Not feeling well

To be honest with myself, I haven’t been feeling well for quite some time.

I noticed it several months ago when I transitioned from running on the treadmill inside to running outside again. I seemed more tired than usual. I didn’t have my regular stamina. Was it normal for my endurance to drop so drastically? I could run 6 miles without stopping relatively easily. Then I started needing walking breaks.

I chalked it up to aging. After all, I will be 45 in a few weeks.

Maybe I just wasn’t used to all the hills? Peri-menopause perhaps? Seasonal allergies? The cool rainy weather? Maybe it is normal to be sluggish at this age.

I doubt I could run a 50k with the shape I’m in today. I have two months to go until the race. How am I going to run further than I’ve ever run if I can’t even run 6 miles without stopping?

This week I had a physical with my new doctor. It didn’t go well. I complained about the fatigue. But what middle aged person is not tired? A couple nights a week I have insomnia, but it wasn’t anything new to me.

The doctor ran some extra tests. The results show that I am slightly anemic which does explain some of the symptoms I’ve been having.

But what really concerned the doctor was that I have been taking two Prilosec a day for GERD for several years without ever being scoped. She said that wasn’t normal for someone of my age and health. She asked several more questions, then said she would like me to get scoped and tested for Celiac which is an autoimmune disease. The only treatment of Celiac is a strict gluten free diet. I think 2 of my brothers already have undiagnosed Celiac.

I looked up Celiac when I got home. I have almost all of the symptoms and have had several of them since I was a child. I hope the doctor’s suspicion is wrong, but I think I see the writing on the wall. Even anemia is a symptom because Celiac prevents your body from absorbing nutrients. Otherwise it makes no sense since I am already taking a multi-vitamin with iron.

Today I bought donuts. I bought chicken patties to eat on big hamburger buns. I bought my favorite food, macaroni and cheese. I bought my very favorite craft beers. I am going to go to Arby’s to eat a big roast beef sandwich with mozzarella sticks on the side. I am starting to think of state fair cream puffs. I want to eat my favorite foods before I can never have them again. I almost started crying in the craft beer section.

I am feeling very down about this. I was told this was the best time in history to be gluten free. But that doesn’t make me feel any better at the thought of giving up my favorite foods and drinks forever.

I think it would be hard to even go grocery shopping. I don’t think I would want to go out to eat with friends and family. Forget parties. Maybe I won’t leave the house.

I need to stop taking Prilosec as well. I am down to one pill a day. I bought a big bottle of Tums and liquid antacid for the pain I will be in. It’s already started. This morning I felt nauseous. The acid burn in my throat is back, so is the burping.

But it will be good to have answers.

I have been feeling so tired, weak, and depressed lately. I have been having a hard time thinking. I am very organized and meticulously detail oriented. In the last couple weeks, I’ve forgotten things that were on my grocery shopping list. Today I went running and got lost on a trail I have been running for years. I can’t seem to keep a thought in my mind for long. I forget what I am going to say sometimes mid-sentence. That’s scary!

I am afraid.

I will have more answers soon and hopefully I’ll start feeling better. It just might not be the answer I want.

 

The ultra training starts

I just signed up for my first 50k.

There is no turning back now. Thankfully, I have until September to train. I will be running the ultra with my cousin.

It has been a cold spring here in Wisconsin. I have only been out to run a handful of times. Today’s high temps are in the mid-40’s and it is raining. Yuck! But at least it’s not snowing.

I was able to run with my new friend from the theater. I doubt we will ever run together again and I am okay with that. She is so much better than I am. What I didn’t know was that this new friend qualified for the Boston Marathon 6 times and ran it twice. She even ran something like 10 miles the day she gave birth. Talk about hard core!

She is a couple years younger than me as well which doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it is in the racing world. Maybe if I was 20 years younger than her, I would be able to keep up. That might even be pushing it.

Now that I am almost 45, I don’t have the stamina I used to.

I had a really bad run outside a couple weeks ago. I was several miles from home when I had to go to the bathroom really bad. I was in the suburbs and there was no where to go. I was so tempted to run up to a stranger’s house and ask if I could use their bathroom. How mortifying would that be! Every time I ran, the urge to go was stronger but walking prolonged the journey home. I called my husband to pick me up, but he didn’t answer. There were people everywhere. I finally made it home accident free.

Maybe I need to add Depends to my running supply list! That is the only thing I like about running on the treadmill at the gym. There is a bathroom close by if I need it. It is easier to stay hydrated as well. I finally broke down and bought a hydration belt with water bottles for the long runs outside.

Again, having to go to the bathroom is always an issue outside. Not to mention bugs, pop up thunderstorms, reckless drivers, adverse weather conditions, those horrible hills, chafing, injuries, dehydration, and animals. But that is what also makes for the best stories and adventures that won’t be forgotten. It’s the dirt and the grit. Determination. The testing of the limits. The long runs to think. Enjoying nature when it doesn’t call. The friendships, the camaraderie of strangers, the goodness of fellow travelers along the trail. I love it all!

I am hoping that the training goes a lot better once it warms up outside. Since I have a few marathons under my belt, what is a few more miles? Right?!??

 

Outrunning my demons in Hell

Next year I want to go to Hell.

Whoa now, before you get a little concerned, let me explain.

Hell is a town in Michigan. With some of our winters, I’m surprised that more towns are not named Hell. Although, after a bit of overthinking, maybe the name should be reserved for hot Southern crime ridden towns.

Anyway, every year there is an ultra trail run in this little town called Hell. Part of the course includes running through waist deep water for a river crossing.

Sign me up already!

I am starting to look ahead to running goals for next year. This summer I completed my 4th marathon. The first couple times I said I would never run a marathon again. But now I am thinking about doing a 50k ultra race. Hey, what’s a few more miles??

Then I thought it would be super cool to get a tattoo that says¬†Outrunning my demons in Hell 50k.¬†I don’t have any tattoos yet, unless you consider my car which is plastered full of bumper stickers…I have a couple of tattoo ideas, but thought it would be great to kill two birds with one stone…running and blogging.

I have one more race planned for this year, a half marathon next month. My husband is planning on running his first half marathon with me. I am really excited for him. I must really make it look like a lot of fun! Ha ha ha…

My 4th marathon

On Thursday night, or I should say in the wee hours of Friday morning, I picked my family of travelers up from their vacation. As I went to bed at 3 AM, I dreaded the thought that I would be getting up in a little over 24 hours around the time I was going to bed that night to run my 4th marathon.

I didn’t get much sleep, but took Friday off to pack and get ready for camping. My husband went into work for a couple hours and was suffering from jet lag. We had to drive three hours to get to the campground.

We set up camp as a storm was blowing in. The torrential downpour started as soon as we had the tent set up. It rained two inches that night. When we went to pick up our race packets, one of the tents collapsed from the rain. We were going to go to my cousin’s camper for a spaghetti supper, but went out to eat instead. It was hot, humid, and stormed most of the night. But our tent stayed dry for the most part.

I woke up at 4:30 AM after a restless night of sleep. I was dead tired and had to scrape up some energy for a marathon. The marathon itself was brutal. My cousin said that it was the most challenging marathon he ever did. There were some very difficult steep inclines. We had to walk across slippery bridges and wet rocks. I didn’t fall, but I saw others fall and almost fell myself several times.

It was a very picturesque course with beautiful views at the top of the bluffs. It seemed surreal like I was on a movie set. I was waiting for the dinosaurs to come out at any minute. Even though it was a rather remote trail run, there were enough bathrooms and aid stations. I even drank some pickle juice which seems to be the new craze.

It was a tough race, but we finished it. Afterwards, we decided to head to the beach to cool our aching legs. I was only in the water for 10 minutes when someone took my beach towel. The beach was absolutely crowded on a hot Saturday afternoon.

Showering was another challenge. I showered in the handicap stall just because I thought that it would provide an area for me to sit. Undressing and dressing was a bit of a challenge. There was nowhere to sit and there was a lot of standing dirty water on the floor. So I decided to dress from the waist up and go into the dryer bathroom portion to get my shorts on.

I wrapped a towel around my waist for the short trip outside to the bathroom. When I walked into the bathroom, there was a man inside. He seemed to be checking on the cleanliness of the bathroom. He put his initials on the paper by the door and exited quickly. The bathroom and shower stalls were absolutely filthy. I struggled to get my pants on without having to take another shower.

That evening, my cousin and his wife made the spaghetti dinner that the storm prevented us from having the previous night. His dad and step-mother came over for a visit and wished me a happy birthday. They brought homemade strawberry shortcake. It was a nice evening.

After that, I spent another restless night trying to sleep in the tent. My body ached and I couldn’t get comfortable…Sunday morning we packed up for the long ride back home. I couldn’t relax. I found myself feeling agitated and depressed. Although my body ached, my mind couldn’t sit still. I took the dog for a walk when I got home and felt a little better…then had another restless night of sleep.

