I’m Still Alive

And kicking. More or less. 

Since my last post, training has been going considerably better. My hormone replacement therapy seems to be working, and I feel I am about in the same fitness level as I was about this time last year. I’m trying to be content with that, but I must admit I wish I were at the next level rather than returning to my previous peak. I still have off days a lot more than I remember having previously, but my good days are better than where I was last year, so there is that. 

One of the most interesting, measurable improvements is my resting heart rate. When I got metabolic testing done last summer, the tester was perplexed at my higher than expected resting heart rate given my good VO2 max. It fell between 60-64 beats per minute. He thought it was a nutrition thing, that I was perhaps catabolizing muscle by not eating optimally. I do not doubt that I eat sub-optimally, but I didn’t feel like this was the case. However, I didn’t have a better explanation. 

For the past month or so, my resting heart rate has gone down to the mid 40s. It seems like my hormone issues were having an effect. 

In early June, I managed to slightly PR in the 5k at the Freihofer Run for Women. I still ran the race stupid — I massively negative split the race, which anyone who runs 5ks regularly knows is not really the right strategy for 5k racing. I haven’t gotten the hang of how I should feel going out hard that first mile, instead approaching the race like I do half and full marathons by easing into my pace. I suppose I need to race more 5ks to start to understand how to better run these things. 

Case in point, yesterday I had a fast finish long run on my schedule, so I decided to run the last 3.1 miles of my 13.1 run at a 5k in the park I usually run in. So, I ran the ten miles, trying to keep moving until the air horn, then ran the 5k. I did not look at my Garmin the whole race (I had it on the time of day screen) and just ran at a pace/effort I hoped to run next week at the half marathon I’m running. I was chit chatting with some of the other participants as I ran, and felt pretty alright most of the race. 

Turned out, I ran that 5k only 34 seconds off my PR. Aaaaaaaaand I won the women’s race. I kid you not. I got to break the tape and everything. Granted, my 5k time is nowhere near what I would expect to win the majority of 5ks, so it was pure luck that all the speedsters stayed away, but it was still a hoot to win a race. Plus I got a $25 gift card to the local running store. 

But, really, if I can run 10 miles then run that close to my 5k PR, I clearly have a lot of work to do to figure out how to run a goal 5k race better. It’s a mental thing. I also negative split the race, but not as badly as the Freihofer run.

Sadly, I have no photos of the event. It was just part of a training run for me, and my husband doesn’t come to little local events like this anymore (he was also getting ready for his own event — see more below). Boo. 

The other big happening here is that today my husband broke the record time to swim the length of Lake George. It’s 34 miles and it took him 19 hours, about 3 hours longer than he expected. He said it was a rough swim, with navigational issues during the the night (he started at 5pm to avoid boat traffic and take advantage of smoother waters). He’s passed out on the sofa right now, poor guy. I’m so proud of him. He’s a badass who doesn’t know he’s a badass. 
That’s about it, folks. Thanks for reading, those of you who have stuck around despite my lapse in posting. 

NYC Half Marathon Weekend and a Bit More About my Diagnosis

 

Pre-race corrals

 In my last posts, I didn’t talk about my NYC Half experience. I was feeling a tad overwhelmed about my early menopause diagnosis. I’m sort of settling into that news still. A part of me is very relieved to know why I’ve been so off since November. Another part of me is feeling freaked out and old before my time. I realize the latter is silly, but that’s my feeling nonetheless. A lot of this post is more about my diagnosis followed by a wee-cap of my NYC race and trip. 

Leading up to when I started feeling sluggish, my periods were very regular. However, I had been experiencing night sweats for quite awhile. Since my blood tests were coming back normal on the related hormones, the thought was that perhaps I had a metabolic issue related to nutrition. So it was recommended that I front load my eating during the day. I didn’t really do a terrific job following that since dinner with my husband tends to be my largest meal of the day and I like it that way. 

