GODDAMN IT! GOD-FUCKING-DAMN IT!!
My frustration level is at an all-time high. It isn't the legs, it's the LUNGS. Maybe I was expecting too much of the Levaquin, hell maybe I was expecting a miracle (I've only had four doses so far), but still.
Today's Hot Chocolate 15K was a miserable, abject failure for me. No, I didn't DNF. And I actually did finish running, but for the most part the race was just miserable.
I'd woken up five minutes before my alarm, fully rested. I got ready to hop on the subway, thankful the MTA had put off their strike for a while, and headed out the door with everything I needed for a day outside. For once, I got it perfect: just the right clothes, just the right nutrition and hydration. Brought painkillers and Albuterol. I had a strategy planned for the race. I mean, a fuckin' strategy, ya know?? Strategies are for the fast runners. Strategies are for confident runners. Strategies are for competitive runners. In short, strategies are for winners.
Didn't help a bit.
The first couple of miles of race were great. After a good warmup jog along the bridle path, I started the race at the back of the pack, just jogging real easy and didn't have a hard time until after the second mile. As the third mile wore on and I tried to speed up to my regular pace, my breathing got more and more labored and my lungs were closing up. (This despite taking a shot of albuterol before the race; I wonder if the canister I brought is out of medicine - you can't tell by feel.) By mile four, I was really suffering - and then came Cat Hill.
I've written about the bobcat statue before. It essentially boils down to this: that thing is waiting to eat the unlucky runner who doesn't RUN by him. And he sure as hell had me for lunch today. Twice! I walked Cat Hill. I walked a lot of the hills today. I am unhappy and frustrated that I should have had to walk at all, but I simply couldn't quit coughing and I was starving for air.
If you're curious what I'm talking about (or can't imagine it) it's kind of like having a nice big engine in your sports car -- that somebody's put a restrictor plate in, thus keeping the incoming air flow down and thus limiting the engine's power and the car's speed. The engine can only go as fast as the breather lets it. Same with me. If you're just dying to know what I'm experiencing, try wrapping a nice thick scarf around your mouth and nose for your next run. You can walk and chat just fine, right? Now try jogging. See how much harder it is? Now wrap it twice - and that's what I was dealing with today.
It was shameful to have to walk. For the entire second lap, I kept passing and being passed by a couple of people. One in particular, an elderly member of CPTC, was a very slow jogger, but very steady. I tried matching his slow pace, but just can't run that slow - a fast walk would do it. Yet when I walked, he got ahead. When I ran, I passed him. I came across the finish line barely ahead of him, I think his name is Paul Saunders. 64 years old and he pretty much wiped his ass with me.
I eventually crossed the finish line for a net time of 1:44:09 - an 11:11 per mile pace. Results here. Such poor results. I doubled back to the med tent, intent on borrowing a pulse-ox meter to check my sats. Though excercise should put one's sats at 100%, I suspect mine were in the mid to low 90's. Turns out that while they can bring heart attack victims back to life, they don't have a pulse-ox meter! Grabbed my bag from the baggage area and headed for the hot chocolate waiting at 103rd street.
As I walked over, I thought about the race, trying to tally up whatever positive elements I could. Ultimax socks: good stuff. New water bottle carrier (hand strap style): very helpful. Clothing choices: almost perfect, perhaps leave the long underwear at home for temps above freezing. I finished. And, not to fail to see the forest, I did get my full scheduled long run in.
A couple of moderately related things to note:
One, this race has brought up the whole God issue for me again. I won't go into how or why or what I'm mulling over; not yet, but my ride home was not spent dwelling on my poor performance, but rather what allowed me to finish the last mile of the race running.
I got an email from an old friend, who lives in Nashville. Apparently she read my blog entry about entering the Nashville Marathon and sent me a virtual thumbs-up. I'm encouraging her and her husband to enter the race, too; perhaps for the full, perhaps for the half. It would be neat to think I've had such a positive effect on people so far away.
Nashville is a little over four months away. Plenty of time to get my lungs in better shape and play catch-up with the training schedule - and learn a little patience.