Running should be fun, right? It is. I like running. But not right now.
I have been sick, in one way or another, for the better part of a month, maybe more. That’s where it starts. Blame it on Nora’s first year of preschool and her bringing home new weird germs. Blame it on the start of cedar fever. And, sure, blame some of it on running. I’m sure my immune system is a little depressed from all the muscle rebuilding it is having to do after all those long runs.
The thing is, I have been powering through it. I have been telling myself it will get better, that next week I will get in every single run, and I won’t have a coughing fit or a fever or a nagging injury that makes it all un-fun. But next week never seems to come.
The Decker Challenge was a couple of weekends ago, and it suuuuuuucked. Big time. This race (a half marathon with a notoriously hilly course) marked the midpoint of the Austin Distance Challenge. Three races down, three to go, culminating in the Austin Marathon in February. I limped into the finish with my worst half marathon time ever — 2:24. About 10 miles in, my right knee started complaining loudly about the hills, and that was only after I had suffered through the brutal humidity* and slogged up hill after hill after hill. I was done in. By the time I could see the finish line, my only thought was of getting ice for my knee. Usually at that point, I’m thinking about snagging a breakfast burrito and a nice, cold water.
* Race temps are not supposed to be in the 70s in December, people!
But I made it through, and I got my medal. I’m proud of that. It may be my worst half marathon ever, but it was also the hardest one, on many fronts (not the least of which was the mental game).
The knee thing is not a big deal (I think). My IT band was angry about the hills, but with a few days of rest, ice and foam rolling, it is pretty happy again. I got a shiny new pair of shoes I had been coveting for months (Newtons! I love them!), and was ready to hit the road again with new vigor.
Last week, Nora got sicker than I have ever seen her. Granted, that is not saying a lot, since the kid has an immune system built out of steel, but she was down for the count. She spent a whole day just wanting to sleep on my chest, which was weird and nice and annoying, all at the same time. Then, of course, I caught her cold. It was brutal for a couple of days, with a fever that came and went, and, above all, just total exhaustion. Not fun when you’re trying to parent a toddler or train for a marathon, let me tell you. By Saturday, I was starting to feel better, and I powered through 16 miles with my running club.
But now the cough just keeps hanging on. Last night I went on a run that should have been great. It was supposed to be an easy 4-mile loop around the neighborhood, and I was really looking forward to it after a long day. My knee nagged (why is this back now??), I was dizzy for a large part of the run (what?) and I went into a coughing fit when I got home that was so bad I thought I might puke. That’s when I said it: I’m not having fun. I’m not.
I’ve been here before, the first time I trained for a marathon. I took a weekend off and did a sprint triathlon instead of my long run (ah, carefree childless days), and I was good to go from there. Maybe I need a weekend off. Just pushing through isn’t cutting it, but I’m not sure what to change here. I want running to be fun again, and I want to actually be well for a change. And I want to run a marathon in February. Is all of that possible, simultaneously? Maybe. We shall see.
All I know is, if running were a lover, I’d be thinking about writing it a “Dear John” letter right about now.