropped me off near Norfolk State University campus that I can start my run. A big mistake in planning was not realizing that much of the campus on Sunday morning would be locked off to vehicular traffic. Couldn't actually get where I needed to go without walking to my self imposed starting line of my self imposed marathon course.
Who does this sort of thing to themselves?
Once I got started I wandered around the campus a bit try to get back on my path that I had planned previously in the week. Unfortunately felt like I was going in circles. I need get to see the campus.
Finally, I figured out where I was and where I needed to get to. This is going to be one of the struggles during seven marathons is knowing the exact route that I had planned to come up with 26.2 miles. No other runners. No road signage pointing you in the right direction. No volunteers to assist along the way. The COMPLETE route was critical in my planning because it did not want to come up short at the end of a long run.
There's nothing worse than having to run around in circles near the finish line just to make up your total distance desired.
I made my way to Harbor Park where I met my wife who was going to run a few miles with me at the beginning of the Elizabeth River trail. I did not know about this trail! It’s incredible! I started the trail where it goes behind Harbor Park and Waterside and then continues along the edge of the water for more than 10 miles.
I knew it wasn't gonna go superfast, first because well …..I am not superfast. I'm not even fast. I'm not even average. I'm slow. I'm a terrible slow at times. Hey, that’s just me! Secondly, I was going to document my journey and take a few pictures and videos through each of the communities as well as my victories and struggles.
I underline struggles here.
Waterside, US Wisconsin, various small parks, just was all exciting during the first handful of miles. My wife was tracking me in the vehicle after completing the first few miles of her own morning run with me. She would go up ahead every 3 to 5
miles and stop so that I could get some nourishment and fluid on a regular basis or as needed. Our plan was that she would drive ahead on the scheduled route and stop so that I could eventually catch up to her grab a snack grab a drink and go.
Our own homemade water stop!
Everything was going really smoothly up to mile 8 mile 9 and then mile 10 I start struggling a little bit. I have my continuous glucose monitoring (DEXCOM) attached while I run so I can find out exactly what my blood sugar is at all times. Before marathon, I had done 44 of them before this, I always turned off my insulin drip so that I would not plummet with low blood sugar during the race. I knew that carb-ing up a bit with oatmeal, yogurt and bananas in the morning would give me the nutrition I needed but also it would leave me with a higher sugar. Traditionally, after I start running I will drop down to normal levels.
However something was wrong!
I noticed about mile 10 that my sugars were increasing. That just does not make sense. I really hadn't eaten any snacks during these first few miles. I’d been fine. Why was my sugar going up? That does not make sense.
When the sugars go incredibly high it actually zaps my energy out of me when I'm running …. most definitely when I'm running.
By mile 13 I could tell I was in trouble.
I did not have my controller for my insulin pump with me. I never needed it! I just set the control to postpone any insulin for the next eight hours and then figured that once I started eating again at the finish it would kick in.
Note: Even on my worst day it’s never taken me 8 hours to do a marathon. I set my Omnipod insulin pump to 8 hours to account for before the race as well while eating breakfast. I need the extra fuel and don’t want the insulin to counteract my plan…..what is it that is said about best laid plans?
My wife not wanting to leave me behind to go get the pump controller decided to call our daughter to see if she could swing by the house grab it and meet us on the road somewhere. I continue to march forward best I could but had to slow down incredibly doing a walk/run.
Okay….more walk than run.
I was around mile 15 when she arrived was able to finally get some insulin in me but it took me several tries of injecting specific amounts of insulin to finally see a result in my blood sugar coming down.
Unfortunately the damage is already done.
My new strategy was to just continue the march forward. It was a slow pace but still figured that I'd be okay could and would eventually rebound. While the first part of the race was beautiful and shaded and comfortable, my run in Norfolk became a bit overwhelming by the time I got to Oceanview Avenue. There was very little shade from the blazing sun! I was drained, tired, my feet begin to hurt, and I felt like I was unable really to eat anything for fear that my blood sugar would climb back up.
My first day of seven marathons felt disastrous. It took me eight hours to finish. What was in store for me the rest of the week? Had I not prepared properly? Will my blood sugar going crazy prevent me from continuing?
Doubt, fear and negativity begin to set in.
With my mind not in its proper place all the other fears again to overwhelm me. There I was, spouting off like a fool, that I was going to run seven marathons in seven days and I struggled on the very first one. What was I thinking? Moreover, what would everybody think of me? Everybody THOUGHT I was foolish for trying to do 777 challenge but now they'll KNOW that I AM A FOOL!
Stress begin to set in making things even worse. Feeling really disappointed in myself and wondering what the world is going on.
I was sick to my stomach.
During my run, and with each struggle, I tried to make fun of myself to keep things light. At one point I was running alongside cemetery and took a selfie with the gravestones in the background send it to my wife telling her “maybe I can just lie down here for a while.”
And further down the road, as I get towards the end, I see these abandoned scooters that are all over Norfolk and Virginia Beach. Right now the temptation was strong! Maybe I can jump on one of these and race to the end of my run!?
Yes Satan was strong. But I didn’t succumb to it.
“Get going”, I told myself
It was nearly 8 hours by the time I arrived at the entrance way to the botanical gardens and in the back of my mind I knew I needed to answer the BIG question.
Will I be back out here tomorrow?
It was time to go home take a ice bath, relax, stretch out my legs (as they had begun cramp credibly by the end of my first day) and recover a bit. I just didn’t know what to do.
I thought in my head, well that's just stupid!
I rested and ate some dinner preparing to follow through with my game plan. Maybe this was all just a fluke today. I went to bed wondering what the morning would bring.
Go here to see what I decide in the morning.
Thanks for all your support and prayers.
Run Eugene Run