Flashback to the 2008 Vancouver Half Marathon

Flashback to the 2008 Vancouver Half Marathon

Yesterday Jason and I ran the Vancouver half marathon. Jason dubbed it his “vindication race,” and before I talk about how we did, I feel I have to explain why he nicknamed it that. Time to flashback to last year’s half marathon. Cue the wavy lines…

Okay, pretend it’s 2008. Jason and I are driving up to Canada to do the Vancouver half marathon. This will be my 2nd half marathon, and my goal is to finish in under two hours (my first half marathon was in Port Angeles a couple years before, and I finished at around 2:04). Jason had actually never run a half marathon before — he had done 3 marathons, so he figured the half would be a piece of cake and set a goal time of 1:45.

On our way up to Vancouver, Jason starts noticing that he’s feeling a bit “under the weather.” It’s no big deal — just a little stuffiness and a bit of a headache. We get through the border, check into our hotel, walk to the Expo Hall to pick up our packets, have dinner, and go back to our room to relax and prep for tomorrow’s race.

This is where things start to get a bit icky. Jason’s symptoms start to worsen and he begins feeling downright miserable. I’m not sure exactly what’s wrong with him, but I figure that once someone starts excreting goop out of his eyes, he’s probably not in the healthiest state to run 13.1 miles the next morning.


Jason’s laying on the bed sounding congested and miserable with a warm washcloth draped over his gunky eyes, and I think, “There is no way he’s running tomorrow.” He’s sick and seems like he has a sinus infection, so the last thing on his mind should be hitting a PR for a half marathon…right?

Oh, how I underestimate the competitive nature of men. The next morning, Jason rolls out of bed jacked up on adrenaline and race jitters. He pops a bunch of cold medicine like they’re Tic Tacs and suits up for the race. I keep asking him if he’s feeling well enough to race and he assures me with his husky, congested voice that he feels a lot better and will be fine.

We meet our racing buddies in the hotel lobby and head to the start of the race. Since the finish dumps into a large stadium and there are thousands of people racing, we set up a meeting landmark for after the race: a giant inflated Ronald McDonald. It’s easy to spot the frighteningly huge clown, so we figured it would make for an idiot-proof meeting spot. We all wish each other good luck and I kiss my sicky boyfriend before the gun goes off and we all begin the race.

I don’t feel great on the run — my main mistake is that I’m wearing pants instead of shorts because I mistakenly thought that race day would be colder than it actually was. I immediately get too warm and feel kind of miserable as I plod along, one foot in front of the other. Despite the wardrobe misstep, however, I finish the race in about 1:56 and feel pleased that I beat my previous half marathon time by 8 minutes. Wahoo!

I run into two of my racing buddies who finished less than a minute ahead of me and we make our way to Ronald McDonald to meet Jason, who should have finished about ten minutes before we did. We get to Ronald and Jason’s nowhere in sight. I think that maybe he’s using the bathroom or grabbing food, so we sit tight and wait for our final friend to finish. Our friend gets done at around 2:14 or so and Jason’s still MIA. What the hell? Did he get mixed up somehow? It’s not like there are 15 giant Ronald McDonalds floating around the stadium, for crying out loud.


Kind of hard to miss this dude

We wait around a bit longer and he still fails to show up. At this point I’m thinking that one of 4 things has happened:

  1. He’s dropping gut bombs in the bathroom
  2. He’s pigging out on mini bagels and orange slices…and then he’ll drop gut bombs in the bathroom
  3. He wasn’t feeling well so he went back to the hotel to shower and lay down
  4. He’s passed out in the medical tent

I loiter around the men’s room like a creep for about 10 minutes until I’m convinced that he’s not in there, then I head to the food area. No Jason. I poke my head into the medical tent that’s inside the stadium and check to see if there’s a 6’4″ pasty white dude getting an IV drip while curled up on a stretcher. The volunteers tell me that nobody fitting Jason’s description has been in their tent. At this point I’m convinced that he’s back at the hotel, so my friends and I head back to our rooms and part ways to shower and check out. I rummage for my key, swipe it, open the door and pop into my room, expecting to hear the shower running or see Jason sleeping soundly on the bed.

The room is empty. I start to get worried and begin mentally formulating a game plan that will gradually escalate in urgency (think of it as a Flow Chart of Panic). Shower. Change. Leave a note in case Jason returns to the room while I’m gone. Tell the front desk that if they see a 6’4″ pasty white dude come in while I’m out, they should tell him I went looking for him and that he should call my cell phone. Head back to the race. Look for Jason. Check hospital. Call his parents and tell them that I’ve lost his son somewhere in Canada and that it’s not too late to adopt. Etc.

I scrawl a note and tape it to the wall opposite the room’s entry way, leave, call the elevator, step in and ride it down. As I’m mentally going through my Checklist of Escalating Scenarios (he’s at the race, he’s in the hospital, oh god he’s dead), the elevator doors open, I look up to step out and run directly into…Jason.

He’s sweaty, pale as a sheet (well, paler than normal), has a cotton ball taped to the inner crook of one arm, and is sporting a huge bloody scrape on his knee. “What happened?!” I ask. “I was just going to go back out and find you!” He looked at me and says in a sheepish manner, “That was a mistake.”

Here’s what happened. Jason runs a hard, fast race. For most of it his body feels achy and his head is pounding, but he toughs it out and mentally pushes himself to continue running hard. He keeps checking his watch and sees that he’s on pace to finish in his goal time, so he keeps pushing and pushing. The cold medicine has left him dehydrated and he can barely breathe from all the congestion and general crappiness. With a couple miles left to go, his body starts feeling even worse but he knows he’s almost done so he pushes even harder. Then, with about 100 yards left to go, Jason races towards the finish line…and finds himself flat on his back as a bunch of medics run towards him. Yes, in true “slow-motion Chariots of Fire” fashion, Jason collapses right before the finish line, going down like a 250 lb sack of potatoes. He even makes the medics carry him across the finish line so that he can have an official finish time. Man, I wish I could have seen that.

