I think this might be a summer flu. I don't know. All I know is that I feel terrible.
But of course I ran the Greek Fest 5k anyway. I mean, I already paid for it! But boy, did I feel bad. My joints and eyes hurt a lot, and I had this horrible congested cough. And I was weak.
I changed at work and David picked me up. We drove down to the Greek Fest, both of us commiserating over our sicknesses, and parked in a friend's driveway. Due to construction, the racecourse was changed this year, and I didn't know what to expect - but I did notice that it was quite breezy as I warmed up. Oh, that warm up. I was dizzy and weak just after warming up! I thought about doing strides before the race started, but I honestly thought I'd pass out. So I skipped it. The race began with both the Greek national anthem and ours, as always (side note: People, you put your hand on your heart for OUR anthem. You respect the Greek anthem, but you don't put your hand on your heart. Come on!). Mile 1: The start was crowded and the course wove a bit, but I settled into a really terribly slow pace right away. I felt far too ill to care about my place, and I was far back. We emerged from the neighborhoods onto the lakefront, which I hadn't expected. It turns out that this course ran along the lake, out and back, rather than along the bayou like in previous years. The lakefront was beautiful under the setting sun, and the weather was surprisingly nice. But it was windy, more so on the water, and of course the lakefront has the city's only hills (ugh. Shades of RnR New Orleans marathon. Oh, memories!). 6:51. SERIOUSLY?! Yes, seriously. Mile 2: A few people passed me in mile 2, including a girl who went by pretty fast considering my doddering pace. We came up to the water station and turn-around and I was SO glad for water; my throat was killing me. I saw that I was pretty far back. And another 6:51. Mile 3: Something about that second 6:51 reminded me that I should speed up. I was actually gaining on the girl who passed me in mile 2, so she must have slowed a lot. I decided to pass her, and once I did, the faster pace I'd used to pass felt ok, so I kept going. There were two girls in front of me whom I knew from Varsity, and I kind of knew their paces, so I persuaded myself that I could pass them, too. I did, although trying to tell them "good job" as I passed almost triggered a coughing attack, so I held my comments and my coughing until after. I sped up very nicely for the last tenth of a mile, and I felt good about my faster finish (mile 3 was 6:39) despite being so sick and slow. Might as well practice racing technique if you're going to be slow anyway! Finish was 20:52.
Post-race we stayed for beers, and I got the obligatory race picture with Josh. I met this guy at a race after I noticed that we had several race photos together - he and I were always in the same shot! So now if we don't get one, we make sure to take one together.
We wanted to grab a beer and leave, since David and I both felt terrible, but we stayed to talk to friends we hadn't seen in awhile. We were making desperate faces at each other the whole time. We both felt so terrible but it was really hard to get away - when we finally did, we were both so exhausted that we just lay in the car for a few minutes before mustering the strength to drive home!
Thoughts on the Greek Fest 5k:
I feel like I'm in pretty good shape right now, and that plus the nice weather could have made for a fast race for me. I'm ticked that I was sick. The chances of another fast, cool 5k this summer are slim. So far my 5ks this year include a long course, terrible weather, and a flu. I just want a good race!
Every year I run this race. Every year it's horrible. I love the Greek Fest, gyros, ouzo, termites, and all, but the race is always a disaster for me. Either I throw up or run it right before hip surgery or just feel terrible because it's late and hot. This year, I decided to add being sick to the list. I have the most bizarre cold or viral infection ever. It started out like allergies, and I was so surprised that I had allergies so late in the Spring. And then the next day it was definitely not allergies: I still had itchy, watery eyes, a drip, and a sore throat, but add to that joint aches, light sensitivity, congestion, headache, and a terrible, wet chest cough. So that's been fun.
Tonight I get to see how I do on a 5k under such circumstances. If it's horrid, at least I have socks - and entry to the Greek fest! - to show for it.
I don't have much of a point today except to say that - well - I feel pretty strong. It's been a long time (years) since I have felt this way. I don't necessarily feel fast, but I am seeing my easy paces trend down (finally! After months and months and months around 8+ min/miles!) and my speed work is not leaving me as totally dead as it was earlier this year. It's not that I cut back on mileage - I'm actually running as much or more now than I did in marathon training. I have been trying hard to actually do some strength work, and I am sure that's contributing, but mostly I think I'm earning my base back. I seem to forget that I not a natural runner with innate speed. In fact, let's recap (using marathons as a guide, since I run those the most):
February 2010: One of my first races ever, the Mardi Gras marathon - 4:08 or 4:12, for some reason I can't remember which. Almost last in my age group. Bottom 25% of finishers.
