April 5, 2015 by scratchtype1
I turn the final corner. There is someone just behind my left shoulder. I don’t know who he or she is, they’ve come up behind me sometime in the last 2 minutes or so and have been stalking me since. Maybe it’s been longer than that or maybe less. Time is distorted in the later stages of a hard-run 5k.
Such good luck today, compared to last year’s race. There’s hardly any wind, so there’s been no areas of the course where it feels like a battle against the wind. Some trees have begun to show leaves and a couple of yards along the course have had impressive waves of daffodils. Still, all that loveliness of spring is in sharp contrast to the struggle I’m now in.
My stride is breaking down. It almost feels like the person behind me is tugging at my shirt and I have to resist the urge to back down to a simple jog or walk. But not today. I try to imagine my chest pulling me along towards the finish line after the last intersection, the finish line up that little bit of hill. Last year, I passed 3 people on that hill. This year the ones in front of me are too far to catch. And there is that runner behind me.
Until she’s not. She surges past me with a daunting burst of fluid speed. I don’t have like that at this point, but I desperately tell my legs to fight on and pace with her. Still she is slowly pulling from me. I know it’s meaningless, she and I aren’t racing for anything but still, by the circumstances, we are racing. I’m putting the nearly 700 miles of training between here and the half-marathon back in November up against the miles she has run. I am putting the stories and memories I think about while running up against hers. Who will be faster here?
She crosses the intersection some yards in front of me. Now comes the short hill. I’ve run lots of hills the last 700 miles, but maybe so has she. Still, with the finish line in sight and the end of suffering too, I find a last tiny surge. It’s fierce, although she somehow looks effortless while I feel like film of me would show all the strain and desperation exploding out of me.
Closer, closer, I’m closing it. My breath is loud and ragged. She seems to hear that and puts forth a final quick surge and floats across the finish line, ahead of me, who almost stumbles across and then nearly stiff-legged begins walking to where the volunteers offer bottles of water.
I look at my watch. A huge PR. I close my eyes and smile.
But all that didn’t happen. Instead I didn’t run at the 5K I had planned to over the winter. Everything had been going very well. On March 23rd, I had run a really nice 7 miler. Started off on the fast end of easy pace and I pushed it along, every mile faster than the one before. In that time, I ran its first 6.55 miles in 57:39 and felt like I could have run another 6.55 miles that fast without too much strain. Of course, the next day I had to run really easy, but that’s when the first setback showed up. Before going out on that recovery run, I noticed that my right foot and ankle had some light swelling. There was no pain.
After coming back from that run, there was a bit more swelling, but no pain, just the slightest discomfort being caused by the swelling itself. Because of that, I began using a compression sleeve. Still, the next day there was still swelling. So I didn’t run. Same for Thursday, then Friday. Finally, Saturday morning there was no swelling, so I decided to test the waters and run some miles, nice and easy. No problem. And no problems since with any swelling. Its cause is unknown. But it’s gone now.
Unfortunately, Monday saw the first oddly slow run. I was running easy and it felt like a struggle, which wa weird because I had had that 3 days of unexpected rest and I had only run a little over 10 easy miles the prior 2 days. The same slow runnig persisted on Tuesday. And Wednesday. Each one I felt consecutively more worn out, even though I wasn’t running long distances. Finally, on Thursday, I ran only a little over 2 miles in the morning and then did a easy easy hike in the afternoon. That wiped me out so bad I fell asleep 7 that evening and slept til 6 the morning, only waking to go to the bathroom and a couple of nightmares.
Now that I suspect is an effect of the friend I made for the first time back in 2004. Mononucleosis. It seems that mono can have stronger effects if someone catches it later in life, like I did at age 34. One thing about is that it remains in your system, like the chickenpox virus does, and will intermittently reactivate so it can become contagious again. People who have mono when younger go through that too, but when it reactivates, their bodies handle it more adeptly. For those who catch it later in life, those periods reactivation can result in feelings of lethargy. I believe that’s what’s going on with me currently.
So that had already disinclined towards running in the 5k yesterday. Then also there was terrible wind again. I figured, why do it? Why try to run a PR? I won’t be able to run my best and I suppose there is some risk that if it’s because of the mono virus, a really hard effort might tip the balance in favor of it. So I didn’t run yesterday and did an easy hike yesterday to take some photos.
Then this morning, I got up and ran 2.85 miles. That was enough. I felt sleepy some by the time it was done, but in more favorable news, it was a bit faster than what I had been seeing this week. So maybe that’s a sign things will improve, but I just need to run only easy for a few weeks until things return to feeling normal.
I don’t feel upset about missing the 5K yesterday. Instead, I felt good and happy that because I didn’t run that yesterday, I had a very nice if short run this morning in the warm sun. It was a bit windy, but that sun felt like seeing an good smile from an unexpected old friend. It’s been a long time since I felt such a comfortable warmth of sun on my back like that. I guess once I get back to feeling fully healthy, then I’ll go hunting for a 5K and setting that PR I should.