The morning light filtered softly into our room last Saturday. Wakefulness came slowly and I tried to convince myself that I still had plenty of time to sleep before lacing up for my long run, despite evidence to the contrary. Before committing to opening my eyes – the final nail in the coffin – I noticed that something felt off. I swallowed and experienced that, ahem, ill-fated rough and tender feeling in the back of my throat. The one that prophesizes heavy heads, leaky faces, and – perhaps far worse – blank calendar squares in the training log.
At this, my eyes flew open. I swallowed again, hoping the source was only a rare night of open-mouthed sleeping, some strange and unknown winter allergy, or god-willing anything other than being…I can’t even write it, for to acknowledge its existence is to give it hope, to give it possibility, to give it life! The feeling abated, but only slightly. Shit.
I dutifully set out for my 15-mile long run, which became the capper to my down week. With temperatures dipping into the low-20s with a “feels like” of 12, I strapped on my Bane mask to prevent the cold air from further drying out my throat and irritating my chest. I followed my coach’s orders and ran by feel, never glimpsing at my watch once, and kept the pace light to moderate. No one was more surprised than me to see that I had averaged 6:31 pace – I guess the down time worked. Was it possible that I had literally outrun my impending…that thing?
Not a chance. I woke Sunday with irrefutable proof that I was indeed…sick. And to add literal injury to insult, my hamstring started bothering me.
Commence extreme cold + injury remediation plan. Fluids in the form of water, tea, apple cider vinegar, and chicken broth were consumed. Zinc tablets were ingested like candy. Raw garlic and honey were sent down the hatch. Sleep was slept. Heating pads were sat upon. Bridges on land and on stability ball were done. Biofreeze was slathered liberally. Passive voice was used excessively.
These were indeed desperate times. Because in the ironic land known as “of course,” I would get sick at the tail end of 10 days of rest.
What followed? The eternal sick / injured runner question: To run or not to run? What Quenton Cassidy called the old “injury fandango…would it ever end?”
On Monday, I compromised. I slept 11 sweaty hours and pushed my run back to lunch. I completed six easy miles of a scheduled 11 to get something in and still be within my 86-80 mileage window for the week.
After nine hours of sleep that night, feeling no worse for wear, I did a 13-mile fartlek Tuesday morning and doubled that afternoon for the fun of it. And it was pretty much business as usual from there, despite the lingering fatigue, clogged sinuses, and a moody hamstring. Above the neck and you can run, right? Right!?
That brings us to today. Where I come to you from the couch, hood pulled up, Nalgene half full, empty square *gasp* on the training calendar, heeding my coach’s words. “Let’s back off,” he said, after hearing the congestion in my voice. “Get back to 95-100% for Monday so we can get into the upper 90s next week.”
These are the times when rest feels harder than running. When just over nine weeks from now, this will hopefully be a forgotten bump in the long road to Boston.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a date with a heating pad and a zinc lozenge.