Sunday, May 9, 2010

Slower than usual

It's currently my turn to have the office cold. I've had possession for the past week and I'm more than willing to pass it along to the next taker. Yes, it was only 3 months ago that I got the last cold that devolved into a sinus infection and bronchitis. Hopefully this one will depart my lungs and sinuses without having to resort to antibiotics. I've been making good use of OTC remedies though, popping pills and sipping syrups in hope of relief.

Despite not being able to breathe well, my longest training run for Vermont was scheduled for Saturday. Each night last week I went to bed hoping I'd be better the next day; week morning last week I wasn't. I was determined to do the best I could, knowing in my heart I couldn't run 22 miles but wanting to get 5 hours on my feet.

I planned the run for Alameda. Since Mary Ann had made a surprise visit to the area, she joined Anita and me bright and early for a couple of 6 mile loops. The first loop went very well, even though right now my "fast" pace is still about 13 minute miles. We chatted, admired the spring scenery, and ran along. Since Mare was getting over a cold and Anita will go along with whatever I decide, we slowed down even more on the second outing. I decided to just do an out-and-back that time and thus bypass the verdant weeds and grasses, hoping to skip a little pollen.

Bree joined us about a mile from our cars and ran back with us. We said goodbye to Anita and Mary Ann and headed out for the last 10 miles. By then I was completely pooped. Even walking briskly was hard for me, but I knew I needed the time on my feet. I was trying very hard not to move so fast that I'd wheeze since that would set off coughing.

By then it had warmed up a little, probably just about 60 degrees, but the cold cross winds were always in our faces. There were some clouds, and when the sun was covered and the wind blew it got very chilly. That was pretty good incentive to keep running instead of walking. The morning's intervals of 9:1 became 4:1, then 2:2, then finally 1:2. Sometimes we'd run to a light standard, or to a garbage can, or to a pole. But except for mile 17 where my exhaustion triumphed, we continued to run as much as I could.

It was great having Bree there encouraging me to run, cheering me on, keeping me moving. Seriously, I would have just collapsed on a park bench somewhere and snoozed for a couple of hours if I had been alone. I didn't get my 22 miles, or even 21, but I got 20.2 in the bag. And funny enough I finished at 4:59, just at the 5 hour mark that I had wanted (of course, I had wanted 22 miles at 5 hours, not 20 miles, but I'll take what I can get).

The one thing that kept me going was how glorious it was out there. Seriously, how damn lucky are we to have places like that in our neighborhood? ("Neighborhood" used very loosely here.) The Bay, the hills, bridges, wildflowers, gardens, egrets, ducks, geese, dogs, cats, millions of ground squirrels. All with a well tended multi-use asphalt path with fountains and bathrooms. Support your East Bay Regional Park District, because boy howdy, it would be much tougher getting out there while sick if all we had were busy urban streets for running.

I'm glad it's taper time now, time to start worrying about making the time cut-off at a race where the cut-off shouldn't be a problem. I'm appalled at how slowly I'm running and I hope that during taper time my cold, allergies, sinus woes, breathing issues and all that drippy stuffy wheezy crap is cleared up. My determination, stubbornness and will can only go so far, my body has to play along too. I've been looking forward to this race (and vacation!) for a long time. Three weeks from today I'll know my capabilities.

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