Earlier when I checked the medic tent inside the stadium, I was unaware that there was another tent outside at the finish line. While I was poking my head into one tent, Jason was sprawled out onto a stretcher inside the other one. Go figure. Apparently he tried to get someone to go find me, but somehow the medics didn’t feel that complying with a dehydrated and semi-delirious runner’s wishes to find his shortish dark-haired girlfriend who’s “near Ronald McDonald!” was high on their priority list.

Anyway, the medics pump Jason full of IV fluid and tend to his scrapes before he’s finally able to convince them that he’s well enough to leave. (He wasn’t, but he wanted to get the hell out of there.) When he leaves the stadium he feels woozy, light-headed and lost, but he ends up making his way back to the hotel. We have our big reunion and he showers. Checkout isn’t for another couple hours, and Jason is still feeling pretty miserable so he wants to take a nap. I’m pretty hungry but lay down with him because I’m a damn good girlfriend.

We wake up and check out. I ask Jason if he wants to stop and get food, but he says nothing sounds good and he doesn’t want anything. I’m hungrier than before, but Jason looks pretty pale and sounds exhausted so I get behind the wheel and we head out of town. Before we get to the border, he remarks that he’s feeling really dehydrated and asks if I can pull over and get him something to drink. At this point the only store in the area is some random Asian food mart, so I stop there and ask what he wants to drink. He says, “Orange juice sounds good,” so I head inside and grab an orange juice, a couple Gatorades and scrounge around for some food. The only thing this Asian store has is crap like shrimp-flavored chips and bean paste dumplings, neither of which sounds remotely appetizing after a long run. I end up buying a bag of bulk trail mix, figuring I can munch on it until I get across the border.

I pull out of the Asian store, hand Jason his orange juice, and drive for approximately 20 seconds before Jason says, “Pull over. Now.” He had opened the orange juice and took a single sip before demanding that I stop the car. I pull onto a side street and slow down. The car’s not even at a complete stop before Jason jumps out the passenger side and starts hurling on the other side of some homeowner’s fence. I’m so exhausted and hungry that I just sit there and mechanically eat trail mix while staring at my boyfriend puking with what is probably a disinterested and bored look on my face.


Artist's rendition of Jason hoarking

Eventually he stops christening the side of the road and gets back in the car. He tries to convince me to book a room at a hotel so he can lay down and sleep, but at this point I just want some goddamn food and don’t want to spend $80 so my boyfriend can take a nap. I refuse and continue along to the border, hoping Jason doesn’t puke on the Peace Arch or yak onto the border patrol’s boots. Thankfully, we get through with no issues and I’m eventually able to stop at a Subway and wolf down a sandwich while Jason sleeps in the car.

So what was the result of the 2008 half marathon? Well, Jason was sick all week, and the real kicker is that even though he got carried across the finish line, since his foot never actually hit the timing pad his chip never registered…so he has no actual race time. All that for a DNF. At least I can boast that I beat my boyfriend in a race.

That’s why Jason insisted we sign up for the 2009 Vancouver half marathon. He wanted vindication for last year’s debacle, and he was hellbent on finishing the race this year with no trip to the medical tent. So how did we do? Tune in for the next post to find out. 🙂

9 Responses to “ “Flashback to the 2008 Vancouver Half Marathon”

  1. Jason says:

    Yeah, this all sounds pretty accurate. However, I’m still not counting it as a DNF since I was fully capable of crawling that last 100 yards and the medics just wouldn’t let me.

    Plus, you’re skewing the story more towards the “poor decision” side of things when I think a more accurate picture would be a 50/50 split between heroic and stupid.

  2. Teresa says:

    I am so glad this year went so much better. This story will be retold FOREVER! I agree with you Jason it was a 50/50 call. A learning experience indeed!


  3. Sebastian says:

    LOL this is both the most funny and the most terrible race report I have ever heard. Jason, I could really feel your pain, but … just before you passed out, were you able to check what your finish time for the 1/2 marathon minus 100 yards was?

  4. Jason says:

    Sebastian- I knew it was coming down to the wire, and I was pushing to stay under 1:45, so I’m guessing it was right around 1:44 and some change. But, I didn’t have a chance to look at my watch right before I collapsed. I was busy focusing my tunnel vision on the finish line.

    However, by the time the medics helped carry me across I’m assuming I was closer to a 1:47 or 1:48. Still, I’m chalking this up as a 1:46 because, as mentioned, I could have crawled 100 yards in around a minute or so if the medics hadn’t kept forcing me to sit down.

  5. Triathlete-Wannabe... says:

    Jason, I feel you could have rolled across the finish line, medics/shmedics, “forcing you to sit down.” Yeah SURE they were…

  6. Jason says:

    Honestly, they were forcing me down. (Runs away sobbing)

  7. Rebecca says:

    Great, now Jason’s crouched in the corner of the shower crying about how “the dirt won’t come off.”

  8. Tori says:

    This is funny/scary at the same time, I enjoyed it very much. Love your blog and congrats on doing well in Vancouver this year. My own (even more mediocre-atheleticky) race report is on my blog. No fainting, some pukiness without the actual chunks. Ain’t racing fun? Can’t hardly wait to do it again..

  9. Tina says:

    I can picture the whole thing! Thanks for sharing. I am glad this year went so much better.

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