Monday, March 14, 2005

A Wonderful Day for a Run?

If you had asked me if it was a wonderful day for a run this morning I probably would have transmitted some serious negative vibes in your direction. I opened my eyes about 6:30, hacking, coughing, sounding like my chain-smoking neighbor next door. I hit the power button and started doing a system check, after which I decided I wouldn’t self-destruct so rolled out of bed and hit the shower. After a long hot shower, a bunch of gross de-sliming coughs, a little nose spray to clear the air passages, a Tylenol for good measure, and a cup of coffee, I pronounced myself alive.

So I then preceded to wake the misses up, who took one look at me and said “Are you nuts”! Ignoring this rhetorical question I sat down to breakfast, and my better half went through her morning ritual, making a point to grumble every time she walked through the kitchen about the normality of being up so early on a Sunday morning, how I ever talked her into going with me, and other choice bits of wisdom. But by the time her second cup of coffee kicked in she was ready to run through her pre-check to see what I forgotten to pack this time. By 8:00 we were out the door, and on the first leg of the 45 minute drive to Kandel. As is custom this early in the morning my better half remained relatively quiet, probably in reality sleeping with her eyes open. I chose to let her meditate, figuring if I tried to talk I would end up coughing and hacking anyway, which would be enough grounds for her to make me turn around and go home.

We completed the trip in record time, the roads were almost empty, as my wife put it “Only crazy people and runner’s are out this early on a Sunday”! The sport stadium was already a buzz of activity, several hundred runners were already milling around inside and out. It was about 2°C outside, my wife was cold as usual, so we found the sport-hall where the start numbers were being issued. While my wife looked for the bathroom and a cup of coffee, I picked up my number, 1812 (was this a sign of my upcoming battle?), T-shirt and a piece of cake. I took this opportunity to cough and hack at leisure, knowing this was a bad idea when my wife was present – she does not understand my dire need to subject my body to abuse by running with a cold and was just looking for an excuse to veto me back to bed. Someday I probably should listen to her, I know she’s right, but, well, what can I say?

So the hall started filling - 45 minutes until the start – I decided I should go stand in line for the bathroom. Most sport clubs have a nice building, lots of seating, kitchen, showers etc. However the clubs usually have 60-100 members, so the typical two toilets and 4 urinals in the men’s room are quite adequate. Add a sudden influx of about 1200-1400 male runners and suddenly you have chaos at the porcelain. I ONLY had to wait 25 minutes this time, a new PR. My wife is used to this so was not surprised at my long departure. She looked at her watch and started going through the preflight checklist:

- Start number: check
- Hankies: check
- Energy bar: check
- Hat, gloves: check
- Did you leave me the car key (in case you don’t come back alive): check
- Do you need to pee again: I should go again, I’ll see you after the run.
- “Be careful, if you have chest pains be sure to stop and write you will out, cause if you don’t die from the chest pains I’ll kill you for putting me through this.”

So I finally made it outside, did a little stretching, ran a couple minutes and found my starting block. Due to the marathon, there were pace runners, I set myself in the middle of the 1:45-2:00 block for the half, figuring I’d try to hang with them as long as possible. The sun was still hiding, someone said it was 4°C outside, the wind was blowing significantly – no gale winds, but you felt it in the bones. So I stood there shivering trying to think about my upcoming task. The half-marathon route was about 13 K out, U-turn and then back over part of the same route. My strategy was to try to start slow (to keep from coughing and hacking) and speed up after 10-12K.

So before I knew it the start gun went off, I hit my stop watch and waddled forwards towards the start. I made a mental note that I crossed the start line at 1:34 and then concentrated on finding a gentle pace to get things going. I missed the first KM marker, but noticed my time at the second KM marker, 12:55 which was about what I had planned on. System check: breathing good (although I had to be careful not to breath too deep as this led to coughing), legs good, nose running on tempo. An important note at this point is that we were running directly into the wind, not fun, but at least the sun was smiling.

