Sunday, August 21, 2011

Half Of The Fury

I threatened last week to come back with fury because it promised to be a fantastic week. Six fun runs nicely planned. But one thing is what the mule thinks and another what the rider does (A Spanish saying BTW).

I very seldom get sick. And when one of the small signs of cold shows up (e.g. sore throat, itchy ear) I do everything under the sun to avoid that the cold develops further. Reason being, cold combined with my chronic asthma are synonym of high probabilities of complications, including pneumonia. Zicam is immediately introduced to my system to stop the cold development. It always works, and in 2-3 days the enemy is gone without having caused any disruption.  But last Monday either I didn’t recognize (never ignored) any indication of getting sick or I didn’t have any. On Tuesday I had more than cold symptoms. I definitely got a cold. My loyal Z came to me but the cold has advanced more than I wanted. As I had too much work and I am taking vacations next week, I couldn’t afford to call in sick. I sneezed all day, my eyes were watery and I felt really bad. However, chest was not affected, so I was still planning on going to my favorite workout, Tuesday’s speed work at the track, 12 x 400.

When I got home, hubby had me a nice bowl of chicken soup and told me: you should stay home. I recognized some wisdom on those words, and decided to stay and take a nap, but after the nap, to go to a closer track as I would miss my coach’s workout time.  Then I started shivering, but still thought: after the nap, and the fever gone, I can run my intervals on my treadmill. Later, knowing that I was not going to be the Hero of the Week, I took a Theraflu  PM, went to bed, and not precisely for a nap. At 7pm I was knocked down and slept like a rock.

On Wed I felt still sick but needed to be present at work for a couple of important meetings. As the day passed-by, and the magic Z, aspirins, and tons of water made its way through my system, I started to feel not only better but also able to run a planned summer 5K. When I got home, hubby repeated the same words he said the day before: you should stay home. Nah… I feel better. As I got ready I didn’t let my brain to provide an opinion, because it would say: no way. My son was going to join me there, and he also asked: Are you going to run being sick? In a total dictatorial matter, brain, hubby and son’s opinions were not heard. I went to run the race, but once there, I knew it was going to be hard. I didn’t have any chest difficulty, but because of all the sinus congestion, my breathing was not easy. Ah, and this is nothing but a 5K, by definition, a fast race. If I were somehow smart (I still think I am), I would at least jog it to avoid compromising my respiratory system, but me? A 5K? My brain can’t process that. So, there I go, after sharing some time with son, and a 10-min warm up. I forgot my heart rate, so I went by perceived effort, which was simply extreme effort. I hyperventilated during the whole run because, of course, it’s a 5K and I only know how to run it at max, but because I was breathing more deeply I was for sure running over my VO2 Max… But it paid: I PRd. 26:19 for an 8:29 pace. Nevertheless, the prize came back to haunt me when during the night, I got worse. At 4 am I had fever and in this cold Summer in Seattle I had to turn my electric blanket on. I knew I could not even go to the office so I would work from home. The Adventure Run with my friend Marie on Thursday night had to be cancelled.

Thursday went by very similar to Tuesday; hence I was at square zero: sneezing all the time, watery eyes, fever… Dumb girl (but I got a PR)… Though I was planning to go back to my routine on Friday, I couldn’t. I had a headache for most of the night, and the best for me was to cancel everything, from work to my Friday 5K in Redmond. Also I considered bailing on my two 10Ks on the weekend, but the decision would be made on Saturday morning, depending on how my Friday night went, and... it went well, so Snoqualmie was on.

Snoqualmie Railroad Days 10K is my favorite 10K of the region for the very reason that is the Pacific Northwest Track & Field  (PNTF) 10K championships and gathers the fastest runners of the PNW. So, it’s very fun to watch the competition that close, and as the course is out and back it’s possible to see the neck-to-neck race. Lots of orange shirts are present: Club Northwest with the monopoly of all these runners.

I felt without much energy as I had not eaten well during the week, had been taken a lot of medicines and in three words, I was sick, but I was definitely in recoup mode, so wanted to test what the body could do. I set up my watch in HR mode, as I don’t run by pace any more but by effort. I have found out that this is a very appealing way to run because I can tell why my body is behaving in one way or another. Also, all my runs done this way are organized and efficient. I set up my standard 10K rates: 85% for the first two miles, 90% for 3 & 4, 95% for mile 5, and 98% for last mile.

So how did my body adapt to run at these efforts after a week being sick? Slowing the pace. And this is the beauty of heart rate strategy. If I would’ve gone by pace, I would’ve hyperventilated as I did on Wed, and being a longer race I would’ve crashed very soon because my body would’ve needed higher efforts to maintain my 10K pace. But, to keep the HR for a 10K, the body just slowed down to the point that I ran closer to my half marathon pace than to my 10K’s. Still, it was such good run because my body systematically adapted to increasing the effort to the point that my last mile was the fastest with 98% effort (178 BPM). The last 0.2 were done at 99%, however the paces were not even close to my 10K pace; they were 30 sec per mile slower. I finished in 58:56 and got 4th in the division (and there were trophies in this championship, of course, 3 deep... darn!!!)

Though I pretty much know how to race every distance I continue learning about my body, pace, heart rate, effort, running. And this learning is wonderful for being a better runner. After this experience, I decided not to run Lake Union on Sunday. Not because I ran slower, but because the body told me, “hey, I am recovering from a cold. I need probably a couple of additional days to fully recover”. So, I heard the running machine, which was not broken but getting amended, and Sunday was a placid day to sleep IN, and to take now care of hubby, who is, guess what: SICK! Contagious? Ya think?  

In summary, six planned runs, only 3 were done. 4 planned races, only 2 were done. I came back this week only with Half Of The Fury. 

Snoqualmie Railroad Days
Snoqualmie Railroad Days
Sizzler 5K, Auburn


Susan said...

You are very, very smart!

Petraruns said...

Hey - in the end you learned a lot about yourself, racing, and your health. I've been guilty of the same sort of attitude and you DO learn...

Can't wait to read your NZ race report..