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Not Smart

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So yesterday I tackled the first workout of my 12 week plan leading up to the Smuttynose Marathon. On tap: an 8 mile aerobic run (somewhere between a 8:45 – 9:15 per mile pace) followed by 10 x 100 meter strides. Sounded easy enough. Shoot, I’ve been doing 10 and 11 milers regularly lately between 8:00 and 8:27 per mile pace.

I was eager to get started. I truly believe if I can follow Peter Pfitzinger’s plan, I’ll have a good shot at 3:20. So after I fed the kiddies, packed Brooke her lunch for camp, sent the wife and Katie off to a water park, cleaned the kitchen and did the laundry, I was ready to get running. It was 11:50 when my feet hit the pavement. My plan was to finish my 8 by 1:05, get my strides in and be back home by 1:30.

***
24 hours earlier

Katie was finally getting over a fast working virus that knocked her out of commission on Saturday and Sunday. Now my head was starting to pound. It spread from my temples to my eyes. I was having trouble focusing. Soon the nausea hit. Katie had thrown up twice and I feared it would shortly be my turn. Although I managed to avoid praying to the porcelain god, I did end up spending the next 18 hours in bed. I drank little and ate even less.

***
As I ran past the first half mile mark, I realized I was going too fast for what this run called for. I tried slowing it down a bit. The first three miles were an interesting struggle of the mind calling for a slower pace and the legs pushing for a faster one.

But at the end of those three miles however, the struggle had flipped. Suddenly my breathing became labored and the legs dragged. This was supposed to be an easy run, but it was quickly turning into a battle. The temperature continued to rise, 84°, 86°, 87°. The humidity wasn’t helping.

I considered calling it a day, but I thought of the post I had just written about Heart and the fact that this was the first workout of the program, and so I trudged on. I thought about the marathon pace long run scheduled this Sunday and I wondered how could I possibly do that. I was ready to quit.

But this was day 1. I couldn’t quit on day 1. I struggled on. From mile 6 on, I had to stop and walk for 30 seconds to a minute after every half mile. After arriving at the track at 7.5 miles, I stumbled through one lap and had to stop. My easy 8 miler had turned into a brutal, oppressive 7.75 miler.

I drank the last of my nuun water and stared at the other end of the football field 100 yards away. I needed to do 10 of these?

I felt woozy. I glanced over at 3 kids, recent graduates from the local high school, running a hurdles drill.

“Do you know where a drinking fountain is,” I asked.

One of the boys answered that there wasn’t one but they could give me some water. They filled my bottle half way up as I thanked them. It was all I could do not to sit on the ground, but I was afraid if I sat down, I wasn’t getting back up.

Another wave of nausea and the ground started to spin. I straightened myself out, but the ground continued to tilt. Suddenly with every blink came black spots. I gulped down the water, hoping it would help hold the world still.

The ground stopped moving, but it didn’t feel steady. The spots didn’t go away for several minutes. I focused on the conversation I was having, trying to breathe normally. Another spin, another wave.

I suddenly had a vision of these three kids making the front page of the local paper because they had rescued some poor old, passed out, aspiring marathoner from his own stupidity.

I again straightened up, thanked the boys, and proceeded to stumble home, skipping the strides. When I weighed myself at home, I was nearly 5lbs lighter than when I had left for my run. This despite having drunk a bottle and a half of water and a bottle of mix1 recovery drink. I had obviously been sweating – a lot!

It took me the rest of the day and part of the evening to get back to feeling normal.

So why am I writing about this awful experience? What’s the point?

I should have waited until today to run. Aside from the marathon itself, schedules are not set in stone. If you’ve been sick, and not consuming liquids or calories, maybe it’s best to take the next day off.  Don’t be stupid like I was yesterday just because you can’t wait to get started.  If it hadn’t been for those boys at the track, I may well could have ended up passed out cold in the middle of the football field.

Hopefully the 9 miler tomorrow won’t be such a struggle.

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