I latched myself on to three dudes that past me slowly and let them kind of pull me along. I checked my watch at the 5K marker, 28:25, under 6 minutes/KM (~9:15/miles) – acceptable at this point. Just past this marker was the first watering hole, I grabbed a cup of water and walked a bit to drink it down. I then caught back up to my escort, who had run through. They picked up the pace some, I hung with them, but started coughing and spuking green slime, which I chose to spit out. Once I had cleaned my lungs out my breathing settled down again and I hung with my escort team, who were eyeing me carefully by that time (probably wondering if they should try to dump me or not). I stuck like glue, breathing stayed good, had to occasionally blow the nose, but felt okay. Around the 7K marker the first half-marathon came flying back through on his return pass, he finished the half in 1:07:10 – I remember thinking his pace is faster than my sprint – yee-gosh!

We passed the 10K marker at 57:23, I was presently surprised and felt a ray hope that I might actually run in a half-way decent time, considering. The next watering hole was right after the marker, I grabbed a cup of energy drink and a water, slowing again to drink, drink. My escort grabbed a round too, nice of them to slow down for me this time. A couple K’s further and one of the three had to stop and water a tree, we never saw him again. Soon after was a sign that the half-marathon turn-around was coming up in a few hundred meters, just past the 13K point. Encouraged I stretched out a little and outpaced my escort, thanking them silently as I inched by. About this time I did my U-turn and started bringing the cows home. The wind was now to my advantage so I spread my sails and let the wind do it’s thing. I passed the 15K marker at about 1:23:30, and the 16K at about 1:29:xx.

About this time I decided to call a emergency planning session and figure out how to proceed from here. My brain proposed that I maintain or increase my pace to try to finish in under 2 hours. My heart said it he would put everything he had into, my lungs said as long has my cough doesn’t interfere they were with us, but my legs were stiff and said they wanted to stop and take a rest. Fortunately my guts told them to shut up and don’t whine. So I reached done within and decided to go for it, I only needed to maintain my speed for another half-hour, 5.1K’s. No problemo!

An then there were 4, a quick energy drink at the watering hole, then onwards. I thought about my colleagues at work on Monday – “so how’d ya do”, I thought about my blogger-friends. I thought about Superman Chris, the Marines, Rocky, no pain, no gain. My legs kept whining, my guts slapped them into submission. Three K’s - my lungs started having second thoughts, my brain started having second thoughts. Two K’s, my heart jumped in and reminded everyone what we’re here for, my brain told my legs to shut up, my heart pumped on, I coughed and freed the lungs, my guts drove us forward. The last K, I asked if we had any reserve, everyone was quiet. The sport stadium loomed on the horizon, the finish in site, 400 meters, my heart beat strong, my lungs hurt, my cough grew quiet, my guts almost burst, my legs - my legs hit turbo, 400 meter sprint to the finish – 1:58:52!

My legs hurt, my heart beat out of control, my lungs tore at me, I felt like I was going to lose breakfast, I felt TOTALLY AWESOME, wow what a run. Man, was that great. Whew! Wow! Whew! Water! Drink! Cough! Cough! Choke! Coughsomemore! Oh stiff, walk, stretch, walk, drink, eat banana, drink, walk, drink.

I waddled over to the sport hall and presented what was left of me to my wife, who was slightly relieved to see me coming back under my own power. My loving wife had everything ready, apple juice, bottle of water, piece of cake, aspirin. Wow!

So a warm shower at the sport hall, fresh clothes, hot soup, cake, water, cake, water and we were ready to make the trip home. I already heard the couch calling me, a gentle voice blowing through the trees, somehow comforting after the long journey.

Sounds like a great run! Hope you feel better soon.
GRRRRRREAT Race, Jack! Excellent time, you just "blew" that cold away. :D

Love that inner dialogue. :D Love the fact that everyone was silent when you asked for reserves. I can just picture the personified body parts looking around the room and whistling, pretending to not be there. Too damn funny!

Good job on the race. Hope you are resting today. Green slime in the lungs? Not good. Rest, man. You deserve it.
Thanks for a great race report! It makes me want to run. And cough. :) Rest now, you deserve it! - Mia
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