So today was the Tufts Health Plan 10K. I was signed up to do it. Paid and everything.
To understand why I am more resigned than angry about the fact that I wasn't able to race today, you need to understand my history of racing...
In 2003, I signed up to walk the Maui Marathon with Team in Training. We trained all summer, and as part of our training, we walked the San Francisco Chronicle 1/2 Marathon. The day before that race, I woke up feeling sick. The day of the race, I felt no better. But since it was part of training, I did it. I didn't end with a great time, but I finished, and I had a blast doing it.
Fast forward to September of that year, when I flew out to Maui to do the full marathon there. On my way out, I started feeling sick, but it wasn't until I arrived in Maui that it hit - my first ever sinus infection. Every part of my head hurt. I couldn't sleep because I was coughing. But I had signed on to do this marathon, and I wasn't about to let months of traning go down the drain. I took my Dayquil, put some tissues in my pocket, and at 5am, began walking.
Now it is true that walking a marathon does tend to take longer than running. My goal to finish had been about 6 hours and 20 minutes. But once I decided to walk it while sick, my goal changed to simply finishing the race, no matter how long it took. I crossed the finish line at 7 hours and 20 minutes.
It took me weeks to recover from my illness, but it was worth it, having accomplished such a huge goal as completing a marathon. Probably not something I'd do again soon (maybe ever), so I was glad to have had the experience.
Interestingly, despite my history of always being sick on race day, when my friend Mary invited me to do this 10K, I jumped at the chance. What a great opportunity to get in shape again! And an all-women's race - what a fun experience!
And then, yesterday, while driving back from Vermont, I got an ever-so-faint sore throat. I chalked it up to too much singing in the car. And last night, I started feeling a little run-down. I chalked it up to my weekend in Vermont.
But this morning when I felt hot and cold at the same time and my glands were swollen and my head felt like it was going to explode... well, I couldn't ignore the signs anymore: I was sick.
It was an unseasonably warm day here in Boston today - 75 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. I wanted more than anything to be outside running and to complete my first race in 3 years.
But then I thought about why I'm really here in Boston: school. While walking a marathon sick was definitely justifiable when I had sick days at work to use to recover, what about running a 10K when I only have classes once a week, and can't afford to miss them? And what about the kids I babysit? I want to be as healthy as possible all the time, so I don't have to cancel babysitting jobs because I'm afraid of passing my germs on to them.
And so I took the T down to the race and picked up my race shirt, and wished my friends good luck on their race, and then took the T back home. I feel guilty having taken the race shirt for a race I didn't run (though I did pay the $29 race registration fee, so it's not like I didn't pay for it even if I didn't "earn" it), but I also feel even more sick now than I did this morning, so I think it was the right decision.
I've decided that next year, when I run this race, and I will run this race, I will not register ahead of time, because I'm convinced that doing so gives my brain time to tell my body to get sick. I will do a sneak-attack and register on-site, and by the time my body realizes what's going on, I will have completed the race and earned the race shirt.