I think I had one good night of sleep in the last month. Staying up until 3 AM and then getting up very early to run a marathon probably pushed me over the edge. I hope I feel like my old self soon. Tomorrow I’m getting a massage. Maybe that will help.

Fortune cookie wisdom #12

Fearless courage is the foundation of victory.

I have a lot of fears.

It would probably be easier making a list of things I am not afraid of.

Ironically, I am not afraid of confronting my fears.

But I think that has more to do with my fear of letting fear control me.

Does that make me courageous?

There was a time when driving on the highway would fill me with extreme anxiety. I was fine one minute, then the next I was filled with panic. The tunnel vision would start. Blackness slowly enveloped me until I couldn’t see the cars around me. I started sweating profusely. I had to open the car windows even if it was in the dead of winter. The noise from the radio became really loud. I needed silence. I had to slow down. I had to get off the highway or I was going to die. I muttered frightened prayers. I had to keep breathing..

For years, I dealt with this…the panic attacks out of the blue while driving. For a long time, I could only drive from one entrance ramp to the next exit. I felt like a complete failure every time I had to get off the highway as my body shook and trembled uncontrollably with fear.

I kept at it though. It was a very long process of celebrating small victories. At first, it was driving on the highway and making it past two exits. I’m not sure how the fear started in the first place. I was never in an accident. I think it had to do more with feeling tired. I suffered a bit from highway hypnosis. I was afraid that I would fall asleep and kill someone. I had fallen asleep while driving before. Coffee only made things worse. Instead of being awake and focused, it made me jittery and nervous.

I am the type of person that has a hard time sitting down and not being preoccupied without falling asleep. I can fall asleep during the best movies, but sometimes have trouble staying asleep at night. Why??

When I started feeling groggy while driving, I would go into hyper alert mode and start feeling anxiety. After awhile I paired driving with anxiety and boy was that hard to break. I pretty much conquered that fear now. But I am still afraid of long distance highway driving. I’m afraid that it wouldn’t take much to unravel everything I did.

How can I follow my dreams of traveling the world if I am terrified by almost every mode of travel?? I had to keep doing it even if I was afraid. I have to keep driving. I have to keep flying. Nothing conquers the fear of flying more than booking a flight half way around the world. Trust me! I was terrified more about the prospect of a 20 hour flight than I actually was doing it. It wasn’t as bad as I imagined it would be.

Last summer I was utterly terrified to complete my first Half Iron. It seemed insurmountable as I watched the huge waves pound the shore. My legs felt like rubber on the bike. But after I finished, I felt unbelievably victorious. It was such an accomplishment for me.

This summer I signed up for my first trail marathon through the bluffs. I will be sleeping the weekend of the race in a tent. I have no doubt that this is going to be very challenging. Running a marathon over hilly terrain after a sleepless night in a tent will not be a piece of cake. I am afraid.

I will be doing this for my birthday. Why I can’t just get drunk and feel like crap the normal Wisconsin way is beyond me…

I know that if I can do this, it will take the cake as the best birthday ever!

I have a lot of fears, but I am willing to fight them.

If fearless courage is the foundation of victory…I don’t think you can have courage without being afraid of something first. The trick is not letting fear win.

 

The long run

I have been thinking about next year’s racing season.

This past week I decided that I wanted to do the Tough Mudder and a trail marathon next summer. The trail marathon is on my birthday. What could be better than getting up at the crack of dawn and spending your birthday in complete and total agony?? Not to mention feeling sore, sick, and exhausted after the fact.

Do I really want to run another marathon?? Do I really want to torment myself on my birthday?? I could be out spending the day having fun…getting a massage…drinking champagne…sailing…

But I love the challenge..the satisfaction of completing a goal…

Successfully overcoming obstacles is more pleasurable to me than unearned self-indulgence.

So I decided to go for it.

I almost signed up..

Then I went to the gym for a run.

My ankle started to hurt. It felt like my foot bones were twisted and grinding together. It wasn’t very painful, but the pounding on my foot mile after mile…

I ran while in pain like this several times now. It wasn’t bad enough to stop. It is like running with a small pebble in your shoe versus a sharp rock.

Friday morning I ran 10 painful miles. After I got off of the treadmill, I sat in the sauna a few minutes. While I was in the sauna, a stranger sat down next to me. She said that she saw me out on the treadmill and wanted to know if I was okay.

Are you feeling okay??

A stranger coming up to me and asking if I am okay??

Could this be a problem?

What am I doing to myself?

The pain made me more determined to fight the pain. I was, in essence, fighting with myself and someone was going to lose. I berated myself for the mile I had to walk. The physical pain seemed to even trigger emotions of other painful times in my life.

I am never a gentle taskmaster to myself. I crack the whip and get it done regardless of whether I want to or not…whether I am in pain or not.

My greatest strength is my greatest weakness. Self-discipline is a great super power to have, but…and you know that a but is coming, sometimes I need to take a chill pill and relax a little.

I am not good at relaxing. I want to push it to the limit which conflicts with my desire to do this for the long run.

If I push myself too hard, end up getting seriously injured, and have to quit running…What good is my determination??

Sometimes it is easier to show you my medals than to tell you about my struggles and weaknesses. I want to make running a marathon look easy.

I took today off, but tomorrow I am thinking about running. My ankle/foot only hurts for the most part when I am running. I have been trying to solve the problem with my foot. I think the pain is coming from bad sitting habits. I like to curl my leg under my body and sit on my foot. I want to see if it helps if I stop doing this.

So far I am still planning on signing up for the races. In the meantime, I have to be smart. I have to learn to take better care of myself. I have to recognize when exercising and being too healthy is unhealthy without a few words from a stranger in the gym. Somehow I need to develop that inner voice of reason.

I want to be in this for the long run…

 

 

Heading home again too

I’m on my way home again, back on the train. Apparently my husband published my first few scrawlings as he tried to plug in his phone to charge with my charger. Now I’m feeling annoyed and disappointed that the trip is coming to an end. Please just stay on your side of the seat until I am done writing now. It wasn’t like we were making out or anything…Honestly!

The last time we spoke, I was on the train to visit my cousin to compete in an 18 mile trail run. We finished the run in less than 4 hours. Good enough for me! 

In preparation for the big weekend, we went beer and wine sampling on Friday. I got a necklace to collect tags from different breweries we had samples at. My favorites were Pomeranian Beast reminding me of myself, a psycho insane runner of German heritage. I also liked Kimchi Stout, the sauerkraut beer..I briefly talked about starting a relay team named Medals and Beer Tag team. It didn’t go far..

We watched as the weather forecast promised rain, lots of rain. I just grabbed my very old running shoes, the ones with the sides wearing out with almost no tread. Not very gripping for a mud slide. But we lucked out. My husband was along. Did I mention that he is the patron saint of fair weather?? Well, I guess I am not sure about the whole saint part. Seems like ever time he is around, the rain stops. He signed up to join us on the 5 mile trail run on Sunday. We were supposed to get an inch of rain. We didn’t get wet at all until less then a minute after we all crossed the finish line… I never once had a drop of rain fall on me during a race and I’ve run plenty of races. 

About the trail run, I liked it. It was a lot different from road racing. The first half mile, I was trying to get away from the woman with the beagle puppy. It brought flashbacks of the time I tripped over my beagle trying to avoid a savage dog that jumped out of the ditch at us. I still have the scars. I could show you but I might scare the people on the train. After I avoided the dog, I had to get away from two women talking about their marital problems. Or maybe I should say one woman, she did all of the talking. She went into great detail about her husband brushing his teeth. Maybe if her conversation was more interesting, I would’ve lagged behind a little.

Seriously though, about trail running. It required a little more grace than road running. There was one woman that was constantly tripping over every branch and limb on the trail. It required a lot more motor planning and thought. There were times that I was coming down a hill that I almost imagined I was flying. The woods were beautiful and every step was different from the last. Just as my body was getting tired from running one way, it was time to switch to using another muscle. So it wasn’t the monotonous repetitive motion of the road.The trail was narrower than any road race I ran. There were also less spectators as the route was more remote.

My cousin and I ran a half marathon the first day and 5 miles the second. I found myself having a harder time running the second day. I felt like I was carrying around 50 extra pounds. My legs felt like lead. My mind was strong, but my body didn’t physically respond like normal. 

After the half marathon, I tried acupuncture for the first time. There was a group of people in a room stuck with needles relaxing. Frankly, I would prefer a massage myself.

After the race was finished, Paul and I went to Detroit for the first time. It was cool and rainy. I felt sad for the homeless people huddled under the highway overpass. We toured Belle Isle and stopped for supper at Greektown. I had such a great time away that I’m sad it’s over. 

I crossed a lot of stuff off of my bucket list in this short trip…an Amtrak train ride, trail racing, a trip to Detroit, acupuncture, eating authentic Greek food, and publishing a post in error. Lol. It’s been fun!