You might know that runners are obsessive. Perhaps you know that I donated 100 whole units of blood over thirty years and then, once I hit the century mark, I started in on donating blood products. Lately, every time I become available to donate, I drive out to the INOVA donation center and give.
Two weeks ago my next blood donation was due, but my running buddy Leah, who was trying to break four hours in the marathon, had asked me to run the last 7 miles of the Marine Corps Marathon with her the very next week. I wanted to donate blood on schedule, and I thought I could maintain the 9:09 pace necessary to break four hours, but I didn't want to let her down by hitting the wall because of depleted red blood cells. For a week after a donation I can often feel fatigue or a lack of energy during the difficult part of a run, whether doing a fast pace, during the fifth mile or on a long hill.
Leah's marathon PR was 4:51 so nobody thought she could throw down a 3:59, except for her. As for myself, I thought it was possible but unlikely, although I thought for sure she could achieve a huge PR. Last year she ran a 1:50 half-marathon with less-than-optimal training, lowering her PR at that distance by over 25 minutes.
I would do anything for Leah because she is my friend and one of the wisest people I know, and I seek out her counsel when I have an intractable problem. She has been making tremendous strides the last two years as a runner and has surpassed wherever I am, although we still run together. Soon I'll tell you how she did, with minimal training, but suffice to say that I'm glad I didn't donate as soon I could have, or falter in the steady, unchanging pace when I jumped in to accompany her for the last seven miles.