A 3:00am Saturday alarm usually means one thing- it’s race day. When you’re running half marathon, you gotta get up early so you can have enough time to eventually be where you need to be in order to race.
As I woke up early and prepared for my race, my gut felt a little achy. The entire week my intestines had felt a little moody but I wasn’t exactly sure why. I had mentioned this casually to a fellow running friend of mine that also has Crohn’s disease.
My friend suggested a CBD oil that they have been taking for the last few months, that’s really helped them feel much better and mitigate some of the nagging intestinal pain and discomfort that can happen as a side effect of Crohn’s Disease.
By choice- I’ve been off of immune Biologics for over 15 years, but occasionally I still have the aches, pains and gastrointestinal upset that comes with Crohn’s Disease despite my best effort‘s to treat it with diet and exercise. When they suggested the CBD oil, and the fact that it wasn’t very expensive, I decided to go ahead and order some.
When I woke up Saturday morning, on race day and my gut was achy, I decided I would go ahead and take a dropper full, assuming it would help me “feel better” as it had for them. Unbeknownst to me at the time, there’s a big difference in type and potency of CBD oil. Some are broad-spectrum CBD oils which contain no THC, and some products are full spectrum CBD oil, which contain small amounts of THC.
I finished getting dressed and as I walked out the door at 3:30 AM, I took one dropper of full spectrum CBD oil. I drove to Art Dye Park, which is less than 10 minutes from my house. I got in the bus loading line, and was on the very first bus headed to the starting line staging area at Tibble Fork Reservoir in American Fork Canyon.
When I got off the bus a short time later, I noticed my mouth was very dry. I felt like this was unusual, because I knew I wasn’t dehydrated. I always make it a point to drink a lot of water two days before a race so I start an event hydrated. I pulled out my water bottle and took a few sips, but it didn’t seem to get better. My mouth still felt fairly dry.
The surrounding temperature felt fairly cold, so I headed towards the lights to pull out my warm up sweats. As I put them on, I started feeling a little tired. This surprised me, because I’m always up by 5 AM most days in the summer, and I’m usually excited to race. I found some friends that were pacing and sat down with them and we all began to chat. While chatting I started yawning, which was also surprising. I looked around and noticed that I couldn’t really figure out what direction the top of the canyon and going down the canyon was.
For someone like myself who has run in this canyon too many times to count, I found this thought very disorienting. I kept staring at the American flag and thinking which way is up the canyon and which way is down?
At this point I decided I might as well go and do a little jog to see if my warm-up would help me focus. I dropped my bag near the porta-potty‘s, and started my watch for a little jog. As I worked my way along the backside of the bathroom line, I began to feel disoriented. I didn’t feel right…. as a runner I know what I should be feeling, but I wasn’t. I stopped my watch after .10 of a mile, and headed back towards my bag.
I found a couple more friends, Amanda and Brandy and began to chat with them. I asked them if I was sounding different than usual, to which Brandy replied, “you do sound kind of like you’re straining to figure out your words…” Not like I was slurring my speech, but more like it was taking a lot of mental focus to try to talk.
At this point, I told them I didn’t think I could run the race. They were pretty surprised and they asked me why. I told them that I had taken some CBD oil at around 3:00am and I think it was having an effect on me. We chatted for a minute on what we thought I should do, and we decided that riding the buses back to the start line is probably the best option. So I headed out to find a member of the Runtastic racing staff that would be somewhere at the starting line, to tell me if the buses were heading back to the finish line, or if they were going somewhere else.
I found Habs- an employee and I told him what it happened. He kindly offered to give me a ride back to the park, when he finished a couple things he needed to do. He said he’d be ready to go in about 10 minutes. I thanked him, and told him I would be over here with my friends. Another friend Melissa came by, and we took a group picture, and I told her I was starting to feel sick, and wouldn’t be running the race.
When I left shortly thereafter with Habs- at about 5:30am- the longer I was upright, I just kept feeling sleepier and dizzier. He was a life saver. He walked me to his car, cleared his front seat and I flopped down with my drop bag.
At first as we were leaving the reservoir, I was going to have him take me back to Art Dye Park so I could drive my car back home but as we got further down the canyon, I could tell I shouldn’t try and drive. The tree covered canyon walls looked like an endless narrow tunnel, and I couldn’t tell where exactly I was in the canyon.
