So Felix was right. Don't tell him I said so, but he was right when he said the Jungle Run in Los Gatos would be hard.
This was the race the Tuesday morning crew had trained for. Intervals at 6:30 a.m. Tempo miles in the middle of our long runs. Tapering. We were going to run fast -- 8-minute mile pace was the goal, which would lead to a 1:45 finish and a huge personal best.
But I got food poisoning. I can't point fingers at where it came from, I just know that I woke up nauseous around 2 a.m., then spent the next hour trying to keep it together before giving in and giving it up to the toilet. This was really frustrating -- not just due to the 7 a.m. race -- but because I just don't get sick. I brushed my teeth with tap water for two weeks in Guatemala and was fine. I eat warm yogurt without so much as a burp. But something finally got me.
I considered skipping the race, but the Web site had promised cool finishers medals and I was too proud to admit defeat from the bathroom floor (and also too hard-headed to tell my running pals about my predicament). So I went.
The race went well for the first half-mile. I don't be Debbie Downer here, but the rest of it was fairly terrible. I think a bee stung my thigh before mile 1 (I still have a huge welt). Then we hit the main road, where the sun already beat down and temperatures felt like they were 100 degrees. Realistically, it was probably verging on 80, and not even 8 a.m. yet.
I lost the crew (all of whom ran amazing times!) between miles 4 and 5. From there, most of the run was spent convincing myself that dropping out now would be futile, embarrassing and, ultimately, more frustrating that plowing on ahead. With about four miles to go, race bandits Blair and Felix found me. They had sport beans and stories. Blair even carried my waterbottle, and having the distraction of company really carried me through those last few hot, mildly hilly miles.
My final time, though no where near the goal pace, wasn't anything to scoff at: 1:54:37 is still a personal best.
What was even better was Scotty and John both getting personal bests and Lynn taking second place in her age group. Good job!!
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"So be prepared to quit. Do it willingly and with honest resolve. You'll be back. The marvelous thing about running is that you will never become jaded by it. Boredom, injury or anguish may overtake you from time to time, but the reward that first drew you to begin logging the miles remain untarnished and available -- always. Just put on your shoes and head out the door."