Sunday, July 31, 2016

Hitting Reset: My Month Without Running

I have not run for the entire month of July. I got sick on June 30 and was diagnosed with mono about two weeks later. This is not my first experience with mono as an adult, I also had mono 4 summers ago, and it lasted for three full months. My theory on why I got it this time is that my immune system was weakened due to stress and lack of sleep, so the opportunistic virus reared its ugly head again.

I'm writing this section primarily for my own benefit. In case I ever get mono again, I can look back and compare my experience. My blog posts from 2012 were extremely useful this time around. 

The first 7 days were like a traditional illness. Sore throat, exhaustion, and pressure behind the ears. The level of exhaustion, however, was very similar of that to my 2012 mono. Once I had enough energy to walk around and function semi-normally, I was extremely weak. I could not walk at my normal pace and I felt extremely limp. For the past three weeks, it's been a teeter-totter of ups and downs. At my best, I'm able to drive and go to work, although walking around is a challenge. At my worst, I want to stay in bed because any kind of movement feels like a strain on my body. My throat sometimes still hurts in the middle of the night, often waking me up and keeping me up.

I have not had any nausea, digestive issues, fever, or nasal congestion. I have noticed a decreased appetite, but that could be because I'm used to eating an amount of food that would fuel 40-60 miles of running per week. That said, I've lost about 3 pounds and am officially "underweight." I do, suspect, however, that part of this weight loss could be due to eating a diet primarily of fruits and vegetables. 
Smoothie with strawberries, blueberries, yogurt, almond milk

Greg and I recently bought a new blender and I've been "drinking" a ton of fruits and vegetables every day, but also making sure I'm eating protein from things like eggs, yogurt, nuts, and fish. I've also drastically reduced the amount of sweets I've been eating. I know that sugar robs the body of its nutrients, so instead of eating sweets 2-3 times a day, I'm only having ice cream after dinner a few times per week. With all the fruit I've been having, though, I don't crave sweets very often.

Last week I worked from home every day except for Wednesday. I think not having to go into the office helped because I felt pretty good yesterday and so far this morning. I will attempt to go into work tomorrow. My lingering symptoms are weakness and dizziness. Although I was feeling some extreme fatigue on Friday.

I actually think I coped with mono relatively well in 2012, and I'm coping even better this time around. About halfway through the month I simply made the decision that I wasn't going to run the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon (hopefully the half) and it took a lot of the "pressure" to recover off. I decided I would just take my time, not worry about my fall race season, and focus on getting better. I would like to run the Rehoboth Beach Marathon on December 4th, but I've also accepted the possibility that I might not be able to run a marathon until the spring, depending on how long recovery takes.

I also had to pretty quickly accept that I will have to rebuild fitness and it will take time. My original goal for Indy was 3:20, and now I'm not even sure if that will happen in the Spring. I'm not saying it can't, I'm simply saying that I don't know when it will happen, and I'm okay with it. Part of me actually enjoys the excitement that comes from rebuilding after an injury-- making a "comeback." I hit the reset button and everything is a PR again. If I do a 4-mile run, it will be a huge accomplishment instead of something I take for granted. Every run will be a celebration of health instead of something that's part of the daily routine. And I'll know that every time I run, I will be closer and closer to returning to my previous level of fitness. 

It is a bit like coping with loss. I was fortunate enough to train for 3 straight years without major illness or injury. The only breaks I took were scheduled ones post-marathon. As a result, I attained a level of fitness I never thought possible. Initially the idea of "that's over now" was really upsetting, but once I accepted it, as well as the idea that it could take 6+ months to get back to where I was, I felt some emotional relief. I think it all comes down to the pressure I put on myself to be a fast runner. If the pressure isn't there, then I feel more free. I already have enough job stress to cope with while I'm sick, so I don't need to add any more stress to that load.

So I'm really in no rush to get better. Of course, I want to get better ASAP, but I don't have any deadlines I'm trying to meet and I've accepted that I may not be able to train again for another 4-6 weeks. In fact, my coach isn't giving me any training schedules until I'm fully recovered. As a result, I'm not feeling tortured. There are days when I really, really, REALLY want to go out and run. To put the shoes on my feet. To wear my favorite running clothes. To sweat. To "Instagram" a run. But it's more out of frustration than feeling like I have to maintain my fitness. 

