As you read in my previous blog, I had some complications after running the 7 mile Falmouth Road Race, mainly a pesky fever that wouldn’t quit. After lying in bed for hours with a soaring fever, covered in sweat, not wanting to ever get up, my mom asked “Are you still going to do the half marathon?” That was the question that crossed my mind immediately, and at the time, in all my delusion, I told myself I would still do it, despite how awful I felt. I maintained that position throughout the week, although my fevers were still coming and going, and although I had fallen behind in my training and felt like I was back at square one. When I was finally feeling better on Sunday (a week after the race), I decided I’d go for a longer run. I had a 4 mile route in mind, but running in the cool 70 degree fall-like air, I felt like I could run forever. So SURPRISE… I got back, mapped out my run, and saw that I had run an even 6 miles. Proud of myself, I thought “Alright, I can do this.”
More than anything, I want to be able to buy that 13.1 bumper sticker, and put in on the back of my car, announcing to the world that the driver of this car is a superhero. But the events of the last couple weeks and the will to stay healthy has forced me to put the purchasing of that sticker on the back burner at least for a few more months, until I get the balance of my health under control.
Then the next day, to my disappointment, the fever came back (though not in full force). My body was telling me to knock it off! Lying in bed with chills, I took a nap, woke up, and made a decision. Now is not the time to train for a half marathon. Yes, running helps my health IMMENSELY, but I make it my mission to do everything I can to keep myself healthy, and pushing the limit right now doesn’t seem to be conducive to my health. The problem, most likely is that I’m losing too much salt on these long runs. And though I hydrate, drink gatorade, chocolate milk, and even orange juice with lots of salt added (gross!), I haven’t seemed to find the right balance. And this year, my senior year of college after almost 3 years of impeccable health is not the time to take the risk to figure out the balance that my body needs.
I don’t question whether or not I CAN do the half marathon. There is no doubt in my mind that with a month more of training I can get there, and there is no doubt that I will finish it. That is what made this decision so hard. But it is what happens to my body AFTER running for 2+ hours that is concerning me. Last week, I had a whole week to recover, without any responsibilities or obligations. If I run the half marathon in September, I’ll have classes, an internship, activities, volunteering, friends, and late nights to look forward to the week ahead,… leaving little time to rest and re-cooperate. Not to mention the risk that each long run prior carries.
Being stubborn and wanting to push the limit is something that usually pushes me towards my dreams and goals. However, this week I have had to be reasonable. Yes, running a half marathon is a major goal of mine. But, right now, it also conflicts with my #1 goal: staying healthy. That is not to say that a half marathon will never be in my future. I have begun looking at some that are in May and June, after I graduate… leaving me plenty of time to train without blistering hot temperatures and leaving me plenty of time to re-cooperate without messing up my senior year.
I’ve been putting off writing this blog because even after I made the decision, I didn’t want to admit that I was giving up… but then I saw a news interview this morning that made me feel hopeful. It was with Diana Nyad, the woman who had attempted to swim from cuba to florida and had to cut her swim short due to severe jellyfish stings. She spoke of how it wasn’t just a little bit of pain, but the stings were affecting her entire body. “How are you supposed to do something that’s already so difficult with your body debilitated like that? To me, it’s a mystery, and I feel like I threw the kitchen sink at it, and I do not know how to combat [the jellyfish]. I am at a loss.’’(NBC http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/48749279/ns/today-today_news/#.UDUZABxh1pM) Her story reminded me a lot of my own. Sure, I’m not going for this giant feat that no one has ever done before… but for my own body, running a half marathon would be a giant feat. And running it with a body that isn’t functioning like it should (as it loses salt so rapidly), makes accomplishing such a feat so very difficult. The part of Diana’s interview that got me the most was that she has no regrets of giving up. “It was devastating,’’ Nyad said about having to stop. “On the other hand, it’s like life, isn’t it? We don’t always get what we want. All our dreams don’t come true….” (NBC). Right now, what I want more than anything, is to be able to just run without having to worry about the toll the high mileage runs take on my body. But like Diana says, thats life, and it’s not always so easy.
I think the fact that I’m not going to reach my goal quite yet will make it all the more sweet when I finally do. When I worked at lululemon they taught us that you should attain your goals only 50% of the time, which encouraged us to make lofty goals (and running a half marathon was my big one!). Failure is a necessary part of reaching for your dreams. Although, I won’t even call this decision not to run a failure. It is just another bump in the road. And until I figure out what works as far as fueling my body and keeping it healthy, I will keep chugging along toward that goal, I will keep running my 3-8 mile runs. I will talk to my doctor, to other CFers, and I will do some hard core experimenting to figure out what the magic trick is to keep these fevers at bay and also run to my hearts content. Here’s to bumps in the road, to learning from your mistakes, and to persevering ahead. But most of all, here’s to good health, no matter what sacrifices I may have to make along the way.