Our story begins in the fall of 2007. I had just started running for real again, and D and I were thinking about trying a trail race. We saw the Bradbury Bruiser on a race calendar, but we both thought 12 miles was way too far. To that point, I had done one 8 mile run, and hadn't run 12 miles since 1996. But, a friend of ours said she was planning to run it and asked if she could stay with us. Well, looks like we're running, too. I ended up running 1:49:02. I was back.
Fast forward to Sunday. I stumbled across the finish line in 2:05:38. Something just isn't right.
My plan going into the race was simple: race the first 10 miles and hang on in the O Trail, the small intestine-like never ending single track that feels like it's 24 miles long, not 2.4. Additionally, I didn't start my watch. I didn't want to get encouraged or discouraged at any point. I was going to race by feel, and when it hurt I was going to push harder. Now, based on this race course, that's not a bad plan, if you're fit. But, there was nothing in my training that pointed to me having a good race. Of course, I'm a runner, so I have an ego. I wasn't going to let my recent training results dictate how I was going to race.
I'm not going to go into details of the actual race, but picture a wind up toy with its batteries running down: that was me. After about 4 miles, I consciously slowed down, hoping to just cruise into the finish. I knew a good race wasn't in the cards. But, even as I slowed, I felt steadily worse and worse. By the time I reached the O Trail, I was in trouble. By the time I exited the O Trail, I could barely run in a straight line and lifting my legs normally was difficult. It wasn't pretty. Later, D told me I had the "Finishing the 50K face." That can't be good.
I must have looked bad because...well...a number of people told me I looked bad. It's good to have friends. And, in truth, I felt terrible. My legs, especially my quads, were extremely heavy. I was slightly nauseous. And, the water and Gatorade I was drinking couldn't be cold enough. I wanted it icy. And both Emma and Valerie told me I looked pale...well, paler than usual. And, in fact, I spent all afternoon on the couch...eating.
So, it was a terrible day. But, it confirmed what I suspected. Something just ain't right. For the last couple weeks, I've suspected that my lack of success racing this summer and general fatigue while running was related to something medical, specifically, anemia. While chatting with Emma post-race, she asked me: "Are you anemic?" Hmmmm...maybe there's something to this. I've made a doctor's appointment, and I hope that a bad day will lead to a positive step forward.
As far as my running goes for now, I'm going to treat this like an injury. I have a good excuse to take a break from running for a little while. Well, at least a break from serious training. So, my next race will be...who knows? And, right now, I couldn't care. My plan is to get healthy and figure this out. And, you know what? I think that will be kinda fun. See you on the other side.