Life on Hold
What's harder to cope with than not running is that I haven't been able to live my life for the past month. I've had to cancel and bail out on many things. Dinners with friends. Work events. Races. A baby shower. My niece's birthday. A "Solidcore" class with two of my friends. And I felt horrible for doing this, but I was supposed to represent Generation UCAN at an event, but I bailed out at the last minute because I felt so crappy. Plus, who wants to take UCAN samples from someone with mono? My health needs to come first. I hate backing out on commitments, but if I don't, I'm not going to get the rest I need to recover.

I sometimes feel depressed when I look at photos of myself from June-- both running photos and everyday photos. I miss my life. I feel like I'm not really living my life and I want it back. And there are times when I feel like I'm never going to be well again. Like I can't even imagine what "normal" feels like. Weakness and exhaustion are my new normal.

Greg runs the =PRR= Birthday Bash 5K
Greg ran a 5K last weekend-- one that I was registered for as well. I came out to cheer him on but it was so hot out that I struggled to walk around the start/finish line area. I started to feel particularly sad when I looked at the women's race results and realized that my original goal time would have won me first place in my age group (including a big trophy) but I quickly stopped that line of thinking because it was heading nowhere productive. The absolute WORST thing I can do right now (at least mentally) is compare myself to other runners and/or go down the "could have, would have, should have" path. We were supposed to go out to brunch with our friends who also ran the race afterward, but being out in the heat "zapped" me too much, so I had to bail out on that.

Thankfully, I felt pretty good the day of my first book signing, and I have another book signing this afternoon at a local running store, and I think I will be fine for that. I'm only there for two hours, and I get to sit, so it's pretty low stress. 

This definitely has been the crappiest month that I've had in years, but it's pretty much over now and I hope to have more of a life in August. Greg's sister and her kids are coming to visit and it's our wedding anniversary. I need to start showing my face at work more often.

I return to the doctor on Friday to check in. Several people have suggested to me that this is more than mono because it's lasted so long. But since I went through this exact same thing 4 years ago, I don't think it's anything other than mono. It is hard to believe that an illness can linger for so long, but it can, it has, and it is. All the other blood work was normal, and before June 30, I was feeling really good, nailing every single workout. 

Because this illness is such an up-and-down type thing, I don't get too excited about 1-2 days of feeling more energized or slightly more functional. I know that things can easily take a turn for the worse at any time. One symptom that has been a constant no matter how energized I feel is weakness when I walk. Ironically, I can feel energized and weak at the same time.  And also ironically, on my "good days" I can do pretty much anything except run-- the one thing I want to do the most. Anyway, I just need to continue eating healthy foods, getting plenty of rest, and trying my best to not stress out about work.

It felt great to get dressed for work and "look" normal!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Believing in My Book, My Message, and Myself

In spite of all the struggles and mental barriers that I had to overcome to qualify for Boston, I never gave up. Even when others told me that maybe the marathon wasn't my thing, I still kept trying. I held this same attitude about my book.

As I was finishing my book last winter, I did quite a bit of research on how to get it published. I decided that I would first send it to agents and publishers and try to get a publishing contract. This would mean handing them the manuscript and letting them format it, design the book cover, edit it, and market it, leaving me with a very small percentage of the royalties. It was the most traditional route and I thought it would result in maximum exposure for my book. However, I knew that agents and publishers received thousands of book submissions each month and could only accept a small number of them, so I was prepared for rejection.

I sent my book pitch to about 25 agents and 3 publishers. Of all of these, there was one particular agent and one particular publisher who I thought were really great fits for the book. I decided to wait until I had received feedback from the other agents and publishers before sending to these last two, so that I could incorporate any feedback I received. I wanted to make sure I was putting my best possible foot forward when I reached out to these two organizations.

It wasn't long before the publisher and the agent replied back with rejection letters. The publisher was rather vague, saying that the book did not fit into their lineup. The agent, however, sent me a very detailed response. The agent had run the Boston marathon herself (which is why I thought she would be a great fit) and based on her feedback, I realized that if I wanted the book to be published, I would have to do it myself.