In October, I ran the Wineglass Marathon. Training went well for that race, and all the way up to mile 21 when I bonked (a fueling fail on my part), it was a great race. I even had my period during the race. 

But since I missed qualifying for Boston by 16 seconds, my coach and I devised a plan to try again at the Kiawah Island Marathon a few months later. At first, training went very well. Then the mild injuries, getting sick and a perplexing slow down began. By time I was supposed to be ready to go for the marathon, I was feeling like crap and very discouraged. I had a few workouts when things went ok, but most of them were in a range of “meh to shit.” If you’ve been following along, you know I cut the Kiawah marathon short mid-race and ran just the half (which officially gave me my first DNF). For about six weeks after, I limped around with a series of mild injuries and would get winded while running at recovery paces. I thought maybe it was overtraining (which is entirely possible, but now I’m doubting it). My last normal period was late November. It was perhaps lighter than usual, but I didn’t think much of it because I’d been marathon training for half the year. 

My training after Kiawah, once my injuries subsided, has consisted of mostly easy runs with a few stamina workouts each week. Most of these have gone fine, if slower than I’d like and at a higher heart rate than previously for similar paces. But I continued to have the odd workout where everything felt off. Particularly when I was running in the heat of Florida in early March, I struggled way more than seemed right. I know it’s normal to have a bad workout every so often, but this seemed different. 

By mid-February, I was starting to have hot flashes in the day. That’s around when I worried that my uterine fibroids might be causing the trouble. My primary care doctor had mentioned back in May that she felt a largish one during my annual exam. So I found myself a new Ob-Gyn who specialized in laparoscopic surgery in the event that I needed them removed again. When I previously had the surgery, it took a long time to even walk without pain. Laparoscopic procedures are minimally invasive with quicker recovery turnaround. 

I fortunately got an appointment right away, and the doctor didn’t feel anything regarding the fibroids, but she took some blood and scheduled an ultrasound. I do have fibroids, but they are very small and not in need of removal. I don’t know what my primary care doctor was talking about (this is the second time she felt growths on my that weren’t there when I went to experts for the follow up). The fibroids are not likely to get bigger because my estrogen levels are in the crapper and high estrogen makes them grow.

My blood tests indicated that I am in menopause, not peri-menopause. We’re not sure why it happened so rapidly or so young, although there are a number of possibilities — the amount of training I’ve been doing is among them, as is my past life of excessive drinking. In some ways, I’m lucky I didn’t go through years of suffering from the symptoms. Hopefully the hormone treatments will get me feeling much better. I know mentally I feel better. Oh, and my new gynecologist is an avid runner. She could kick my ass in the 5k since she runs it in 20 minutes at age 51. (Doesn’t everyone athlink their doctors after they mention they’re runners?)

All of the above was the long explanation for… my race at the NYC Half kind of sucked.  

Central Park during my Saturday run

 The race was post-blood test but pre-diagnosis. I had a really great run Saturday running through Central Park. Maybe too good. I wasn’t expecting anything close to a PR at the race as I’ve only been easing back into training, but I didn’t expect the slow pace I ran the half to feel so hard. As in, I wanted to walk starting around mile 4 and had to talk myself out of it every. single. mile. I had my first positive split half in a really long time. And I basically felt unwell the whole race. 

I eked out a sub-2, but barely and was almost 12 minutes over my PR. I felt really lightheaded when I finished. I was also disappointed. It wasn’t so much the time as it was concern over how poorly I felt. I’d really wanted to soak in the awesome race atmosphere, and instead I spent the race locked in my own headspace. 

The days after the race, I felt fine, which was frustrating. Of course, I blamed myself on the bad race by assuming I was mentally weak. I really need to quit being so harsh to myself — especially as it turns out my poor body has been undergoing a major upheaval these last few months. 

I guess I’m glad that my primary care doctor misdiagnosed my fibroids because I never would’ve pushed to get a gynecology appointment when I did. My gut said something was wrong, and I’m really glad it is what it is rather than needing surgery or having a life threatening illness. 