At this point, while trying to remain lucid, I asked Habs if he could actually take me straight home since I live so close (3 miles from the mouth of the canyon) and then take my hubby back to Art Dye Park to get my car and bring it home. Habs graciously said yes and I called my husband who’s conveniently usually awake most days by 5:00am. As I walked in the front door, my hubby had just finished tying his shoes and headed out. I immediately took off my running shoes, warm-up sweats and visor before falling onto my bed sleeping like a corpse for 3+hours; I was so tired.
I woke up about 9:15 and felt coherent, so I walked out to the living room to see my husband and oldest son sitting and ready to roast me in some form. My husband told me I looked and sounded better and I replied that I was doing better despite my dry mouth, mild headache and slight stomach ache.
What bugged me most was missing out on a race day. This race was a cancer race, and I was running for my cousin Laura who was diagnosed with breast cancer this spring. Additionally, I had bought and paid for this race and I had missed out based on my own stupidity. I was definitely feeling a little irritated. A quick glance at the clock told me that the last half-marathon runners would be finishing the race about now, and I could still run my race today and maybe even be able to earn my medal if I hustled. After all, I hadn’t had my weekly long run in yet, and Sunday is my usual rest-day off.
I was still dressed in my racing clothes and despite the weather being much warmer (about 82°) I still had a small window of opportunity. I grabbed my hand-held water bottle, filled it up with ice and had my son take me back up the canyon…. for the 3rd time in 5 hours.
A couple miles into the canyon, I started noticing a lot of traffic, and remembered that the canyon had been shut down from 6 AM to 9 AM for the race, so I was going to have to deal with a lot more traffic than usual while running in the canyon. Being the stubborn person I am, I knew I’d already come up the canyon this far, so I might as well just start and finish.
The canyon felt pleasant, not cool like earlier in the morning (it was 56° at 5 AM) which told me, I would be pretty hot by the time I exited a little over 7 miles later. A quick bathroom stop at the Reservoir after being dropped off and I was on my way. I have run in American Fork Canyon many many times, but never after 9:30 in the morning in warmer weather. The traffic was busy, but for the most part drivers were polite and gave me room while running on the very narrow shoulder.
I ran the entire race course (it was so crazy hot) with a quick bathroom stop at the mouth of the canyon and phone call to my friend Rachel to see if they were all packed up yet. She told me they had about another hour, and that if I was coming, she would grab my race medal for me. That was good enough for me, so I took off for the remaining 5 miles to complete the race.
The Runtastic race crew were just finishing cleaning up the race finish-line area when I got there. In an act of wonderful kindness, I was handed a frozen otter pop, and my medal was graciously bestowed upon me by my friend and race director. They had one bag of ice left, so I filled up my handheld and enjoyed some nice cold ice water. I called my son to came and pick me up (I wouldn’t be driving for the rest of the day) and take me back home.
The remainder of the day, I still didn’t feel like myself but I slowly started feeling better. I don’t think the heat helped me either but I was hoping the exercise would burn the CBD through my system faster, since I didn’t want to run on Sunday, so doing the course later as the last very runner worked out just fine.
I do have a few takeaways from my latest race experience:
1- Never try something new race morning, especially if it’s a race you care about. This is a timeless runner’s adage, but something like CBD that has the potential to alter a mood or pain receptors should really be taken seriously. The bottom line is we don’t know how our bodies will react to certain things that we’ve never tried.
2- Do your own research. Yes it’s good to take somebody’s word for something, especially if they’re trustworthy and had have a similar experience, but my ignorance and lack of research was my own fault. I’m not a medical idiot, I might not have a medical degree, but even I know better than to take something that I didn’t spend adequate time researching. Especially something the morning of an event. I got lucky this event happened to be so close to my home and race staff was kind enough to help me out.
3- It’s wise to be cautious. When I started mentioning to a couple friends before the race that I didn’t think I was going to be able to run, everyone was supportive. If I would’ve chosen to run, I could’ve caused a medical emergency. The fact that I would’ve knowingly done this would’ve been even worse. If I would’ve collapsed on the course after the race it started, paramedics would’ve been called, and it would’ve turned into a whole huge hassle for many more people than I already hassled, all because of my choices. Having an emergency pop up that’s beyond our control is one thing… knowingly causing it, is a totally different level of personal responsibility.
As runners we pay a fee for a racing experience, but we also have a stewardship towards those who are putting on the race to be good participants as well.
A special thank you to Runtastic Events, for not only putting on another great event, but for also supporting a irresponsible runner in a moment of need. You guys certainly went above and beyond. That kindness is something I love about runners and the larger running community; we really are like one big family.