I brushed off the tickle in my throat Thursday morning. It felt like heartburn, which made no sense since I hadn't eaten anything but half a banana before my morning run. I ignored it, finished my five miles, and went directly to boot camp.
By Friday, my "easy" six miles felt like anything but. By the end of boot camp, leg day no less, I was peaked. Sweating, exhausted, and achy, I chalked it up to a crazy week with a huge bump in miles combined with other random stuff - Brian was out of town, Scott was sick and on antibiotics, baseball was in full swing. I limped out of the parking lot that morning, guzzling water and assuring myself this was totally normal. Hello, marathon training.
I fell asleep at the car dealership that afternoon during a routine oil change. It wasn't until they jingled my keys in front of my face did I wake up. (I'm guessing I was the only one in the waiting room that had both an ovary and an Ewok on their key chain). About 300 errands later, pick-up from school, and then out to Henderson for soccer practice...I was now drinking as much coffee as water to stay awake. The hot coffee was not only keeping me awake but also soothing my throat. It was on fire. And man, did my legs hurt. We had done 50 box jumps and I felt it. Power through, power through...easy 12 miler tomorrow. I got this.
Except by 2am, I didn't. Freezing cold, but yet burning up, I finally called it. I shuffled downstairs, gulped 4 Advil, and gargled with hot, salty water to quell the burn in my throat. It didn't help. I sent a few messages to friends letting them know I was out for the long run, and crawled back into bed. I could run on Sunday. I hadn't missed a long run since August 2013, when we were coming back from a vacation in San Diego. I couldn't figure out how to get those 8 miles in between packing up the car and cleaning the beach house, so I just skipped it. I still remember Reinier's face when I told him I didn't run. "You NEVER miss the long run, Keem," he told me sternly. "Never." That statement has stuck with me for years. Years. Never miss the long run.
Well, not only was my long run toast, but essentially, my entire Saturday was as well. No soccer game, no pedicure with a friend, no baseball practice, no friend's birthday party. I cried when the receptionist told me the doctor couldn't see me until Tuesday. Tuesday? TUESDAY? I'm training for a marathon, I'm a mom, I have obligations! I can't sacrifice four full days! Who has the time to lose four days of their lives?
Thankfully, a friend encouraged me to check out a new Urgent Care that recently opened close to home. My last experience at an Urgent Care, back in 2013, was not pleasant. The clinic was beastly hot and crowded, just a few shades short of boasting chicken crates in the waiting room and the sound of gunfire in the distance. I spent almost 4 hours in that waiting room, and by the time I was finally called, my blood pressure was sky high.
When I walked into this clinic, it was completely empty. It was also sparkling clean. I looked around with concern; was it open? The friendly receptionist assured me yes, they were definitely open; they had just gotten through the morning rush. I was in luck, however: there was no wait now. For the second time that day, I started crying, but this time, out of relief. I had packed water, a snack and magazine, ready to endure an entire day to get some meds. When I told the very nice doctor I missed my long run that morning, he gasped. "I do sprint and Olympic-length tris," he told me earnestly. "I totally know that feeling of missing an important workout. Let's get you healthy ASAP."
I almost hugged this man.
No weird looks, no underhanded comments about how runners are crazy. I was sitting there, unshowered, anxious, unable to swallow, and in my LA marathon tech shirt, and he was empathizing with me. This may be the greatest urgent care clinic in the history of the world.
I slept most of Saturday after picking up all my scripts. I had every intention of running on Sunday morning, but considering I went to bed at 7:30pm and didn't get up until 8:30am, I decided it was best not to drive out to the middle of nowhere to get my 12 mile progressive run in. I was going to have to chalk this one up to a no-go. The streak has been broken. If "never miss the long run" is the first rule in distance running, "let it go" should be the second.
I knew the antibiotics had kicked in by Sunday afternoon because I was driving myself and Brian nuts. Having organized all of the tax forms, paid the bills, scheduled Scotty's hot lunches, written the grocery list, Target list and weekly menu, I was insanely bored. I haven't watching this much TV since I was on bedrest in 2009. HGTV is downright fascinating; goodness, my house looks like a sh*thole. I'm usually okay that we have a Lego table in our living room, in lieu of real furniture, but these homes - fixer uppers, no less - were amazing. So pretty and updated. But what the heck is shiplap? ("Can we buy bedroom furniture???" I texted Brian randomly). I eventually flipped over to the Food Network, and soon I was trying to talk myself out of making limencello Challah bread pudding (who eats like this??? But it did look amazing, especially with that powdered sugar limencello glaze...holy moly...).
I knew I had to run Monday or I was in serious jeopardy of not only losing fitness, but also my mind, our budget and my diet. The only thing worse than running is not running. I wasn't sure if I could get through six miles and then ab day to follow, but worst case scenario, I would just run back to my car and head back to bed.
By mile 3, I knew I had made the right decision. Yes, antibiotics are important, but there is nothing like running. Just you, the sound of your sneakers, and the first hints of the sunrise just on the horizon. With each mile, I could feel my brain coming back to me. No need to go furniture shopping. Absolutely no reason to make bread pudding. Running has - and has always had - all the answers. If I was still in practice, I'd prescribe a lot more running shoes in addition to cognitive behavior therapy.
I finished my run sweaty, but the good kind of sweaty. Ab day was challenging but totally doable. With a healthy hit of endorphins and a nice touch of Vitamin D from the rising sun, I feel pretty darn good. Running really is the best medicine.
(But this bread pudding looks pretty amazing, too. Maybe after the marathon...)