Seeking asylum in the hills & transcendence on the trails

Running, racing, sickness and sadness

I understand now. I must be a bit of a drama queen. That’s obviously the reason I haven’t written anything for a while. Last post I did was the night before my big race – the one I had put a huge amount of effort into preparing for (The GEDM). Other than a knee injury the week before the preparation had been meticulous and my training relentless. Long runs, nutrition, weights, hydration, clothing, checkpoint times, target pace….the list goes on. I was so ready for it.

Headed off to bed night before the race at 10pm, breakfast plan all sorted, clothes prepared, support bag and instructions all organised – family had been briefed (and were excited about the race). Then at about 2am I was dragged out of my running dreams into a bit of a nightmare by the pain that was building in my stomach. I was now unable to sleep and by 5am I was sitting with my legs around the toilet being violently sick. Surely this couldn’t actually be happening – it’s got to be some kind of tension-builder for the ‘comeback of all comebacks’? Within 30 mins I’d be feeling good-as-gold and ready to attack each one of those 56miles. Surely? That’s how it happens, right?

No. Sadly not. By the time the vomiting stopped I was getting stressed. I needed to leave by 7.30 to get there in time for registration. Race start was 9am. I quickly made some porridge, reassured everyone that I’d be fine and tried to force down the food that I hoped would see me through 8hrs+ of racing. Managed a few spoonfuls which within 15 minutes I was re-acquainted with.  Anyway, enough of the drama – you don’t need the details. I debated and debated and debated in my head – what should I do? Should I try anyway? What will people think? I’m letting people down….I’m letting myself down….I’ll be fine….I’ll try some energy drinks…..oh no, I’m gonna be sick…..I’ll be fine in 20 mins….I’ll get ready anyway……” In the end I had to let it go. It was crazy to even try and it wasn’t fair on my family who would be waiting at the checkpoints wondering if I was going to arrive. It was a really hard thing for me to do. I know it’s hardly the Olympics and it’s not like I had a chance of winning but it really meant a lot to me. I would have finished well.

I was devastated and whilst physically it got worse throughout the day (and I should have taken some comfort from the realisation that I’d never had completed it)  I couldn’t help looking at the clock every hour thinking “First 10 miles would have been done….I’d have been halfway by now” etc and that wasn’t making me feel any better.

The biggest surprise for me though was yet to come. I’m a pretty normal bloke, I don’t get too stressed about things, I don’t make too many plans and generally take things as they come. I didn’t quite realise the extent of the role that a heavy training schedule plays in my life. I only managed to recover enough from the sickness to get back to work on the Thursday and by that time (having spent most of it in bed) it felt like my world had turned upside-down. In reality, I’d missed a race (and some training) – big deal, (there will be other races), but it just felt bigger than that. I felt incredibly low, my overall confidence crashed (not just on a fitness level) – it felt like I couldn’t get my head into anything, couldn’t concentrate, didn’t know what to do next. The very thought of running made me feel sick.  It’s only now I’ve been trying to understand what it is / was that made me feel that way….maybe I should stop rambling. …..and lighten up…..*STOP*

Sorry, I’ll write more at some point. First long run again last Saturday – 26 miles and probably the hardest run I’ve ever done. Pretty much hated all of it. It hurt from the very first stride and I had some miserable debates with the inner voices about why and what I was doing. I guess it’s to be expected and I should take the positives out of it. I did it and I didn’t stop, so maybe the ultra-grit is still there. We’ll soon see I guess…..

UPDATE: Interesting article from Psychology Today – maybe offers some kind of explanation! Addict alert!

7 responses

  1. Alan

    It’s your fault I know have a twice weekly 5:45am alarm! How you managed a marathon within 2 weeks of being that ill? I’m more than amazed! As I am sure I have said on Twitter, you’ll be back to your normal terminator-esque routine within a matter of weeks.

    April 20, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    • ….and that’s why I’ll be forever thankful for the friends I have made on Twitter. Thanks mate – really means a lot.

      April 20, 2011 at 4:28 pm

  2. Paul

    Don’t be so hard on yourself. I’m totally with Alan, how you managed to run 26 miles on the Sat is beyond belief but it’s also inspirational. I’ve lay there a few mornings since starting back at the gym and while wondering about whether to get up thought ‘pyllon wouldn’t be wondering’. The man, the machine will be back before you know it.

    April 22, 2011 at 10:03 am

    • Very, very kind words. Really means a lot to me – thank you! 🙂

      April 22, 2011 at 10:16 am

  3. Johanna

    Mr P you’ll be fighting fit in no time! Lesser humans would have been lounging around under their duvets for a fortnight after a bug like that, never mind running 26 miles! I have no doubt whatsoever that normal (if slightly mental) service will be resumed promptly.

    April 22, 2011 at 10:06 am

    • Thank you so much. That’s a real ‘pick me up’ just when I need it. Onwards and upwards!

      Thank you Johanna 😉

      April 22, 2011 at 10:19 am

  4. Pingback: The Speyside Way Ultra – Race Report 2011 « pyllon

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