May 11, 2010

Sometimes running is really hard

Well, the good news is I already knew that running was hard. In fact, I knew that running was much harder some days than it is other days. I have read and heard that from enough sagely runners that I know it well, and I have had my share of days that are harder than others, and also those that float on by without much fuss.

Yesterday I didn’t much feel like going out to run. It wasn’t one of the worst days, just a “Nah, don’t want to” kinda day. But I did what I normally do when I’m scheduled to run but I feel that way: I made up a meticulous playlist, timing the walks with easy songs, the run with increasingly intense songs to get me through; then I changed into my running gear; finally, I went outside with the intention to “just take a walk if that’s all I want to do.” When I get my Couch to 5k Running App on though, and the dude says “run,” I know I will obey.

So, I go out. It’s not too bad, and I know I’ll ease into it. I knew it would be kinda hard anyway, because it’d been 5 days since I last ran (due to being sick at the end of last week, not really able to breathe very well).

One thing that I hadn’t factored in was that, while I was feeling much better, my chest/throat/face was still quite full of phlegm. It is hard to run through phlegm. Phlegm wants to come up, it wants to get out, and it gets desperate about that when lungs start pumping and noses are breathing hard. I was a mess, like Dean Koontz’s Victor Frankenstein creation, Werner, who eventually went terribly awry (from Dean Koontz’s Frankenstein: City of Night):

Werner, security chief at the Hands of Mercy, was such a solid block of muscle that even a concrete floor ought to have sagged under him. Yet he never lifted weights, never exercised. His perfected metabolism maintained his brute physical form in ideal condition, almost regardless of what he ate.
He had a problem with snot, but they were working on that.
Once in a while—not all the time, not even frequently, but nonetheless often enough to be an annoyance—the mucous membranes in his sinuses produced mucus at a prodigious rate. On those occasions, Werner often went through three boxes of Kleenex per hour.
Victor could have terminated Werner, dispatched his cadaver to the landfill, and installed Werner Two in the post of security chief. But these snot attacks baffled and intrigued him. He preferred to keep Werner in place, study his seizures, and gradually tinker with his physiology to resolve the problem.
Standing beside a currently snotless Werner in the security room, Victor watched a bank of monitors on which surveillance tapes revealed the route Randal Six had taken to escape the building.

I was a mass of snot, phlegm, coughing, wheezing, chest pain, and I didn’t have the determination to run through all of that. I was supposed to run for 25 minutes straight yesterday (the longest I would have ever run), and instead I nearly threw up, and walked about 40% of that 25 minutes.

Oh well, we only do what we can do, right? That was all I could do yesterday, and I have plenty of room for improvement.

I know I’ll continue, and I know I’ll do the best I can do. I also know that I’m doing that 5k on June 12th, and I will do the best I can do on that day. But my question is, what will be my best that day? Will I have another chest full of phlegm? Will I be feeling crampy or whiney or complainey? Will I have prepared enough to be able to actually run the entire time, without having to stop and walk?

I’m hoping that the answers to those first 2 questions will be ‘no.’ I probably won’t be sick that day, and I am unlikely to not be jazzed to run that morning. It’s a race, after all, and I’ll be pretty excited about it, albeit scared. But the third question might very well be answered unfavorably. I might not have the stamina to run for 3.1 miles straight with no walk breaks. I just might not.

And aside from not wanting my family to have made a trip to “see me run,” only to see me walking part of the way—aside from that, I’m okay with it (I think). I don’t want to have to walk, and I don’t want to finish in >45 minutes, but if that’s where I am, that’s where I am. I’ve lost 48 pounds in the last 9 months, and I never ever thought I’d be running in a race. I’ve never wanted to run farther than about 40 feet.

But I’m going to do it; nay, I am doing it. I’ve found that that’s one of the hardest things to realize when you’re actually doing something difficult. You think the difficulty is in the future, and you won’t be able to do it. But I am doing it. I’m doing it right now, and every step I take gets me closer to finishing it. It will be okay. I’ll save 5k #2 or #3 for trying to get a better time. This time, I’m just doing it. 


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