19.68 miles, and then I died

Wednesday night I crumbled during the last half mile of a 20 mile run.

And I mean crumbled. Like barely able to walk. Like crouching in the shower for ten minutes because I didn’t have the energy to stand up.

Because I was heading out to housesit the next day and because I had spent the afternoon writing and it was dark by the time I closed the lid of my laptop, I decided to run on the treadmill. I don’t like running long distances alone at night and MM wasn’t in the mood for a 20-miler.


So we trudged to the gym, where he pounded out 11 miles at a decent pace and left around 9:45 p.m., and I continued at my much slower pace until past midnight.

Yeah, I was still running past midnight.

It was unusually hot in the gym and I was wet with sweat by mile 5. By the time I reached 10, I was so wet that I had to wring out my hair. I drank water and ate small pieces of protein bar for fuel but didn’t have any electrolytes because frankly, I hadn’t thought I would need them.

By mile 16, I was woozy. I noticed tiny little spots on the TV screen above my head. “Oh,” I thought, “the TV is going dotty.”

I wasn’t exactly in my right mind. By mile 18, I was sure I was going to puke. I didn’t slow down. Instead I thought: “I’ll just hold my tee-shirt like an inverted parachute and puke inside that.”At the time this sounded like a perfect solution.

By mile 19.68, my legs began to collapse and I felt hot all over. I stumbled to the restroom and threw up. The next thing I knew I was crouched in the shower and the only thing I could think was: If only I could cut open my veins and fill them with water!

I don’t remember getting dressed or driving home. I do know that I collapsed on the living room floor and passed out for a couple of hours.

When I came to, I couldn’t walk. I crawled to the bathroom and got water out of the bathtub faucet, and there was this odd voice narrating inside my head. “Drink some water, yes, that’s good, and then we’ll crawl out to the kitchen and get some Nuun.”

I was talking to myself in plural, as if my mind and body were separate, and I suppose in a way they were. After I sipped the Nuun, I slowly began to feel better. Then I ate and felt much, much better. I still don’t know: Was it a blood sugar crash? A dehydration crash? A combination of both? I honestly don’t know.

What strikes me was how unaware I was that I was reaching a danger point. I am not the type of runner to push beyond my limits. If something hurts, I slow down. If it keeps hurting, I stop running. If I had known I was as bad off as I apparently was, I would have stopped running at the 16 mile point and called it a night. Yet I truly did not know. I truly could not think straight.

But today I am well and in a good frame of mind (me thinks). I’m sitting out at Jonnie and David’s in Hatcher Pass with the three dogs and watching the snow fall through the trees. Soon I will go out and run 5 or 7 or 9 miles. I’ll send pics the next post. It’s beautiful out here, and much more peaceful than the city.

Cheers and happy running, everyone!

4 thoughts on “19.68 miles, and then I died

  1. Anne

    That is crazy…I'm so glad you are okay. That must have been quite a scary experience! Phew!

    BTW, about the snowshoes, it's a little harder on the ankles, but it's worse if there's a lot of loose snow, if the snow is hard packed it's not so bad…and that's when I can run 🙂


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