I couldn't not post this complete story before moving on and continuing marathon training like, "oh yeah that whole ER thing, whatever." 

First of all some brief backstory. In the summer of 2003 I was training hard for XC season. Mileage around 80. As I finished up a hard 13 late on a really hot day I had to pause to cross a street and my heart just blitzed. It was the strangest feeling, like it was beating as fast as a hummingbird's wings. Then suddenly like it would never start beating again. I got on my hands and knees and put my head down. My heart found its rhythm. I walked home. 

All the tests were done, wires and treadmill stuff. I wore a full monitor for 24 hours. It came back that I have something called Wenckebach. They told me to just get down/lay down whatever when I feel "an episode" like the one I'd had. Likely exacerbated by my very low HR. That was the summer my afternoon resting HR was 35 at my physical.

So I've had this for years. I notice it when I get fit. I always have managed to keep things okay with the advice to get myself low when I feel the empty chest hummingbird bird wing feeling. 

When I first moved in with Owen years ago (after I'd stopped running for a year or two) it was more frequent at night when my HR would dip. He got me a pillow with a heart beat inside that could hold until my heart settled on a beat.

Flash forward to yesterday. I woke up super early because I was so excited for our overnight adventure in Zillah. Made oatmeal, blogged, then hit a easy run and core. Got in the shower, had a breakfast bar, packed the car, got a big PJ kiss and cried a little watching her wave with my mom from the window.

We were off. Coffee stop and busted out the Macrina GF biscuits I saved for trip. Stopped midway for water and snacks. Got to Yakima in time for lunch and found an amazing Mexican place hidden away. Had tacos and a bottled Coke. Then I offered to make the final drive to Owen Roe. Our first winery. 

I started to feel clammy, like I needed to throw up. I cursed the sick checker at Metro Market who kept touching her nose and then my food as she bagged. I better not be getting the flu I said as I merged onto the highway. Then I felt worse. I thought I better tell Owen we need to go straight to lay down. Then worse. I pulled off the next exit. My ears buzzing, clammy, I saw a gas station, pulled in. The last thing I remember is Owen saying, Ummm the parking is over there...and I was like he doesn't get it ... I can't...

Out cold. I woke to him on 911 hitting me on the chest. I was under waves trying to breathe. I could see the surface. The dry hills came into focus. It looked like the moon. I didn't know where I was. The steering wheel in front of me jarred me. I tried to put my head between my legs. My heart was a hummingbird. I opened the door to hot sun. I could hear sirens and kept hoping they'd make it time. 

And then it started to calm, my heart was beating. Soaked with sweat and still scared, but I was feeling more like a person alive. 

I felt to embarrassed to ride in the ambulance. Owen was having done of that. So stretcher to ER. To tell doctors and nurses the story. They told me I had to stay the night and I cried for the first time. I was confused and scared. 

Hearing Owen's side of it was awful. I was rigid, upright, eyes rolled back, he couldn't tell if I was breathing. He couldn't wake me for :30-:60 seconds, when I came to I felt like I'd been asleep for hours and days.

Finally the cardiologist was able to see me. As I explained the past few days and my history (stomach stuff yesterday, hard hot weather running, low HR, previous experiences...) the test numbers he saw started to look much less alarming. I relaxed for the first time in hours. He told us we'd be out in the AM no problem and on our way. 

I'm waiting now for a final test. Ultrasound of my heart. And I have a lot of questions about what I can do to make sure I'm living as healthy as possible. I'm still shaken by how it presented itself out of seemingly nowhere. It was a powerful reminder at the very least to actually listen to my body. And remember I'm a 33 year old human not a 23 year old or an invincible machine.  

I Tweeted about it yesterday after hours of boredom and another runner has it! And she's an ER nurse. I'm going to email Qs her way, and will publish here if of interest. 

Hoping to make my escape soon. The monitor all night has been normal, blood work coming back normal. The night nurse just came in to say bye as his shift ended and good luck in the marathon. 


  1. oh my gosh - sending positive thoughts your way. <3

  2. So scary. Hope you're doing better and get some answers soon!

  3. I'm so sorry you had to go through this, and sorry that you terrified Owen. I'm so glad to hear that everything seems fine. And yeah, listening to your body becomes more and more important over time, probably because it stops whispering and starts shouting.

    Hope you get to go home soon. Sending virtual hugs.

  4. Oh God Sarah!! Be well! I know it must've been horrible for you, but...poor Owen 😨 Don't do that to him again! Similar thing happened to my husband when my son passed out recently and I dunno if he's recovered (my husband, my son is just fiiiiine).

  5. You may want to get your iron checked - hopefully they look at that

  6. This sounds awful and so scary. Thank god Owen was with you and you were able to get off the highway. Sending positive vibes your way and hoping you can find some answers. Please do share them here for others who might be dealing with this too.

  7. How scary and so glad you are ok. Please keep sharing - your story can help many others. Take care!

  8. Holy shit Sarah! So glad you are getting checked out again and spending some recovery time with Owen. What an experience! Sending good vibes your way. Do you have trouble running in the morning because of your low heart rate? Mine is pretty low and I just feel out of it sometimes when waking up I think maybe because of that. Though this is a whole other level! I hope you can find some answers and a path/balance for it all.

  9. That's so scary! I hope you can get it diagnosed and figured out.

  10. Glad you're okay, but how scary! Thinking of you!


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