After Sunday’s creeping slow eight miles, I am left with the feeling that I have overcome a seemingly insurmountable setback in my training. Before the Black Death I had felt that nothing was impossible. I was never going to be a fast runner, but I knew I was capable of accomplishing great feats of physical endurance. The Black Death robbed me of my strength, my energy and for several weeks, my ability to function like a normal human being. I think it also robbed me of my confidence on the trail, or more accurately, I set myself up for failure enough that I and I alone robbed myself of my confidence on the trail.
At several points while I battled the sinus infection turned upper respiratory infection turned worse sinus infection turned ear nose and throat doctor’s worst nightmare infection, I assumed that when it cleared up I could just pick up where I left off. That wasn’t the case. I would go out for a nice easy run and find myself gasping for breath and so sore I would have to run/walk or worse, cut my run short altogether. I did eventually submit to doctor mandated rest but I spent the entire time second guessing myself. What if I had done this? I should be able to do that.
When my body was physically ready to get back to business, my mind wasn’t. I suddenly found myself terrified to go run with the group again because I was sure I had lost too much ground. I was almost giddy when I had a schedule conflict on long run days because I just wanted to “get it over with alone.” It’s funny because the group has never once made me feel that as a slower runner I am inferior or not capable of achieving my goals. They have always been incredibly supportive and certainly encouraging. It got to a point where I even dreaded going out by myself. Some days it was so bad I just wouldn’t go out at all. It was all in my head. Like the sinus infection. Funny how that works.
I have been fighting through it and I will admit it has been more challenging than I would have imagined, partly because I really have had to rebuild myself physically. It wasn’t an overnight recovery. I have mentally had to cope with realistically accepting a full extra minute on my already slower pace. My stride was actually shorter and awkward. It didn’t feel right half the time. And then there was the mucous issue. I know you really want to hear all about how even after my lungs and sinuses cleared out, I would start choking on my own mucous around three miles in. Literally choking. It was more than icky. It was a constant reminder that the Black Death was still lingering.
It has taken several weeks, but I have started to feel progress. My stride has lengthened more, which makes the miles more comfortable and certainly more smooth. I have found myself craving a few extra miles at the end of 4 and 5 mile runs. That enthusiasm I had for lacing up my shoes and jetting out the door is returning so much so that I have suggested several times that we “just walk” to the grocery store to pick up a movie or grab a half gallon of milk. I just want to get out and move. Most importantly, instead of fearing the next milestone of ten miles I am actually looking forward to it. A lot. Maybe I am getting my head back in the game. Maybe I am finally just feeling better. It doesn’t matter as long as I am once again enjoying the miles.