One of the most frustrating things about being an athlete with Addison’s Disease is that sometimes you can do everything right leading up to a race, taper, stay hydrated, take your meds, and yet somehow your body chemistry still drifts off and you end up with a performance that is less than your best.
This is exactly what happened to me this past Sunday during the Old Fashioned 10 miler in Foxboro. I went out a little fast but not completely crazy, yet by mile 3 I was fighting an intense internal battle not to pull up and stop completely.
What is it about a taper week that brings out the worst self-hating demons? You’d think by this point I’d be used to it, but they get me every time. By Wednesday, I’m feeling achy and diagnosing myself with the flu or some new chronic disease. By Friday, I’m sure those niggling pains are actually torn ligaments or stress fractures.
This past week Michelle finally put a stop to all the nonsense and asked why I was freaking out that I always got like this before a race. She was right, of course. There were no upper respiratory infections or torn ligaments. It was just a big, hairy goal that was trying to knock down my confidence. I didn’t entirely succeed. Clearly, I still have a lot to learn from Deena.
It had been over a year since my last triathlon and I was nervous. I was nervous for the packing. I had forgotten just how much logistics and checklists are involved the day before a triathlon. Sometime mid-morning I felt a fluttering panic in my stomach and was sure that I was missing something major, something critical from the list. I had a crystal clear vision of showing up on race morning without my bike or my pants. Something that would be embarrassing and force me out of the race.
Turns out a few deep breaths and some double checking and then triple checking my race day list was all I needed. I drove the hour south to Wareham, just before the bridges to the Cape, still somewhat convinced that I had forgotten something, but I showed up at the race venue, unpacked my gear and found that it was all there. I was ready. It was time to race.
One silver lining to being limited to shorter distances is that you can race more. You might find yourself racing four times in five weeks. I love racing. I love the nerves and possibility of the start line. I love suffering and pushing myself, at least after the fact.
But even I’ll admit that four in five weeks might be a bit much. And I have two more weeks coming up of races. I’m going to need a break before I get injured or burn out. But back to last weekend. This one wasn’t my fault. Really. I hadn’t scheduled this one on the calendar. A friend who is not quite as obsessed with running and racing as I am suggested we try this race and, to support him, I agreed. Turns out the Trillium 5k is pretty popular and parking is pretty limited at the brewery so entry is a lottery system. You know the end of this story. I was selected. He was not. Therefor, four races in five weeks.
One of my favorite things about where we live is the abundance of preservation land and trails. You almost have to try not to run on trails in our neighborhood.It’s given me a keen appreciation of the benefits (and ankle twisting dangers!) of adding trails into my running routine.
So while I have been slowly exploring the local trails and adding more off-road miles to my training plan, I had yet to run an actual trail race. This past weekend, I changed all that. With a new 5k trail race just a few minutes from the house, how could I not sign up?
I ran my third 5k of the year this past Sunday. Hunter’s Run is a local 5k in Medfield to raise awareness for organ donation and is run in honor of a boy in my daughter’s class who’s had two double lung transplants. This is the third year for the race and it remains a mostly small, local affair, which is fine. Not every race needs to be a big production. You can use smaller races to work on specific things in your training.
I now have a sworn enemy for this race. His name is Sam Burgess and he’s 12 years old and for the last two years he has humbled me and taken me down at this race. I can’t out run Sam. I can’t out run youth. But I can hate them both a little bit. Even though Sam beat everyone else at the race, too, and running a sub-19 minute 5k as a 12 year old is sort of impressive. It definitely is to my 12 year old self.