Oxygen debt

This weekend was mostly miss, le sigh. I had a one mile race and an 18 mile race and a 4 mile hike, yes after running 18 miles I hiked for 4 miles.

Training this past week was so-so. I hit all the marks but not with the stamina or strength that I had in previous weeks. At the end of the week, I felt that if I had to run the marathon today, I wouldn’t finish.
I wanted a rematch of last year’s mile race. Last year I ran the mile in about 6:56 and thought that next year, 2012, I’d run faster because I wouldn’t be sick anymore. WRONG!! I ran the same mile this year in 7:30. This entire week, I felt fatigued and my legs felt heavy, it was a constant struggle to run fast. But I can’t blame it all on my body. I blame my  attempt to be supportive for some of this.
I have a friend who, for some reason, has picked up running, or at least talks about it. I’ve watched her moods and attitudes towards running go up and down and also had the displeasure of witnessing a panic attack mid-race. So I thought I’d try to help her out. We picked up our bibs and actually walked the course. The goal was to try to ease her fears and offer encouragement. I thought we also agreed to meet at the finish to warm up by jogging to the start.

Well, I got to the finish and I couldn’t find her. I waited about 15 minutes then decided that she probably decided not to show up. Since it was a short race I left my phone behind, so I had no way of reaching her. I then had to frantically run to the start with about 10 minutes to calm my nerves and get into race mode. I was also stuck behind a wall, due to may late arrival. I was told later by someone else that they saw her at the START, already lined up and ready to go, while I was running back and forth at the FINISH looking for her. So yes, in case you are wondering, that will be the last time I do that for anyone. It just isn’t worth it. I don’t want to think that it was done on purpose, but come on, we walked the course, I pointed out where we should meet, we physically stood at the spot and decided on the time. Oh well.

Anywhoo, on to my 7:30 race. There I am, trying to calm down and get my head in the race, while still looking around to find her. I doubt that she did the same for me. Argh, back to the race. So the race starts, all of us suckers behind the wall had to get around the wall. I was so nervous and flustered that I took a giant leap across a barrier and took of running. About 200m into the race, I couldn’t catch my breath. No matter what I did, I kept gasping for air. My brain is telling me to stop, and my body is throwing up all sorts of warnings that it will stop one way or another. Either I stop or I will collapse. But I wanted to keep going, I needed to beat my previous time damn it!

While still gasping for air, I hear people calling my name and this little guy is yelling at me to pick it up, show him what I got. It was my former running crew cheering for me. Great, I’m gasping for air like a fish out of water and I have my nemesis, the guy I really want to beat in a race cheering me on. At the half mile point, I see that my time is 4:17, oh well, I’m definitely not going to best my previous time. As much as I want to go faster-legs are rolling, stomach is feeling good, my lungs are on fire and with every step, I feel like I am going to collapse. 200m to go and the finish line seems to be moving away, as I get closer. I managed to cross the finish line. I was too annoyed to look at the time.

I wobbled off to the side, trying desperately trying to catch my breath. My lungs are in pain and I can taste blood in my mouth. Yuck. I go into a coughing fit, did I mention that my lungs were on fire. It scared me a bit because I’d never felt that way and if had to go any further, I’m pretty sure I would have collapsed.

I walked back to my cheering crew and told my former coach what I experienced and he said that I had oxygen debt. Which is basically,when you are not taking in enough oxygen as your body needs. It usually occurs during intense workouts. The only way to make up the deficit really is to stop what you are doing. That is why, I guess my brain and my body kept threatening to stop. I kept hearing in my head, “stop and catch your breath” and I kept telling that voice “no if I stop, I will not beat my time.” My body at one point said “girlfriend, if you don’t stop I will.” And I replied, “please just a little ways more and I’ll stop.” Yep in those 7 minutes and 30 seconds I negotiated with myself as to how far I should push things and when it would be OK to collapse.

I don’t ever want to experience that again, it hurts to cough or laugh at the moment. My left lung feels like it was damaged and taking a deep breath, causes the urge to cough and coughing hurts. It is a cruel cycle.

I blame this experience entirely on not focusing on my own race. No good deed goes unpunished I guess. I didn’t enjoy the rest of the race like I did last year. I of course kept looking for my friend, because we had agreed to watch the rest of the races together. It really is a fun race. You get to see people of all ages try to run the mile as fast as they can. The age groups go all the way up to 90 years old.Yes the winner of the 70+ race ran faster than me. Significantly faster, like 6:24.

Here’s the thing about running and running partners, when you are on the same page it is great. If one of you doesn’t live up to the agreement set, it becomes a form of sabotage.


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