So I published the book myself, not really knowing what to expect. After all, what was the worst that could happen? Well, maybe nobody would buy the book and I would lose the money I spent on getting the book cover designed. Oh well, at least I could say I published a book! And the best case scenario would be that people would buy the book and they would find it helpful in their own journey. I had no idea if the book was objectively good since the only people who reviewed it were friends and family. But as I said, what did I have to lose? The book was already written.

So I put it out there on May 15th.  And the feedback I've gotten from readers totally goes against the feedback I received from the agent.

"I'm afraid this is not something I could successfully represent. I think pretty much any even mildly competitive runner is aware of the negative role that over-stressing can play in their racing. So I'm not sure there's enough of a take-away in your personal story."

Many readers have expressed that they "took away" a great deal from this book:

"When an acquiring editor is evaluating a project s/he looks to see what the story/message boils down to and whether s/he feels this will sustain the reader's interest for 300 pages. . .  a project really needs to have a stand out hook and be something that just keeps the reader glued in their seat because they can't stop turning the pages."

I agreed with the agent on this point-- I did not think Boston Bound was a "page turner."  I did not expect readers to be glued in their seats. After all, self-help books are not supposed to be page-turners-- people read them because they want to get something out of it. Much to my surprise, countless readers have said that they could not put the book down.

"As more and more people get into running, there are more and more running book projects circulating and editors have become incredibly picky. They are all looking for the next "Born to Run". Elite runners can usually get a deal. But nothing much else impresses them."

This made no sense to me. If there are already so many books out there about running, written by elite athletes, wouldn't a book written by a non-elite be a refreshing change? Can everyday runners and readers relate to olympic athletes? I think that part of what makes a book good is the ability for the reader to relate to the main character or narrator.

I've also received numerous messages on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and even LinkedIn from readers telling me that the book helped them, they couldn't put it down, and/or that they found it relatable because it wasn't written by an elite runner.

Lesson learned, if you truly believe in something, make it happen. I honestly wasn't sure if the book would be a success or not, but I figured I had nothing to lose.

Book sales have already exceeded what I ever thought possible, and it seems to have a life of its own. Initially, it was up to me alone to get the word out. But now it seems like people are hearing about the book from all sorts of channels! I will likely blog more about the book in the future and my "journey" in getting it on the best-seller's list for the "Running and Jogging" category!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

You Can't Do Amazing Things EVERY Day

The first half of 2016 was amazing:

  • March: I set a huge PR in the half marathon despite 20 MPH winds and a torrential downpour
  • April: I ran the Boston Marathon and then took a week-long vacation in Mexico
  • May: I published my book, Boston Bound
  • June: Promoted the book, and it ended up on the best-seller list on Amazon!
When June rolled around, I had my hands full. I was running hard workouts in the heat, actively promoting the book, working my full-time job, and admittedly not sleeping well. 

But then things came to an abrupt halt on June 30 when I came down with mono. This meant no more running, no more going to work, no more socializing with friends, no more book interviews. I was crushed when the doctor told me that I wouldn't feel 100% until the end of August. 

My mother, who had accompanied me to the doctor, said to me, "You can't do amazing things EVERY day." It's true. Even though you can be your amazing self every day, you can't always do amazing things. There's a difference. Once again I find myself needing to accept life's imperfections. And I need to remember that I am person who runs, not "a runner." Considering that I may not ever do as many wonderful things in a six-month period as the first half of this year, I guess I can't be too upset that I need to take a break from it all.

Greg reminded me though, that I actually DO do amazing things every day. Because I love him every day. I support him every day. I'm a kind person every day. I guess at look at these things as "being" myself not necessarily "doing" anything amazing.

The doctor told me that I could look at this a summer bug, or I could look at it as my body telling me that I needed to slow down and get some rest. I chose the latter. 

When I look at everything I was doing in June, and how I wasn't really paying attention to my physical health, it all makes sense. Unless I was running a speed workout, I wouldn't eat anything after my runs until I got into work, two hours later. My thought was that I wasn't really hungry, and "it's just a 5-miler" so I didn't need to refuel immediately. 

