I didn't realize I had it... I still thought the race did a decent job with precautions. I think we are at the point, where we have to assume that in a large group, someone around you could always have Covid-19 and not know it yet. Every large race is a calculated risk.
LRC note. The medium post has been deleted but it was indexed by google so we are now linking to the google cached version. If you can't read it, we have posted what google found.
Here is the cached version since it was deleted.
I ran the race two days before testing positive for the virus and one day before my fever and seemingly unstoppable cough. I ran it when I was probably at my most contagious.
I didn’t try to run with the virus. Marathons are hard enough healthy, why would I want to run it with Covid? But I did it. I started later than I should have and passed a few thousand unmasked runners in the process. Technically, I exposed them all. This is the world we live in.
The day started like any other morning. A light drizzle, a slight morning cough. Nothing out of the ordinary, just typical stuff for me. I walk-jogged the mile from our basement Airbnb to Boston Common and got in line for the bus. I had no GI issues, not even typical race morning jitters, no sinus trouble, no sniffles… just a slight “its chilly and rainy in October and I flew over 3 hours to get here” cough, the same one I’d had for over a month.
I flagged down a running buddy while in line for the 7:15 buses, and after a bit of conversation, we were off. We sat side by side the entire 50-minute ride from Boston to Hopkinton talking strategy in racing and in life. We knew each other well… but like almost everyone else on the bus, we had masks on the entire time.
Once off the buses, we made our way to the start line. We saw some other folks from our hometown along the way, but I still hadn’t found the guys from home that were closer to my pace. With the rolling start, it became apparent I wasn’t going to find them. Luckily, I ran into a friend I had met at a marathon earlier that year. She and I finished right beside each other to qualify for Boston, so why not run it together?
We waited until an even number on the rolling clock, tossed off our masks and took off downhill through the town of Hopkinton.
As the miles clicked off, it seemed humid, and I felt a little heavy. I started grabbing two waters at each mile; one to drink and one for my head to cool down… but I kept passing people and holding on, close to goal pace. Things got tougher after halfway, and as I went through the Newton hills, I dropped about 15 seconds/mile and lost sight of my friend. It was also close to 70 degrees outside by this time and Boston isn’t an “easy” marathon anyways. The slow-down through the hills probably wasn’t all Covid related… it’s just Boston.
After cresting Heartbreak Hill at mile 21, I zoned back in on my goal pace for a mile and a half before giving some back to the course three of the final four miles, my psyche and body were shot, but I finished with a respectable time that put me solidly under 3 hours and well below my bib-seed. I thought I could have run better, but not by a lot… heck, I felt like crap, but I looked better than 90% of the folks I passed coming down Boylston. If you don’t feel bad after a marathon, did you even run it?
The next hour was a mile and a half trek back to the Airbnb to meet my wife, take an amazing shower (despite a moldy shower curtain) and crack open a celebratory IPA. We looked at pictures, checked results of other friends that were running and then picked a hopping spot to grab a late lunch.
We got to Joes, which was at capacity and asked to grab a seat outside. We wore our masks to the open-air bar, ordered our drinks and made our way to a street-side table to enjoy them.
You see… that’s the thing. We’re careful. My wife and I have only eaten indoors a handful of times since Covid-19 hit in earnest 18 months ago. We wear masks almost all places indoors, she works from home, and while I do go into work in a small (population-wise) office, I’m careful. She’s also an “elite” runner, so we’ve been tested over a dozen times each to get her into races and make sure I never get her sick with a virus that would specifically stop her from doing what she is much better at doing than I am: running. In fact, I took a Covid-19 test just over a week before the race and one a week before that because I was still going into the office. We were both vaccinated (Pfizer) in April, and I really didn’t have a reason to think I would have Covid-19.
As we got our food and waited for our roommates from our Airbnb, things went downhill for me physically. I was exhausted (I didn’t mention, but I had almost no sleep the night before the race, which is typical). My body hurt, I couldn’t finish my bacon-rib cheeseburger or 32 oz IPA and was starting to get a headache. I felt rough. But I had just run a marathon, so it seemed normal. We’d been at the pub for 2 hours by now, so I left to take a nap and grab some Tylenol while my wife and friends finished their beers and settled the tab.
By 7:30pm, my headache had gone away, and I felt better. I still felt beat up, but I was slightly less tired, and the Red Sox had a home playoff game, so we headed to Fenway. As the night went on, I had no stuffy nose, nausea or any other classic covid symptoms (besides feeling like I ran a marathon). The Coors light at Cask ‘n Flagon tasted like beer and the Lobster Risotto at Atlantic Fish Company was delicious, so my sense of taste and smell were absolutely normal.
Fast forward to the next day… We ate at Stephanie’s on Newberry, walked a few miles around Boston before our flight and headed to the airport. I feel sore, tired and hot… but that’s also just walking up Mt Vernon with two people’s luggage in tow in the sun the day after a marathon. Our flight lands and now I’m starting to think something is off… my cough is back and starts getting worse… I still have no other cold symptoms, full taste and smell, and no nausea. I lay down for a minute in our downstairs bed. I’m starting to sweat. I grab the thermometer and take a quick reading… 100.4.
My heart sunk… “Do I have Covid?” I thought… Didn’t I just take a 26.2 mile Covid test and pass? I can’t have Covid. But I felt bad and wasn’t going to chance it. I texted my boss that I had a fever and was going to take a Covid test in the morning, then work from home. Even if I tested negative, I didn’t want to bring whatever little bug I had into the office. My cough was extremely “persistent” at this point, I had a fever, was exhausted and my throat was getting sore.
I woke up early and took some Mucinex with Acetaminophen. My fever was going down, but I still felt rough. I arrived at the drive thru Covid-19 test where an actual Doctor was there to administer it. She was great… I took the 10 second brain swab and went to wait in the parking lot for the results. A few minutes later, she gave me the news: positive.
In our brief chat, she told me her family had gone through Covid-19 (they were also vaccinated) 6 weeks earlier. She cautiously mentioned monoclonal antibodies and gave me the rest of the Covid-19 rundown, including that I was probably most contagious Sunday and Monday before my symptoms started in earnest on Tuesday.
The next day my fever was gone, but I still felt rough. The Marathon symptoms were going away, but the Covid ones were coming on stronger. I lost my sense of taste and smell on Friday just after lunch.
I was pretty freaked out… Healthy and vaccinated, I didn’t think I would get “full, I can’t even taste bourbon Covid”, if I would catch it at all.
I signed up for a Monoclonal Antibody treatment the next morning. Getting 4 shots in the stomach, behind a warehouse, just off the highway is not my idea of a good time. 24 hours later, however, I can taste and smell again, my “cold” symptoms are gone and all I have left is really a cough. I’m itching to go outside and run, but we live in an urban neighborhood, so I don’t feel comfortable leaving our property and exposing someone. I’ve been getting meals Shawshank Redemption style on a tray left outside our guest bedroom door… Day one was Chic Fil A… It’s been gluten-free turkey sandwiches since then. I’m grateful, but miserable.
Those paragraphs above? That was the easy part of Covid… Here was the hardest part (for me): the phone calls. I started immediately with our friends who stayed in the Airbnb, then texted my buddy from the bus ride to Hopkinton. I had a list of people, some close, some not and I had to call all of them and say: “I exposed you to Covid 19”. I wish this process was easier. I felt dirty… ashamed… I mean, I was vaccinated. I spent the last year eye-rolling on social media and in a peer-group that complained about the unvaccinated and reckless, mask-less mobs spreading this disease around. Fourteen months ago, one of my best friends had Covid and was “that guy” for months! Now it was going to be me, and worst of all, I could have really gotten someone sick!
Everyone was great. The first question from every single person I told I exposed was “how are you doing?”. The second was “do you need anything?”. This is the world we live in. I wasn’t reckless exposing them and they made conscious decisions to go to restaurants, a ball game, on a trip or run a race with 20,000 people. We were all vaccinated and as cautious as we could be. It still sucked, but they made me feel a little better about it (I’ll feel a lot better if none of them end up getting sick).
So here I am, feeling better, but stuck in Quarantine for a few more days. And THIS is what I’ve taken away from the experience so far:
· You HAVE BEEN exposed to or around Covid 19. Hopefully you had a mask on and/or were vaccinated. Between Air-travel, a Major Marathon, a MLB Playoff game and walking around a major city at my “most contagious.” I am terrified at how many people I exposed.
· Breakthrough Covid happens. I had both Pfizer shots in April. I am extremely healthy, have zero known underlying conditions, wear masks indoors in public spaces and rarely eat inside. I had breakthrough Covid. If it could happen to me, it could happen to you. Get your booster, especially if you’re at risk.
· You or people around you may have Covid and not know it. I felt basically normal. I had a morning cough, but I usually do and I ran a full marathon… not very covid-y.
· Vaccines work. I averaged a 6:3x/mile pace for a marathon with Covid 19. I don’t think I could have done that without the vaccine. NONE of the people I stayed with, or that I know I exposed (including my wife) have tested positive yet, and they were all vaccinated. I will say it again, I had breakthrough Covid… but VACCINES WORK.
· Masks and staying outside help. Of the friends I “exposed”, besides my roommates, almost all of our interactions were outside, with masks on, or in “airy” spaces.
· I wish there was less of a stigma to catching Covid 19. I don’t say this for my benefit, I say this because I hope people feel supported enough to contact EVERYONE they can that they may have infected. No one contacted me. If they had, I would have been hyper-aware and tested myself.
· Keep getting tested. I have seen numerous people recognize Covid in the beginning of the infection and not infect others after testing positive. If something triggered me to take a test, I may have tested positive at that time and never gotten on the bus, gone to Fenway, or hopped on that plane. Of course, if everyone was vaccinated, we’d have less spread anyways.
· There isn’t a good way tell people they’ve been exposed to Covid, unless you know them well. The local health department wasn’t interested past my close contacts, and I called Delta, but their contact tracing only works for international flights.
· I think the monoclonal antibodies worked. Ask your doctor first, but they seemed to work great for me. They are FREE to get, but very expensive to the government (also you as a taxpayer).
I think the Boston Marathon protocols worked for the most part… had I been tested that day, would I have even been positive yet? I don’t know. I do know I passed a lot of people while infected and not wearing a mask.
So, there you have it. “This is the world we live in”. It’s not an excuse, but it’s what happened. Maybe this little story helps, maybe not. I think we have to be careful, but we also have to live our lives and gauge what risks we are willing to take in the process. My advice? Know you will be exposed, choose your level of risk, wear a mask, get the vaccine, look for symptoms and have compassion.