It’s been kinds quiet here over the past week. I’d been avoiding posting last week due to all the negative thoughts running though my head.
Things were great on Tuesday. I ran with my group and had the best run in a very long time. Victoria and I pushed each other on a 6km out and back. My legs felt fresh, my stride was almost normal. I could finally say that I actually ran. The amazing part for me was looking at the splits in SportTracks, we completed 5K in 23:10. My race PR for 5K is over 24 minutes. It was easy to ignore the tickle in my throat. The last kilometer was back through traffic but still a great run.
Wednesday morning, the tickle was worse; I was coming down with something. I called in to work and took the day off. As the day progressed, so did the bug.
Thursday morning, I had an early appointment with Nicole. My Barry White voice, while incredibly sexy did nothing to boost my confidence. Leg strength was good and balanced, ankle felt fine, no issues with the psoas. As long as the cold stayed out of my chest I was good.
Friday, the throat was better. I made it in to work and felt not too bad. Thankfully, it seemed like a 48 hour bug. No harm, no foul. As Nicole told me the day before, it is just the body’s way of telling you to slow down at bit. I made it to the gym and took it easy on the elliptical for an hour using level 12 instead of 14.
Saturday morning, was John Stanton’s visit to the Running Room for the Retina Friendship Run. After John speaks there is a short 3km run, my plan was to run later a bit further at a much quicker pace. That was the plan until I woke up coughing. The throat tickle was now in my chest. Heavy and deep. If I wasn’t careful, a round of coughing would leave me wheezing at the end. My wife has asthma, she knows I’m in trouble if my chest starts rattling. I tried to hide it, but she knew. I tried to keep it on the down low at the running room without too much luck. The rest of Saturday afternoon, I slept. Starve a cold, feed a feed, bore chest congestion to death.
Sunday morning I was up at 6am working my hydration plan. I drank about half a bottle Gatorade between going to bed and when nature called in the middle of the night. I finished the rest of the bottle when I woke up.
I mixed enough Amino Vital Endurance to fill two 8 ounce bottles for my fuel belt and refilled the Gatorade bottle to sip prerace figuring I would finish it postrace. Added a couple of gels and a bag and a half of Sharkies and I was good to go.
The weather was cool with a bit of cloud cover. It was supposed to warm up over the morning with the clouds clearing. I opted for a tank top under lasts years’ long sleeve Retina shirt and (gasp) shorts.
About thirty minutes before the start I munched on a granola bar and popped a couple of Tylenol. While the legs felt OK, I wasn’t taking any chances needing 30 – 40 minutes to work through the kinks. I stepped though a dynamic warm-up routine that Gabbi taught us last year. Toe walk, heel walk, high knees, kick butt, jog it out.
In the chute, with Bob, Marc, and Juliana we discussed a pace plan. We were all cool with holding it steady at about t 5min/km. Off we went. The Retina Run start is one of the worst imaginable. After about 100 meters, there is a hair pin right on to the main bike path. This part of the path is also torn up, and muddy. Knowing this I kinda coached the group to take the turn wide, I m not sure that it went over too well.
The first kilometer went by in 5:18. Not too bad considering the congestion of slower runners and the bump just before Black Friars. Another little gotcha is the metal posts in the middle of the path on either side of Black Friar’s bridge. I saw the first one but forgot about the second one until almost too late. The race was almost over before the second kilometer, I never thought about having to wear a cup for a half marathon.
At the 2km mark you turn around and head back the way you came. We saw Shane hauling it very close to the front of the pack.
By the 4km mark I was on my own, the rest of the group had dropped back. Checking my time, I was on pace for 5km/min. About 100 meters from where we turned at the hair pin you could see (and hear) that they 10km race was starting. Their route does not head north like ours did, they proceed directly south. In other word, the two races merge.
It’s one of those glass half empty, glass half full moments. Just as your start to get some separation in the half marathon, you congest with the 10K. It was congested. Since it is a small event there are no corrals, you line up in the chute and start. Slow or fast, running with you buddy (or buddies), it’s a mish mash at the beginning.
I was lucky, I was able to get in to the pile up fairly early. Marc, Bob, and Juliana got stuck further behind. Using the fresh energy, I rode the wave all the way to the bike tunnel and on to Terry Fox parkway. It was along here that I heard footsteps behind me and a friendly, “You’re breathing awfully hard.” Marc had caught up. Double checking my watch, I was still on pace. And, I didn’t think I was breathing that hard. I felt good.
Marc and I ran very close to side by side the entire length of the park. We had just rounded the bend and started the run back when Bob joined us briefly. He was not happy about the 10km start, it took him while to get through the congestion and he had to push the pace to catch up.
Catch up he did, Bob kept on going opening up about a 100 meter gap between Marc and myself. As we closed the loop back on the main pathway, Rebecca and Julianne (not Juliana) we running the loop in reverse to see how everyone was doing. What an awesome trick!
Around kilometer 13, I started to struggle just a bit. The right ankle was not stiffening up but a dull ache. I could roll through quite as easily as earlier in the race. Still it was more a mental issue, things hurt, this shouldn’t be a distraction.
Marc surged a couple of times. I mentioned it once when we got near a 4:30 pace. Bob wasn’t pulling away, but we weren’t closing the gap either. The second time Marc surged, I didn’t go with him. With about 6km left , I couldn’t hold that pace. I was able to hold it together at the 5min pace but I was starting to tighten up, every once in awhile my calves would twinge. Just past the Roman baths, Marc pulled over to the side and started walking. As I went by, he let me know it was just high heart rate and not an injury.
I’d been sipping away on one of my water bottles. Just before the bike tunnel , with about three kilometers left , I knew I was in a bit of trouble with the cramping. If I wasn’t careful, the twinges would go into a full calf cramp. The worst part, was it was on both sides.
I knew that I was going to have to be careful with the hill just before the bridge. If I could survive the hill, I should be able to finish. What a mind-f#ck! This close to finishing and I was doing everything possible to avoid seizing up. A couple people passed, and then Marc went by. I was so relieved to see him pass. I’d lost sight of Bob. Marc looked strong, he’s always had something left for the finish. I was gassed. I checked my watch for pace, still hanging doggedly on to 5min. I’m glad there’s no video of the end, I don’t want to know what my form looked like. I survived without cramping. I finished. I held my goal pace. Nothing in the world feels better than knowing you gave it all that you had.
Bob PR’d, Marc owes him a beer. Juliana was a minute behind me, she finished seventh in her age group.
I was 58th overall, 12/37 in my age group.
Later we celebrated, recognized Victoria’s accomplishment in qualifying for Boston and sent her off to Massachusetts with a huge smile.
Last night, at 2am I work up coughing crap out of my lungs. WTF, I want off this rollercoaster.