Taking Your Health For Granted.
It felt really strange to wake up this morning knowing that I wasn’t going to be able to run. These last few weeks of being sidelined by sickness have definitely taught me one thing – do not take your health for granted. How many times I have I blown off a run because I just didn’t feel like doing it? Or complained that I was too tired/cold/whatever to run? I would give anything to run right now.
I also know that my current sickness is temporary. I can’t imagine feeling this way, and knowing that my body was simply turning against me for good. It may sound dramatic, but it’s given me a new respect for the handicapped or chronically ill – especially the people that are so young. Going forward, I am going to make a point to be grateful and respectful of the healthy body I’ve been given. You only get one, you know?
I’m feeling a little anxious and worried about running these days. Last year I was in the best shape of my life. I was incredibly strong, I was fast, and I was strong enough mentally to handle any long run or tough workout. This month last year, I was winning age group medals and setting personal records.
Last May, I ran my second Flying Pig Marathon (third marathon), and smashed my previous marathon PR by 46 minutes, finishing in 3:50:58. It was one of the proudest moments of my life, and a memory I will cherish forever.
After the Flying Pig, I continued to run and worked on training for the San Francisco Marathon in October. But over the summer we started thinking about moving, and weekends became more and more about making trips to Charlotte and packing boxes, and less about squeezing in training runs and sticking to a schedule. I wrote a post about how frustrated I was to not be on my regular schedule, and to not feel focused as I knew I had been for my previous marathon.
At the end of the July, I publicly announced our plans and our move, and the whirlwind of moving across the country set in. It took me a LONG time to adjust to life in Charlotte. Finding new running routes, adapting to a neighborhood without sidewalks, new temperatures and humidity, and really just not knowing where to go really set me back. I still ran, but not nearly as much as I should, and more and more I shaved miles of my training runs because I couldn’t find any good spots to run.
In October, I made the difficult admission that I wasn’t going to run San Francisco. I wasn’t ready, and having not trained like I should have, it wasn’t worth the trip. But I resolved to make it right and promised I would run Charlotte’s Thunder Road Marathon instead. In early December, I stuck to my guns and ran Thunder Road, despite still not training like I should have, and being really unprepared. My time was much slower, but I fell back in love with running, realizing I could do anything if my heart was in it.
Somewhere around the New Year, I started running with Kath, which opened up a whole new world of running routes and trails for me to run on. I had already set my goal to run the Flying Pig again in May, and she wanted to train for her first half-marathon in April. We started doing long runs together every weekend, and running became fun and easy again. When I needed to do longer runs, we would run together for her half-marathon training run, and I would tack some extra miles onto the beginning or the end.
About a month ago, I started to get sick. I can’t believe it’s held me back for this many weeks. As any runner knows, each week of training is a new obstacle and a new achievement – no matter what you are training for. To be set back for FOUR weeks has been more of a strain on my mind than anything else. I’ve never been one to give in very easily, so I’ve tried to run through the sickness. I’ve felt myself get slower and slower, and the training runs that I forced were all painful and discouraging. Lesson learned – there is a difference between pushing yourself to the limit (in a good way), and pushing yourself too hard.
This morning was supposed to be our big (secret) dress rehearsal for the half-marathon – a run we had been excited to do together for months. After yesterday’s chest x-ray and diagnosis, I broke the news to Kath that she would have to do it alone. While I am sure she was bummed to lose her partner, I was absolutely devastated. There is nothing worse than feeling like an athlete just bursting to go, stuck in a body that won’t work.
I woke up this morning sad that I couldn’t run. The sun was shining, the birds were (literally) chirping, and I knew that over on the other side of town, Kath was nervous and getting ready to run. I jumped out of bed, got dressed, and made my way over to South Park, prepared to walk the course backwards. Having run so many races myself, I know what those last few miles feel like. I also know what it feels like to see a familiar face at the end when you need it most.
I checked my course map, walked the wrong way for a mile (UGH!), and then quickly reversed direction so that I was heading out backwards on the course. I had hoped to run into Kath around mile 10 or 11, and prayed that my lungs could hold on enough to keep her company those last few tough miles. Because of my wrong turn, I ended up meeting her at mile 12 – later than I had hoped, but I think she was still happy to see me! :)
We sprinted in the last mile together, and I discovered very quickly that my lungs really do need that recommended break. In hindsight, I’m glad I didn’t try to run the whole thing with her, because she would have had to leave me, and I would have had a veeeeery long, slow 13 mile walk by myself.
I am such a runner at heart, and rather that sit home and feel sorry for myself this morning, I decided to be proactive and cheer on a friend. It was a great feeling, although a little bittersweet that I couldn’t do it myself.
I am giving my lungs the week off – NO running. I am stir-crazy and restless and doing a LOT of walking, but as long as I am not winded I think that is fine. I’m hoping to do a trial run of my own next weekend, and hope that everything is cleared up enough for the half-marathon in two weeks.
Racefest was never really my goal, just something fun to do with Kath while I trained for the bigger run down the road. I still have the Flying Pig Marathon just FIVE weeks out now, and I am very nervous for what my body will be able to do. I have missed some critical training runs, and there is no way I feel like I should be going into a taper in two weeks, having not even done three of my longest training runs.
The weekend of the Racefest is actually the weekend I am scheduled to run 20 miles. My "plan" – as of now – is to run the race, hand off my medal and gear to Kath, and then run the 7 mile distance from South Park (race finish) to my house. I’m crossing my fingers and saying a lot more prayers these days than normal.
One thing is for sure, the next time I go out for a run and take in a nice deep breath of fresh, cool air, you can be sure that I won’t take it for granted.