September 2010: Next, a hilly marathon in West Virginia, Freedom's Run - still over 4 hours.
Then, an email from a DailyMile friend: "Hey," it said. "Why don't you try running fast?" So, I tried.
October 2010: A month after Freedom's Run, I ran a 3:40 in Harrisburg, which back then was a BQ.
February 2011: Mardi Gras marathon again, now renamed RnR New Orleans, in 3:27. Woot!
September 2011: 3:35? Why do I suck? Why am I getting slower?
October 2011: I started running speed work, for the first time ever.
December 2011: 3:15 effort - ran 3:22 because I got lost (I do this all the time, FYI).
January 2012: 3:09.
February 2012: 3:06.
So. Let's see. It took me TWO YEARS to build my base. Even just 6 months from my PR marathon, I was slow and struggling. Why did I think I could just zoom back to fitness after surgery, when I'd been injured or recovering for two and a half years? It was like starting at zero again. Or under zero: now I had to deal with surgery recovery and all those complications, too. In July, it will be two years post-op with my first hip, and I've only just realized that this recovery and return timeline makes sense. It takes me two years to build a base. I didn't even return to running until September 2014, and then I was sidelined with another surgery in December of that year - so really, I am by no means out of the base-building phase. I still have work to do. But it's incredibly promising that I can feel some pep in my step, some strength in my legs, and perhaps a little bit of speed still lurking in there somewhere, too.
No, I'm not doing a "50 states" marathon challenge or anything. I licensed as a pharmacist in a second state!
I always wanted to have a second state in my back pocket, just in case (we do occasionally have extensive hurrications here, and at some point I may want to start getting paid again). But choosing Mississippi was a business decision. I am applying for an out-of-state waiver to license my pharmacy by the Mississippi board of pharmacy, and the first step is getting a Mississippi license for the PIC (Pharmacist-in-charge - that's me). Once (if) I'm granted the waiver, I can not only apply as a provide for Mississippi Medicaid, which means I can fill Medicaid prescriptions for hospital patients who come to Tulane for care all the way from Mississippi, it also means that I can ship into the state. That's important, because a lot of our specialists see patients from across the border, and I need to be able to ship their limited-distribution drugs to their house. Right now some patients actually drive all the way back to pick up drugs that are dispensed by only a few pharmacies, or I have to lose their business to a competitor. So this was a strategic move.
And I didn't blog about the process because it happened in a matter of days. As you know, I am taking classes for my MBA. I had about a 10 day break between semesters (actually 7-week sessions) and during that time I quickly logged in to see if I could take the Mississippi law test any time soon (the NAPLEX results, thankfully, are national and need not be repeated). Lo and behold, there was one opening to take the test in - six days! I snagged that last little open appointment, preferring to take the test sooner rather than wait months (once pharmacy schools start graduation in mid-may, the schedule fills up fast).
And then I read the entire pharmacy practice act and all other pharmacy laws. See, Louisiana is a civil law state, which means we have a gigantic code to read. I mean, the law book is four inches think. But Mississippi is common law, so they have some rough guidelines and a few important cases, and that's it. I read it all in two evenings. Some of the test is federal law, and some is state specific, but I didn't have time to review federal law - and I was sure I knew most of it. I've been a pharmacist for seven years, and I was a tech for ten years before that, so if I don't know federal law, shame on me.
My testing appointment was at noon, so I took off work that day. I went for a run later than usual, only to discover that I'd locked myself out of the house. After this inauspicious start (and my landlords letting me in), I picked out a comfy test-taking outfit, then promptly poured coffee all over it when the lid popped off my cup. But after a few other confidence-boosting incidents, I got myself over to the center. The test is 75 questions, and it's computer adaptive, so it's hard to tell how you're doing. You get two and a half hours. I was done in about 40 minutes, including the sign-in process and all (now they take an image of your palm veins for security - what?!)! I forgot that I am an very fast test-taker! Then two days later, I got an email that I passed, and by the next week, I received my license. Woot! Now if I ever want to move to Bay St. Louis, I can still get a job.
(Hey Chrome, stop marking "Tchoupitoulas" as misspelled).