Also, I was only getting about 5-6 hours of sleep per night during the week leading up to the illness. I was super excited about my book, and the Amazon sales dashboard would only update in the middle of the night. My body somehow knew this, and I'd wake up at 1:00am to check the numbers. Totally not healthy! I couldn't control the fact that I was waking up in the middle of the night, but I could control how much I thought about the book immediately before going to sleep. Not to mention, working out in the heat is tough on the immune system. Much tougher than working out in sub-freezing temperatures.

Salad with mango, blueberries, spinach, egg white, avocado
Finally, I wasn't getting enough fruits and vegetables. I was so busy that I would eat whatever was most convenient. We have free whole fruit at work, but instead of taking the time to cut that up and eat it, I would usually grab a granola bar or chips. While those aren't necessarily bad choices, I really needed more nutrients. I often didn't feel like leaving the office to get lunch, and I didn't bring lunch, so I would just graze on office snacks. 

So, yeah, I'm not all that surprised I got sick. I didn't exactly treat my immune system very well. And so I'm learning the hard way. 

I'm slowly starting to feel more normal, but I still haven't run yet. My legs feel weak and I want to wait the three weeks that the doctor prescribed. And, of course, I just don't have a ton of energy. Oddly, the most energizing thing is core work. You'd think that running (something I used to do every day) might help me be more energized, but my one attempt last week proved that theory wrong. Instead, core work (which I hadn't done in about a year) makes me feel strong and really peps me up. So I have been doing some light core work every other morning.

With that said, here are the changes that I have made to my lifestyle, and that will continue even once I am recovered. Some goals/resolutions:
  • Stop looking at my phone right before bedtime. 
  • Start reading in bed instead.
  • Stop thinking about stressful things at bedtime.
  • Start thinking about the book I'm reading in bed.
  • Start making time in the morning for breakfast (or some substantial nutrition) before I leave the house.
  • Stop grazing around the office for lunch.
  • Start bringing a full lunch to work or leaving the office to get a real lunch.
  • Start buying more fruits and veggies at the grocery store and eating them during the week.
  • Start drinking more water. (I actually had been pretty good about this, but not every day.)
  • Start taking vitamins every day.
  • Reduce my stress level by thinking positive, more self-loving thoughts, like it's OKAY to not be doing amazing things EVERY day! 
Light core work has helped me feel better.
I was really fortunate to be injury and illness free for the past three years. In fact, being able to train with such consistency is really what led to my extreme jump in fitness over the past year. I never thought I took it for granted, but now I realize I need to make the above changes to really take care of my body and train at the level I want to train at.

My coach wanted to pause on re-working my training schedule until we really knew what we were looking at. The first priority is to get better so that I can train at full capacity. I'm starting to accept that I may need to drop Indianapolis down to the half and run the Rehoboth full four weeks later, in early December. It definitely won't be the end of the world, it's just not what I had planned on doing. I figure I might as well accept this possibility sooner rather than later. 

Meanwhile, the support of my friends throughout this whole mono ordeal has been incredible. People have offered to bring me stuff, and I'm getting frequent texts/IMs from people. I'm well enough to go into the office to work, with a modified schedule, so that's making me feel more "normal." I just need to be careful not to overdo the work because when I had mono in 2012, I kept trying to go back to work too soon and I kept relapsing. My goal here is to recover quicker than I did in 2012 by avoiding the mistakes I made back then. Some days I feel like I'm moving in the wrong direction because I feel worse than the day before, but I have to remember that's part of the illness and I WILL recover 100%. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Harder Than Running: Not Running

Yes, running is a challenging, tiring and difficult sport. But you know what's harder than running? NOT running!

This morning, Greg returned to our house soaking in sweat from his humid hill sprint workout. "That was so hard!" He exclaimed repeatedly. I was instantly jealous that I, too, didn't have that "I worked really hard" feeling first thing in the morning. After having not run since June 30, I miss that. But I quickly shifted my mindset. Because what I'm dealing with is hard work. It's very hard work.

People tend to work hard at the things they are good at. If you're good at your job, you'll naturally want to work hard at it. But people tend to shy away from things that they aren't good at, and therein lies the big challenge. While I think I'm relatively "good" at this mental toughness thing, it doesn't come easy to me. I have plenty of room for growth still.

