Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Giving It 62.7 Percent

I usually pride myself on being healthy. Generally speaking, I feel good. I tend to escape winter colds and flu. And if I happen to get a bug, I can usually sleep it off overnight.

Not the case lately, though.

I started with a common cold last week -- nine days ago to be exact. It came on quickly. At first I thought it was springtime allergies. But soon I felt hot, tired and way too stuffy. I tried to deny it. I walked in the Memorial Day Parade for work, went out to eat and tried to go about my normal business.

A few days into it, I realized I wasn't going to win this battle so easily.

The cold worsened. So I stocked up on cold medicine, cough drops and tissues. I ate soup like it was the last food on earth. I went around in fog for most of the week, struggling to make it through my workdays so I could get home to sleep. In fact, I even left work early twice and came in late one morning. (Anyone who knows me knows that ain't my style.)

I think my body was sending me a message -- a strong one. I'd been operating on too-little sleep for a while and pushing my body with running and riding. Although I felt great doing it, maybe I just needed to be smarter about it.

I was (and am) reminded of something veteran runners have told me over and over: listen to your body. Mine was yelling at me now.

More rest, some good nutrition and a little more general balance should do the trick. Balance in life is always a challenge.

I took a whole week (and a day) off from running and riding. Luckily most of the week was cold and rainy, so I didn't miss it. But as soon as the weather turned, I got the itch to get outside.

I resisted last weekend, despite near-perfect running temps and bright sunny skies. It pained me to stay inside and rest. But I knew it was best. I even skipped practice with the team on Sunday -- the team's last long run before the race.

I couldn't help but think of my two upcoming weekends -- with a triathlon relay this weekend and the Lake Placid half-marathon the next. I needed to get better!

I finally decided I felt well enough, despite a persistent cough and lingering overall stuffiness, to try a run. I needed to get my legs moving before the relay.

My urge was to run all-out -- far and fast -- but I took the smarter route (somewhat surprisingly) and decided I'd do an easy four-mile loop.

Boy, I'm glad I took the easy route.

I guess I didn't realize how much this cold had taken out of my body. I felt winded and slow. My legs felt heavy and uncoordinated. It was like I hadn't run in months. I was sweating like crazy, breathing harder than I should have been and mentally counting down the miles. I just wanted to get home.

I finally found a bit of a groove after a couple of miles, but realized it was much harder than I was expecting. I was thankful it wouldn't be a long run. I felt a twinge of panic as I thought about the upcoming relay and half-marathon.

How would I do this?

Honestly, I'm still not sure. I'm feeling better every day. I don't need a handful of cold medicine to make it through the day and I can actually participate in activities other than working and sleeping.

But I'm still trying to conserve some energy and rest up. I'll probably try another little run tomorrow before the triathlon relay. It won't be at 100 percent effort. But I'm thinking I might be able to swing 63 percent.


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