There were days of feeling smooth and strong; and many more feeling like Andrew Dufresne entering Shawshank State Prison for the first time. Things have had a sporadic flow to them, leaving my running confidence something to be desired. We'll call this state of mind...the 1985 Ford Tempo GL or, better yet, the 1986 Pontiac J2000 (now known as the "Sunbird"). The characteristics of these two former vehicles of mine mirror how my body is responding to running consistently again.
The J2000 Days: I can run nice and smooth for a time, but then suddenly not - for no particular reason. Then, just the same (like nothing happened - a mirage, if you will), back to feeling good. Its as if something decided I needed a half time or intermission. Why? Just because...not that there was anything wrong...just...because.
* The Tempo GL Days: They key word here is "tempo" - which is short for "temporarily". I can run and be okay with it until a part of me doesn't like it. Which part? It doesn't matter, pick a card...any card. Whatever you get will be correct. Running roulette says it will be my knees, no..LUNGS, or cramps...no, no, no...legs? LEGS! Yes, it legs! Ha, ha, ha - yes my friend, I'm sure it will be in due time. We can't have everything working at once...remember, you are 40 now!
To better judge my progress, I decided to enter a mid-October 5K race. Not to actually race mind you, but to see how I would respond. So working my way toward this date was evolving in a positive direction, until the Sunday before.
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Seven days out, I develop a scratchy throat. By the end of the following day, I had the full blown flu. I was running a temperature, had cold chills, head and chest congestion, no energy and shortness of breath - even walking to the fridge was a chore. I called off work Tuesday & Wednesday and barely moved from the sofa. Come Thursday I was able to go back to work and fulfill my scheduled late shift. By Friday almost all of that nastiness had left my body, though some of the congestion remnants hung on for dear life.
I felt decent enough to put in an easy two miles or so after work, which was good....though my race was now less than 18 hours away. I haven't run at all, essentially, for a week and I'm coming off of a severe case of the flu (that is still somewhat lingering) and I have a race tomorrow.
Yes, fate just took a big crap on my plans.
Despite myself, Saturday's weather was perfect and I felt surprisingly good. Friday's brief run was a big help, if not a reminder to my creaky body what it was doing before the illness storm.
With my nerves running high, the gun sounded and we're off. My fear was that my adrenaline would have me set out way to fast, luckily that wasn't the case. But it was soon obvious that the week off was coming back to bite me. I could feel the staleness and fatigue in my legs. Coaxing my body into a decent pace - I tried to ignore the other runners. Something that, in the past, I've been unable to do...my competitive mind usually has the upper hand.
|The start/finish, I'm the fluorescent one in front. |
That's before reality set in.
Focusing on my breathing, stride and pace and then increasing the latter two with about a mile to go wasn't easy. The time off had thrown a wrench into my race strategy, but my goal of breaking 20 minutes still seamed like a possibility. Using the slight decline to pulled me through the finish line (which was actually a make-shift evil pumpkin face, so you finished by running into its mouth).
I was worn out - but not dead. To still be breathing was at least one goal I was able to achieve complete with the consistent phlegmy cough my weak lungs were producing as they tried to free themselves from the flu's last gasp. Dousing them with several bottles of post race water only slightly eased the hacking through my semi-clogged airwaves.
The eventual posted results were a pleasant surprise as I finished better than I had thought, though I still didn't break the 20 minute barrier. The official chip time had me at 20:48. Not bad for a week off, three days of the flu and its stragglers playing the part of that friend who just doesn't get the hint that the party is over and needs to just simply leave but is too dumb to get it. How many times does one need to dim the intermission lights before you shove his loitering ass out the door??
But I digress - I had a plan and it was carried out relatively the way I had hoped. And I wasn't physically carried out...like on a stretcher or something, WIN!
Step 1 - Do You Still Run? Part 1 Getting Started: Completed
Step 2 - Being Consistent, Make Progress: COMPLETED
Step 3 - Increasing Mileage: ....making mountains out of mole hills here...and its looming like a menacing dark cloud. Nothing a beer or three can't fix...right...?
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