It’s nearly September 1st (what, when did that happen?!), and I’ve been sick on and off since late July…which sucks. Basically, my sinuses and I are at war, and I keep losing battle after battle. I started a third round of antibiotics today in hopes that it will kill the infection that seems to refuse to die on top of some chronic nasal inflammations and narrow nasal passageways. If that doesn’t work, I’m looking at having a balloon stuck up my nose to get all the gook out. Sweet.
But, um, I’m also training for a marathon, so I’ve had a lot of should-I-or-shouldn’t-I internal debate lately.
But conventional running wisdom says you’re good to run if it’s not in your chest. The closest this has gotten to my chest has been a mild hacking cough, so theoretically I should be OK to run, right?
When I have a race date on my calendar hanging over my head and I’m feeling under the weather, I do a lot of weighing things out:
Do I even have the energy to do this? Sometimes this is a no-brainer. Two weeks ago, I spent most of the week in bed. Walking hurt my face, so running was 1 million percent out of the question. But a few weeks ago, when I was starting to get sick, I made a judgment call that might not have been the right one. My throat hurt AND my energy was super low, but I hoped it would make me feel better. It didn’t, and it won’t always.
How will this affect my training if I don’t? The long run is the most important run of marathon training, so if I’m feeling sick during the week, I try to conserve energy for my longest run, since I’d rather miss a 4-5 miler than a 10 miler.
When do I fold ’em? I don’t want to be a quitter, but I also don’t want to prolong any sickness. Things I know I shouldn’t do include: running in extreme heat because it saps more energy than I realistically have when sick (oh hi Sunday, I’m looking at you), running when my throat hurts (this one may be personal, but it never helps me to run when it hurts). Personally, these are things that may prolong illness for me, which will keep me away from training even longer than missing this one run might.
How close is the race? This isn’t currently my concern — though it was the week before SeaWheeze (when I ended up being too sick anyway, which is neither here nor there.) If your race is really soon and you’re doubtful about whether to run or not, DON’T.
tl;dr: You need to listen to your body. While I am thinking of all of the above things, and yes, sometimes email my coach for justification/validation of my decisions, I usually know deep down when I should and shouldn’t run, and I bet you do, too. I’ve found spin is usually my ideal workout when I’m getting over something — doesn’t require much balance, and doesn’t invert my clogged head at all the way lifting or yoga might if I’m not feeling up to running yet.
So I’ve already talked about how the NYC Marathon ended up feeling a little anticlimactic…let’s talk about how it really went.
Saturday morning, the NYJL hosted a beautiful brunch for Team NYJL. Regan, who works on staff there (and who was also running!), gave a touching speech that had half the room in tears, including myself.
Jess, who’s been my coach for years, was also our Team NYJL coach, and she spoke AND gave us these beautiful bracelets. (So, yes, I basically just wear an arm of inspirational Erica Sara bracelets. It’s cool.)
The rest of the day I spent picking up odds and ends like Honey Stingers, arm warmers, etc. I know they say you’re not supposed to leave that stuff until the last day but it gave me something to do. Once I was done with that…now what? My mom and I decided to kill some time going to the movies — we saw The Intern and it was adorable. I usually cry at movies, but the floodgates had been opened at the brunch and I sobbed at multiple parts. (Note: it’s a comedy. There’s nothing sad about it.)
I carb loaded at La Folia, my current favorite Italian place. I’d been weirdly nervous at brunch so I hadn’t eaten much, and I finished my entire plate…and some of my mom’s at dinner.
The team was all taking a bus together from the New York Athletic Club, so I had to be there at 5:30. My alarm was set for 4:30, but something woke my mom up at 3:45, and so I was up, too. I did my usual watching Alec Baldwin in bed and crying routine and then jumped out of bed to get ready.
Thankfully, I’d done a Flat Theodora the night before so most of my stuff was ready to go and it was just a matter of putting it on. I arrived promptly at 5:30 and headed down to the Fencing/Wrestling Room. Here I was at this fancy club, sitting on a wrestling mat. It was sort of hilarious. The bus left around 7am, and we arrived in the Start Village by 8. I don’t know, if I had the option, I might do a bus again — it was a nice, civilized way and took the stress out of waiting for both a ferry and a bus and kept us warm the entire time.
We had about an hour in the village — the perfect amount of time to choke down a little more water and a ‘naner.
We went to line up. There were three of us in the same wave who wanted to start together. All different corrals, all different colors, but we just went to the corral of the one who was farthest back and we were a-ok!
It was so warm that I’d ditched my pants (while the girls held my banana) before we even got into the corral. Our corral closed at 9:40, and we jumped in at about 9:30, so we didn’t have *too* long to wait.
As I scanned the crowd, I ran into my coworker LIZ! Having yet another familiar face was priceless. Even if you’ve done a marathon before, those moments immediately before are still nerve-wracking. Liz, Regan, Sarah and I started off together with the understanding Liz would go do her own thing, since she was going for a time goal, and we weren’t. They started playing New York, New York, and I started singing along and tearing up. Some things never change.
We ran up the Verrazzano, and it was harder than I remembered. I started feeling really nervous about the rest of the race and tried to combat that with telling myself that: 1. it was the steepest hill of the course 2. I’d just run a marathon, I could do this 3. and to just enjoy the damn moment and take in the view.
Those negative thoughts continued through Bay Ridge, but by the time we got to mile 6, I realized that things were going faster than I thought. The crowds started getting thicker here, and I got excited that I was going to see my people soon!
