I cant help but wonder if I have reached my physical limits in the 1500m.
2017 hasn’t been a kind year to be thus far, having issues with the infamous runner’s curse, plantar faciitis. I have always wondered how such a simple injury could hamper numerous runners for months if not years. And just when they think its over, this plantar issue flares up on the other foot and the cycle repeats.
Today’s race has been bothering me so much that I can’t sleep. Not because I did not run a personal best nor was it because it didn’t unfold according to plan (how often to life goes according to plan anyways?!)
My plan for the race on 10 March was to start really fast and hold on to it for as long as possible, a strategy that usually doesn’t work well. That was exactly how it went. Started off with a record 400m pace and inevitably got slower and slower with every 200m and came to a crawl. Hence, the strategy for today was to run an even pace throughout the race, a strategy that is seldom applied in race as well.
The week leading up to today’s race has been fantastic. I was running the fastest I have ever been over 10km, 5km and 1km. I had a couple of interval track sessions at race pace (21s/100m) and completed those with not much issues.I was silently confident that I would be able to run an awesome 1500m tonight.
Warm up at 630pm was brilliant despite the pain in the plantar.
Warm up at 715 was horrible though. Spasms kicking in for both legs and left arm. I told myself its because of the cold wind and brushed that aside, assuring myself that it will all be fine once the race starts.
730pm. Set my garmin on a 21s intervals and got to the starting line.
Started the race in the middle of the pack feeling good about my position and was running faster than my target pace. I held back to maintain my target pace and was perfect for 400m.
Started to reel into an opponent at 600m and had to work around his pace or speed up to overtake him. It was brilliant racing from him, sprinting on every straight and whenever I seemed to have overtaken him, forcing me to constantly run on the outer lane. That totally threw me out of whack and I had to take the outer lane. I started to drift away from my target pace but that was just part of racing, I stopped my garmin and focused on the race.
Finally, with 600m to go, I shook him off. I could feel the gap opening with every step I took. However, I started to lose control of my body. The left arm and leg refused to move and it started to choke my running. I started to hobble more than I would like and much earlier as well than expected as well (usually happens in the last ~120m). I tried to manage the spasms by varying my speed, trying to relax my body but nothing worked. I dug deeper that I ever had, focusing on putting one leg in front of the other, regardless how small the step was.
300m to go and I could see the clock. It would still be a good race if I could just hang in there. But I couldn’t. My right leg has been over compensating for much of the race and it has started to take its toll.
200m to go and I was caught by the person I once overtook. I tried to run at my own race, focusing on a simple goal: to get my body across the finishing line. Things got worse with every step. I couldn’t feel my body, I couldn’t control it and I was about to fall.
Just 60m more.. Just a couple of steps away.. and I fell straight to the ground. I have no idea how long I was on the ground but I could think of was to: Get up, finish the damn race. And so I did. I got up, hurled my body across the finishing line and fell to the ground depleted. Leaving everything on the track. That’s what every race is.
After the race as I was leaving the stadium, my vision went into a blur. I started breaking into cold sweat and I couldn’t move. I stayed seated till the stadium lights were out and threw up. This wasn’t the kind of lactate throw up. It was something I had a couple of experience with. Its my spinal cord injury acting up. The specialist hypothesize that this phenomenon occurs when I push my body to its limit and my body rejects the activity. I was shaking, shivering and constantly shifting in and out of consciousness. I really thought I was about to die. Thank God my wife was with me and drove me home after I mastered enough strength to walk to the car.
Once inside the car, the feeling of throwing up grew stronger, my eyelids grew heavier and my body weaker. I fear that I might be paralyzed again and I tied to move my fingers and toes whenever I could. I can’t help but think back about the doctors who told me to avoid running at all cost.
Got home safely and the awful feeling started to subside. Today was a day, I am thankful to be alive, running again. I wasn’t upset with the timing. I wasn’t consumed by the race. I was happy to be alive. It’s a very weird feeling.
Just how much more and how much longer can I push this body?
Maybe it’s the event.
Maybe it’s the falls.
Maybe it’s just forcing the body to re-wire to do the things I want.
The world of unknown awaits everyone and probably a little more for me.
Ps. Craps. I have a really sore shoulder from all the falling now. This shit has no end. Hai..
prepared and written by Zac Leow