I've completed my first barathon! David and I headed over to Le Bon Temps Roule for the 6:15 start. It was a madhouse!
Costumed runners crammed the street, music played, instructions were blared over the loudspeaker, and somehow no one was crushed to death in the crowd. We edged toward coolers of ice and each got a can of Miller High Life. At the signal at 6:15 - CRACK! - thousands of beers were opened the we were off!
The race starts in relative silence as everyone chugs, but the fast people were off and running in seconds. I was way in the back in a huge crowd and was also cheating like a card shark. No way was I actually planning to drink six beers in one sitting. I had maybe half of the first beer. I stumbled (already!) out after the crowd and wove down Camp Street. The next stop was Reginelli's, and it came up fast. I stopped to talk to one of the volunteers for awhile while I finished 3/4 of a beer (again, a can of Miller), then fell in with a group for the next mile. We were headed to TJ Quill's, which is in my 'hood, but this means you have to decide whether to run sedately down Henry Clay to St. Charles, or to cut through the park. Clearly, the park was the better route, and I argued my point vehemently with the group of guys around me. They finally agreed to follow me, and we triumphantly emerged from the park slightly ahead of the group we'd been following. TJ Quill's brought more volunteers, more people I knew, and a little throwing up (not me, but people around me). We switched to draft beer, and I got down a little more than half. Half way done with beer!
But not with the race. The bulk of running was still to come. Now we turned around and headed all the way to Patois. I ended up with my friends Lauren and Rob in the park (shortcut again!) but pulled ahead as I neared the restaurant. My friend Mary Grace was hanging outside with a cocktail. She explained that she didn't drink beer, so she was having vodka, and expected a cocktail handicap on her finishing time. She also told me that I was something like third girl? But I explained that I wasn't drinking the full beer, so my time didn't count. I finally scooted out of there and ran down Tchoupitoulas to Dos Jefes, a cigar bar I went to once. My contacts felt itchy for days after that. Oh, but here is where things got iffy.
I had no idea where the next bar was. It was called Grits, and because I "did my undergrad wrong" (as I was told), I had never been there. It looked like it was on Annunciation or something. But then some of the street converge and I couldn't read the map and ... I wasn't, well, TOTALLY sober by now... so it wasn't until I hit Napoleon that I realized I'd gone way too far. I wandered around hunting for the bar until I heard shouts of "She went the wrong way!" - yep! That's me! - and turned the corner to see Lauren sprinting away from Grits. I struggled a little beer down and was almost immediately at the finish.
Yeah, I even went off-course for a barathon. How do I do these things? Oh, and I don't have a time for the race... It has old fashioned timing tags and I didn't even look at the time when I finished (and no Garmin, since it was a fun run!).
We hung out afterward for the awards (my friend Melissa WON, but it was totally rigged. She's sleeping with the race director [they're married, haha]) and the watermelon sacrifice, which - don't ask.
It was fun, David survived, I cheated like crazy, and I got my just deserts when I got lost.
I'm so much better at distance than speed. It's pathetic. Saturday was a beautiful clear, cool, dry morning, and my run felt fantastic from the first step. Miles one through three were in the 7-teens, but then the numbers started drifted down. I included 25 levee hill repeats, as usual (I often do 20 or more levee repeats within my long runs), but by the time I got home, I had 15 miles at 7:06. That's way faster than I've run in ... years! I was taking my typical breaks, but it still felt fast and easy and I was pleased.
We also went to a wedding on Saturday, with the most beautiful outdoor-wedding-weather ever. And took a selfie.
At said wedding, I realized that I was sore, as I staggered around in grass in heels - it just wasn't super easy to walk! - but I gave myself plenty of time to recover. I did an easy run on Sunday and took Monday off as always.
But track on Tuesday? Yeesh. That was rough. We did three sets of 500m at mile pace, 100m walk, with a 400 jog between each set. I struggled to keep it at or under 1:50 and felt overheated the whole time. Was it the weather, which was much warmer than Saturday? Maybe, but more likely I just don't do speed well. Give me distance any day!
Saturday I ran the Big Easy, Big Heart 5k. It was by no means on my list of must-do races: I'm not in love with 5ks and French Quarter races are dreadfully inconvenient. But I had been asked to join Tulane Medical Center's race team, and this was a team event, so I signed up.
