Note: crucial to understanding this piece is that I have cough-variant asthma.
Friday, eight days prior to the race, I woke up with a cold. Miserable. Tea and lots of fluids, and I ended up feeling better. Still felt a little slow on Saturday and Sunday, and then BAM woke up on Monday feeling wretched. I got dressed in running clothes, and as I approached the door, realized I couldn't run. There was no way. I went back to bed in my running clothes, napping and reading until time to work. Then I worked for a few hours, and said I was going to take a half a sick day. I ended up napping, which is something I almost never do. I woke up and read some more, and then we ordered delivery because cooking was not happening. The rest of the night I read and took a bath while Wayne sawed and worked on electricity stuff.
The next day I decided to run to the polls to vote. Ha. 2 minutes later, I felt like utter crap and voted. I slogged it home, and showered and worked for two hours, then I had to stop to rest. I got up, worked and finished a request due that day, and then when I was done, I had nothing left. I sent my coworkers a brief message like, "Need to sleep now, so sick," and passed out for three hours. I woke up and it was dark and Wayne was coming in. Ooops.
Wednesday I made it through the workday by working at home, with some breaks. Wednesday night found me in a horrible asthma attack, and I passed out, scared after coughing like crazy. Thursday I felt less flu-like but not 100%, but I couldn't stop coughing. How on earth would I run a 24 hour this weekend? I kept coughing and as I headed to my early flight on Friday, Wayne said, "I don't think you should fly like that."
I coughed on the plane. I coughed in the rental car shuttle. I coughed in the drive to my sister's, and I coughed while I played with her kids. I warned her I might not finish my race, but my plan was to do at least 50k, if not 50 miles, if I couldn't run through the night. As I drove to the hotel by the race start, I was coughing a ton. I could not get through a phone call - hell, I couldn't get through a sentence, without coughing. I had tears streaming down my face. I was scared.
I checked into the hotel, and it was more dismal than I remembered. (Mental note: next time I do Croatan 24, do NOT stay in the Best Western.) There was a beetle on my ceiling. I felt awful, but I quickly sorted my clothes and then showered. I couldn't stop coughing.
I went to bed. I woke up shortly after - maybe 10-20 minutes later, coughing. Coughing nonstop. Tears streamed down my face. I sat up, which sometimes help, but the coughing wouldn't stop. For hours, I couldn't stop coughing. I'd pass out, and wake up, coughing. It was hell. It was scary: I was in a dumpy hotel room with stains on the carpet and beetles on the ceiling, and I was coughing and couldn't catch my breath, and my inhaler wasn't working, and I was alone. When you have asthma, you often think about death when breathing seems impossible, and it's so scary.
I finally fell asleep after 3 a.m., and woke up at 5 a.m. There was no way I was doing the race. I had no appetite to eat, and my throat was too sore anyway from coughing all night. I packed up my car and headed to the race start. I greeted the RD, Brandon, who is one of the nicest people in the ultrarunning world. I immediately gave him the sad news, and he felt bad for me. By not doing Croatan, I wasn't just skipping a race I had prioritized over other races (not doing NYC Marathon, not doing Icarus 24 hour, not doing other races), I was missing out an awesome race. Brandon always has tons of amazing food (cake! lots of vegetarian options! veggie broth! grits! fruit punch! so many other things) and him and his awesome friend wife, Heather, do such a great job. I was sad I couldn't hang out with him.
He said if I felt better to come hang out with him, but that didn't end up happening. I got in the rental car, and sadly drove away. I imagined everyone else throughout the day the next 24 + hours, thinking how they were having fun, struggling in the night, greeting the morning...and wishing I was there.
Me? I headed to Urgent Care, where the doctor didn't fully seem to grasp the concept of cough variant asthma (I usually cough painfully instead of wheeze.), but she ended up at least giving me prednisone, which take at least 2 days for me to fully feel the impact. The next day, my cough is still persisting, but I slept much better through the night, only awakening a half dozen or so times to cough.
Instead of running, I spent my time resting at my awesome sister's, baking and eating with her, and playing with my super sweet niece and nephew. And coughing. I'm still good at that.
Let's hope I'm ready for Brooklyn Marathon next weekend...