Thursday, March 25, 2010

A crack in the armor

The first twinge of an ache hit me around 6:30 Monday night. When I felt it, I blew it off, as I always do, as if that would help it go away. Sometimes it works. Usually it doesn't.
"Um, what did you say you felt," I asked Kate, who was crumpled up on the carpet in a ball after suffering through a sick day laid up with strep throat. She told me. It matched what I was feeling.
Oh, shit.
By 8:45, I knew I was screwed. It's an awful, sinking feeling when you know you're getting sick. There aren't many feelings like it. Maybe waiting for an hour alone at the dinner table for a date and starting to realize you're getting stood up, or when that first flush card hits and you know you're about to get runner-runnered by a douchebag for a huge pot. 
A creeping sickness is probably the only time I tend to feel deeply sorry for myself. "Ah, man, why me?" I even squealed around 7:45 p.m. I went to bed an hour later and woke up at 7 a.m. feeling like I'd been hit by a truck.
Now I know that's a cliche, and a pretty bad one at that. But I really, honestly felt that way. Maybe not a tractor-trailer - there'd be nothing left of me if that was the case - but definitely an F-150. Every joint ached, my throat like a piece of barbed wire had lodged in it, and I had the energy of a hibernating grizzly.
"Tell the kids I loved them," I croaked to Kate.
Unfortunately there's a larger theme to this post. Remember what I said just a couple weeks ago about running good, like I was on a hot streak at poker, in training for my marathon? Almost, I worried, too good? It appears my Aces are now being cracked. The sickness was only part of it.
I ran 20 Saturday, and once again, it went well. Really well. I felt great and enjoyed being tired at the end. Again.
Only Sunday I woke up and went for a four-mile recovery run, and on my way up a hill, my right knee started to hurt.
Now I should say me and the knee (a good title for a novel, I think) have a history. Ten years ago, I tore the ACL in it ever-so-slightly in a mountain climbing accident. Doctors said it would be fine, but now I wonder if it's coming back to haunt me.
I've said this before - probably to the point where it sounds like crybaby whining - but marathon training is stretching me much more than I anticipated. It's lowered my immune system - obviously - and now it may be unearthing an old injury. 
I can take a lot of pain. Endurance athletes usually can and, in some ways, we enjoy it. But this is, I have to admit, scaring me a bit. This is not what I call "safe" pain, which is muscle soreness or a contusion or just general suffering. This is a possible injury that, if it gets worse, could, pardon my language, fuck the marathon.
I'm probably overreacting. I've been too lucky during my short running career. I've never really been hurt. Even the knee isn't that painful. I could certainly run 26.1 on it if knew it wasn't going to snap on me. My guess is my body is saying WTF to me running, say, 20 on Saturday. 
Still. I honestly loved training for the marathon because it was predictable. If you did the training, you handle the increasing distance, and it was true, so very true, almost too true. I like my life to be predictable and orderly. 
Yet I'm finding out that training for such a demanding event is, in fact, unpredictable. You don't know how your body will react to the increasing demands, and all you can do is hope - and I guess pray a bit - that it will hold up. That's what I'm hearing from all my friends who have done them. It's chaotic. It's exactly like raising twins, and the chaos was by far the most frustrating thing about having kids in the first place. 
Maybe I'm in denial, but maybe I'm still running well. Maybe I got sick at just the right time, when my body obviously needed rest. I'm feeling much better, so I ran for a couple miles today, something to get my body back into it. And the knee didn't hurt. Much. I didn't even feel the twinge as I ran down that slight hill today.
Denial works well. Right now it's all I got. 


kurokitty said...

I've heard that your immune system gets weakened after really strenuous workouts like a long run. It's probably nothing to worry about.

The Wife said...

You'll survive . . . and in June, you can relax and run 3 miles a day like normal exercise freaks. :)