After last Saturday's experience, however, I would not recommend trying this the morning after you get a flu shot.
One of the last things I did that Friday before leaving the Bee was get a shot. I felt pretty good about that. Like most marathoners, I dread the idea of getting sick in the weeks before the event and missing crucial training time. I am germ-a-phobic this time of year, avoiding handshakes, doorknobs and anything else that might transmit a bug. So even though I hate needles more than 12 x 400-meter intervals, I jumped at the chance to get the shot when the Bee's nurse offered it to me.
The shot itself turned out to be painless, but a few hours later my arm was pretty sore. Still, the next morning I wasn't thinking much about it as I headed out for an early morning long run. With two friends, I planned to run 20 miles on the American River Trail, with 14 miles at marathon goal pace. Based on my recent race performances, my MP is supposed to be 6:30, though I am still not sure about that. It feels too fast to me, and I might end up slowing it closer to 6:40 to stay comfortable at CIM. I don't want to bonk again like I did last time.
The morning was pretty warm for this time of year, and fairly humid for Sacramento, but it was comfortable when we started out at 7:15 am. After a three mile warm-up, we kicked it into MP and everything felt great. But we were running faster than 6:30. This is one problem when you try to train with others. If they go out far faster than you, you might let them go. But when they are just a few seconds faster than your preferred pace, you're more likely to try to hang with them. That's what I did, and it was not a good idea.
I was trying to pace myself by heart rate as much as time, and I was shooting to keep my heart rate around 150-155 for this entire run. My maximum HR is around 190 beats per minute. I made it fine to the turnaround point, which was 8 miles out, but my HR was already in the high 150s, and I was starting to worry. (It didn't help that I was dozing at the turnaround and ran past it, then had to sprint back to catch up with my partners, who had stopped for a quick drink and then turned back the other way). By mile 10, I was fading. My pace was slowing and my HR was too high. Miles 11 - 14 were between 6:30 and 7:00 -- nothing to sneeze at but slower than I'd intended. I finally let my partners go ahead; I didn't have any choice anyway. By the end of mile 14 I was exhausted, hot, and my whole body hurt. I hadn't felt this bad on a training run in I don't know how long.
It was all I could do to keep up with my friends for the first mile of our three-mile cool down. When we stopped for water at the 10-mile mark on the trail, I told them to go ahead with out me because I was going to walk-jog the rest of the way back to Sac State. In reality, I mostly walked. I was in pain and borderline delirious. I kept looking at the tall grass on the side of the trail and thinking that maybe I should just lay down there and rest for a while. Later, as I approached the Guy West Bridge and saw the parking garage across the river where I'd left my car, I thought about swimming across rather than going to the bridge because it would be shorter. Fortunately, I thought better of the idea.
I made it back to the car and made it home, then curled up and went to sleep. I chalked up the dismal outing to the flu shot. But later my friend Mark told me he had lost 5 pounds on the run. I weighed myself and found that the same was true for me. I drank more fluids on that run than I usually do, but the extra humidity must have zapped me. That and the shot and I was down for the count.
Not exactly a big confidence builder. But I have done a couple of runs since then and I am feeling better now. I will try another MP training run as part of the Four Bridges Half Marathon this Sunday. If that goes ok I will stick with my goal. But if I come up short again, I might have to re-evaluate. My real goal is to break three hours. Training for a 2:50 finish might be pushing it.
For those of you who love stats, here is the data from that run: