Monday, October 15, 2012

My Post-Race Scare

I can only recall a few times that I remember being scared for my life:

One time was when I was a child – I was in swimming lessons and was about to jump off the diving board.

Another time, I was high school and was up to bat in an All-Star tournament with a 3-2 count against me.

Even though the above two events are completely different, they both have something in common – my heart.

As long as I can remember, I’ve had a strange heart issue. My mom has it, my dad has it, my brother has it, and unfortunately, I have it. When I become overheated or really stressed, my heart snaps into an abnormal tachycardic (very fast) rhythm. It’s like an electric shock – blood rushes to my head and at first, I see spots as if I’m going to pass out, then I begin to feel my heart (as if it’s trying to beat out of my chest).  Usually, I squat down or lie down, hold my breath, and my heart quickly returns to a normal rhythm.

This was not the case yesterday.

Yesterday, I ran the Gulf Coast Half Marathon on the Louisiana Northshore. Overall, the race course was beautiful and the course support was amazing – however, the weather was a completely different story.

Prior to this race, Heather and I trained and worked hard to break the 2 hour mark. My prior PR was 2 hours and 1 minute and Heather’s wasn’t far behind. We knew we could do it, we both had the drive and the determination – so what happened?

Starting out, the weather was humid and hot and I knew almost immediately that the glory of a 2 hour half marathon would not be dealt my way. However, like a stubborn Cajun, I continued to push myself and I ran as hard as I could the entire way.

Several times, I felt as if I were running in a sand dune that would not end. It was very hard to breathe (shouldn’t I be used to this humidity?) and the sun was relentless.


Along the water, I was very grateful for our running group’s Tuesday night torture beach workout! 


Heather and I ran 75% of the race together. Around mile 9, my knee started to hurt, bad. It wasn’t to the point of seizing up, but I knew I couldn’t run forever in the pain I was experiencing. Even though I carried several packets of BioFreeze in my pocket, nothing worked. Despite the pain (again, I’m stubborn, remember?) I continued to run as fast as my lungs would allow.

Once I saw the finish line, I knew I was almost done. I couldn’t pick up my pace like usual because of my knee, so I continued at a steady pace across the finish line. I finished this race in 2 hours and 16 minutes – 15 minutes off my PR. When I say that I feel as if I ran a 2 hour half, I really mean it. I pushed HARD during this entire race.

I watched Heather cross the finish line, then walked around to meet up with her under the Oak tree. We complained about the race for a few minutes, then I started to say something about our friend Kelli and that’s when IT hit me.

I started to see stars and I went down fast. On my way down I said, “Oh my God!” When Heather asked what was happening, all I had to say was, “My heart!” and like a good running buddy who knows all my secrets (hah!), she knew exactly what I was talking about.

At first, I tried laying like this…..


The usual “hold my breath until it slows down” trick didn’t work. I decided to count my pulse and I came out with a rate of 190 bpm. Yes, 190. When you figure in the fact that my resting heart rate is usually 58-64 bpm, that’s pretty bad.

Heather said that when I laid down, she could see my chest rapidly rising and falling. Sheesh talk about a scary feeling.

After a few minutes, I decided to change positions to see if I could elicit a different response, so I moved like this (with my forehead touching the dirt, thank you very much! I ended up with a mud cake on my forehead and nose!) …….


I was told that several people walked by and looked at Heather like “What is going on??”  Even though my heart was beating a million miles an hour, I felt as if the world was moving in slow motion. I could hear everything going on around me but a lot of it did not register. I picked up my head a few times to say a few words but other than that, I didn’t say much.

When I say that I almost asked Heather to go the Paramedics (who were only a few feet away), I mean it. I knew if she went to  the Paramedics, they would have taken me straight to the ER. I’m a nurse – I know what I would have done with a person who just ran a race in the heat/humidity and had tachy HR that wouldn’t slow down….yep, the ER.

Never in my life have I had THAT much trouble getting my heart rate to slow down. I can tell you, I did a LOT of praying today!!

After my coach crossed the finish line, I told her my issue (she also knew about my heart problem), and she suggested that I lay flat again.

Thankfully, lying flat that time worked. Whew. After a grand total of 15 minutes with a heart rate of 190, I was finally able to get it back under control! Thirty minutes later, my HR was 124, then an hour later it returned to it’s usual 64.

Overall, I can count on two hands the times that this has happened to me. It doesn’t happen often, and every time it does happen, my heart rate usually returns to normal fairly quickly. I am going to make an appointment to see a Cardiologist soon - I know I need to get this issue checked out.


I also have a plan devised for next time. When it’s hot, humid, and awful weather conditions, I’m NOT GOING TO GET CRAY CRAY and try to run like a beast! It just ain’t happenin.

Perfect race conditions call for perfect races. For many runners, this was not the case yesterday.

On the bright side of things, I crossed the finish line upright and I had an awesome weekend with my friends – in the end, that’s all that matters!  :0)

Philippians 4:13 - “I can do ALL things through Christ who gives me strength!”


  1. eek! That's scary. Glad you are okay now.

  2. so crazy. I remember when that happened to you when we were running mardi gras half together, but thankfully it went away pretty quickly! glad you are ok.

    1. Yeah!! It happened at Disney for my first half, then at the Mardi Gras half, then it never happened again while running a race until yesterday! SO insane!!

  3. That must have been so scary for you! My father has been admitted for tachycardia three times in the past year and it sounds like such a frightening thing to experience. I am glad you were able to get it under control and are going to see a doctor.

  4. you def. need to go to the cardiologist. Glad you are ok. :)

  5. that is very scary! i had a similar thing happen in my marathon this weekend but i have never had it happen before and i was very scared. i ended up going to the med tent at the end just to make sure i was ok. glad you are feeling better and congrats on your finish!

  6. I am glad you're ok, but definitely get it checked out! That's scary.

    Congrats on your finish!


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