I’m still reading up and trying to ignore some of the anecdotal stuff I ran into regarding some women who say they are much slower runners post-menopause😦 . I’m feeling optimistic about my hormone treatment. 

I did skip an 8k race I was signed up for yesterday. I decided that I didn’t mentally need to have another lackluster performance before I gave hormone therapy a chance to do its thing. Instead, I had a very nice run solo. 

Scene from MoMA… dude, I feel ya

Scene from MoMA — it was disconcerting seeing patrons just walk by. plus this seems uber uncomfortable

Scene from MoMA

 Other than my NYC Half performance stinking, I did have a good trip to the city. Somehow we ended up in a junior suite at our hotel, and the room was giant. We had two great dinners, one at Quality Meats and another at Quality Italian, both of which I highly recommend. We also went to Num Pang for lunch, which is a Cambodian sandwich shop​, and Maoz Vegetarian for a falafel salad, both favorites. On Sunday, we had some free time before our train and so we went to MoMA. There was a live exhibit of people laying around called Plastic that was kind of fun. 

Up next is the Disney Star Wars half. By then, I should be benefitting from my meds, although I expect the humidity will be a shock to my system. Since I am planning on doing photo ops this race, my coach suggested I do some fartleks between stops if I felt up to it. I think this sounds like loads of fun. I’m in corral A, so I hope to be among the first in line to see BB-8. 

I hope everyone who celebrates has a wonderful Easter, and even if you don’t, I hope you’re having a lovely day!

 

Our room at Hotel Elysee

  

Balcony below our room

  

My Num Pang Japanese yam sandwich

  

Saturday’s Central Park run

  

Saturday’s Central Park run

  

Tableside made cannoli at Quality Italian

And some medical news

I mentioned a few posts ago that I was going to the doctor to get some stuff checked out. Most of my tests came back very healthy. However, apparently I am in early menopause. 

I’m only 46, and average menopause age is 51. This may explain why my running has been crap the last three months, which is how long it’s been since my last period (which was an abbreviated one). I wasn’t expecting this news, so I’ve got a ton of research I want to do. But I do believe low estrogen isn’t great for running. 

I’m going to take hormones to help with the symptoms, and fingers crossed things start getting better. If the night sweats stop, that’s got to be an improvement!

RRCA Certification ✔️

  
I received notification today that I am now an RRCA Certified running coach. Yay!

This is my second certification, following my NAASFP running coach certification that I received earlier this year. 

Shortly I will be getting details up and running about my coaching for charity causes. As I’ve mentioned, 100% of the proceeds from my coaching will go to the charity of the runner’s choice. If you have any questions in the meantime or charities to suggest (I’ve got a list started) feel free to contact me. 

I’m so thrilled to be able to get this party started!!!

Never Say Never

I once swore I’d never run a race in costume. I’ve never begrudged those who chose to do so, but it just wasn’t me.

Well, I’m running the Disney Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon next month. And I’ll be wearing a costume.


I’ve not got it entirely together yet, but I’ll be going as Rey. I’m ridiculously excited and I plan to do photo ops during the race despite that that’s another thing I thought I’d never do and I hate getting my picture taken. I’m a serious runner, don’t you know?

My husband has some understandable concerns that I will try to run off with BB-8 if I spot him during the race. I told him that BB-8 wants to come home with us. I don’t think I have him convinced.

 I don’t know why he puts up with me. He did give me a BB-8 necklace for our 19th anniversary yesterday. He’s enabling my Star Wars mania. It’s cute that he thinks I’ve seen The Force Awakens only six times in the theater.

A lot of WTF

Hello from Florida!

 

Roadie, the RRCA mascot, taking a nap on my afternoon coffee

 I’m down here getting my RRCA Coaching Certification. It’s been a helluva long time since I had to sit in a classroom setting — yesterday after lunch was rough. It was tricky to keep my attention on track even though I’m highly interested in the topic. 

