Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Feverish Loonie Speed

There were two races I wanted to run on April 23rd.  I kept trying to separate them in my mind and pick a clear winner, but I just couldn't pick.  The first one involved running with the Detroit Police down at Belle Isle in Detroit.  It was for a great children's charity, and I still hadn't been to a race at Belle Isle.  On the other side of the coin, there was a race up in Midland being hosted by favorite minor league team The Loons (LA Dodgers A Affiliate), and they were going to give all races a ticket to the game that night.  Both are just over an hour from me.  Both were 5Ks.  I've never ran in either place, but there was a good chance I could run Belle Isle later.  One is only in its second year and the other was celebrating its 5th anniversary, but I couldn't figure out whether I wanted to run a smaller or bigger race either.  I just couldn't pick, and eventually the registration for "Run With the Cops, Not From Them" closed up on me online.  So that kind of made up my mind for me, and I registered for the Loons Pennant Race.

The Wednesday before the race I started getting a really bad sore throat.  Luckily I had Thursday and Friday off from work, due to a mini Easter shut down.  So I tried to rest up and do good by myself.  Thursday the sore throat went away, but it went into a miserable sinus thing with a pretty good fever.  I was burning up, my nose was stuffed but still running all over, my head hurt, and I was just a total mess overall.  Pretty much the same story Friday, and I went to bed incredibly early hoping I could sleep it off.

The alarm came on Saturday, and I started to get up.  Jessi woke up and asked "You feeling any better?" and the answer then was "No."  After getting a shower and getting ready, though, I did feel a bit better.  I was still really sniffly, and about as achey as could be.  The fever was still there, but I went anyway.  The plan was to try to run a little and walk the rest of the way, because just driving in the state I was in was feeling like a chore.

I picked up my packet after stopping in the restrooms on the concourse trying to wash up my hands so the volunteers wouldn't catch my germs.  My face was red as hell, and I was still really achey and feverish.  I didn't want to do this at all, and I was pretty sure my nose would be doing more running than I would.  I went back to the car to get out of the cold wind and sat there until it was about 10 minutes to the start, putting on my bib, drinking some water, and wishing I stayed in bed.

When race time came, I just put on some music early, and stayed off to the side in my own little world away from everyone.  Eventually I saw movement out of the corner of my eye and began running with everyone else.  My bib was obviously for the run, so I figured I better just give it a shot, and off I went.  I could feel every step flowing through my entire body like a wave from the bottom of my foot to the top of my head, and I immediately felt overheated.  However, I did feel my nose start to clear up, and was breathing pretty decent.  So I decided that I could take this one slow, and said I'd be happy with a 32 or 33 minute time.

Early into the run, before mile 1 was over, we went off the roads into the Pere Marquette Trail.  It was about then that tunnel vision set in.  I don't remember the run, anybody around me, hills, bridges, the river next to the path, nothing.  I went into some sort of zone with my music, and the only thing I remember thinking was "I need to get this thing over with."  I just wanted to get to the finish and be done.  I didn't break out of this stupor until I passed the 2nd mile volunteer and heard him say "_____-teen: ___."  I had no idea what he said I was doing, and I didn't care, eighteen, nineteen, whatever.  I didn't even really think about what that meant for my time, whatever he said.  I just went back down into the haze until I came off the trail into the city again.  By then I knew I was almost done.

So I started pushing hard, and regained my awareness of the people around me, my aching body, the fact that I felt like someone lit me on fire, but I didn't care.  I knew if I got to that finish, I could stop running, and that was all I cared about.  That was, at least until I hit the turn.  I saw the clock and couldn't believe my eyes.  I was still looking at getting a time under 28:00.  So I tried to push and cross the finish before that clicked over, and I didn't quite make it.  My clock time was a 28:04, and it still didn't register.  I grabbed a water and a banana, sat down on the steps and enjoyed a nice rest.  I got back up just after, still feeling like crap, and then it hit me...I probably just set another PR, while sick, without even feeling like I pushed myself too hard.  How is that even possible? 

I tried to find some sort of explanation by looking at the winning times and seeing some indication that the race was short.  It was a loop, so the all downhill explanation isn't there.  Everything seemed to be in order.  The winner times seemed about right to me.  I even heard a few comments saying they thought it was a bit long.  I went back to the finish for a bit to watch a few others come in, especially the 35 minute people, because that's where I used to be, so I love going back and rooting them on.  I was wiped, though, and the sickness started coming back.  I went back to the car and took a nap.

I was considering just driving home and skipping the game at this point, but I felt better a bit better after some rest.  I still probably should have just went home, but I walked to the Boulevard Lounge instead, and got a burger and a cranberry juice.  By then I was doing alright, and I decided to stay for the game.  I went back to check on my official time as they were giving out the awards to the age group winners, a 27:38. They had my town listed incorrectly as Midland, but I felt like I owned the place at that point, so it was okay. So much for breaking 10 minute miles, I just broke 9.  I loitered around for a few hours, walking around the town.  There were a few hours there where the sun was out and it felt like it was baking some of the sickness out of me.  It didn't last long though, and it got really cold and cloudy again.

I was still thinking about leaving, but I stayed for the whole game.  I did have to get a hot chocolate and stand by the fire pit to make it through, but it was worth it.  The game ended with a Loons walk-off double in bottom of the 9th, after an appearance from the Rall E. Camel on the big screen.  There are a few kids there that will probably be Dodgers eventually.  They've already sent on Clayton Kershaw and Jerry Sands, and I think they'll turn out a few others in the coming years.  I'll have to head back for a few more games this year, because it's great, affordable fun, even when the weather's miserable and you're sick.

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