First of all, thank you all for your support, encouragement, and condolences during this period of horrible sickness and great (relative) sadness in my running life. Admittedly, I didn't know so many people knew or even cared that I was running NJM. Now that I know, it makes me even sadder that I won't be able to at least try to fulfill the expectations that many of you had for me for this goal race. It's an absolute bummer that not only have I failed myself this week, I failed you all as well :( But before I allow this post degrade into a diatribe of self-pity and despair, just know that I'm absolutely positive that the decision to withdraw was absolutely the right one for me (you'll see why in a little bit) and I will be throwing my hat back into the ring a little sooner than some of you may think. All I need is a little bit of time both to recover and to plot my revenge. More on that in a future post.
As for my physical self, I'm happy to report that for the first time yesterday, I was back among the living. I was able to stay out of bed for the whole day, had no fever or chills for 24 hours, and went back to work to take care of the really sick in my normal capacity. Yay for me! This last task for me for key because I actually got to see two new, challenging and interesting patients in my hospital clinic session yesterday. One was a college student with an unusual thyroid mass (a particular interest of mine) that no previous doctor that had seen her knew what it was or what to do with, and the other was a previously "heavy-set" teenager who took up cross-country over the winter, became "sort-a" (her words) vegetarian, lost 25 pounds as well as her periods. I was so fascinated by the running story of the latter patient that I think I might have spent more time talking about that then about the family's primary concern, which is that she hasn't had a period in 9 months! That's okay though, she's coming back to see me again in a couple of weeks with lab results and a ultrasound report. Hopefully by then I'll figure out a good treatment plan for her because my initial instinct to recommend cutting out running and resuming old dietary habits won't sit well with her, her parents or me! There's gotta be a better solution! (Maybe I'll devote a future post to elicit suggestions and comments opinions so you all can be virtual doctors to help improve her care!)
Despite my triumphant return to the workforce, I knew that I couldn't officially consider myself "back among the living" until I was back to where I am personally most comfortable - exploring the park trails next to the lake and the soccer fields and the sunbathers with a sense of swiftness generated by the power of my own two feet. So despite a long day of work and the setting sun fading towards the horizon, I quickly changed after coming home and set off for my first run of the week. (If you didn't catch that last phrase, go ahead and re-read again.)
Yes, it had been five days since my last run. Yes, I expected my body and my legs to be rusty. What I didn't expect though was the body part that would have the most difficulty on this run was MY LUNGS. Seriously, guys and girls. For the first two or three miles, I felt like I couldn't take fast enough or deep enough breaths to sustain anything faster than 8 min/mi pace. I was breathing so hard and running so slowly that I was sweaty and exhausted just trying to calm down my breathing after two miles. I knew I probably suffered a combo of bronchitis/viral pneumonia as a component of my flu-like illness but still, having to take two breaths for every stride felt completely ridiculous to me. I felt sorry for the sunbathers and the soccer players who had the misfortune of watching me curse my body as I labor-breathed around the park. I seriously wanted to quit, go home, climb back into bed and chalk up running as an experiment for the younger kids. Luckily, I remembered my cross-country patient from earlier in the day, you guys and this unfinished business I have with a certain marathon time goal and forced myself to continue running. My breathing eventually got easier, my legs got looser and by the end of my six miler, my average pace for the run resembled a slow recovery pace from months prior instead of a disgrace to my running log. Thank goodness for that.
I am also thankful that my marathon death was declared two days ago because there is no imaginable way for me to ask this zombie of a former marathon body that couldn't even suck up for 6 at a recovery pace to walk much less run for 26.2. And I'm a guy with a pretty wild imagination! Yeah, not gonna happen. That is exactly why I know, even though I've never done it before, the decision to defer this time around was the right one for me. Sometimes you just gotta know when to hold and when to fold, ya know.
Anyway, to all those who are racing NJM (or elsewhere), have fun, be safe, and crush a PR while you're at it for me, won't ya? To everyone else, have an awesome weekend and thanks again for all of your kind words this past week!
This running and blogging community ROCKS! Just sayin'!