Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Missing Training

"I know it's difficult to feel like you're missing training."--Vince, 3/24/08, in a training email post round 2 of the '08 flu

I'm annoyed. Not at Vince, but in general. I want to say, "You have no idea." But, I'm pretty sure any serious runner has a very good idea. I hate missing training. For any reason. And I will not miss it, as long as I have some control. But when seriously sick or injured, I have no choice but to take some time off.

I begrudgingly tolerated the break a few weeks ago with the first round of the flu, like a child grounded for a few days for some small infraction. I came back for a week, and then got another flu strain with a meaningful intestinal element to it. The second round hit me much harder than the first. I ran a high fever and lost 6 pounds. I turned into a pale, elfin waif more likely to wilt on the couch than be found strapping on my latest Brooks Adrenalines. I took this time off about as well as career criminal busted on Fox's COPS 20th season, wanting to hurl expletives at anything that moved while I resisted arrest (but too tired to do it).

I came back strong, though, for a good week plus, only to find myself injured in a freak accident during a family fishing trip; seriously enough to warrant a trip to the hospital and a round of morphine. At least I got my 12-miler in before that happened (and it was a good one!). I missed Sunday completely, both in running and in life. I remember very little of it, which is probably merciful.

Running is such an honest sport. You can't really be good at it if you don't work consistently, day in, day out and train hard. What you put into running is directly proportional to what you get out of it. It's one of the most appealing things to me about running. And all I want to do is put in the time, work hard and qualify for Boston. Which now somehow sounds more like Cinderella wanting to go to the ball with no fairy godmother on hand. It's become a fairy tale, while I wait locked in a secret room and a dress of rags.

I am very frustrated at having missed runs when I should be training my hardest. Weeks ago, I was bullish on qualifying at Ottawa. By the time I had the second round of flu, I was inclined to do what all princesses do in secret: cry my eyes out. I skipped the cry, chose to hedge my bets, and signed up for Chicago in October. In all likelihood, I will run Ottawa anyway and do my best. But, from an emotional perspective, I cannot have a failure when I cross the finish line with no immediate plan to remedy that. Should the clock show me something over 3:50:59, I know what I will be doing for the next three and a half months. Because I will make it to Boston--the old-fashioned way. I'm going to earn it.

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