"Do you want a flu shot?" The doctor asks. Well, really it's a PA asking me that, can't afford real doctors. A PA? What is that, Practically Almost, Probably Assuming, Phony A-hole? Yeah, I'm going to take advice from somebody younger who is basically doing intern work.
Fast forward a couple weeks, one miserable week of feeling like complete garbage with the highlight story is waking up in a pool of sweat on the kitchen floor after passing out and crashing into the corner counter resulting in a nice size gash in my shoulder. As if the body aches weren't bad enough, add back pain to the symptoms. Oh, and lets not forget the bruise to the ego as CT is constantly reminding me that I could pass out at any time now. Like I'm some kind of walking hazard. Okay, the flu got me.
Fast forward a couple more weeks. That flu, it's gone, but yet it's still here and it's not CT reminding me I could pass out at any time. Prior, provided I am running my normal pace, it's not much effort to keep going and going. The only real limits were running out fuel or hitting the boredom wall. After this battle with the flu, things have completely changed. It honestly feels like real effort simply doing six miles at my normal pace. Getting to double digits, I'm completely spent. It's an awful feeling, don't understand, and what's worse it hasn't seemed to get any better.
Training has basically come to a complete stop. The goal was to do that Ultra race again in about a month and a half. There's no way. That race about killed me last year and I put in a ridiculous amount of miles preparing for it. One battle with the flu and it's derailed that goal.
Today, I stand at the starting line of the race that is built for me, the Winter Blast and the race I PR'd last year. No glimmers of hope of pulling off last year's performance today. In fact, I'm honestly worried about the distance. The way I've been feeling at or around miles eight lately, knowing thirteen is what's needed, seems daunting.
Take it easy, run it slow, that's all that's running through my mind. As I try to mentally prepare for what's coming. As I look over, I see a woman taking a picture of a runner and it kind of clicks that "hey, I know her, but from where?". Normally, I'm a bit runner stupid late in run, but today it's already to that point before the race has even started. Damn, flu! Few more seconds, it dawns on me, she's the wife the neighborhood kid. Sure enough, look over and there's my kid neighbor standing right next to me (okay, he's grown up some). I'm going to call him Fuel.
Memmmmmories, goes the gun.Fuel and I exchange pleasantries during the initial surge of runners. He's really improved over the past few years. It started with the hometown 5K, he always told me his goal was to keep me in sight as long as he could. Every year, he's got closer and closer. Fuel has caught a bit of the runner bug (far different than the flu). His goal is to run a Half Marathon every month for the year and he happened to pick Winter Blast as his February race. Didn't expect to catch up with him (in conversation) much before he dusted is old neighbor, but we ended up doing the whole race side by side.
How did I come up with the name Fuel for him? One of my earliest memories of him was the scare he put into the whole neighborhood when as a baby he drank pretty much all the kerosene from a lamp. Luckily, I wasn't babysitting at the time, but I remember the stories that his diapers reeked of kerosene for weeks afterward. Personally, can imagine it tasted good, but that didn't stop him. The fact it didn't kill him, already that proves he'll make for a good runner.
On a day CT was out sick herself, my training and confidence seemed wavering, Fuel is exactly what I needed to help me get through this race. Speaking of history, I may have to retire my shoes early.