It was a shock to go from 15 degrees to over 80 with humidity. My 70 minute run on Friday was slow, but ok. However, the run I did around 6pm yesterday wasn’t great. For some weird reason my cadence is much lower than usual. I don’t know what that’s all about. It tends to get stupid high, like 220 strikes per minute, when I have any sort injury or niggle, but it normally hovers around 192-196. It dropped to 182 yesterday, and I don’t know why. It translates to being slower than expected and I felt like I was running faster. It was strange. I hope it’s just some anomaly. 

At any rate, my expectations for the NYC Half are pretty low at this point. 

I’m wondering if some of my body being off lately is because I’m having issues with fibroids caused in part by an excess of estrogen. I had surgery to have several removed six years ago, but some have grown back. I’m seeing a new gynecologist soon to see about taking care of the new growths laparoscopically rather than having to cut through my abdomen again. The upside will be some weight loss (fibroids are pretty dense and can weigh a bit) and maybe a flatter stomach (I have an enlarged uterus from the growths), and perhaps we can address the hormonal/metabolic issues. My largest fibroid last time was the size of a lemon. Yuck. 

Still, I’m less than thrilled to be dealing with this crap again. I wasn’t running the first time I had them removed, and recovery was very slow — just walking was tough for weeks after. I’d like to avoid invasive surgery. No time for that in my training schedule. 

Fun times.  I hope to have it resolved soon. 

I’m supposed to run 10-14 miles tomorrow and I’m kind of dreading it. Here’s to hoping it goes better than I fear. 

 

Ireland won.

 We went to the Nations Cup horse show on Friday and had a nice family dinner last night, but otherwise this isn’t really a vacation for me. I’m actually feeling kind of stressed out right now, not only from the health issues but also my kid had a car accident (he’s fine) and hasn’t been dealing with his ticket, etc. I worry about him often. 

Waiting for all this to pass and not let it get to me too much. 

Pity Party

Hey all. Welcome to my pity party. Pull up a chair, but don’t get too close. I might hack a bright green glob of yuck on you.

I was feeling pretty great through Tuesday. I had a Pace Booster run, and it went fantastic. I felt like my old self, with light feet, relaxed gait and quick legs. The total run lasted 70 minutes including the warm up and cool down, with 2 times 15 minutes intervals and – 4 minute recovery jog between them. My first interval was at an average 7:42/mile pace and the second was 7:26. It felt pretty effortless.


So I was surprised when late yesterday I started feeling a rumbling in my upper respiratory. I had a fitful night of coughing, but I felt mostly ok this morning. Went to my usual personal training session, and my trainer took it easy on me (he didn’t like the sound of my cough — he’s smarter than I am about my health, thank goodness). I was going to do a 65 minute easy run today, but I ended up doing just 50 minutes and at an even more easy pace than planned. Which didn’t feel all that easy. My heart rate was a little high for the pace, which means my body isn’t quite itself today.

I’m glad I decided to do the run on the treadmill because 1) it was easier to cut the run short when I needed to, and 2) it was raining and in the low 40s outside. As soon as I got off the treadmill, I knew I was in rough shape. I shivered all the way home. My temperature was over 101 and I was coughing up the before mentioned yuck in a neon color that tastes like infection (sorry, TMI). I had a hot shower, got into my pjs, and fell asleep of the sofa watching old episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer <= comfort TV.

Oh, and I sound like a two-pack-a-day smoker. Charming.

Unlike when I got sick in November, I’m not going to push my luck. I’m running the NYC Half in a few weeks, but it’s not a goal race. It took me this long to get back to close to my fall fitness, so I don’t want to have another do-over because I “need” to stick to a training schedule. Luckily, my germs presented themselves at the start of a scheduled recovery week.

Back to my Buffy episodes. See, there’s a bright side to being sick. Except that there’s evil clowns in this episode. I may have to skip this one.

seriously, does anyone like clowns?