For over a week, I’ve been battling a nasty virus. At its worse, the virus was in my eyes, nose, ears, throat, and not-quite chest. Doctor’s orders included a couple days of quarantine – there was nothing she could do to help me get better (beyond rest) so her concern fell with me not infecting the general populous.
I ran the Hal Canfield Memorial Milefest on day 4 of being sick – still in denial that anything was wrong. By day 6, I went to the doctor hoping for sage advice/mediation to help get me better quickly. I’m in training (5 weeks away from my half marathon) – I don’t have time to be sick!
Thursday and Friday I was ordered to stay at home. Amazing how paradise feels like prison when its a demand rather than an option. Thursday I stay inside – eating ice cream, watching The Office on Netflix. Friday I felt better, but to save my office from infection, I stayed at home. Doc said my sickness would last 7-10 days. Still, I felt well enough Friday and Saturday to go on a walk/jog through my neighborhood.
Day 10 happen to fall on the day of yet another race I had preregistered for – Townsend 15K. I ran this race last year and loved it. Eager to repeat the experience, I had my mind set to not DNS this race. I got out in my neighborhood Friday and Saturday to get the legs moving to make sure my body hadn’t forgotten how to run since Monday.
Healthy, I was all but guaranteed a PR. I’ve improved that much since last year. Unfortunately, my sick body just wasn’t capable. Because I don’t feel like the race is a good representation of my training, I’m not going to post splits in this report, or a blow-by-blow of how I felt.
I consistently felt like crap. Save for those moments where I focused the reasons I love racing.
I’m a very social person by nature. That’s one reason the so-called quarantine bothered me so much. I crave human interaction. Before the race, I chatted with Roxanne – a local racer who I hadn’t before officially met, although we run most of the same races. She and I chatted about our dog fears, our favorite best-kept-secret race, and wished each other luck before the gun went off.
In the first mile, I recognized a racer from the Carter Mill 10K I volunteered at last month. As we ran, I introduced myself. Larry Acuff ran the original Pigeon Forge 8K, back in the day my dad races. Mr. Acuff is 75 years old, and ran the race only 5 minutes slower than me. He told me his goal was to finish – and he did just that, taking home the award for 2nd place in his age group.
Running past the camp ground, I told him stopping for bacon would be his biggest obstacle to finishing. Another runner overheard, and added her memories of the bacon from last year. It smelled so good! (And I was thankful they didn’t have the full breakfast out this year – I might not have been able to resist temptation.)
The course was lollipop shaped, so around the 4 mile point for me, I started encountering the front runners. Elizabeth Herndon was in the lead (ahead a the boys – a lead she’d hold on to) looking strong. Then some of my teammates passed and I got the chance to cheer them on.
I mean really, how often do you get the opportunity to yell “Go P Go!” in life? That’s fun stuff!
One of the most encouraging members of our KTC Socialites team – Bryan – was a volunteer station at the tour around. He cheered me on and encouraged my hustle.
Around mile 6, instead of taking a gel as planned, I took a coughing fit and the 3rd puff on my inhaler of the day. Frank – another local racer, although on a different team – stopped long enough to check on me. He talked to me enough to make sure I was okay and didn’t need medical attention.
(I discovered later my forgotten gel in my fuel carrier. After losing 2 pounds from not eating much this past week, and only taking 1 gel in 90+ minutes of running, no wonder I was low on energy!)
Once again (this time in his car passing me) Bryan encouraged me during the late miles of the race. While the terrain was downhill/flat for the last mile and a half, it was still the toughest part of the race. Yet a 3rd time (around the 9 mile marker), Bryan met me with a smile and encouraging words. He ran in the last 0.3 in with me, forcing my body to pick up the pace.
This race wasn’t a PR. Not even close. What is was, however, might be more important. This race served as a great reminder why I run. I’m not one of those who train to be competitive, although sometimes I get caught up in the plan and forget.
I run because I enjoy it – enjoy the feeling of an easy run, the people I’ve met along the way, scenery I’ve passed. If it took 95 minutes of misery to remember just how much I enjoy it, I’ll still say they were 95 minutes well spent.