Monday, March 3, 2008

The Next 4 Miles and A P.R. in Embarrassment

I scored another PR today. For my regular blog readers, I know what you’re thinking. Why, Mr. Laminator, isn’t this only your second run after your recent injury? Your second run in the past two months? Your second run this entire year? How’d you expect us to believe you ran fast enough to score a PR? Did you pick a run distance that is some unconventional fraction of a standard race distance just so you can claim that fact? No, no, no, my dear blog readers. My PR today was not of the positive nature that is implicit in its usage. My PR was actually an exercise in shame and humiliation. For today, for the first time in my running career, I suffered more embarrassing events from the beginning to the end of my run (6) than I actually ran in miles (4). Let me explain.

First of all, it’s taken me more than a week to get my second 4-miler in, because the day after my previous run, I developed high fevers, shakes, chills, chest pain, cough, headache…otherwise known as the flu. This particularly nasty variant wiped me out for rest of the week and this weekend, tying me to the bed for 20 hours of the day. I was feeling slightly better today and since it was fairly warm outside, I felt I owed it myself to get my next 4 miles in.

When I got to the park, I did some quick stretches and warm-ups and started running. That’s when the fun began. I hadn’t taken more than 10 steps when I realized that although the upper half of my lungs were clear, the bottom half were all congested, such that whenever I felt the need to take a deeper breath, I would have paroxysmal coughing fits that wouldn’t stop until I forced myself to take somewhat shallower breaths. I must have looked liked a wannabe running newbie out there because at one point, some old guy came up to me and said “Hey buddy, maybe you should give us a break and go see a doctor before you hurt yourself out here (Embarrassing Moment #1).” Although he might be right in a general sense, that was so so wrong on so many levels. I would’ve explained to him that I have both an M.D. and a B.Q. degree, but he was already long gone by the time I finished my coughing fit and had a sip of water. So, that’s how it went for the first half mile.

Luckily, my coughing subsided and my lungs became clearer by the end of that first mile. By then, I was trying to run at a comfortable pace, somewhere close to my pace from last week. For the next mile or so, I tried not to look at my Garmin, but just concentrated on maintaining a good form. Although mechanically, everything just felt a little off at the beginning of the run (even aside from the coughing fit), it was coming much better during the second mile. I thought I was moving well through all the rolling hills scattered along the west side of the Central Park Loop, until Embarrassing Moment #2 and #3 happened in rapid succession. Out of nowhere, this twenty-something girlie just ran right past me. Not only did she run past me, she was gone and out of sight within a minute. Wow, I thought, either that was Paula Radcliffe or I must be really out of it. No later than five minutes after that, so maybe a half-mile later, a lady pushing her baby in a jogging stroller also chicked me. That made me really really frustrated and upset. I know I’m sick, and I’m running slow, but c’mon this is ridiculous, even for me in this sorry state. So I couldn’t resist it any longer and checked my Garmin. I was shocked to see I had been running at 8:25 min/mile pace for the last 2+ miles. No wonder everyone and their grandmother is running past me. So I gritted my teeth, and sprinted the rest of the way back to the start. I manage to “savage” my terrible performance and finish my 4 miles (actually 4.06) in 32 minutes and 7 seconds for a 7:53 min/mile pace. Embarrassing Moment #4 was when I realized how I had to struggle just to run my worst time ever for a 4-Miler. Additionally, I was able to escape the dreaded 8 min pace only because of a 7:15 last mile. It probably wasn’t so smart to bust my tail so fast so early back, but the thought of me running more than a min/mile slower than I’ve ever had last year was just not acceptable for me.

My fast pace in the end did have a price though. After crossing the finish line, I passed out at the nearest park bench and couldn’t move for the next five minutes or so. I was feeling semi-nauseated, dizzy, and very out-of-sorts. It must have been disturbing for the little kids holding after-school running class in the Bridal Path next to me, because one of them brought over a cup of water from the fountain and handed it to me. It was a very sweet and nice gesture from him, no doubt, but definitely counts in my book at Embarrassing Moment #5.

Once I was able to make it upright again, stretched, and started the slow walk back to my apartment, I thought I was done with the shame and humiliation. Needless to say, I was wrong, because right in my mailbox, when I got home, was my personal copy of the “ING NYC Marathon 2007 Official Results Magazine”.

As I flipped through to page 92 and saw my name and BQ time in the 5th page of the results section, I questioned whether it was actually me or a body double who ran such a spectacular time that day. I can’t really say my body recognizes that person anymore (Embarrassing Moment #6).

So there you have it. Six (count’em) six, embarrassing moments all happening around a four mile run. That’s one of the most impressive PRs I’ve ever seen. Wouldn’t you agree?


Non-Runner Nancy said...

OMG I'm so sorry you got the flu. That sucks. There might be two of us that get "paroxysmal" :D The dude saying you should give em a break and see a doctor had me rolling. Getting chicked? Well not as much sympathy for that one! :D

Nice finishing mile. Take it easy on yourself, you've been through a lot. ;^)

Jamie said...

There is nothing too embarrassing about that stuff. Well dude #1 was just funny and the little kid was super cute. Take it easy you have had it tough and it takes some time to get back into the swing of things. You will be back to your old self in no time!

Nibbles said...

Even though you're sick and just went through the injury from hell, you are still way faster than me. I could never chick you. Feel better yet? :-)

JohnnyGo said...

Turning your "PR" into such an entertaining post is full redemption, as far as I'm concerned. Nice work.

Who is SLB+? said...

Great post, if you can't laugh at your self hwo can we laugh at you!

Nice job.

Leslie said...

Thanks for the comments. I think slb+ finally got it right. Gotta be able to laugh poking fun at yourself once in a while...

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