Friday, June 25, 2010

Spoke too soon

So, that little cold that I'd escaped? Well, yeah, I didn't. After a Thursday night on the dancefloor I woke Friday in full-blown lurgy. I spent the next four days almost entirely in bed. I was gripped with an overwhelming exhaustion which floored me. I didn't start to feel better until the Tuesday, when I gave in to whatever had its grip on me and just focused on healing.

My only activity during that time was a little yoga, having signed up for a 30 Days of Yoga challenge. I could have just chosen savasana, but the more stubborn side of me refused to. Instead I wheezed my way through downwards dogs, wondering where my arm strength was as I hovered down into cobra, gasping for breath through the warrior poses, collapsing into child's pose disturbingly often.

All this time I was still suffering from strangely restless, twitching limbs and a sense of weakness in my arms and legs. My doctor and I agreed it was time to wean myself off one of my medications, which is known for causing restless limbs. I downed magnesium and zinc, and slowly, even as I worried about more ominous causes of my symptoms, everything started to ease. As of today I'm still a little twitchy, but it's faded again into background noise.

Poor packing led to me missing the Jog Squad's Wednesday night run, so Duck's workout with my on the Thursday morning was the first in a week. I wheezed during our warmup run, but otherwise felt ok, and coughed a reasonable amount of gunge from my lungs.

Friday saw me sitting in a lunchtime RPM class. On Saturday morning I was up to join the Squad for a run round Lyall Bay. The half marathon girls had been out for 40 minutes by the time we met them at Maranui. Us 10kers were to run for 40 minutes, however I was still feeling slow, weak and wheezy, so turned around at 15 minutes and ran back into the Northerly. A passing male runner told me I was looking good (I wasn't), and the leader of a cycle pack commented on the brightness of my pink Adidas as he rode by. I was grateful for the support of random strangers as I staggered into Maranui, sweat dripping from my face, and waited for everyone else to join me for coffee.

On Sunday I ran the second of the Xterra runs, in the Rimutaka Forest Park in Wainui (leaving from the Harriers clubrooms). I had planned to do the medium course but with my lungs in their clogged state I opted to stick with the short. Jo offered to carpool, so her friend Dave and I waited together for her in a carpark in Taranaki Street at 7.30 on Sunday morning.

The weather forecast was for occasional showers, but someone forgot to define the word "occasional". In Wainui we were greeted with steady rain. It was even still dark at 8.00. We told ourselves that at least it wasn't cold and nor was it windy, so we merely sheltered under the clubroom veranda for as long as we could, only assembling at the start line as the race began.

Given the temperature I opted for a long-sleeved polyprop under my t-shirt and a sleeveless windbreaker. It proved to be the perfect combination and I was never cold, nor was I ever too warm. However I had a major issue with the rain on my glasses and spent a lot of the course fumbling half-blind, particularly in the bush where it was extremely dark. On the downhill sections, which were straight if somewhat steep, I longed to put my foot down but was reduced to fumbling my way blindly through rivers of rain. I really need to talk to my optometrist about contact lenses. There is no way I can't wear them again!

The short course would, had I been well, have been extremely pleasant. We ran across the sports fields and then down a short stretch of road before heading into a park along the side of the river. The one hill, sold as being small, was in fact quite long and steep. If I'd had any semblance of my normal lung capacity I would have attempted to run it, however I was wheezing like an asthmatic, so ended up walking a fair amount of the climb. Even on the flat I was occasionally reduced to walking to allow myself to cough up yet another piece of lung.

The rain continued to come down in ridiculous amounts. As the trail widened out the amount of water on it only increased. Eventually there was no point in even trying to dodge the worst of the puddles. There was a perverse delight in slogging through them. When I got home I dumped my old Adidas at the door and they're still sitting there I think they're dead.

