Tuesday probably should have been the sick day but it didn’t seem so bad. All runners live by this “above the neck” rule and although I didn’t pass the test, it didn’t seem so bad – so I ran.
When I got to Kung Fu that night, Sifu looked at me like I had already died. He sent me home after Tai Chi.
Even so, I got up Wednesday morning, paced myself through coffee, gingerly ate breakfast and decided I was good to go. Except I wasn’t. So it was a sick day.
A week after my 2011 marathon, I packed up the dogs, closed up the house and left for Cuenca, Ecuador. In spite of the research I did for running at altitude, I was completely ill-prepared to run at altitude.
It was not uncommon where we lived to have our water stop. It ran down from the top of the Cajas Mountains and the rudimentary pipes would routinely get clogged with mud. This happened within the first few weeks we were there and we found ourselves buying water at the grocery store for days.
Maybe I could have survived this ordeal except for two things: I was running at 9000+ feet for the first time and, unbeknownst to me, I had a bacterial infection. These two things combined spelled disaster one morning just after we ordered our breakfast.
I went upstairs to the restaurant restroom and was feeling much worse than bad when I reached for the doorknob. It felt like electrical circuits were shorting and sparking throughout my head. The last thing I remember was saying to myself, “this is not good.”
I fainted just outside the bathroom door and spent half the day in the hospital. I was severely dehydrated.
Prior to this episode, I didn’t think much about hydrating during training runs. Although I knew it was important during a race, I felt I could replenish sufficiently afterwards so I never bothered drinking on-the-run during training.
Being dehydrated is very uncomfortable and, as I’ve learned, deadly. I suppose I’m still like most serious runners and push the envelope when it comes to running slightly ill. What I never play around with anymore is being dehydrated.
I upped the dosage of the herbs Sifu prescribes for all-that-ails-you-from-head-to-stomach (Gan Mao Ling Wan), drank lots of water and spent the day cleaning out the last of the boxes.
Now I feel 100% and training should be back on track with only one sick day used up.