Injury, illness, more illness, and getting throat punched by your training plan.

My journey back to road races led me digging for the Flexeril this month. I hit my first long run about four weeks ago and I was feeling great. I took a day off running and decided to hit another yoga class Tuesday night at the YMCA. I crept into class five minutes late and rolled out my mat. The instructor was great and led us through some movements I hadn’t done before. At the end of class, we finished with a simple twist look over my left shoulder. Breathing out, I felt a pang in my neck and a numbness started to radiate down my spine. Not relaxing.

I drove home hoping a beer and some ibuprofen would set things right. Nope. Not at all. The next three days were a lot of whining for neck massages, worrying my spine was broken, and unable to relieve the constant nagging pain. Digging out an old prescription of Flexeril, I was worried it would knock me out during the overnight hours so I took it on a Saturday during the day. This is a parenting mistake. Right before Saturday morning grocery shopping I felt the mind fog roll in as my muscles relaxed. I am forever grateful for a partner who is constantly picking up the extra slack so I don’t accidentally feed the children paint chips for snack while I’m in a muscle relaxers.

Then, I got hit with the stomach flu. I will spare you the nasty details, but I was laid out for several days and didn’t feel like I was at operating capacity.

After a crazy stomach flu and muscles relaxed, I took about 10 days off running and it came right before the Drake 10k. I got a quick couple of runs in before the big race. I felt unprepared and nervous. I didn’t actually sign up until about five days before the race because I wasn’t sure I was ready to commit. Begrudgingly, I signed up anyway.

This was the first race I’ve done alone. Picked up my packet alone, drove to the race alone, nervously waited for the start alone. It was weird. I chalked it up to being old. We have different priorities now. One of us gets to exercise while the other juggles the kids.

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Peanut butter and jelly race fuel.

I was totally nervous on race day. I went to the bathroom maybe 18 times before the race started. I tried not to get into my head about all the training I had missed and tried to have fun. One great distraction was the ridiculous start to the race. At the start time, we had announcements from the President of Drake, the Athletic Director, the National Anthem, and…wait for it…a pigeon release.

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You can’t be nervous about running while holding a baby.

At mile 1.5, I saw Eric and Harrison cheering me on. It felt great and motivating to see my little crew up on a Sunday morning to watch a bunch of sweaty runners pound down Kingman. Harrison got pumped to see mommy running at him and then I heard him have a toddler melt down as I ran away. As motivating as it was to see them, I definitely went out too fast. I was trying to keep up with a crowd forever lurching forward beyond my pace. I’m not sure why I did this. I told myself to run my own race, but I just couldn’t. I got tired quickly and got scared I wouldn’t finish. In fact, had Eric and Harrison showed up at mile 4.5, I probably would have begged for a ride home. Luckily, they didn’t and I did finish.

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Don’t let the thumbs up fool you. I felt like shit.

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Check out my medal!

The finish was pretty amazing. We got to run around the Drake stadium like fucking rockstars. I was happy to see my family, but mostly happy to stop running. It was a tough race for me. I finished 1:05:11 for a 10:30/mile pace. I was hoping for better, but I’m going to chalk this up as a win.

And then, I got a sinus infection that lasted for almost 10 days. Sigh.

To be honest, it’s been a tough month. Battling my own illness, injury, exhaustion. I’ve questioned my commitment to Dam to Dam and if I can do it. It’s been a careful balance of trying to rest, running with a fever, trying to find self care, and battle a body that is not in healthy running shape. I’ve never been this sick and tired in my life. My training has taken a toll. I’m trying very hard to let this dampen my spirits, but I’m trusting it has to get better because it can’t get worse, right?

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