Fast and Furious comes to a Stop

By Carissa

I embarked upon a bit of an adventure several weeks ago when I decided to train for a 10k.  My first move was to pick a Hal Higdon training plan.  Hal’s plans are familiar to me.  I trust the process.  I know the workouts and I feel challenged by them.  

The first workout made me cringe.  I was to run five miles with three at 10k pace.  For training purposes I picked 6:40 min/mile as my pace.  I can’t think of a time outside of racing that I’ve ever tried to maintain that fast of a pace for consecutive miles.  To my surprise the run went great.  I was working for it but I could maintain my pace.  That was good because I would be running fast and furious a lot.  

A typical week for Hal Higdon’s Advanced 10K plan included 400s at the track, a tempo run, a pace run and a “long” run (between 6 and 10 miles) with the last 25% at race pace.  My watch was hitting 6:XX regularly.  I enjoyed that my runs were shorter and yet I still felt like I was getting a great workout.  I felt strong and I was getting faster.  One week when the plan called for a 5K tune up race I simulated my own 5K and raced a PR by a few seconds.  It made me excited for my target race and a potential new 10K PR.

Right around the time I was getting anxious about my final big week of training my stomach started feeling off.  Nausea and fatigue made me skip my Saturday workout.  I was feeling decent on Sunday so I cycled and lifted light weights.  On Monday I had a hard time stomaching my breakfast but I met Devon at the track anyway for my 12x400 workout.  My first 400 was not only hard but it was also 5 seconds slower than my typical pace.  The body knows!  I was slower and more fatigued because I was sick.  I tried to muscle through the workout as each repeat made me more nauseous.  By my sixth 400 I called it a day.  And this is the part of my story where my fast and furious running came to a stop.  

The rest of the week I was down and I wasn’t the only one in my family suffering from a tenacious bug.  The following Monday I could start reintroducing regular foods to my diet.  By Wednesday of race week I felt my body could handle a workout.  Of course, in typical set-the-bar-high fashion my first workout back was 6x400.  I had to do it on the treadmill which didn’t give me a good sense for how my legs were feeling but the nausea that I thought was behind me came back.  I ran an easy 4 miles on Thursday and rested Friday.  My race was Saturday.  What could I do but give it my best and see what happened?

I woke up bright and early on Saturday morning.  My throat was just a tad sore and I had a kink in my neck.  As far as I was concerned, I was feeling decent.  I didn’t know what my extended time off was going to do for my speed but I was ready to try my best.  Tanya, Jodi, Devon and I squeezed into my car and we headed to Scio, Oregon, for the Roaring Run at Roaring River.  The weather was dry and sunny.  Whether we raced fast or slow we knew that ultimately the day was about hanging out together.
Pre race photo.  What could go wrong on such a beautiful day?

Jodi and Devon started at 9:30.  My race began at 10.  I did a two mile warm up and lined up ready to race.  In the first mile a woman in blue shorts pulled ahead of me.  She was running a pretty good pace according to my watch.  The first mile registered 6:29 (there was some down hill in this mile.)  In my head I did not expect to keep up with her nor did I expect to maintain my pace.  I wanted to run around 6:40 then pick up speed as the miles went on.  *Assuming I was feeling good.*

My second mile was 6:44.  I was working a lot harder than my first mile and I could tell I was in trouble.  Weeks ago, when I STARTED training I ran three miles at 6:35, 6:35 and 6:30.  Mile TWO should not have been tough.

Mile three was even slower.  The funny thing was I was still holding on to the gap between myself and the lady in blue.  Around the half way mark I started feeling not only fatigued but dizzy.  I knew the race was going to be a disaster.  I knew I didn’t feel good but I just couldn’t imagine needing to walk over the course of a 10K!

The longer I ran the slower I got and the more dizzy I felt.  I gave myself permission to slow down so that my head would feel better.  Somehow the woman in blue stayed in my sights as my pace slipped to 6:52 at mile three, 7:03 for mile four, 7:19 at mile five, and 7:33 for mile six.  With .2 to go the course dropped down a bit and the finish line was in sight.  The lady in blue was still in front of me.

A number one finish had been just out of my reach the whole race and yet even then I was very dizzy and my legs didn't dare speed up.  I finally found my last big push in the last 100m.  I finished in 43:13, just 12 seconds behind the first place runner.  That’s a little frustrating and yet the lady in the blue shorts was really a blessing.  She pulled me along over the course of that miserable race and she kept me fighting.
Tanya cheered us on.  Such an encouraging Sole Sister!
The biggest lesson I am taking away from this race is that there is more going on inside my body than how I feel on the outside.  I thought I wasn’t sick anymore but running brought out clues to the real condition of my health.  I’m also finding that I like shorter distances.  I used to abhor the thought of running a 5 or 10K.  Now that I’m getting experience training for speed I can enjoy running fast and furious.  Though I don’t have any future races planned at the moment I hope it won’t be long before I can redeem my 10K training and chase down a new PR.  
Our races didn't go very well but we got to bring home ribbons!

How about you Sole Sisters?  Have you ever raced sick?  Has it ever taken a run to clue you into the fact that you were sick?


  1. Bummer. I raced a half marathon sick once. I had been sick like you, but had done all the training, so I figured how bad could it be? I ended up hacking for about 13 miles with people running as far away from me as possible! Miserable. I can't wait to hear about your next 10K! With your base, you could probably find another race in the next month (if you really wanted to) to be totally awesome at!

    1. That sounds horrible Claire. Good suggestion on another 10K.