Mystery Rash, 100-mile training, ultra running, Pinhoti 100, getting sick before a 100-mile race
100 Miler Training,  Running,  Ultra Training

When Your Body Breaks Before a 100-Mile Race

Over the past week, I developed a mysterious rash/virus that sucked all the energy out of me and made me miss my last week of critical training runs before the Pinhoti 100. Fuck.

Sometime Tuesday I noticed that my calves had a bit of a rash—razor burn, I assumed. It hung around there for a few days, then slowly started to creep up my body until angry red spots were everywhere—in my ears and nose, on my palms and feet, all over my face.

The rapid change from razor burn to Code Red Leopard was enough to get my ass to doctors 1-7 (it was a teaching clinic), who unanimously decided with the help of their friend Google that this was a benign rash that would hang around for 4-5 weeks with no real cure or consequences. Fine. I like looking unique.

Mystery Rash, 100-mile training, ultra running, Pinhoti 100, getting sick before a 100-mile race
The spots in their infancy

But on Friday I woke up feeling like I had run 50 miles, immediately been hit by a truck, then run 50 more miles. I could manage spots, but this runner had no time to feel like death. So I went to my real doctor, got a tentative diagnosis of a mysterious allergic reaction mixed with a mysterious virus, and got sent home to mope on the couch and pound back a handful of pills.

Mystery Rash, 100-mile training, ultra running, Pinhoti 100, getting sick before a 100-mile race
I should have brought a Sharpie to play Connect-the-Dots

Anyway. There’s your backstory, as told by a sane person. What was really going on in my head is a different story.

All week I was like, “Hm this rash is weird,” “This larger rash is weird,” “This flesh-eating disease that is simultaneously killing me from the inside is weird,” “Why does my body hate me?!” “How will I run this weekend?!

I was having a full-on internal meltdown. I couldn’t believe that in my final real week of training, my body was like, “Shut this shit down!” Not only did it gift me with spots from my eyeballs to my toenails, it also knocked me flat on my ass to ensure I wouldn’t do anything.

Mystery Rash, 100-mile training, ultra running, Pinhoti 100, getting sick before a 100-mile race
I don’t care how old I am – I will always send sick stuffed animal selfies to my parents

The rational Tanya knew that this was just a minor speed bump in training that wouldn’t harm my race. My body was tired and my immune system compromised, so getting sick shouldn’t have been surprising.

However! The cranky, emotionally-invested, PMSing Tanya was freaking.the.fuck.out. If I can’t handle training, how the hell can I run 100 miles? How can I possibly just “skip” 50+ miles of running? How can I recover and rebound and make up “all the time lost?” Remember folks, it was only 2-3 days.

Mystery Rash, 100-mile training, ultra running, Pinhoti 100, getting sick before a 100-mile race
All the cures

I mean, I was a girl on the edge. After talking to good friends and experienced runners, I calmed down and felt better. Yes, this sucks. Yes, I skipped runs. But it wasn’t the end of the world. As my friend and Pinhoti-idol Vanessa said, “You didn’t build up for this race in three weeks, you won’t lose a bit of fitness in three weeks. As a matter of fact, if you behave, you’ll arrive at the start on exceptionally fresh legs & could even have a faster race!”

Which is totally true. Despite all my bitching and moaning, I think this break was a good thing. I’ve been logging some serious (for me) miles over the past few months, and clearly my body was feeling it. Skipping some runs let my muscles, legs, and Fat Foot recover some. I started and finished the Georgia Jewel 50 feeling like a million bucks, and that’s exactly how I want to race Pinhoti. Not saying, “Ok, Body, one more race and we’ll rest,” but “Fuck yea! Let’s do this!” I want to be like an eager racehorse pawing at that dirt in Heflin.

Mystery Rash, 100-mile training, ultra running, Pinhoti 100, getting sick before a 100-mile race
Swapped out my football beer for some Emergen-C

Those missed runs may make for a tougher and slower finish. Or they may have been just what I needed. No matter! I’d much rather finish slower and smiling that sick and broken.

So I’ve been a good (yet whiny) girl all weekend. I slept. I took all my medications. I tried every homeopathic remedy suggested. I watched football. I ate. I biked. The only thing I did not do was stress over this anymore. My body spoke, and I listened. With less than three weeks until the Big Day, that’s about all I can do right now.

Mystery Rash, 100-mile training, ultra running, Pinhoti 100, getting sick before a 100-mile race
Logged some sanity-saving miles on the (still unnamed) bike

Leopard, out.

2 Comments

  • Al DiMicco

    Tanya -I hate when somebody says “you’ll be fine”, because they mean well, but have no idea. My suggestion is this – these last couple of weeks mean absolutely nothing compared to the body of work you’ve put in already. Take this time to do a ton of visualization of running the course, planning your aid station strategies, and planning how to deal with all the variables you might run (pun) into. You can’t do anything about your leopard spots, so let them run their course without the self-imposed worries. You’ll be fine… Crap! I fell into that trap.

    • Tanya

      I always love your comments on my blog, Al! You have boatloads of experience, so I can’t help but trust that you’re right and I’ll be just fine and it’s all more or less mental at this point. I’ll fall asleep each night running the course in my head 😉

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