But all of a sudden, the finish line disappears and reappears much farther down the road. What you thought was just a few more minutes now has doubled or tripled. You try to stay focused on getting to the new finish line, but you're confused and demotivated because you have to slow down since you used every bit of energy you had on what you thought was the final kick. But you don't give up and you keep moving toward it. . . until it disappears for good. There are still course marshals telling you which way to go, but absolutely zero indication of how much farther it is.
And then you hear the spectators telling you that it's your own fault that the finish line keeps moving father away. They tell you that if you had slowed down and accepted that you aren't as fast of a runner as you think, then you would have probably finished the race awhile ago. It's because you're pushing too hard that the finish line keeps moving.
This goes against everything that you are naturally inclined to think and do. You're someone who likes to push herself. You're someone who always gives 100%. You're someone who has goals and dreams and is highly motivated to accomplish them. You can do almost anything you set your mind to. Typically, if you work hard you get rewarded. But now, when you work hard, you get punished.
I have officially re-named my illness "DSGP: Do Stuff, Get Punished." Let me explain.
I turned a major corner at the beginning of last week. For the first time in 7 weeks, I actually felt like a human being!
- On Wednesday, August 17th, I walked 1.2 miles around my neighborhood and I had plenty of energy left over.
- I did the same thing the next day, and I felt even better and stronger.
- On Friday, August 19th, I played it safe and didn't do much of anything.
- On Saturday, I still felt healthy and walked 2 miles around my neighborhood. Then, I went to a book signing at a local running store.
- Sunday morning arrived and I still felt healthy and energized. So I tried to jog. I went to the track and jogged for 8 minutes, walked 2 minutes, jogged 8 minutes. This did not feel challenging or tiring.
|Sunday, August 21|
BUT. . . Wednesday morning came and it was as if a truck had run over me in the middle of the night. My whole body ached. Every movement was a strain. Clearly, jogging 26 minutes--with walk breaks--- at a snail's pace was too much. Even though I thought was almost fully recovered, I was not. The finish line was so close! But I didn't make it there. And now it's out of sight. I have no idea when I will recover. Nobody (not even the doctors) can tell me. But what the doctors can tell me is that it's my fault for making it worse. Sure, I had no way of knowing it was too much because I felt perfectly fine while I was doing these activities, but had I not done them, I would probably be fully recovered by now. DSGP.
I saw an infectious disease specialist yesterday to get some clarity on my symptoms and to make sure it really was mono. He told me that there are about 20 viruses that are very similar to mono, so doctors typically diagnose "mono." There's not point in testing to figure out which virus because there's no cure and treatment (rest) is the same for all of them. He said that my sensation of leg weakness was actually a balance issue caused by inflammation of my inner ears. He performed a few tests and told me that my legs were actually very strong, but when you don't have full balance capability, you feel unstable. I described it like jello. He told me to take an antihistamine for the ear/balance issue and that I needed to rest even when I felt like I didn't need it.
It's much easier to not run when you are physically incapable or when you have an obvious injury.
|Friday, August 26|
In light of all this, I have decided the best approach is to just forget about running entirely. I'll make no plans and I won't assume that I will be able to run the Indianapolis half. I won't assume that I will be able to run the Turkey Trot. I won't even assume that I will qualify for Boston 2018. This is not negativity, this is realism. This is my new reality.
My sports psychologist told me that the people who are the most mentally strong learn how to accept their new reality. I had been clinging to the idea that I would be able to start running again in September. And I actually don't really know when I will start to run again and because of that it's best to not even think about running period. 100% of my mental energy goes to resting and recovering. For the foreseeable future, there is no running.
There are no guarantees in life. Literally one hour before my first symptom struck me, I posted this to Boston Bound's Facebook page:
"I'm happy to have logged 1,236 injury-free miles in the first half of the year."
I never took my health for granted. I was thankful for every pain-free, injury-free, illness-free day that I was given. And I was given three full years of health. Which is more than many people get and it's what enabled me to attain such a high level of fitness. Maybe I will get there again, maybe I won't. The point is, I really can't afford to think about it and it's not helpful to think about it. I'm accepting my new reality.
My new reality is that it's impossible for me to know how much activity is too much until 24 hours later. And by "activity" I mean simple things like doing the dishes, going to the grocery store, doing laundry. Just because I feel well enough to do "xyz" it doesn't mean that I am well enough. My weekend plans include coloring in an adult coloring book. Having sat up straight to type this blog post has already exhausted me. Please excuse any typos!