Plano Balloon Festival Half Marathon 2015

Plano Balloon Festival Half Marathon 2015

The 2015 Plano Balloon Festival was my third half marathon. However, this race was my first after my 2013 nightmare crisis, and after obtaining my cortisol pump. I had a very simple goal: finish the race and not require any emergency medical intervention. Race time was not a focus.

Like most runners, I did not train properly. Training for this half marathon consisted of playing weekly indoor soccer games, climbing a ridiculous amount of stairs at work, and a random 10k run in Waco about a month before.

I had planned on at least one long run with my cortisol pump. But when that Saturday came around, I woke up vomiting. A run was completely out of the question.

September 20th, 2015 finally arrived. I was incredibly nervous. My aunt and uncle volunteered to act chauffeur so that I could avoid race day parking. I had also convinced a fellow Adrenal Insufficient friend to drive down and complete the race with me.

race sign

My aunt made amazing signs for this race.
Photo from 2015.

Naturally, I was rocking my “Steroid Dependent” race shirt. A few miles into the race, a woman approached me and asked me “Are you wearing that shirt for you or your child?”

“Me. I have Adrenal Insufficiency.”

“Wow. That is so awesome. Keep it up!”

I chuckled at the knowledge that the gal running beside me also had Adrenal Insufficiency, and she has completed several full marathons!

Around mile ten, my infusion pump site fell off due to a combination of sweat and Texas humidity. I forced myself to remain calm. I had an ample supply of back up oral steroids and I was surrounded by people who could take care of me if things got worse. We were also approaching a golf cart that had a few EMT’s and a police officer. The golf cart provided an excellent table for me to organize my meds and regroup.

“Whacha got there? Weed?” an EMT asked, jokingly.

“Nah! Even better! Steroids! But don’t worry, I’m clearly labeled.” I responded as I pointed to the back of my shirt. He chuckled as we continued on towards that finish line.

I was so excited to cross that finish line. Our time was around three hours, so much slower than my PR. But that was ok!

I did start to get testy and illogically irate shortly after we finished. My friend recognized my symptoms and sternly told me to take more cortisol. I under-dosed myself for the race but I was able to correct before I faded too far.

race finisher's picture

Just two cortisol pumpers celebrating their victory of finishing their race.
Photo from 2015.

To summarize, this was my first half marathon with my cortisol pump and my cortisol pump actually failed me. Through that failure, I learned several lessons that I can apply to my next long distance race. I was already in the habit of carrying back up oral steroids, but I had forgotten spare pump supplies. I also did not start increasing my HC early enough. For the majority of the race, I was playing the ever fun game of “cortisol catch-up.”

Also, climbing stairs does not equate to adequate half marathon training.

But this race did mark a major victory. I had to face the disappointment that came from running a half marathon incredibly well (under 10 minute miles!) to have everything ripped out from under me.

race finishers medal

I did it. I earned this race finisher’s medal.
Photo from 2015.

Will I ever return to my fast race times from before the Nightmare of 2013? I’m not sure. To be honest with y’all, it wasn’t like I was suddenly fast. The training to complete a half marathon in sub-10 minute miles in 2013 actually started in 2010 when I began running slowly in college. It took me over three years to reach that goal.

I would love to reach that point again, but I need to be kind to myself. Endurance is something that is achieved over time, and not instantly. I cannot grow frustrated as I compare my current state to my past victories.

race sign

This encouraging sign was waiting for me at the finish line of the race.
Photo from 2015

I am still Clearly Alive.


Crossing the finish line of the 2015 Plano Balloon Festival Half Marathon.

And that is a victory worth celebrating.

Amber Nicole is Clearly Alive