Gutting It Out At The Oakland Half Marathon

Over the last two weeks, I have really done a whole lot of nothing.  Seriously, in all honestly, I have been sick … really sick.  What started out as allergies, turned into a full blown head cold, that eventually turned into bronchitis complete with bronchospasms, with a touch of a 24 hour flu thrown in for good measure in between that head cold and bout of bronchitis.  I haven’t fully recovered, and I really have no business doing any kind of strenuous exercise until I’m close to 100%, right?  But being Row., I really don’t heed my own advice quite that well, and I like to test things out and push if I can get away with it.

This is how it all started … I had the makings of a head cold, complete with severe congestion and sore throat when I ran Sacramento’s Shamrock’n Half Marathon.  I had to call in sick to work for two days after this half because I felt pretty bad.  After running, I got worse and what was just a head cold progressed to this awful coughing because I was so dang congested.  I was starting to feel better by day 5, and I even went back to work on Friday, worked a full 12 hours shift, and proceeded to rock a 5K immediately afterwards.  Um … yeah, not the best idea, but I did it and did well.  But … there’s always a but … I ended up getting worse.  My coughing was so bad that I couldn’t sleep so I broke down and asked one of my Doc’s to write me a prescription for some Super Duper Cough Medicine which I took.  I slept so well, but that night I felt as if I had a hangover from the med. Then I felt as if I were dying – so debilitated that I could barely get out of bed, and I vomited.  Only once, but I vomited and I never vomit.  I believe that the last time I even came close to vomiting was 11 years ago when pregnant with my daughter. Ugh. Gross. The achiness went away, but the head cold was now in my chest – a nice appearance of bronchitis which had me coughing all the time because my bronchioles were always in such a fit of spasms.  I felt as if I were trying to cough up my right lung! Mind you this is now 3 weeks into this.  And I besides the two runs, I haven’t worked out at all.  It’s been like a forced rest for my poor shoulder.

Well … You’d think I’d learned my lesson from all of this right? Except I signed up to run the Oakland Running Festival this weekend.  Yeah … crazy.  Any other sane individual would’ve bagged the race and DNS’d it.  But no … Not Row.

Saturday night, I fell asleep without incident.  I was pretty whipped, and knew that I had to get some good rest in. About an hour into my sleep, my daughter, who likes to sleep with music, turned on her radio to go to sleep except it was at FULL blast, and not only that it was house mixes – bass thumping, heart pumping music. There went my sleep – I could not fall asleep afterwards for nothin’.  I did finally fall asleep at about 3 o’clock only for the alarm to ring right at 5!!! It wasn’t even a fitful nap due to all my coughing, and add on the fact that I’m for some reason nauseated and I know that I’m in for a delightful run!

I cough and hack and gag all the way to Oakland.  I try to eat my breakfast sandwich, only to feel as if I’m force feeding myself and start choking. I’m whining to my husband.  I can’t decide what to wear for outerwear. I feel out of sorts. I know that he feels bad for me, but there’s not much that he can do. He even offered to let me stay in the car and sleep while he took my bib so I’d get a time, etc., but I wasn’t going to let that happen.  I’d decided to just shut up, suck it up, and run.

What it looked like the day of packet pickup. Oh and that truck in front of us said, "Marathon" at the top. Another sign!
It turned out to be a beautiful day for a run!
Ready to go!
Chris - Race Ready!

The weather turned out to be surprisingly beautiful where it had been forecasted to be a torrential downpour. (Well, I don’t know if it was supposed to be a downpour, but it sounded good.) We had a lot of time before the start so we did the customary prerace cheezing, porta potty pit stops, and what not. The half marathon had a late start time of 0915 so we had lots of time to kill.

My view of the START ...
And Chris' view of the START! LOL!

The race started promptly at 0915.  Chris was behind me, however, I lost him before we even hit mile one.  I felt kind of bad because I always feel as if I should run with him, but he never wants me to wait for him.  He wants me to run my race.  I was doing well, surprisingly, but I figured that with my lack of sleep, my coughing and nausea, I’d just run to run.  However, I felt good.  But I felt it at by mile 2.  Not the sickness, but the ankle ache on my left side.  I figured I’d just let it go, that it was tolerable. I continued to run the streets of Oakland – thanking the volunteers, high fiving the police and firemen, and taking in the sights.  Like I said, the weather was perfect, and aside from my little ankle ache, I was okay.  That is until about mile 9 when the tiny ache became a real ache and I could feel myself running crooked to compensate.  This lead to my balance being thrown off, so now not only did my ankle ache, but my left knee was starting to whimper a little.  But I talked to myself, my body and I told it that we could do it for 40 more minutes, that we could tolerate this pain for a little longer, that we were strong, and that we were okay, that we would be okay.  Essentially, I told my body that it had NO choice.  I said, nicely, that we would just have suck it up and just gut it out the rest of the way.  Just like that.  You know, like when you talk to your kids … you don’t give them choices, you tell them what they’re going to do and they don’t argue back, and if they do, you whack ’em!

At mile 10, I thought of my friend, Audrey, when I saw someone who held up a sign that read, “Pain is temporary. Pride is forever.” I smiled, and told my body that what we were experiencing was just that … Temporary. I reminded my body that we would be okay, despite the now crying left knee.  Just a little ache. We were gonna be okay.  Every time we went up hill, I smiled and said that this was my sled pull for the day, my mini WOD, and thought of my friends at CrossFit 209.


We got to Lake Merritt … People kept saying that it was “just a jaunt around the lake and you’re done.” Yeah right.  Lake Merritt is HUGE!!!  These people surely had a skewed sense of measuring! I know that they only meant to motivate, but it was really deceitful! Mile 11, more crying from the knee, just a little louder, and not only that, but my shoulder was also starting in and my right arm went numb. Mile 12 … still whimpering, but Rockafeller Skank comes through on the iPod and I tell myself and my poor knee that it’s just about over. We got this.  We take off just a tad faster. We push hard. We have no clue where we are time wise because I decided stop looking at my Garmin at mile 3. I just know that I have to dig a little deeper and rise up … so I do. I push hard and just go.  It takes a few before I can spot the finish line and it’s just slightly up an incline.  And before I know it, I cross that finish line and I couldn’t be happier.  I immediately thank my body for pushing through, for sucking it up, and gutting it out when the going to rough.  I’m really proud of myself.  Despite all the odds that were stacked against me – the lack of sleep, the crazy sickness, the shoulder, ankle and knee issues – I finished! I’m really proud of myself for getting the work done!!!

Best of all, I’m proudest of my body for not listening to my head.

Highlights of my race: Best sign I read was, “Where’s everyone going?”  Running thru the Wall of Fire! Seeing the Raiders in all their make up! And cheezin’ for every camera I saw – and I saw a LOT!

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