Unfortunately, running with the team means wearing this stifling heavy T-shirt to race...but it's worth it to promote my hospital I suppose. I knew this was going to be a slow slog for me. The conditions were terrible for a race: quite hot (78 at the start, 81 at the finish), 87% humidity, and pavement that had been baking all night (the low today was 74). Plus, we are having weird stormy weather, and the wind was strong and gusty - 22mph plus gusts. I looked all this weather up on the drive over, which wasn't exactly inspirational. David dropped me off at the start and waited for me to pick up my packet so he could take the T-shirt home, since I planned to run home after the race. It was already warm, and I saturated my shirt with sweat just on the warm-up. I noticed to my chagrin that the Quarter had been freshly washed, so some streets were wet and soapy, and others were dried, but oily, since washing causes the oil on the street to rise to the surface. I made a mental note not to slip and fall during the race.
I lined up fairly far back, and didn't do any kind of strides pre-race simply because I was already hot and tired. I planned to run between 20:30 and 21, unsure of how the weather would affect me. I found out soon enough: my 6:35 pace I started at felt fast. I regretted my hot, sweaty T-shirt by about mile 0.1 - it was already clinging suffocatingly to me. I slowed a little as we got off Canal street and headed into the French Quarter, hoping the race pack would thin before we got to narrow streets, and it did. I stayed basically with the same group the whole time, although there was a front part to the pack and a back part. Naturally I was right in the middle with no wind protection at all. My first mile was around 6:36, and I felt dreadful. Right after mile two started, we hit a very slippery patch of street, and everyone's gait changed. I noticed that occurring in front of me and slowed just in time to avoid a nasty fall. We maneuvered tight streets and potholes, but things got a little less slippery after that, and even though I was slowing down, I passed several people at this point. I had been near a gentleman for much of mile two; we had warmed up together and I really wanted to pass him because I had mentioned the weather during our warm up and he smirked, "So is that your excuse du jour?" Whatever dude. It was hot and disgustingly moist and heavy and YES, that is my excuse! So anyway, I passed him in mile two, and then mile three? I just hung on and tried not to pass out. Of course as we turned to head back to the finish, we hit the worst headwind of all day. Between the heat and fighting the wind - which was so hot and damp it was like running into a dryer vent! - I totally lost focus on time. I didn't even look down. But when the finish line came into view, I knew I had to sprint to make my goal. I ended up with 20:45, almost right in the middle of my time range.
I ran a 20:36 on a long course a few weeks ago, so the math works out that I was a full 12 seconds per mile slower today - wow. But I blame part of that on the conditions. In a few months, I'll be begging for weather in the 70's and humidity under 90%, but I'm not acclimated yet. We were lucky to have a long, cool spring, and Thursday was our first warm and humid day, so I'm barely coping with it yet.
After the race, I planned to run the 1 mile race held at 9:30, but when they announced that it was pushed back to 9:40, I decided to run home. The run home nearly killed me. It was late and hot and all of a sudden, my blood pressure plummeted. One minute I was fine; the next I was completely weak and shaky. I staggered into the McDonald's on St. Charles Avenue and begged a cup of water off of them - and fixed my blood sugar with three packets of sugar. It immediately helped, and I was able to run all the way home (in my racing shoes - but the Mizuno Musha isn't terribly flat, so I thought it was safe). All in all, it wasn't a terrible day. I am committed to getting more races in, even when that means running ugly 5ks in ugly weather. It's great practice, and I'm learning to be thankful for any race that I'm well enough to run.
Next up: Greek Fest 5k, unless something else comes up before then!
My name is Grace and my life is needlessly complicated. Things happen to me that just don't happen to other shiny happy people. At least there's never a dull moment in my life!
I live in New Orleans in an old house that creates dirt with my darling husband and a few dead plants. I'm a pharmacist, he's a lawyer. Somehow we're still broke (but Sallie Mae is rich. Hmmm.). I have way too much going on in my life, including: church and Bible study, clothing design/sewing, art of various types, teaching (test prep), jewelry making, running (check out my races page for more info), the occasional intellectual endeavor (research, writing), and cooking. Oh and I work, too, of course. I'm a retail pharmacist heading up the HIV division in our region.
It might seem like this blog is just my complaints...or my races. But it's not. Someday I WILL post something useful, I promise! I hope to share the more interesting aspects of my life and a few tips, tricks, and hints that have saved me a $ or a minute. Perhaps you'll find something you like. I certainly hope so!