Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Running Anniversary

September 2001 has many horrific memories for a lot of people including me.  However there is one thing that happened September 2011 which changed my life for the better.

September 23, 2001
I'd joined a team at work and on this day after training a bit, I walked (yes walked) my very first 5k the Susan Komen Race for the Cure.  I was astounded to take part in the event and had a great and memorable experience.  The most eye opening part for me was the huge variety of people (men, women, big, small, young, old) who were running.  I'd always been fairly active with gardening, walking and had biked some.  Running baffled me though.  It didn't look or feel fun but this event made me want to try running.

And after much sweat and learning (and injuries including the first round of physical therapy), I made it to the start line of the 2002 Susan Komen Race for the Cure (now moved to June) and ran every step of the way in a blistering 33 minutes.  And I felt great.  It took two years until i ran my first half marathon and six years until i ran my first marathon.  Ten years later I define myself confidently as an athlete.  both my husband and i are happier and healthier for this random discovery.  I've made countless friends near and far.  Any time we take a trip, I run and make more memories and usually more friends.  It's been a great ten years!

How to celebrate this?  I knew at some point I'd want to run a trail 50k.  There are a lot of great events around here and earlier this year I ran a 25k on trails.  Coach Lesley, of course, got behind this venture.  JT was the inspiration of choice for the particular race.  Cle Elum Ridge run was supposed to happen in June (right when i was rocking the seattle Rock n Roll half marathon) but the horrendous spring flooded the course and it got moved to September.  Perfect.  Training was mainly building on my fitness from earlier marathon training this year and Ragnar NW Passage and adding in longer trail runs.  I came in feeling a undertrained and very nervous but ready for the challenge.  I was in this to finish and to have fun. JT and SJ planned on running the 25k distance.  Coach Lesley and TC would run the 50k distance with me.  EA was along for cheering.  Wow.  I was looking forward to this weekend. 

And then like every runner knows, life happens.  The weekend before the event, a coworker had a massive stroke at work and died the next day.  I'd known this gal casually for years and as an avid hiker and only in her mid-50s, i was shocked and saddened by her death.  I still cannot believe it (do you know the symptoms of a stroke?).  A friend's husband was fired.  Our sewer line broke.  And there was a deadline at work with extras and I stressed about getting everything done.  To say it was an awful week is an understatement. 

Wednesday I was super achy and tired in the evening.  I thought i was just tired from it all and achy from a (great!) workout the day before.  The next morning I woke feeling better but still very off.  By that afternoon, I was running a low-grade temp, had a rash, my lungs hurt and I felt even achier everywhere including my feet.  Ugh.  I got into the doc because I wanted the rash which i'd had before checked out.  She cleared me to run as long as nothing got worse. 

That night (friday morning)  I woke up at 2 am and felt super hot and shivery.  And my temperature had spiked to 102º.  I drank some water and went right back to bed.  Fortunately by the time I'd woken up the fever had broken by itself, the rash had mostly disappeared as usual and i felt better.  No cough or congestion so I was pretty certain this was some weird viral thing and I doubted I was contagious. I'd woken up very hungry every morning since I'd been sick but had a hard time eating anything more than what I'd usually eat.  Things tasted a bit off and my stomach was vaguely off as well.  I knew I needed to get more calories in but it was a struggle.   The plan changed to just get to Cle Elum and see what happened.  Maybe I'd make it to the start line or maybe I'd volunteer.

Well it was a blast going to Cle Elum with such great people.  I started the 50k as planned but from the start I felt winded and dead legged.  I'd hoped that would get better once I loosened up and got going but it didn't.  I struggled with the decision but made the turn to the 25k course and started back.  At this point, I was just out for a hike and to enjoy the trails. I definitely had some moments of pity party but it was just one of those things.  The trails?  They were gorgeous.  The creek trail was so pretty with lots of bridge crossings and lots of evidence of blow downs and water damange.  I ran a bit here and there, took photos and went along in no hurry since the others had continued on the 50k.

It wasn't the day I wanted at all for running but it was still a really fun day and a great way to celebrate 10 years of running.  I ended up covering about 18 miles (the "25k" was 17 miles plus the addition of a 50k start) and had fun hanging out at the finish line chatting with everyone on a last day of summer. Thanks to all who made this happen whether you were there or not. The support in the running community never fails to astound me and I wouldn't be the runner I am today without all the experiences and wisdom I've been exposed to over the years. 

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