Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A Bloody Business

Donating Blood. Just 1 2 Finish posted something interesting. He's a regular blood donor apparently.

He went out for a five-mile run and crashed. He wondered if something was wrong. He had a marathon he was gettin' ready for!

Then he remembered. He had given blood the day before. He had a paucity of red blood cells and his body rebelled at the exertion. It demanded some respect (in the form of time). It's a situation many runners encounter, I suspect, because I'll bet lots of runners donate blood regularly.

How Often? If I'm around, I donate blood whenever the Red Cross mobile donation center comes to my agency, which is four times a year. I have good blood, O+, which can be used for any person with RH positive blood. The Red Cross is after me all the time for it.

What About Later? The instructions afterwards are to drink plenty of fluids and not to do anything physically demanding like lifting weights for the rest of the day. If you ask them about the next day, it gets a little more uncertain and vague. But here's my experience.

It's Effect, a personal guide. Fast Runs. Hours after a blood donation, I have run in a very competitive 3K race. It seemed to have no effect.

The day after a blood donation, I have run a 5K race. It seemed to have no effect.

Slow Runs. The day after a blood donation I have run an 8 mile LSD. It seemed to have no effect.

Two days after a blood donation, I have run a sixteen mile LSD. After seven miles, I slowed down. After 12 miles I really slowed down. Miles fifteen and sixteen were a stumble-bum affair where I was panting and exhausted.

Two days after a blood donation, I have run a twenty-three mile LSD, with a 90 minute rest at the midway point. I was literally shuffling along the last four or five miles, dead tired, counting the miles off as I fantasized about the blessed moment when I'd arrive back at my house at the end.

Marathons. Last year, the Red Cross unit came to my workplace on the Wednesday before the Sunday when I was going to run the New York City Marathon. I decided that donating blood four days before a marathon race was too risky, so on the Friday prior to the Red Cross showing up at work, I went to the hospital to make a blood donation.

Nine days later, my marathon was going fine. I felt great. I was sailing along, with a 3:45 definitely within reach. I even had an escort the last ten miles, pacing me.

At MP 21 I suddenly just broke into a walk. Just like that. I didn't even call out to my escort that I was slowing down. She went on down Fifth Avenue clearing space for me and I wasn't even there anymore (NYCM is crowded). After a short while she had to double back and find me. This happened more than once. (That's me at the 2006 NYCM, # 16976. I was doing just fine on the Queensboro Bridge around MP 17.)

I walked five or six more times going to Central Park. Run a little, walk a little. I'd just...walk. I finished in 3:52:34 only because my running buddy spurred me on to greater effort the last mile. While I ran to the finish line in the roadway at the end, she ran behind the spectator barricades, loudly exhorting me on. She was tremendous.

(By MP 24, I was no longer doing just fine. I was merely seeking the end.) I have thought about my sudden and casual surrender to fatigue those last five miles at NYC and come to the conclusion that my blood donation nine days earlier very possibly cost me my BQ. But if my blood donation really helped somebody, then it was worth it, because if running is life, then life is life too. However, I'm not donating blood again until after Chicago.


jeanne said...

well, that's definitely interesting! and what a good man to donate blood.

the red cross doesn't want my blood. i'm low on it or something. i faint. low b.p.

but what's i find really fascinating is: you can walk in a marathon and STILL GO SUB 4?!?!?!

Susan said...

Interesting, indeed!

I haven't donated blood in ages (the opportunity has not rpesented itself on a silver platter, that's why). However, I am fond of doing it.

Juls said...

I donate 1-2 times each year. I used to do it more frequently but I found that I paid for dearly when I was running. I won't do it too close to a marathon for that reason.

I try not to let myself think that I am being selfish to put my running before my giving. As you said life is life and donating is good. I just like to time it so that everyone wins.