Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Noose Tightens...What to do when sick germs abound

I am staying up way too late lately, and I have George R.R. Martin to blame. I hadn't even heard of this author until the latest book in his A Song of Fire and Ice series A Dance with Dragons hit store shelves. Now I find myself starting the series from scratch. Not a bad thing except for the fact that the books are long, and I am a compulsive reader once I start a book. The fact that my other half is reading the books as well doesn't help. He doesn't get as much time to read as I do, so the result is that he was still reading the second book A Clash of Kings when I started it. So, now the book sits there with two bookmarks in it, and I only get to read it after he's gone to bed.

So, what does all this have to do with running? Well, nothing, except for the fact that I had really hoped to get some good sleep leading into Sunday's Lakefront Marathon. I already know that I won't sleep the night before, so the thought of stockpiling some sleep in the week leading up to the event seemed wise. Yeah, not happening. I am staying up way too late, and my 5:30 a.m. alarm comes and goes (off) without hardly an acknowledgement. I have been dragging myself out of bed later and later. Not good when I know I will need to get up at 5:30 on race day. I am only sabotaging myself. Maybe tapping it all out here is the kick in the butt I need to get back on my self-made schedule.

Adding to my sleep concerns is the fact that I can feel the noose of unwellness tightening. Andy and I used to laugh at the cold curse we seemed to be under when it came to his big races. For the the vast majority of races that my husband has run, one or both kids have come down with a cold in the weeks leading up to it. It has almost gotten to be predictable. And, maybe it is. After all, so many of these "big goal" races are in the fall, right when school and new YMCA classes are starting up. It only makes sense that the kids would be exposed to new germs around that timeframe.

Despite this, somehow Andy has managed to stay hale and hearty for most of his events - with rare exception. One, notably, was the Green Bay Marathon last year (actually a spring marathon), where he ran it with a sinus infection. Not advisable, but he opted to pop Ibuprofen during the race to combat the symptoms and he ended up feeling so "good" that he got a PR. He also came away with a lower leg strain, probably because he couldn't feel the pain. Oops.

For myself, I know all too well what it is like to race when sick, and I don't want to repeat it. This past spring I had set a goal for myself of running two half marathons a week apart. One was a road race through a state park a couple of hours away. The second the following weekend was a trail half marathon on the Ice Age Trail a couple of hours away in the other direction. The morning we were supposed to head up to the first race locale for our weekend getaway, I came down with a fever and chills. I spent the first night in the hotel sleeping off and on and miserable. I won't go into all the details or what was going through my head. Suffice it to say I woke up race morning without the fever and chills, but really tired and weak feeling. I ran the race anyway (yeah, stupid) and posted the worst time I had ever gotten - until the following week's trail run when I finished a whole half hour slower. I spent a week of my life sick and I bookended it with two half marathons. Not advised! And, I seriously doubt I would make the same choices again.

So far this week, I have dodged the cold bullets. Both of my kids have the sniffles but are energetic. A head cold I think I could deal with, but I am still not excited about it. So, I am doing everything in my power to not catch anything. I am not sharing food or drinks, I am washing my hands frequently, and we're not going to unnecessary locales. Additionally, I am taking copious amounts of Vitamin C and eating and/or drinking anything that touts to have health-supporting properties: honey, garlic, onion, vegetables, OJ, pomegranate juice, etc. Beer a couple of days ago qualified as well. Alcohol kills germs, right?

The only thing I am not doing is sleeping well. And, with an extremely busy week - even for us - that is not bound to change too soon. I guess I hope I can somehow hold it all together until after the marathon, at which point I fear my weakened post-race state will open me up to all sorts of crud.

So, once again, my mantra is whatever happens happens. Mostly, I hate the idea of having to make the decision to call the race in the event of personal illness. However, this time I feel I would do it. As much as I hate to waste $75 or give up on this goal, if it came down to it, I would forget this marathon and look for another one in the weeks following. I hear Grand Rapids is nice. Wonder if they are full.


  1. Sage advice, Cap'n Pat (aka, dad). ;) Of course, if I didn't over think it, I wouldn't have much of a blog. LOL