There’s only one way to say it, folks: I’m nervous. I am now one week away from the Black Diamond sprint triathlon and I’m nervous. I’m very excited, of course, but excitement is a familiar emotion for me. I think I’ve grown increasingly excited since the day I printed off my training guide. But now I’m getting nervous.
I just have to get it out there in the open and say that I had a really horrible run yesterday. Here it is, a week before Race Day, and I had a horrible run. I’ve been getting faster and faster with my running (a sport that, as I mentioned before, does not necessarily come naturally to me) and I thought I was getting into a good pace that I could maintain for the 2.8 miles I’ll be running next Sunday. I’ve been training outside on a street a few streets over from mine–mostly flat with a few hills; similar to what is described for the route at Black Diamond. I headed out yesterday and ran at my goal pace for the first mile with little difficulty. I started up a low-grade hill at the beginning of Mile Two and I could not do it. I couldn’t. I thought I might throw up and I thought I might pass out, so I stopped. I STOPPED. I breathed heavily and followed my racing thoughts through the maze of, “Why is this happening?” Blood sugar too low, blood sugar too high, not enough to eat, too fast of a pace, new sports bra too tight??? I couldn’t understand which of the many variables it might be, and why it was happening now. I felt like I couldn’t breathe and my chest was hurting a little, but I mostly just felt tired. Nothing ached in my body, no certain thing was wrong, but I resorted to walking up the hill.
After about 30 seconds of walking, I started back into my run and felt ok. I forced myself to slow down and told myself that running the whole time was more important to me than running at a faster pace. I ran the second mile just one minute slower than my goal pace time and started into another hill… and into another sensation of I’m-going-to-throw-up. I have run this exact same route a handful of times before and have never had any significant difficulty with these hills, but yesterday was different. I stopped again. I walked. I shook my head and felt like crying. Or puking. Anything to be able to run like I know I can. I walked for another minute then ran the last .8 miles in great disappointment. I walked back to my apartment reflecting on the training I’ve done over the last two months and the only encouraging thought that came to mind was the old adage, “A bad dress rehearsal means a good show.”
If I had sat down and written this post last night, I would have had a different outlook on things. Today, however, was a new day. Today was the day I had set aside to drive down to the race site to get a feel for where I would be swimming, biking and running. It was very sunny when I left Seattle:
And it looked like this when I exited the freeway to drive over to the park:
You may think this would be disheartening for a runner about to try her hand at a new route, but you would be wrong. It was exactly what I wanted! I have very little experience running in the rain and it dawned on me a few days ago that it is very likely that it will rain—near Seattle—on Race Day. I was smiling as I drove into the park and found myself under a canopy of beautiful trees.
I put my car key in my little key pocket, along with my watch from my grandma, and started out. I noticed the little sign at the trailhead stating that the path was 1.4 miles, and I thought, “This has to be where I’ll be running next weekend.” I’m guessing that those of us doing the sprint triathlon will be running down this path and back to make the 2.8 miles. I wish I were a good enough runner to be able to take pictures while I run or stop occasionally and not get out of my rhythm because the trail was truly beautiful. I knew a guy who used to love running in the rain and I never understood why. I pictured my clothes slowly getting damp and my skin getting slippery and the all of that mixed with running sounded like a horrible idea. Well, I get it now. Running in the rain is pure fun. You’re soaking wet, your hair is flying everywhere, you’re splashing dirt all over yourself and you feel like a little kid. I got to the 1.4 mile turn-around and I was one minute ahead of schedule based on my goal pace time. I tried to keep my excitement in check and headed back toward where I started.
To distract myself, I tried to take note of certain features that I might be able to remember on Race Day. “Cross this bridge and you’re done with the second mile,” or “Pass that uprooted tree and then go up the hill slowly.” I tried not to think about the time and just enjoy the rain and the run. I told myself that as soon as I could see the trailhead, I had to sprint the rest of the way. Due to the rain, I had taken off my glasses a long time ago, so I probably only sprinted for the last 30 seconds, but it felt good to all-out run with everything I had. I looked down at my watch and I had finished three minutes under my goal time. Unbelievable! I felt so thankful.
It’s so startling to me when I think of the very different parts of my life that overlap on any given week, day, or hour. This week has been spent very focused on a specific project at work, very focused on my training schedule after work, and very focused on planning my infusion dates for November in the evenings. Let’s pause for a moment: To me, the words ‘work,’ ‘training’ and ‘infusion’ cannot exist in the same sentence. But they do! They just did! And this is my life right now. This is the point of asweetlife.org: all of us have diabetes and all of us have lives. I am coming to learn how my life will always include diabetes, but does not have to be centered on diabetes. Crossing the finish line next Sunday will do nothing but reinforce that.
One more week, people!