It was just one of those days …

The Vienna City Marathon

(Video from Vienna City Marathon Facebook)

Did you see me?

I participated in this run in conjunction with Canada’s Team Diabetes.  My young man has had Type 1 since he was 8 years old and this is my charity of choice.  I initially signed up for the full marathon, but due to my lack of motivation, all the training emails I ignored from Rob and the 6 hour time limit, I dropped back to the half.  I can run/walk a half fairly easy these days.  My time sucks, but I can get it done.  There was a 3 hour time limit for the half and if I didn’t run the whole time, I would fall behind the pace car.  The organizers were very strict about picking up everything as soon as that pace car went by which didn’t work well for a lot of people.

The start line was fantastic!  Tens of thousands of people from all over the world waiting to start.  Almost 42,000 people were split between 2 lanes with 3 blocks of runners in each based on time.  I was in block 5 at the end of the right lane.  The 2 lanes would merge at the 3 km mark.  I started off okay doing my usual slow run.  Seriously, people twice my age walk faster than I run and it’s embarrassing to be passed.  I call it running, but it’s more like jogging in slow  motion.

We were a while in the block before we started and it took about 1/2 hour for me to get to the start line.  The race started at 9:00 am and I crossed the start line at 9:30 am.  We were running through a park when I saw the first outhouse and of course I had to pee.  I think this was around 3 km.  Right away I though oh-oh something does not feel right.  I began running again and immediately had to pee again.  I had a bladder infection and it was coming on with a vengence.  I think I must have peed 1-2 times every kilometre I walked going forward.  The running part was over for me.

Donna and Joe are the Team Diabetes people.  Donna was running back and forth between the Team D participants and made her way back to me.  She stayed by my side until I limped across the finish line.  I cannot thank her enough because I would not have finished without her.

By this time, I was behind the pace car.  The first water station was at 5 km and it was all packed up when I got there.  There was no more water.  I wanted water.  I was parched.  Additionally, the signs were being taken down and some of the streets reopened to the public.  It was no longer clear which direction the running route was.

Over the next few hours, Donna would run a little ahead and figure out the route and which way we needed to go.  Most times there would still be marathon security or a police officer to point us in the right direction.  We were walking on the sidewalks, dodging people and I was just putting one foot in front of the other.



I don’t know how many times I peed during this run … 20-30 times maybe.  Some of the outhouses were so disgusting.  I don’t know where people squatted or what shape they contorted themselves in to be able to poop where they did.  It’s not like the hole is hard to miss!  I don’t know what kind of people do that and leave it there for the next person to see.  I bypassed those ones and held it in which was more painful for me than actually peeing.

I also stopped in hotels, in restaurants and the Shell gas station asking to use the bathroom.  I looked pitiful and nobody turned me away.  Donna managed to get me a glass of water from somebody along the street.  I also bought a water in one of the hotels and still had it at the 15 km water stop where the cleaning crews were cleaning up.  I left it outside the outhouse on the ground and when I came out it was gone.  I said some swear words to the crew and had my first cry.  I feel really bad now for swearing at them, they are volunteers and following the rules.  On we went.

The pain got worse and worse and I got slower and slower.  Donna encouraged me along and we continued.  Around the 18 km mark I started peeing blood and the pain was bad.  I have a high pain tolerance, but I was crying a few times.  At that point though, I’d be damned if I didn’t finish and would crawl across the finish line if I had to.

For the last km, we caught up with the folks finishing the marathon and the half marathon route merged in.  Some of the security made us walk on the sidewalk, but for the last bit we mixed in with everyone else.  I made it across the finish line at 2:10.  It took me 4 hours and 40 minutes to complete the 21.1 kilometres.  There weren’t any half marathon medals left so they gave us marathon medals.

The Red Cross

Once you cross the finish line and get your medal, you’re stuck in the corral walking through water, food, etc until you come out the other end.  There was a massive Red Cross section and I stopped and asked if they had any antibiotics.  They asked what was wrong and I told them I developed a bladder infection and was peeing blood.  Well this young man insisted I go with him and hung onto my arm (like I was his grandmother), told me I sounded Canadian, escorted me to the toilet and then on to the triage area.  He was awesome!

We filled out some paperwork and when I said I was from Canada, they called over another guy.  He spoke French to me and I said no I’m not from the French part.  They were all very nice.  One man brought me water a few times and another came and checked that my kidneys weren’t causing me pain.  They wanted to transport me to the hospital, but I didn’t have any ID on me and only 10 Euro (which was to spend stopping at Starbucks after the race).  They agreed to let me go if I went to the hotel, got my ID and money and went directly to the hospital.

I still had part of the corral to walk and there was a lot of free BEER being provided before exiting.  I had never seen beer there before and I desperately wanted a beer.  Since I could not go to the hospital smelling like a brewery, I walked on by.  The Team Diabetes folks were waiting at the exit and Joe got a picture of me.


