No Room

36 hours before I ran the Brooklyn Half Marathon, a mean sore throat snuck up from out of nowhere. It had me up during the night when I should have been resting; it had me down during the day when I should have been dancing on tiptoes in anticipation for what would be my longest run to date. The run was trying, and I am proud of myself for running 13.1 mi. Five years ago I could barely run a block. But I am more proud of combating the ailment that, had I let it, could have marred my entire run.

When I ran Prospect Park on Thursday night, my body had begun to slow down, and I had to wrestle the pollen that looked so thickly frozen in time I literally had to push it out of the way. I had a bad tickle in my throat that couldn’t be spit. It seemed like everyone was in the park that night, getting in their final runs before it all went down on Saturday. I felt so sad & weak! I wanted to feel strong again, clearheaded, alert. I jogged to my parents’ that night prepared to do whatever they said I should do to rid this block of physical and mental fuddle. Gargle with warm salt water, they both said practically in unison. Gargling makes me gag, I whined. So what? Do it anyway, they shot. 

I suppose if you want something bad enough, or in my case, you want something to go away bad enough, you do what needs to be done, regardless of whether or not you believe any of it will work to your advantage. When you’re at a disadvantage, it’s hard to trust there’s anything or anyone out there that wants to help you. It’s very easy to sit back and just feel sorry for yourself. I said a few times: This is so unfair. 

So it’s unfair. So what?

I gargled like I’ve never gargled before. I gagged a couple of times, but for the most part, I didn’t gag. I toughened up and added more salt. And then added more salt. And then gargled for longer. I bought fresh ginger root and peeled off little pieces to chew and spit out. I drank bottled water after bottled water, sipped hot ginger tea and slurped soup without spoons. I was never without a lozenge; a co-worker slipped me elderberry tablets (really good for speeding up recovery and nice & high in antioxidants; i was fresh out of blueberries) and let those sit on my tongue a couple of times. I left work early on Friday because I wanted to leave enough time to get uptown to pick up race #s & t-shirts for Max, Michael, and I so that I could also get to Third Street for an early dinner of tortellini. (I hadn’t done a good job of eating throughout the day because I’d been too busy gargling, drinking, and peeing.) I wanted to be asleep by 9pm. Right before bed I prayed to Saint Rosalia, the patron saint of Palermo, to fix me and make me well come morning. After all, she’s-a-known-to-make-a-the-miracles. 

That night I dreamt that it was go-time. I was running…but then all of a sudden I wasn’t running. Instead I was sitting in a stale classroom watching a movie. At the beginning of the movie, I thought: Ok, you’ll just watch a little bit of it… because you also have to run… but then before I knew it the movie was over and I could now say that I was a good 3 hours behind race schedule. I was pissed. How could I have let this happen? How could I have settled into watching a movie when I knew there was a race going on? A race that I’d spent much time and energy preparing for? All that work… to watch a movie? 

I think what this dream stood for was the ease in which I will normally allow for and tolerate bad shit. I will slide over and make room for it when I should be actively shooing it away, not unlike the Mad Hatter and March Hare who screamed “No room!” at Alice when there was plenty of it. There was roomfor this sore throat but I didn’t want to make the room this time around and I took it upon myself to do whatever I could to blackball it. (i.e. A Jewish girl praying to an Italian saint? Come on.) Choosing to watch a movie while I knew I should be running? I was herding myself in an opposite direction and it was plain to see how quickly I obliged. I even provided myself with an excuse along the way.  

I woke up Saturday morning feeling 100x better than the day before, already feeling like I’d won something. It was both a great mental and physical boost! I’ll never forget it.