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

Advertisements

22 thoughts on “NYC Half Marathon Weekend and a Bit More About my Diagnosis

  1. Bummer. If it makes you feel any better, which it might not, I hit peri- at 40. It’s over a decade later, and it isn’t over yet. :-/ I’ve often said that God and I are going to have a long talk. Not impressed. 😉 Glad you had an overall enjoyable time. Lovely and yummy photos. 🙂 Hope your day is gorgeous.

  2. Syd says:

    Well, I didn’t know about all the problems until now. Hopefully, you will get some relief. Physiology can do weird things and hormones are definitely a game changer. Hang in there. Hope your Easter is good.

  3. J –

    Re athletic performance post-menopause:
    1) suggest you read the book Older Faster Stronger by Margaret Webb, and I think you’ll see anecdotally and from some studies that it’s not necessarily the case; also starting to see twitter accounts and blogs from women over 50 (and more) You could also read a book about Olga Kotelko (name escapes me – thyroid/hormone memory, ha)
    2) look at the masterstrack.com site and follow @alexrotas – there are so many terrific athletes our age and so much older, they are inspiring
    3) you might want to follow @jenstjean who’s a masterstrack athlete getting faster post surgical meno
    4) some women I’ve “talked to” (online) said once things smoothed out post-menopause, they were able to train better again, suggesting to me that (like when we mess with my thyroid med dosage) it’s more the fluctutations sometimes than the actual levels…but that’s only my opinion (and hope! kind of like dealing with my conditions, energy levels, etc….if they just stabilize so at least I know what to deal with, plan for, what I’ll feel like)

    There is SO little useful info about getting thru peri & meno as an athlete and coming out stronger and faster. It’s all about wearing layers, keeping the temp cool, accepting – bleah. Not!

    I would love to get the details of the testing you had done so I can know which tests to ask my doc for. I will have to go off bcp at some point to get tested. I just want to be DONE with this all!

    Right now, at almost 50 – and having been on bcp for 30+ yrs and still on them – I’ve been in peri- for a few years (out of the blue hormone mood and temp swings, random bleeding, bloating, PMS-on-steroids).

    But in the last year, I think I’ve taken a hit with some of the athletic effects – which could be other things as I have other conditions that cause fatigue, poor nutrient absorption (it appears) and who knows what causes my insomnia, poor sleep, etc. Training, life stress (which I had a lot of last year and some still ongoing), etc.

    Hormone replacement unlikely to be an option for me due to high breast cancer risk in the family, hope it works out well for you and soon!

    Thank you so much for sharing, you’re probably helping people who are reading and not commenting, and you reminded me to consider this as one factor I may be dealing with.

    • This is all so helpful!

      You’re right — there is very little about dealing with menopause (pre, during, post) and athletes! I’ve already found it frustrating. I hope this post and your comments are found by others going through this. Greater numbers of women are continuing to train at high levels for endurance events, so more of this info needs to be out there. My gyno said she couldn’t bland nor rule out heavy training as a trigger for my menopause. I’ll see if I can get a copy of all the tests she ran. She explained everything thoroughly to me, but I can’t recall the specifics off the top of my head without risking disinformation.

      I feel for you having so many awful symptoms! It’s been so confusing and scary to me before I knew what was wrong with me. We have to be our own best advocates, you know?

      We need to keep in touch on all of this. Thank you for taking the time to leave such a great comment.

  4. Darlene says:

    I can’t add much since I didn’t start running until after menopause. I am still hoping to get faster at my old age. I bet you will too.

  5. Hormones are quite the force of nature 🙂

    I think that knowledge always helps – even if it doesn’t immediately improve anything …

    We’ve recently discussed how I can empathize with what you’re going through based on my wife (whose experience is actually closer to Judy from the first comment!). But the way it messes with you and your ability to deal with things that were easy before is just crazy – and for her, she is also dealing with a transformation in her allergies (and not for the better) which makes nutrition a daily nightmare as well.

    I love the other comments – and while we all do slow down over time, there is no need to give up, as there are plenty of counter-examples as noted! Keep on keeping on!

    • Thank you. Please tell your wife I feel for her. It really is confusing and feels a bit like a betrayal of my body that I’ve been trying to take care of.

      I plan on working on getting faster! I already feel a bit better with my symptoms. Maybe it’s partly mental, but that’s ok too.

  6. I’m glad you got some answers!! Bummer about the half but there must be some peace of mind now knowing what’s wrong and I bet that will help with your running! Much love! ❤

  7. It has been a tough road for you Judith. Us runners always want to improve ourselves, to set new goals and then smash them, so it must be really frustrating for you. Hoping the meds will kick in and work like they are supposed. All the best in your upcoming events.

    Please take care,

    ~Carl~

  8. tundrawoman says:

    I’m just glad you’re back. I’m also on board FWIW with the fluxulating hormone thing. Good on ya for seeking a second opinion. You shouldn’t have to wait very long to feel the effects of HRT.
    Imma duck and cover before I say this-I had a very “normal” transition but then again, I also had a total thyroidectomy in the middle and OMG THAT WAS AWFUL. (not screaming, just croaking it out while I hold my neck in memory and the cap lock locked.) So please let us know how the hormones work and if your DH and you are still on speaking terms. I’ve decided there should be something like a “menstrual hut” for some women in menopause. They aren’t a threat to the rest of the community that way, just sayin’ OK?!
    Welcome back-you are missed when you’re not around!
    TW

    • Thanks, TW! I’m always so excited when I see you commenting 🙂 You’re one of my favorite people.

      I’m still alive, kicking and running better! I really think the HR therapy has done the trick, although I think my body is still adjusting. Thank goodness the night sweats are just about gone. I’m definitely sleeping better.

      I actually never had mood swings that I could tell from my period or now with HR therapy. I guess I am lucky that way? I was feeling pretty down about my running being so terrible — I still loved it but couldn’t get my body to enjoy it because it felt so much more difficult. I just ran a personal best in the 5k distance, so hopefully that signals being back on track.

      I’m not sure what to do with the ole blog. I’m still reading those of others, but I got bored with myself as far as writing goes. I think it’s because I’m mostly happy, and my writing goes down the tubes with contentment, lol.

      Thanks for stopping by!

Have your say

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s