Hello, Internet! I'm back after an (almost) uneventful hiatus with mostly good news.
The first and most important piece is that the Boston University Men won our first America East Conference title in 10 years! It had been far too long since Bruce got a new trophy for his office, and we're all pumped to have reversed last year's injury-wracked 6th place finish. The negative corollary to this is that, unfortunately, I did not get my health issues sorted in time to directly contribute to the victory. The rough order of missed diagnoses went something like this:
1)It's a sinus infection, treat with antibiotics (didn't work)
2) It's viral bronchitis, wait it out, in the meantime, use this albuterol inhaler to breathe well enough to get out of bed (didn't work)
3) I have secret, magical asthma that appeared one day- take 5 days of prednisone and breathe in this nebulized albuterol (didn't do anything except make me hungry and feel like I was cheating, since prednisone is a steroid).
4)Hang on, you say you get weird lung/sinus infections like clockwork almost every fall and beginning of allergy season in spring? Just take this advair inhaler. (also didn't work- but gave me an idea to see an allergy doc)
5) This morning- allergy doc tests my lungs with a spirometer, says I'm at 78% of what the avg sedentary male my height, weight, and age should be at, then says because I'm a runner, it's probably even lower. She scheduled an allergy test for me next week, but observed I fit 100% of the symptoms and timeframe for a ragweed allergy. The next course of action is immunotherapy, aka allergy shots, which likely won't take effect before the frost kills off all the ragweed, but will (hopefully) prevent me from having another spring and fall ruined by allergies.
So, while it stunk that I didn't get to run Conference, I think I've finally got a handle on something that's apparently been ruining my cross country seasons especially for a couple years now. Almost every October, I notice I seem to lose a lung overnight, and all the sudden my pace at every level of effort slows by about 30 seconds a mile. The doctor, who had some experience with runners and undiagnosed allergies, guessed correctly that in the fall and spring I go through weird "funks" where I just stink at running for a month, and that my most consistent, best results are in the mid-summer and winter. She nailed it. Fortunately, my absence didn't make a lick of difference in the team score, because my teammates ran fantastic on Saturday to sneak off with the title. I would have felt horribly guilty if we had lost by a point or something. As it were, it was a little tough to watch the race knowing that in a fair world, I'd be out there, but any frustration or jealousy on my part was more than mitigated by how proud I was of my friends and happy I am for their victory. Since life, of course, isn't fair, I'm glad it was only unfair in my favor, especially after my absence last year cost us dearly.
I can't overstate how well the guys ran, though. Of the 10 BU men who raced, 7 of them set personal records at Franklin Park. I think Eric tied his time from New Englands (he was within one second either way, I hope I didn't shortchange him a slight PR), Peter, our 5th man, managed to come within 2 seconds of his PR despite being a little under the weather (I hope I'm not embarrassing him, but he was like a vomit-zombie after the race- it was an impressive performance) and our 10th guy, Mike, was the only one of us who had off day. I do want to say, though that Mike's "off day" was still about 90 seconds faster than he ever ran for 8k last year, so I hope I haven't sounded like I'm trying to call Mike out. He's improved by leaps and bounds this season, and won't one off race affect him.
With regards to finding out I have an allergy that's bad enough to have kept me from running for about three weeks, I'll say that I have been, in the past, both skeptical and critical of severe allergy sufferers. My foot is now firmly in my mouth on the subject. My best friend, Geoff, used to barely be able to run in the winter due to asthma worsened by exercising in the cold. I used to impatiently tell him to tough it out. Now I feel like a horse's ass, as well as wondering if karma has anything to do with allergies. If I'm going to get anything from the allergy shots, I hope that it's a better capacity for consistency. Looking over my running logs, my best training and racing almost invariably comes in the depths of winter and summer, when allergens are at their most dormant. If controlling the allergies better allows me to carry some of that momentum further into the spring and fall, I'd like to think some good racing results are just around the corner. The colder weather of the last few days has left me feeling a little clearer, and I managed 31 reasonably wheeze-free minutes today. In another 2-3 weeks, I'd like to think I'll be on my way to a nice set of PRs over 800m and the mile.
Lastly, because this entry is 1) disgustingly long and 2) consists of far too much whining/excusing, let me end by saying how proud of I am of my younger brother, Kevin, who finished in 4th place at the NH Division I Championships on Saturday with a time of 15:55 for the Derryfield Park 5k. Not only did Kev's time tie my high school PR on the notoriously difficult course, it also bested my best finish at the meet (4th as opposed to 9th) AND came at a much more significant time in the season (the Division Championships, where his team got 2nd place, as opposed to my early-season performance at the Manchester Invitational). Relative to his 800/mile performances, Kevin is a much better cross country runner than I ever was in high school, and this performance only further supports that observation. He has two cross country races left in his high school career-- the New Hampshire Meet of Champions and the New England Championships-- and I hope to make it to at least one of them.
Regular, less verbose, running-related related posts will resume on Sunday. Best of luck to everyone as they enter their championship seasons!