There were several reasons why I wanted to race last Saturday. I wanted to run hard. I wanted to run with support. I wanted practice in a race setting, to get my mind used to the energy and the chaos created when people gather in large group, pin numbers to their clothing and put timing chips on their shoes.
But Friday the cold I was battling launched an all-out attack. At work my desk was decorated with cough medicine, Airborne tablets and Vicks VapoRub. Alas, it was too late. At first I emailed my coach and asked about taking it easy during the 10-mile race on the schedule for the next day. He said that would be no problem. The key was not to have my illness become imbedded.
OK, I thought. There’s a 5-mile option during this race, too. I can start and if I feel really crappy, I can pull off after 5 miles. Five miles is better than no miles, right?
Friday night brought hardly any sleep as my coughing kept me awake. My body was drained not just from fighting the cold but from lack of sleep and the toll that constant hacking up of your left lung produces.When I turned over and saw 4:30 on my alarm clock, I knew that I would have to skip my hometown Lockport Y-10 race. My body, well, it had other ideas for me for Saturday. I took a sick day. I drank lots of water and hot tea with honey. I dined on soup. And I napped as much as I possibly could.
It wasn’t easy for me to pass on the race. Thoughts bubbled to the surface. Should I try it? Could I just gut it out? How far back would this put me in training? Am I being a wimp? Turns out there’s an upside to that lack of sleep. A. I was too tired to entertain my Gremlins on this particular day and B. I was pretty cranky and able to tell those thoughts to go to hell. (Apparently when sick I channel the phrases of my Grandmother.) What I decided was important here was not to compound the problem. Sure, if I ran I may have been just fine, but the probability of making my cold worse was pretty high. I asked myself what was worse: Missing this race, which was more hard training day than race for me, or continuing to be sick for another week or two?
One of the great things about my endurance sport journey has been getting to know my body. To really know my body. Sometimes, I ignore what she’s trying to say, but mostly I pay attention. If I quiet my mind for a moment, I know what it is she really wants and needs. It’s easy to get the signals crossed or let my mind and ego bully my body. My body is up for all kinds of challenges. But to take on those challenges, she needs to be healthy.