I limped back to the hotel and stopped at the desk.  By the time I went to my room, changed and went downstairs, they had a taxi waiting to bring me to the hospital.  Off I went.

Vienna General Hospital

I arrived and everything is in German.  The man at the Information Desk spoke enough English to tell me I needed to go to 6D.  I followed the 6D signs and once I got there, I stood in a line behind one other person to see the nurses.

It was a quick assessment of why I was there and they gave me a piece of paper to take to 6B down the hall.  Again, when I said I was from Canada, they asked me from Quebec or Vancouver.  I said no I’m from the Edmonton area.  They asked if that was the French part.  Lately during my travels, it seems everyone knows Toronto, Vancouver and Quebec.

At the reception desk in 6B I provided my passport and address.  She indicated it would be 100 Euro to see the doctor and gave me a cup for my urine test.  Off I went to the bathroom (the WC signs) again.  In all these pee stops, it’s the tiniest dribble that I managed to do.  Well most of this dribble ended up on my hand, but I mangaged to get a few drops in the cup.  I washed my hands and wrapped my pee cup up in a paper towel and brought it back to reception.  I then waited in the waiting room for an hour and a half before being called in.  It all operated smoothly.

There were 10 rooms off of the waiting room where doctors would see patients.  There were 2 doctors on duty in rooms 4 and 5.  When it’s your turn, there’s an announcement with your name and the room number … in German.  I was listening for anything that sounded like my name (it sounds cool in German) and I was called to room 4.  I confirmed this by holding up my 4 fingers to the people sitting around me who nodded.  A lady doctor was sitting at her desk and she spoke a little English.  She said “You are infected”.   I really liked her and we managed to communicate.  She provided me with a prescription for 10 days of antibiotics and 7 days of pain relief.  We shook hands and I went back out to the reception desk.


At this time, I paid my 100 Euro for the visit and the other doctor happened to be there.  He showed me on a chart on the wall the pharmacies in the area where my hotel was and indicated the 2 that would be open since it was Sunday.

As I was following the signs back out to the Exit and a taxi, I saw it.  My sign.  My heart skipped a beat.  I detoured there.


This hospital was fantastic and highly functional.  Everyone was very helpful.

The Pharmacy

Another taxi back to the hotel and I checked in with my teammates who were in the lounge.  I got directions from the desk for the pharmacy and off I went again.

Now I suck at directions.  I don’t need to know to turn north or west or things like that.  Tell me to turn by the red house.  Those are the type of directions I need.  I followed the little map the hotel provided and this is where it was.


All I needed was “Jackie, go to the corner of Louis and Chanel.”  I would have been able to walk there with my eyes closed.  As I’m walking down the street, Jimmy started calling me.  I missed him the other day because I didn’t walk past the Louis store.  Well, thankfully Jimmy was closed.  I do not need new shoes.  It hurts my heart to say such a thing.

The pharmacy was all closed up and I almost started to cry on the street.  There was a little buzzer on the wall and I pushed it.  If somebody answered I was going to beg and cry to have my prescription filled.  There was a little opening in the door and it opened and there was the pharmacist!  He spoke English and I gave him the prescription.  He was back in about 5 minutes with both of them and it cost me 9.95 Euro.  If I could have reached through that opening and hugged him I would have.

I went back to the hotel, took my medication, showered, ordered room service and crashed.  The hotel called and checked on me a little later in the night which was thoughtful.


19 Replies to “A Half-Marathon, the Red Cross and the Vienna General Hospital”

  1. I admire your strength & commitment to keep going during your health obstacle. My heart went out to you as I read the painful & emotional roller ride you endured and yet felt warm & happy that you DID IT !! You were rewarded at the end & that sign probably couldn’t have come at a better moment 🤗🌈❤️ Thank you for sharing your journey & adventures with us Jackie – I look forward to the next healthier one. 😉👍

  2. Congratulations love once again you are a very strong girl with a beautiful heart 💜 you know what I would say ,you need to stop now and get to a hospital but you walked till the end 🎉😘Today you are out enjoying the beautiful city of Vienna that I know ! Love from Mom and Dad xoxo

  3. You made it!! You are one of the strongest women I know!! Get better and congratulations!!

  4. Oh my gosh Jackie, that story made me laugh so hard (not that I don’t feel bad about all it all, I also do feel terrible for you, but this was absolutely comic!). I love that your prescription is from the “FUNKDIENST”….probably didn’t feel very “funky” at the time.

    So I should share with you a funny I always bring up in my PV training….when we get to talking about Isolations and the functionality “UTI” I usually throw out a joke about ‘it meaning something else in my house having 4 daughters’….of which only some people get it, and most just look at me with a confused ridiculous look…. I trust you would get that joke 😉

    Keep up the great stories!!!

  5. Jackie… I laughed and had a verklempt moment or two. I feel like I was there with you! Great story, great achievement…Love you!

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