Right now this newfound mental strength of mine is being tested. I have to truly be "ok" with not running. Optimistic, even, that I will eventually return to my former running self and regain all the fitness that I've lost. That said, what's going on with my health?

As I discussed in my previous blog post, an illness of some sort came on very suddenly while I was at work on June 30. It felt suspiciously like mono, and I went to the doctor on July 5th and they ran a bunch of tests, saying it was probably "a viral infection" and I would get better soon. I have not felt well enough to run yet. My initial symptoms were extreme fatigue, sore throat, and weakness. My lingering symptoms are on-and-off fatigue, pressure behind the ears, occasional dizziness and overall weakness. When I say "weak" I mean that I cannot walk at my normal pace. I do not feel like my normal self. I know from having mono four years ago that I should not run when I feel weak.

I took off the last week from work entirely, and went into the office Monday and Tuesday of this week. Today, I had a doctor's appointment scheduled for 11:00, so my plan was to work from home in the morning, go to the doctor's and then into work.

Given that I felt mainly human for most of the day yesterday, I figured that I could give running a shot this morning. The main reason was so that I could "test it" and report on how it felt to my doctor. I decided I would do a 15-minute run at a very easy pace. I figured this should not be a strain on my system at all, given that I was used to running so much longer/faster every single day. Energy-wise, I felt pretty good. It was nice to be out running again. But as soon as I started, the outside of my knees felt really odd. They ached. And then a few minutes into it, my lower back/upper butt area started to feel really sore. As if I had done some really tough workout there.

Even though I felt reasonably energized during the run, when I got home, I had to sit down with my head in my hands for a minute or two. And then suddenly I realized I felt much worse than before I ran. Not a good sign. Shortly after, Greg returned from his hill sprints and I had to fight the urge to start crying and throwing a pity party.

11:00 rolled around and I met my mother at the doctor's office. The original plan had been for her to drive me, but I've been well enough to drive (not dizzy) for the past few days. I saw a different doctor at the same practice. The doctor I saw on July 5th was the person who was staffing the walk-in clinic. The doctor I saw today was their sports medicine doctor. I wanted someone who understood the role that exercise was playing here, and would be able to tell me when I could return to running. The doctor spent over 30 minutes with my mother and me. He told me that my lymph nodes were swollen and that the areas that felt sore during my run were joints. That was joint pain- the upper butt/lower back area of soreness is the sciatica joint, and the knees are obviously joints.

He looked over my test results and ruled out Lyme disease, thyroid issues, and a number of other things. The test results did indicate that I had mono in the past, the Epstein Barr Virus (that causes mono) never goes away in your body once you have it.  He said that the virus can mutate just enough so that your body is no longer immune to it, and it can re-activate in the body, causing an entirely new round of sickness. The virus doesn't show up in blood tests until 3+ weeks after the initial onset of the infection (June 30). So, it's still too soon to know for sure. But, this doctor was pretty sure it was mono, and if it wasn't mono, it was something very similar to it, based on all of my symptoms- swollen lymph nodes and extended fatigue in particular.

My history with these types of viral infections is interesting:

  • I had mono when I was in college (1999)
  • I had a virus that lasted for over a month in September 2008. I got sick the day after running the Rock 'n' Roll VA Beach half marathon-- which was a very warm race. This was the virus that prevented me from making my first BQ attempt.
  • I had mono for about three months in the summer of 2012
  • And now I have mono again, or something like it.
So the commonalities of 2008, 2012, and 2016 are that each time, it was triggered by pushing myself in warm weather. I had been running very intense workouts in the heat throughout the month of June. 

The good news
Looking on the bright side, here is the good news. I am not suffering from "overtraining" because that tends to come on gradually and usually does not include a sore throat, etc. This means that once I make a full recovery, I can still train at the same intensity. I just need to be careful in the heat to keep my immune system strong.

I should make a complete and total recovery. Although it seems like I'm doomed in the summer of 2020, I should be perfectly fine between the time I recover and then! Also on the good news side, this is not Lyme disease, MS, cancer, or the host of other things I was worried about it being.

The bad news
I will probably not feel 100% recovered for eight weeks, and that's IF I'm smart about easing back into things. This puts me at late August. 

