Not All Flowers and Sausages

Some random, bizarre photo I found on the internet when doing a Google Images search on 'flowers and sausages'.

Life’s not all flowers and sausages.  This is a phrase – I’m not sure it’s origin – that Laura likes to say pretty regularly.  And this week, it’s pertinent to my training as there hasn’t been a flower or sausage in sight.  This week, running felt to me like camping feels to a teen-aged camper in a Friday the 13th movie.

It all started going wrong on Wednesday morning.  Dean and I were scheduled to run a 45-minute tempo run – my goal pace, 7:00/mile.  Only the first mile went according to plan when I ran a 6:51.  Then, apparently I did something to anger the running gods – I became the running equivalent of some teenagers making out at Camp Crystal Lake.  I caught a metaphorical machete to the back of the legs.  My remaining splits – 7:07, 7:15, 7:23, 7:37, 7:49 – a  complete disaster of a tempo run.  Miles 14 and 15 of my progression run on Sunday ( 7:29, 7:36) were faster than miles 4 and 5 of my tempo on Wednesday.  Madness.

The absence of all flowers and sausages continued on Friday night at the Streetlight 5K in Concord.  First, Laura got stuck in the horrific I-77 traffic jam on her way home from work.  While I waited on her, I received a work page at 6:05 (the race started at 7:30 and Concord is at least 30 minutes away).  I scrambled to get the issue under control while Laura tried to make her way home.  We ended up taking separate cars and both barely got to Myers Park, the site of the start, in time.

The crapfest continued.  I felt like crap warming up – I was huffing and puffing while Kevin and I tried to squeeze in a quick mile or so jog before the start.

Very shortly thereafter, we lined up as the race director yelled ‘Runners set…’  During the unusually long pause, Brenny (Brenneman Thompson) jumped and I cried, ‘False start Brenny!  You’re disqualified!’ to a few chuckles.  That was the highlight of my race.

Finally the director got his air horn functioning and its blast signaled the start.  Everybody bolted to the fast downhill start.  Kevin, up until recently my archrival, jumped out ahead of me.  I tried to make chase, for like 30 seconds, before I let him go.  I knew instantly I couldn’t keep up and that is not a good feeling.  Seconds later, Milton Matheny cruised by me and gave me a high 5 as he passed, saying ‘Go get ’em Allen!’  Milton’s the nicest guy in the world and I really like him but it sucks how easily he crushes me by 2+ minutes these days – a complete role reversal from the 80’s and one that I simply cannot get my head around.  How is he so much faster now while I’m so much slower?

Every step of this race, I just wanted it to be over.  I finished in a relatively slow 19:54, as compared to a 19:22 just 2 weeks ago in the Huntersville Firecracker 5k.  I felt like crap warming up, I felt like crap during the race, and I felt like crap cooling down.  The night’s only redeeming virtue – I somehow miraculously won my age group.  I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Milton for already reaching 45 and therefore moving out of my age group.

Finally we come to this morning’s run.  I had no grandiose goals – I merely wanted to run an easy 7 or 8 miles.  I set out down the McDowell Greenway, behind Birkdale Village.  Today’s big problem – I didn’t get out there until 11:00 or so.  I’m  not saying it was humid, but Aquaman and a dolphin passed me during the second mile.

So the humidity was high and I was struggling to breathe when a bee (or some sort of stinging insect) alighted on my back and instantly, without warning or provocation, stung me.  I slapped it down, stomped it, and proceeded to give a eulogy, that consisted of me screaming ‘I hope you’re happy!  Was it worth it?’   Not exactly communing with nature at that point.  I ran another quarter of a mile or so, when another stinging insect (friend seeking retribution?)  landed on my collar bone and stung me.  Really?!  I took this to be Fate’s way of slapping me in the face and saying, ‘What do I have to do to get you to quit?  Call it a day before I break out pit bulls and lightning strikes!’  I took my throbbing neck and back and turned around and slogged it home.

Obviously, this has been my worst week of training so far (this camp). Things had been going exceedingly well until now.  But this is how marathon training goes – you’d best learn to overcome adversity if you want to succeed.  Megan Hovis collided with a speeding cyclist during her training, before ultimately running a 2:45 in Australia and qualifying for the Olympic Trials.  Jordan Kinley came down with the swine flu about a week before running a 2:29 and winning Charlotte’s Thunder Road marathon.  I’m hoping that a few months from now, the worst thing that can be said about my training is ‘Allen got stung by bees twice during one run’ .

In the meantime, I gotta remember to occasionally stop and smell the flowers.  And sausages.

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2 Responses to “Not All Flowers and Sausages”

  1. Anthony Says:

    Very funny post.

  2. caitlin Says:

    allen, the crapfests are what make us stronger in the end. i mean if you can gut it out in adversity, then the pain doesn’t feel as bad when you’re running well. niec seeing you out at davidson today. sorry we didn’t really exchange any sort of words besides an out of breath “Good Job!” from me when we passed each other on the hilly segment,

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