I’d been threatening with a cold, but ‘just wasn’t having it’. To prove it, I ran a nifty 5k on Tuesday, another on Wednesday lunchtime and went on to sweat it out at a tough boxercise session.
Thursday morning saw me up bright and early as usual ready for the best bit of my week – a tough kettlebell and total body work out on the beach with Ian. Any fogginess in my head cleared in the early morning sunshine.
But after a day in an overheated office I felt a little differently. The promise of a hot bath and an early night kept me going through a long afternoon.
I dosed myself with paracetamol and kept the cold at bay until Friday afternoon, but I was flagging. My head felt heavy and I was struggling to piece my thoughts together. I had a brief nap when I got home and considered my options for Saturday’s run.
My Nike Human Race T-shirt had arrived, the date was set. I knew I wasn’t in the best form, but chose to ignore it and put myself through the regular wake up and run routine. Gear on, porridge in and off.
Positive thinking and common sense told me to take it easy. Steady, steady, steady was my mantra. I didn’t look at my watch, just clocked the welcome beep as I clocked up another kilometre.
Kill or cure. The sweat burnt from my face, my legs over-toasty in new winter tights. Not so bad, not so bad I told myself as I took the easiest options, the flatter routes. It doesn’t matter if it’s slow.
A stalling headwind on the return leg had me gasping tear-blind, trotting out tiny steps, searching desperately for shelter where there was none. I considered walking to get through the buffetting menace, but pride wouldn’t let me. This was about endurance, sheer bloody-mindedness in the face of the elements and my own body.
Focus on what’s right – the breathing mostly. Roll out my feet, lengthen my stride. writing the story in my head before I reach the finish line. Distracting myself with tales of an heroic run.
I see myself, red T-shirt blazing out through the greyness. But I don’t feel like I’m putting on a good show. I’m lost and anonymous. A solitary runner with no smiles to share today.
Taking the easy option, I run the Nike distance, knowing I’ll come up short on the Garmin. A voice counts down the metres and I bumble to a stop. It’s an achievement of sorts.
Even Paula Radcliffe agrees as she congratulates me in my headphones on a new PB for 10k. It feels disengenious. My Nike+ flatters to deceive, measuring those tiny wind-stalled steps as if I was really stretching out. But today I’ll take anything I can get.
Bam! As the adrenaline fades out, the pain rushes in. A sharp pinching headache and the bridge of my nose feels like it’s being attacked by a jack hammer. Sinus pain ringing as dizzily I reach to remove my headphones, then realise I’m not wearing them anyymore. I stumble a little on the, thankfully short, walk home.
A hot shower brings relief to my cold swollen face, but for the rest of the day I’m capable of nothing more than reaching for another tissue and pressing play on the remote control. I toast my heroic run with a hot chocolate.