Thursday, October 24, 2013

PALMETTO RUN: Matters of the Heart in the Nick of Time (Jan 2012)

It comes as no surprise that things don't always happen as planned.  In fact, I often wonder how many things actually DO turn out exactly as planned....but that is a topic for another time.  In this case, the PLAN was to run a half-marathon together in every state - with Hawaii being number 50, with the entire family, the latter part of January, 2012.  This plan entailed a comprehensive analysis of race availability and desirability by state, the resolution of issues when limited options caused conflicts with other states, ability to travel to various places when needed, and spacing events at appropriate, or at least acceptable intervals.  Although the plan evolved a bit, it was pretty definitive by early 2010 - and it called for State #49 to be in South Carolina (Kiawah Island) in December 2011.  We had planned this race for late in the cycle - knowing Alysia and Topher would be living back there then and it would be a great time for a visit.  However, sometimes matters of the heart intervene.  In this case it was Karen's heart.  In her words, she had been feeling a bit "punk" for quite some time, and was becoming concerned that it was more than cold or flu.   Just prior to Thanksgiving she had an appointment with her Cardiologist, who reached a much different conclusion: she had a serious heart valve infection (endocarditis) that required immediate intervention.  Instead of us all heading off to Las Vegas and Emily's for the holiday, Rachel went with other family to Las Vegas and I stayed home to be with Karen, who spent the next four days in the hospital on an intravenous antibiotic.  When they released her to come home it was with a PICC-line (Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter) that required servicing with an antibiotic twice a day and that was destined to be in her arm for the next six weeks.  Needless to say, the Kiawah Island run was not going to happen a week later.

Fortunately, the antibiotic, coupled with the medical care she received, did what it was supposed to do and Karen got a clean bill of health (with some cautionary instructions for the future) just after New Year's - with the Cardiologist's blessing to participate in as much physical activity as she felt up to.  At that point the question was whether there was ANY half-marathon in South Carolina in the next two weeks that would allow us to still complete our US Quest with the planned run in Hawaii.  There was!  The Charleston Marathon and Half-marathon was scheduled for the 14th of January and still had open registration.  We registered - and Southwest Airlines agreed (not surprisingly, in my opinion) to just convert our unused reservations from December to the new January dates - all at no cost.

Our trip to Charleston ended up being a very short one - but a successful one.  Despite delays in Chicago that nearly made us miss the connection to Charleston, we arrived there sometime after midnight and, with Buggy and Topher's help, got our race packets picked up.  Race morning broke unseasonably cool and windy, but it was dry.  The course itself did not offer Charleston's finest, although the first few miles in the older downtown district were scenic as were the last few miles through riverfront parks.  The middle section through run-down industrial areas was to be endured, as was the absence of cups at the hydration stations for Miles 6, 8 and 10!.  At least the post-race food was decent - to include the shrimp and grits!  We tried them just to say we had done so - and then ended up thinking they were not so bad!  Of note, Karen and I actually ran this race together as I wanted to stick with her throughout.  Despite not having run for over six weeks with the PICC-line, she managed to run the entire course at a slow, but steady pace - and both of us earned finishers' medals. 

The highlight of the short trip was our visit with Alysia and Topher.  Even in the limited time we were there, we visited the Aquarium - which is really a nice one with great exhibits; we had dinner with Topher at the Navy Galley (he was Officer of the Day); visited a famous cemetery (Magnolia) with lots of Civil War history, to include the graves of the victims of the H.L. Hunley - the Confederacy's submarine attempt; and a great lunch at the Saffron in downtown Charleston; and game nights with the Andersons.  We flew home just in time to start packing our bags for Maui and the family reunion in Hawaii! 

I began this post with part of the message from this race - one that is often hard for me to deal with - that being plans that change!  I am a detailed planner; I like to execute on schedule; and I usually am focused on the end result at the expense of much that might be going on around me.  As Karen went through her several weeks of not feeling well, I was convinced it wasn't serious - and even went so far as to show her that menopause had many of the same symptoms she was experiencing!  I certainly didn't want anything to derail our "plan" at this point.  When it became apparent the plan would have to change - I was left with no choice but to deal with it.  Ultimately, we found a way to still reach our goal on schedule, but I had to come to terms with that not being the case.  Did I learn something in the process?  Hopefully, to be more aware and sensitive to things I may wish to characterize my own way - and to recognize that there will be times when a plan can be changed and an outcome modified - and still very acceptable.  Don't let a plan obscure matters of the heart.