As I enter the second full week of my first-ever running streak, I’m beginning to feel increasingly like Job. No, not Steve Jobs, the American entrepreneur and inventor who I understand dates Mila Kunis. We’re talking Job of biblical fame, who encountered one setback after another (stubbed toe, mass family burial, etc.) at the hands of infamous Steelers fan Lucifer B. Satan.
To be fair, I haven’t watched everyone I love die in agonizing hellfire this week, but I have encountered challenge after challenge as I aim to keep my running streak alive: My workday began to start an hour earlier (but I kept streaking), then I had a terrible bout of insomnia (but I kept streaking), then winter weather blew into the Eastern Seaboard, making it increasingly tempting to stay curled up in bed.
But I kept streaking.
Each time I battled the odds and made it out the door to run, I started to feel a little more like Lt. Dan hoisted up in the lines on Forrest’s shrimping boat as Hurricane Carmen battered the Gulf Coast. The world was throwing everything it could at me, and I just kept on streaking. I could practically hear my battle cry: “You’ll never sink this boat!”
And that’s when it hit me: the 24-hour stomach flu. We’re talking painful cramps, projectile vomiting and an entire night shivering on the bathroom floor. Not quite what Shaggy had in mind.
My stomach had calmed itself by Wednesday sun-up, but the illness had already wrecked havoc on my hydration levels, leaving my poor head feeling terribly hungover without any of the social perks from the evening before. I slowly added water back into my diet around 9 a.m., then Gatorade around noon, then bland food in the early afternoon, but I was left pondering the inevitable: Would my streak at last be broken?
In our age of digital crowd-sourcing, I decided to seek out some help as I struggled to answer that question. As I began to feel better as early evening approached, I started to think a run was possible and my streak need not be broken, so I first polled another diehard runner in hopes she’d give me the advice I was looking for. Her thoughtful reply was just what I expected:
“Do it. Bring some water with you. One loop around the reservoir. Or run to the park, walk the reservoir and go home. The fresh air will be good for you. Worst comes to worst, you puke on the side of the road and you run home. Still counts, right?”
It’s probably the same advice I would have given, and it’s exactly what my stubborn self wanted to hear. But as I found myself feeling increasingly worse as I slowly went to lace up, I decided I needed a second opinion. So I reached out to my very sympathetic and occasionally procrastination-prone sister, who suggested a postponement might be in order:
“I’d imagine you don’t get to doctor’s note yourself out of a streak, but I heavily support the Saint Nicholas Eve Dec. 5-Epiphany Streak. (a.k.a. the Wise Man Dash.)”
With one yes vote and one motion to table but my body suddenly wanting a plea bargain out of my contract, I decided to seek out the one voice I knew would instruct me to take it easy — my dad:
“It would be unwise to do so and unfair to sidewalk people upon whom you vomit for the sake of principle. The Father absolves you from your running today.”
I had collected input from all sides of the table — or so I thought — when one more late-breaking text came through: a two-line reply from a very dear friend to my earlier wails of misery.
“Feel better!” she wrote. “A one-mile day?”
I hadn’t yet used any one-mile days since beginning my streak, but suddenly, that compromise suggestion seemed like just the solution. So I got dressed, ran ten comically slow blocks south, did a 180, and slowly jogged home, where I treated myself to some victory pepto before high tailing it back to bed.
Was going for a run — albeit a very short one — 24 hours after a stomach bug a smart move or a stubborn one? Maybe both. But I knew if I broke it once, I’d be hard pressed not to cheat on my streak again, and that wasn’t a risk this hard-headed runner was willing to take.
Of course, I’m not the only stubborn one in this family.
How is your training faring this illness-prone season?