“It doesn’t matter whether it is hot, or cold, rainy or windy, I just want to run.”

Sunday’s long walk day, so I head out to the bike path, but I already know today won’t be very long. I’ve got a bad cold, and Dave’s already cautioned me not to push it, even suggesting I just stay in bed entirely, if I feel like hell. I’m not sure if its that I don’t feel like hell, or just that I’m that stubborn, but I get dressed, fill my waist pack with tissues, and go. As I start out I run into one of my teammates doing 2k loops at the start of the trail. I walk with her some, just to touch base, then she heads off for a short break and I head out along the trail. After an hour I am just exhausted, so I head home feeling the opposite of strong. Tired out by a one hour walk, what a wimp! I stretch some, then rest, trying to deal with a coughing spell. I used to get these sometimes in Wisconsin, from the cold air. The hard part is, the feeling that I’m choking and can’t breathe. Afterwards I’m just tired.

Eventually, things calm down, so I dress and head in to campus to get some work done.
After only a short time, though, I get a call from my Mom, telling me my Aunt’s just died. My aunt’s not very young, but still, I’m a bit stunned, and quite a bit sad. I make some calls to get the necessary details, and check into some flights back East. There’s no point checking my schedule — there are really almost no times in a year when suddenly disappearing for a few days won’t cause all manner of hellish errors, so its more or less a non-issue, I’ll face it when I return. My cold, though, may be a problem. I learned that lesson about eight years ago by flying with a cold and damaging my eardrums, both ears at once. That time, though, it happened on my return trip — there’s not much point in flying across the country now if I arrive too incapacitated to attend the funeral. I’m using frequent flyer miles, and the funeral’s Wednesday, so I decide to wait and see how I feel on Monday.

Sunday night I only get about four hours of sleep, and Monday its just really disgusting. I carry a box of tissues around with me as I move around the house, so I always can grab a few with no notice, but I feel like what I really need is a giant mop. Well, I think, now we know the answer to the burning question, what am I like when I don’t train? Snotty. Ha ha. I’m totally exhausted, and actually need to rest from sneezing. My body’s getting me back for all of those stomach crunches, I just know it. I lay on the couch and watch old episodes of the Avengers.

Tuesday I know as soon as I heave myself out of bed that I can’t fly. I don’t even feel like I could walk from the airport entrance to the gate. Training’s totally out. Even I can’t cook up some line of reasoning that will let me claim I didn’t “feel like hell.” I feel like hell. But I have some meetings, so I get some clothes on, bundle up, and head to campus. My first meeting goes pretty poorly — turns out its hard to design elegant solutions to complex system performance problems in pantomime — but I can’t stop coughing. I run down the hall and grab a bowl of chicken soup from the deli, and get through my next meeting by sipping at it throughout. Two down, one to go — the last one’s a telecon. It goes long, but I get through it, sitting at my computer armed with tissues, hot coffee, cough lozenges, and water. I don’t even make it out of my chair when the phone rings, and altogether its four and a half hours of continuous meetings before I finally head home. I’m really grumpy and entirely unhappy with this illness that is interfering not just with my training, but with MY WORK dammit. On the way home I stop off for drugs, soup, garlic, juice, and vegetables; I’m not going down without a fight.

I wouldn’t say I wake up Wednesday refreshed, but I do sleep, and it makes a huge difference. After one short meeting, I get dressed and head out for 45 minutes easy. I’m not sure I’ve ever been quite this happy at a slow walk of a few miles, but it feels so much better than doing nothing. I call this kind of walk “just enough to stretch.” Afterwards I stretch and rest, falling asleep on the couch halfway through the Avengers. The bad part hits later, when I get almost no sleep at all. One of those nights, tossing and turning and congested, and all kinds of things I need to get done running through my head. I start Thursday feeling really wretched. I usually have some work items on my list that require less brainpower, but I’m on a paper deadline, so I need intense concentration and ferocious focus. I fake it with extra coffee.

On the way home I stop off for some groceries, and right there in the greeting card aisle, trying to select a sympathy card for my cousin, the stuff I’ve been trying to hold at bay hits me. I manage to swallow down what feels like sobs, but I sense I need to get out of this public place pretty fast, so I just grab all three cards instead of choosing, check out, and get home. As I’m making myself a cup of tea to calm down, I realize that I’m using the last of my honey. Not just any honey, this honey was jarred with care by a guy who died last year, all of a sudden, when a tree fell on him, so I’ve stretched it out, using just a tiny bit at a time, to make it last. And now its done. This time I cry and cry. Its all too fast. My aunt is dead and I haven’t even had a minute to even think about it all. I need to go out and walk, long and hard until I’m exhausted, but I can’t, and its making me nuts. Shit.

Thursday night I sleep. Well, its more like passing out, really, while working on the paper, and I wake up 9 hours later, pretty confused about why I’m in bed with my fleece jacket and glasses on. Before I’ve even had enough coffee to fully panic, I read the happy email telling me the paper deadline’s been extended a week. I actually whoop for joy.

I’m so happy this awful week is over, I want to just cut the length of it out of my wall calendar and shred it.

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