I had planned to run the South Lakes 10K in late August and then the Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia half marathon in mid-September so those are both out. My fall marathon may be at risk, but I am still hopeful I can run that, even if it's not the 3:20 I was originally going for.

Now for the really scary part. The doctor told me that the joint pain and weakness I was feeling in my legs was the result of Immune Complex Syndrome. I did not have this issue when I had mono in 2012-- this is new. Immune Complex Syndrome is when your immune system doesn't fully shed the virus from its cells, and it ends up in your joints. This could mean joint pain and the feeling of arthritis for up to six months. So even if I am feeling 100% recovered by the end of August, the aches that I felt on today's run could be my new normal until January.

Needless to say, I left the doctor's office in tears. I had such high hopes for the fall racing season, and now I have to re-evaluate everything. My mother was happy with the outcome because the doctor did say I would make a full recovery. But all I could hear was "the joint pain can last up to six months." He told me I could take anti-inflammatories for it. We'll see if that helps. 

Looking ahead
The doctor said that the "standard" advice to athletes with mono is that they should take three weeks
off completely. Aside from my 15-minute jaunt this morning, I've almost made it through two weeks. So, I should be able to return to running on Friday, July 22. That said, this is just general guidance- every person is different. I definitely don't want to spend three months with mono like I did in 2012, so I need to really be cautious and wait even more if I don't feel ready by the 22nd. 

The first week back should be "easy"-- no hard workouts, no long runs. Just short, easy stuff. Then the doctor said I can add in more intense stuff on the 4th week. So back to semi-normal training on July 29th. Somehow I feel like this is too optimistic. It took me WAY longer in 2012 to recover. But then again, I kept pushing it in 2012 when I should not have been.

Finally, he said I probably wouldn't feel 100% until the end of August, so while I can train through August, it will need to be a scaled back version of what probably would have otherwise been 50+ mile weeks. 

I kind of see all of this as "best case" scenario. Having been through it before four years ago and NOT having this joint pain/ Immune Complex thingee was difficult enough. On the plus side, my initial sore throat and initial sickness was not nearly as bad as 2012. I honestly felt like death in 2012 and my throat was so sore I wanted to remove it from my body. Things were more mild this time, but the lingering fatigue is almost identical. As for my non-running life, I will likely work from home or do half-days at my job for the next week, until I am at that point when the doctor said I can resume "light activity."

Back to it being "hard work." It's really difficult to follow people on social media who are training for fall marathons saying: "This is week three, day 5 of training" and their marathon is one the same day as mine! I guess at this point I will be lucky if I'm healthy enough to run the marathon. I really do not want to drop down to the half, as the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon has been on my bucket list for several years now. 

So, I need to stay mentally strong. Focus on drinking a lot of water, taking vitamins, eating healthy, getting plenty of rest, and not getting stressed out. And if I still feel like crap on July 22nd, it's okay. Marathons are not going anywhere- I need to be patient. Very, very patient. 

Monday, July 4, 2016

The July 4th Race that Wasn't

Today I was supposed to run the Reston Firecracker 5K. I've registered for this race every year since it began in 2010, but I've missed it almost as many times as I've actually run it due to illness or injury.

In 2012, I came down with mono two weeks before the race. I didn't realize it was mono at the time, though, and I was feeling recovered enough to run, so I took the race at an easy pace of about 9:00. A few days later, I relapsed into mono full-force.

In 2013, I was in excellent shape and ready to totally crush the race, but then I got injured just three days beforehand with a stress reaction in my shin.

In 2014 I ran a 22:54, and in 2015 I ran a 22:05. This year, I am in the best 5K shape of my life and I was planning to run the race 45 seconds to a minute faster than last year, at around 21:10-21:20. I had been looking forward to this race for weeks because it's a holiday tradition and I love benchmarking my progress year-over-year. But my body had different plans.

After over two years of not being sick, I came down with something nasty on Thursday. I had not been sleeping well for the past week, averaging only 5-6 restless hours a night. I knew this was a problem, but I seemed to be having enough energy for my workouts and I felt fine during the workday. I had been waking up in the middle of the night with a raw throat, but I had chalked that up to allergies. Everything else felt fine.

