Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Indecision: Should I Change My Marathon City? Or Seeds of Doubt

All doubt begins with a lousy long run.

The Monday after a wonderful week of running barefoot along the shores of the Outer Banks, my father and I headed out to the North Central Railroad Trail for a fifteen miler. It wasn’t as hot as it had been in Baltimore, but we started late and it was definitely humid. However, neither the heat nor the humidity suffice to explain what happened to me that day.

I didn’t feel too good from the get go, not awful, just sort of sluggish and at about the four-mile mark I actually burped up some vomit. Gross, I know, but that’s exactly what happened. I pushed on though, I knew that this was my only chance to get a long run in over vacation and that I had to finish. We stopped at the bathroom at the seven-mile mark, but strangely enough, even though I’d been sipping water the entire run, I couldn’t urinate. Nothing came out, which is really odd, because if given the opportunity to use a bathroom I pretty much always can. I guess I should have realized that this was a bad sign, but we carried on. My dad chatted away, and seemed unscathed by the distance or the humidity. The man is incredible!

The next 8 miles were the hardest I’ve ever run. I was thirsty, but drinking water didn’t help. My legs weren’t tired, my knees or hips weren’t sore, but my body was just moving through molasses. At mile 13, I tried to urinate again, this time amongst some sticker bushes in the woods, but no luck. I told my dad I had to walk for a few minutes and then we began to jog the last long mile. I could feel the chafing setting in and our shoes were literally squishing with sweat. When we stopped running, I wasn’t exactly relieved. I was actually quite terrified. I thought if 15 feels this bad, how will I ever run 20 or 26.2?

Once inside the air-conditioning of 7-Eleven, where we stopped for water and Gatorade, I didn’t feel better but much, much worse. My hands were shaking and I thought I was going to pass out. Instead of telling my dad this, I just sort of tried to “keep it together” in the store and on the expressway riding home. But, about five minutes from home I said, “Stop the car!”, opened the door, and puked my guts out.

There was no hiding my condition from my mom, as soon as I walked in the house—all pale and purple-lipped—she said “Get up in bed!” And I did just that. Under about three blankets, I stayed in bed and shivered and worried that my training had simple fallen apart. That my body had finally, and fully, failed me.

Fast forward a week. I’ve put things in perspective. I’ve realized I should have had some sort of sports drink on the run and reapplied body glide, but the shadow of self doubt still remains. And the thought of flying to Dublin, paying for three nights in a hotel, taking two days off from work, and possibly failing miserably scares the hell out of me. Should I really travel so far for something that my body seems so unprepared for?

And thus, the seed of doubt began to sprout. Yesterday, on my first day back to work, during the still sleepy month of August, I was surfing the Internet and saw that, lo & behold, I have an out! The Valencia Marathon, just three hours away by train, will be held three weeks later than the Dublin event and it’s on a Sunday so I wouldn’t have to take off from work. Which means I’d be less stressed, because you all know I get kind of crazy about having to ask for time off. And less stressed about flying and wasting Charles´vacation on my own personal misadventure. I’d also have three more weeks of wiggle room! Maybe an extra long run…
But then again it’s always good to stick with a plan. And I did like the idea of running a friendly marathon in cool weather, in a beautiful green place, as opposed to a very a rather dull marathon without many other women or slow people, just lots of serious, speedy Spanish men…

So I guess I’ll torture myself with this debate during this week’s training runs!


  1. i wish you a quick recovery. the Valencia marathon is a good idea.

  2. Oh, this a tough decision. However, you will succeed in Dublin. We all have bad training runs. It sounds like you had a doozy of one - maybe you were already a bit ill and/or dehydrated when you started out? I would stick with happy, festive, and cool. This seems like a recipe for finishing and enjoying the experience.