So you know how when you have a cold or a flu, the kind where it hurts just to move your head and you have a thousand thoughts swirling around that probably wouldn’t make sense on any other day but it makes perfect sense to you right now because you’re sick and tired and all you want to do is slip under the covers and not emerge again until this viral episode is over but you can’t because you have work to do and errands to run and deadlines to meet so you try to compromise by urging your malaise body to get up and jot these thoughts down hoping they’d serve some therapeutic purpose? Yeah, that’s where I am today, so if this post gets a bit long or superfluous or in general reads more like a bout of verbal diarrhea than what came out of my you-know-what this morning, then please excuse the intrusion and come back next week when we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled programming.
Okay, you’ve been forewarned…Now welcome to my world!
I knew I was headed for trouble when I went to bed last night with a slight tickle in the back of my throat. Truth be told, I had been putting my body under a tremendous amount of physical stress ever since I got back from California two days ago. Between jetting directly from the airport to the hospital after an overnight red-eye flight to a dinner engagement that left me up ‘til the wee hours that night followed by the next morning, playing doctor to 50 kids at diabetes camp and zipping off to do an intense interval workout (12 miles with 4 x 1mile @ 5:54) where I pushed my physical limits way beyond what I had scheduled (11 miles with 3 x 1mile @ 6:03) for myself before heading home at way past my bedtime after dinner with a friend and feeling so physically exhausted that I almost passed out in the sofa before even taking off my clothes, I really have no right to complain that my body is rebelling against me right now. The funny thing about this whole episode is that over dinner last night, I had boastfully confided to my friend (when he reminded me that NYCM is 9.5 weeks away) that my marathon training is going so well and so smoothly even though I’m running faster and longer than I ever have before that I think I’ve already maxed out my miles and my long runs and am dumbfounded as to how to strategize my training for the rest of the time. Indeed, after downloading my runs from California into my training log and reviewing my progress during my flight home, I realized I’ve already done more 55+ mile weeks (3) than I did in my preparation for Boston! Now only so, but I’ve done 3 20+mile runs in the past 4 weekends, and have accumulated more miles this month (200+) than I’ve ever run! And through it all, I dare say I’m running a bit faster (as evidenced by my interval workout) and smoother (each interval clocked in at 5:53-5:54) than I ever have before. And the biggest triumph I can claim – no injuries! Yay! Truthfully though, if you don’t mind me saying so, I am a little frightened by these developments. I’ve never gone through a whole training cycle without injury before! So I’m not quite sure how I’m supposed to handle myself. Should I continue at my current pace and mileage and hope to maintain this level of fitness all the way through? Should I step back a bit and take a couple of lower mileage recovery weeks so I can build up to a peak again before the taper? If I want to add mileage, I’m not quite sure I can run more miles than I do now, given that I am putting in 55 or so miles in 5 days/week of running. I guess I can raise the ante and add a sixth day but I’m afraid I might overtrain this body and have disastrous results. (Remember, I’ve always been a proponent of 4 days/wk of running for marathon training so to be consistently running 5 days/wk now is already a big deal to me!) Besides, I don’t want to run more than 3 consecutive days since my muscles tend to get quite sore by the third day even when I run slow. So what to do, what to do? I’m leaning more on just being patient and consistent and stick with what has gotten me here. There’s a bunch of races and marathon-paced run coming up in the next several months so if I can maintain a 55-60 mile/week base and just add some dedicated speed training, I think that should be good enough for me.
Speaking of running, I forgot to mention something that I posted about in my recap of my California adventure. While I was there, every cousin, aunt, uncle came up to me in private and congratulated me on being an awesome runner! I guess they’ve all heard at one time or another that I run marathons and such but most have never really witnessed it in person, and fewer still has ever talked to me about it. So when they saw me waking early everyday to run 5-7 miles and then found out that I took the early bird train to San Fran and ran 21 miles over the Golden Gate Bridge before they had even finished brunch, they were all beyond impressed. I became a mini-celebrity for the rest of the weekend! All the uncles and aunts came up to me afterwards and told me their individual running stories, which was so very cool to hear. Then my cousins came and asked about my marathon training and how long it takes someone to train to run long distances. I told them all my reasons for running and how it sustains me and challenges me and how it makes me a good doctor and better person when I run. I don’t know if won over any of them by my story, but it was definitely cool when I “accidentally” overheard one of my younger cousins whisper to her brother later on – “I think it’s so cool to be able to run ten or fifteen miles just because you feel like it!” Yeah, right on! I think if I had a bucket list, one of the items would definitely be to run a marathon with a member of my family.
Switching gears a bit, did you all see the marathon coverage from the 2009 IAAF World Championships in Berlin over the weekend? Did you all see Kara Goucher (spoiler alert) and her 10th place finish? How about her courageous post-race interview afterwards – here, and here? What did you all think? I only got to see it last night on DVR since I was away this weekend so if this is old hat to you all, I apologize. I thought she did an admirable job, doing the best that she can despite having major GI issues during the race and battling her stomach for much of the race. I know she must be disappointed given as how she put her life on hold (at least for several months) just to dedicate herself to training for this race. Like she mentioned in her interview, she was training better than she ever has and was as well prepared as she could be, but it just wasn’t meant to be. I guess that is the thing about marathons - you can train like hell, be at the peak of your physical conditioning on race day and something crazy and fluky can happen at any point during the 26.2 mile course to ruin your chances at a race goal. The thing that impressed me about Kara was that despite her obvious disappointment (and some vomiting) she can still say with a straight face that she loves the marathon distance and this race. How many of us can say that minutes after crossing the finish line after a less-than-stellar time?
Watching the marathon coverage, I immediately felt humbled by Kara’s performance and her words. Because I too have felt utter disappointment at missing a PR in a marathon not too long ago and feel as if I’m currently running and training better than I ever have for any prior marathon, the words she spoke shot through the computer monitor and into my heart with a reverberation so strong it was the last sound I heard before drifting off to sleep last night – I wonder if I’ll end up with a similar performance in NYC? What if I run a 3:05 or a 3:15 or even worse a 3:00:02? Will I be happy? Will I be devastasted? Will I be gracious? Will I remaining a proponent of marathons, or will I swear off the race and take a break for as long as Kara is going to be out of the running scene? I sincerely hope not, but like every aspect of racing a marathon – you just never know.