Sometimes, Making the Right Call Sucks

If you live in Newfoundland & Labrador, and you’re a runner, you know the Tely 10. It is the 3rd longest running race event in Canada and its prestige attracts runners from the province and beyond to gather in the variable weather conditions of an Avalon July to meander from the town of Paradise to Bannerman St. I trained for the race this year, and it was going to be great.

This run and I have a history. Not a history like so many runners that includes best and worst times and that time that was magic. The Tely and I just don’t have that kind of relationship.

The first time I registered I was excited because I had just started running, and as I mentioned, this race is the deal. The BIG deal. I don’t know where the mentality comes from but I can say it is pervasive and convincing. The Tely has just the kind of brouhaha that makes runners push themselves so very hard. And I love a good push. So, that first time near the end of my training, I developed a fever. This fever came on the heels of me ignoring a pain in my side (my runner’s logic dismissed it as a persistent stitch) and I ended up in the hospital. See, I was so focused on running and getting to that finish line that I ignored the warning signs of an ovarian cyst. In my defense, I’d never had one before but as luck would have it, mine erupted and led to the infection and fever. Antibiotic drip, a day or so in the hospital, and no Tely.

It was hard to see my name listed as a participant and a DNR next to it, and I don’t like the idea of it happening again.Fast forward a good few years, and perhaps I’ve been saying the race has bad juju for too long and the universe took notice, or maybe that’s just how things go in real life, and I’m here all over again. 

This year, I returned to running in January – February after rebuilding strength in the gym. See that ability to notice when things are going sideways with my health plagued me beyond my first Tely attempt. I let situational stress, poor health habits, and some even worse coping methods rule my behaviour for a couple of years and that meant meeting myself in the gym for a few months. And when I went for the first run back in January, felt the strength and balance in my body that had been missing for far too long, I knew what I wanted to do.

Picking up my training shoes and my regular running schedule came easy after that. I returned to coaching at our local Running Room and reminded myself how much I had missed my running community. Each week I grew along with my running group and when the time came, I began focusing on training for the Tely 10. I would run with my group and add on the extra kilometres or hill training afterwards. It was tough for the first few weeks but as the steps increased my joy of running returned and I was flying.

Let’s speed ahead. I travelled twice in the past few weeks and ended up with some fluid in my ear canals and an inability to pop my ears. But, I was busy balancing training, full time work, and life in general. I didn’t take the time to go to the doctor immediately. That one decision, the choice to minimize the importance of my health has struck me down twice. That small problem blossomed into an inner ear infection and solidly lodged itself into my system to manifest as bronchitis.

A runner can run through most everything, but a runner that cannot take a deep breath without coughing while sitting on the sofa cannot run 16 kilometres.

If you think that sentence was difficult to write, you should try to understand how it feels. Simultaneously ego-bruising and maddening, the feeling can be summed up by the epitome of the English language’s phrase: it sucks. So, so bad. I want to run. I have a shirt and a time chipped bib that will never see daylight. Sure, I will run the route in a couple of weeks when I have fully recovered (shout out to my coach and mentor Vicky for being so supportively honest and objective) and I will do my best to understand that this is enough. That this is the smart, health-conscious decision that will help me make the next goal of the Cape to Cabot in October.

And besides, saying my inaugural run of the Tely 10 will be at the 90th running is pretty cool too.