I think everyone I know was at 4th and Union in Park Slope: Ashley, Jordan, my mom and Lacey, and our NYJL cheer station! Just before mile 7, I saw Ashley and she jumped in to run with me for a minute or two. I gave her the arm sleeves I’d been carrying since mile 1.
I’m not sure what I was trying to do here. Wave?
Shortly after seeing Ashley, I saw my mom and Lacey. After Chicago, my mom gave me a hard time for stopping to take a picture with Emily and never with her. So, I ran over to my mom and gave her a big shweaty hug.
After seeing them, I started enjoying the race a bit more and FINALLY started feeling like I was in a groove. We’d been shooting for 9:30 miles and had been running too fast, but around 8-10, I finally settled into that 9:30 pace comfortably. Somewhere just before mile 10, my leg started cramping. SHIT. It was too early for this. I’d asked my PT what to do in that case, and she said to really exaggerate my stride, rolling from heel to toe. I did this for a few minutes, and it went away. THANK GOD. At this point, Regan started having foot pain and she hung back. It was just me and Sarah now.
We ran through Greenpoint and Williamsburg, and I tried to just take it all in. I knew another coworker would be in Williamsburg, but I never saw her. I felt like I remembered 98% of the course, but some things surprised me: I’d totally forgotten how long it was coming off the Pulaski Bridge before you really get into LIC. I was really excited for LIC this time — I knew I’d see my coworker/friend Rachel and my NYJL ladies again. I was feeling good running through here but tried to conserve energy for the Queensboro.
And before I knew it…we were going up the bridge. Since my training had been so limited, I didn’t have high hopes for the Queensboro. It certainly wasn’t easy, but it was…fine. I was really proud of Sarah for running strong, too, and told her so and how proud I was of her for doing so well in her first marathon. I also told her that First Ave would be insane and not to worry if she lost me (and vice versa.) As we began coasting downhill on the bridge, I started grinning in anticipation of First. The race was never *easy* for me, but having so much to look forward to kept me going. I thought I’d see my mom and Lacey, my coworker Amanda, Heather, and basically everyone else I know.
Per usual, it did not disappoint, and we were at mile 18 before I knew it. I decided to start walking through the water stops here (2 miles later than in Chicago!) As I walked, I realized that nothing hurt, I was just a little tired, and it was all mental. Any time I wanted to walk the rest of the race, I remembered that. I knew the Bronx would be difficult physically and mentally and I tried to steel myself for that.
I’m proud to say I only walked through water stops in the Bronx, and I generally felt ok running through there. I’d run the last 10 of the course the two weeks prior to the race, so that helped a ton mentally.
I knew at mile 21, I’d see my coworker Joanna. She and her cheering crew all had signs with my name on them, which made me SO happy.
I had no words left, so I blew hew a kiss to thank her.
And I knew my NYJL ladies would be at mile 22, so all I had to do was make it through mile 23, the worst mile of the race — 5th Ave uphill. I was happy to see Kim for the second time of the race! I will admit that I did stop to walk here a bit because I just gave up mentally. Someone on the curb said “Hi Theodora! I read your blog.” “Thank you!” I yelled back. “Don’t tell anyone I walked!” Not that I was going to lie here, but that was apparently the first thing that came to me.
Just before turning into the park, I saw two of my happiest coworkers: Alison and Alex. I was so overjoyed to be nearly done and to see their faces, and I ran over for a big hug with them, too!
And…finally, I was at Engineer’s Gate! I was GRINNING by then. Some downhills, one small uphill, one Central Park South, and one turn back into the park, and I would be DONE! How many times had I done that run? The week before. The week before that. The last two NYCMs. A million runs between there.
I knew the energy would be electric from here until the end, and I settled into enjoy it. My legs were lead, but I knew I had it. I could do this part with my eyes shut. I smiled: because I wanted anyone I knew to see my smiling (especially my mom!), because I wanted to stay positive, and because I really did feel that positive. Even though I’ve done this twice before, seeing that Mile 24 banner in the park filled me with emotion.
Although I will admit I took another little walk break going up that last little hill in the park. It was becoming hard to tap into that emotional reserve as much as the physical reserve to keep going, but then I reminded myself how close I was to the done and that I wanted to finish as strongly as possible, and so I vowed to run through to the end. Less than two miles. I got this! I saw my mom, Heather, and a bunch more people in the park.
We turned onto Central Park South, and it felt interminable, even though I knew how short it was. I could see Columbus Circle, but I just wasn’t getting there fast enough. Finally, finally, I was back in the park! As much as I wanted to stop running, I wanted to savor every second of this race.
I’d seen Karla at the Runner’s World marathon party on Friday night, and we’d talked about how I hoped she’d see me as she announced, but that I didn’t expect anything with 50,000 runners. Yet, as I was crossing the finish line, I heard Karla announce “Theodora Blanchfield, otherwise known as Preppy Runner!”
How’s THAT for a marathon finish?!
I’d been feeling a little nauseous during the last few miles of the race — maybe it was the weather, maybe I’d fueled *too* much or maybe…I was just running a marathon — and I tried to keep moving, albeit very slowly. I didn’t want to stop dead in my tracks and feel even more nauseous or, worse, woozy.
I shuffled my way through the park to get my poncho and walked over to Cafe Tallulah, where I’ve gone the past three years!
When I got home, I was touched to see just how much support I had: from friends, family, coworkers, readers, and even some our DailyBurn users who tracked all four of us DailyBurners in their private Facebook group <3
Though I wrote the other day I felt robbed of my endorphin high, several days later, I’m just feeling: content and proud. And incredulous that I was able to get through two marathons in three weeks after being injured.
But no, I won’t be running another marathon in three weeks. And I don’t know what my next goal is. And I’m a-ok with that.