I made a promise to take it easy after Ironman Arizona. For the six weeks that followed, through the end of the year, there’d be no structured training or races. Keeping to my word, the next race I signed up for wasn’t until 2014. The Rogue Distance Festival 30K, Half Marathon, and 10K. On January 5th. I signed up for the half marathon on a whim. I didn’t anticipate getting sick the week of the race, nor did I think there’d be a nasty cold-front dropping in race morning. But so it goes, and so I went!
Around 5:20am, when my alarm went off, the conditions could be described as a gentle 58°. By the time I drove the 22 minutes up to Cedar Park, it was 37° and flexing a feisty 20+ mph wind. I had no delusions of running hard or fast. I queued up some podcasts and prepared for a smooth, steady long run. Well, it was steady, but I don’t know how smooth it was.
The race started straight into the wind, or at least as straight into a swirling wind as you can get. I tucked in with the 8:00 min/mi pace group and did what I could to get into rhythm. By the first mile marker I confirmed that I was miserable. If someone had offered me a ride back to my car right then and there, I would have hopped in without a second thought. I was coughing, struggling to breathe, and wanted to be literally anywhere other than running. However, logic is not a well-known trait under such conditions, and I figured “It’s a mile to get back to my car, or 12 miles to the finish. Let’s keep going.”
So I kept going. The course snaked through neighborhoods and parks, and I coughed and battled from mile marker to mile marker. As bad as I was feeling, I must say I appreciated the spectators who were huddled out along course with high spirits. By the time the half marathon course split with the 30K, I was beyond ready to be done running. As soon as I made the turn, I was alone.
The finish was uneventful. I was finally feeling warmed up by the end of the race, but couldn’t get inside fast enough. I ran, probably faster than I had all day, to get into the warmth of the high school where everything was being hosted. The results were being posted and I saw my official time: 1:44:27.
I came in 4th in my age group (out of ten) and 15th overall (out of 142). Had I not been sick and able to push it, I think I could have won my age group (1st place time 1:37:26) and likely finished in the top 5 overall. In retrospect, this is probably the one time I’ve ever gone for a run and regretted it later on. I relapsed the next day, renewing my fever and giving new life to a nasty cough. At least it’s over, and I won’t make the same decision to race when sick again.