I ran 50 minutes on Thursday morning and I felt amazing. The temperature was unseasonably cool at around 60 degrees, and my normal "easy" pace (which is run by effort level and  heart rate) dropped down to an 8:42 pace. I felt amazing and my heart rate didn't indicate any issues. But three hours later, at work, my throat started to get really sore and a fatigue came over me. Almost instantly I knew I had to go home and sleep. I cancelled my plans to meet a friend for lunch, drove home and slept for over an hour. When I woke up, I felt weak and I knew I was full-on sick.

Soooo sick
Of course I was hoping this was just a cold that would pass within a day or so, but my body doesn't work that way. I seem to be an all-or-nothing person, and when I get sick, I usually get really sick. So since then, I've been extremely weak with body aches, a mild sore throat that comes and goes, pressure behind the ears, and general fatigue. I was optimistic that things were improving on Saturday because I took a shower, dried my hair and went to the grocery store with Greg. But then on Sunday, I was back to square one again, and today nothing has improved. Obviously this meant no Firecracker 5K. At least the decision was made for me, and I am not left wondering if I could have possibly done it. There's no way I could do it- not even walk it. I'll go to the doctor tomorrow if there continues to be no improvement.

It's days like these when I need to draw on all the mental toughness skills I learned over the past four years. There's a voice inside of me that wants to scream and cry and say that I did all those hot summer track workouts for nothing. That voice says this is so unfair, and now all that fitness is lost and I'm going to be way behind when I start running again. It says that this is a repeat of my mono, and it could last a month or more. I'll be in bed all summer and by the time the cool weather comes around, I'll be totally out of shape.

But I've gotten really good at shutting that voice up and just focusing on getting better. I've been sleeping a ton (I actually napped while Greg was running the race), drinking loads of fluids and eating really healthy food. The hardest thing is to not speculate about how long this will last and to try and stay positive. Usually viruses like this do not last as long as my mono did and I should be better within 1-2 weeks. I have to remind myself that I will run again because when I feel this weak, I couldn't even imagine running.

Part of the disappointment in not running the race was not getting to write a triumphant blog post. But then I realized, hey, I can STILL write a triumphant blog post. Even though I didn't get to run the race I trained for, I still put in the work, and I am going to celebrate that now by blogging about two great workouts from the last two weeks.

On Tuesday, June 21, I ran some road intervals. 12 x (1-minute hard, 1-minute easy) followed by 12 x (30 seconds hard, 30 seconds easy). It was overcast and around 71 degrees, but with 99% humidity!

The 1-minute intervals were supposed to be at slightly faster than 5K pace, and they averaged around 6:30-6:35. The 30-second intervals averaged around a pace of 6:10. What made this workout hard was two things: first, it was not on a flat course, it was gently rolling hills. Second, the recovery jogs were prescribed to be "brisk jogs" not just easy jogging. So those were around a pace of 8:50-9:10. Usually recovery jogs are anywhere from 10:30-11:00 per mile.

The great thing about this workout is that I realized I had done this exact workout before. I looked back in my log on February 2, and I had done this workout on a 32-degree day, on a flat course, with truly easy recovery jogs. Instead of logging 4.8 miles, I only logged 4.4!  So now that it's hotter and hillier, I'm able to run faster than I did back in February. Once again, an indication that my fitness is at an all-time high.

On Friday, June 24, I ran a really challenging track workout that I had never done before: 7 x 800m at 5K pace with only 30-second rests.

Typically when running 800m intervals, I run them faster than 5K pace. But I also get at least 2 minutes to recover. So this workout basically had me running at 5K effort for longer than a 5K, with very short rests along the way. It was 73 degrees, sunny and humid.  My splits were as follows:


Given that the race weather ended up being about 8 degrees cooler than this workout and overcast, I am pretty confident I could have run this pace, even with the hills. Let's just say I could have done it!

I really hope I wake up feeling dramatically improved tomorrow and that I don't have to go to the doctor. This just really scares me because it feels exactly like mono, and I know there are different strains of the mono virus. Greg has been amazing throughout all of this, doing all of the cooking and cleaning, and making me my special "potion" of warm water, honey, and apple cider vinegar. He ran the race in 21:01! He's been doing these workouts too and they've made him noticeably faster.

Fingers crossed for a speedy recovery.