On Monday morning, the day after my birthday, I woke in what we gently refer to as intestinal distress. I took the usual medicine and considered going to work. But I felt poorly, and even though I would usually expect to be able to function despite a wonky GI tract, I decided that I had better take a very rare sick day. Good thing, too, because I spent almost the whole day unable to move from a horizontal position, feverish and chilled, without the strength to stand. It took me another two days to regain my appetite, although I was over all the most troubling symptoms the next morning.
Today I ran in my university's "Trick or Trot" fun run for the second year in a row. It's a short race, only 1.8 miles by official course reckoning (1.71 on my GPS). But when I nervously attempted it as my first official race ever last year, I found it challenging. I remember being alarmed by how winded I was by the first leg up the north side of campus, and how I thought I was going to have to stop and walk while making the loop around Alumni Circle in the campus center, and how I had to will myself to keep going in the last half mile through campus back to the start, and how difficult it was to smile and raise my hand for high-fives from the race volunteers in the home stretch.
Tonight, despite my paralyzing illness three days ago, and despite no training since a rigorous set of runs last week, the race was easy -- almost alarmingly so. Chugging east along Bruce Street, preparing to make the turn south on Donaghey, ABBA's "S.O.S." exploded in my headphones and I felt like I was flying through the darkness under the full moon. Running around Alumni Circle, I was conscious that I was more than halfway through the course but still feeling the long steady energy that usually begins for me after the first half mile. Turning back west to pass through the campus toward the fitness center where we started, I didn't want to find myself suddenly running out of gas and monitored myself carefully, but by the time the finish line was in sight, with about a minute to go, I knew I had plenty left for a big kick.
I finished with a per-mile average under 12 minutes, which is a personal best for me for an outdoor run. Most importantly, I never felt like I got near my limits. That means it's time to step up my workouts and see how far I can take this jogging thing. And maybe how fast.