Over the finishline I downed some water then squelched off to get changed. Too late I realised I'd forgotten a towel or dry shoes and socks. I settled on a chair in the clubrooms and waited for everyone else to finish. Duck, Jo and Dave were all doing the long course, so it was a long wait. They all eventually came in within minutes of each other. The conditions on the long course were, apparently, extreme, and the rain continued to get harder long after I was safe and relatively warm and dry in the clubrooms. That everyone found the run hard and hellish wasn't really surprising, given that the course was described as technical. Apparently the actual track was hard to follow, and a number of people wandered off in the wrong direction.

I came away feeling remarkably neutral about the race. On the one hand I was appalled by how much I'd had to walk. On the other, only a few days earlier I'd been confined to bed and wiped out by a virus. In the end I was glad to have been hard core enough to go out in atrocious conditions. I knew that my performance was not indicative of my true ability. I went home, had a long shower, and rationalised.

That, of course, wasn't the end. On Monday night I had another Squad run. We ran for fifty minutes from Te Papa out to the BP on Adelaide Rd and back. I was feeling a lot better and ran reasonably strongly, but had a series of traffic light break opportunities to catch my breath. I had a glimpse of my old runner self.

I had planned to do an RPM class on Tuesday but the weather was stunning so I chose instead to run 7k slowly around the waterfront in the sun. I wore my iPod and listened to a London Elektricity album so as to not have to listen to my wheeze. The dubstep turned out to be the perfect rhythm for an easy run.

Wednesday was wet and gloomy, so perfect for an RPM class. I misread the timetable and ended up having to do the class of an instructor I'm not overly fond of. I fumed as he deliberately ignored the official choreography. By the time I'd endured him instructing us to do the entire last hill climb out of the saddle I was livid. However I've been around long enough now to do my own thing. I got my own workout done, but the last track smashed my quads.

I had a break on Wednesday night then on Thursday morning I met Duck for another workout. It was another still and strangely mild morning. Duck took me down to Oriental Bay where we took a power bag and medicine ball down past the children's play area, where a series of concrete steps extend out into the water. It was a surreal and beautiful place to train. At the moment Duck has me vaulting walls. On Thursday this meant putting my arms onto a waist-high wall and vaulting my feet up onto it. At the start I thought there was no way it was ever going to happen, and I have a nice bruise on one knee to show where I tried and failed early on. Of course though by the end of it I was vaulting reasonably proficiently and feeling quite pleased with myself.

Add to that powerbag squats and thrusts, step ups, lunges in the sand of the petanque court (including backwards walking lunges, which are EVIL in the sand), planks, side planks, and evil, evil core work with the medicine ball, and some upper body work with the rope climbing frame in the playground, and I was happily smashed.

The walking lunges and a series of sprints up the ramp from the beach to the road left my calves feeling quite tight and my upper quads were definitely present. Unfortunately the day's workout wasn't over, as I still had to meet the Squad that night for a run. By mid-afternoon I was falling asleep at my desk. Thursday nights are usually a rest for me so both my mind and my body were protesting at the thought of more exertion.

To make it worse, only one of the other Squad girls turned up, Trudi. So much for running slowly at the back of the pack! Duck, Trudi and I set out around the Bays, running to the bottom of Maidavale then turning and running back. We started out slowly for 20 minutes, but after the turnaround something happened and the run back turned into a bit of a hammer fest. I kept glancing at my Garmin watching as our speed increased. Mentally I was finding it really hard, physically I was pleasantly surprised by how well I was coping. To run so powerfully on the race course after eight days of exercise? Now that was psychologically priceless.

By 9.00 on Thursday night I was slumped in a little pile on the sofa. I was feeling that good kind of post-exercise exhaustion, accompanied by a healthy dose of endorphins. I've really missed that worn-out kind of happy, and the deep, peaceful sleep which accompanies it.

Today and tomorrow are rest days. Sunday is the 10k race. I'm glad I'm only doing the 10k. I'm going to go out there and enjoy it then cheer on everyone else as they finish the half. Come October it'll be me running the Wairarapa Country Half, and come November, all things going well, I will be cycling round Lake Taupo with the Gearshifters.

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