“Plot Twist!” -Devon Yanko
There are only a couple of athletes that I follow and Devon Yanko is one of them. Not only is she a badass, but she’s authentic in her struggles. She has been honest about her autoimmune issues and their impact on her athletics. One of the phrases that she uses frequently when things go sideways is “plot twist”. I vaguely remember reading a blog post by her that discussed that she chose to view deviations from the plan as plot twists versus setbacks. Well I just had a really big damn PLOT TWIST!!!!!
After we finally figured out what was wrong with me I was able to start moving forward. Finally. I started running again. I was able to be active again. I finally had energy again. Basically I started to feel like me again. With that I began training for Antelope Canyon 50 miler. I wanted it. Desperately. My manta became, “I am healthy, I am strong.” (insert record scratch here) Not so fast.
Over the past couple of weeks as my long runs per week started flipping 16 and I was logging 50+ mile weeks things just started to feel, well, off. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but something just wasn’t right. I was waking up every morning feeling like crap instead of ready to take on the day. We pulled my thyroid panel and it seemed fine. Yet, something still wasn’t right. I was wondering if I was just seeing shadows so I kept pushing forward.
When I saw the PT this week (one of the only people in my corner when I was sick) I said to her, “I want to talk to you about something but I want to wait until after you get done as I don’t want to bias your view.” As we started going through my treatment she stopped and looked at me and said, “You aren’t recovering.” Crap………
See, there are few things that you can’t hide to your PT. Pain and muscles that are breaking down and not recovering. We looked over the number of miles that I’ve been logging, she asked me how I was feeling, and she quickly changed course in my appointment to fixing. We then started to discuss my 50 miler.
See, after my 50k I put myself into an autoimmune suppressed state. This happens with all people, but when your immune system is already not exactly the strongest to begin with it’s even worse. (Science article here, translated into “English” here) This suppression of my immune system is basically what allowed for the rest of the wheels to fall off and allowed for all of the other infections to move in. We knew going into the 50 miler that I was facing and uphill battle, but we had banked on all of the rebuilding I had done it would hold up. PLOT TWIST, nope.
What does this mean for me? First, it means nothing more than a 30k for running. Sure I could do more miles but I would then risk shutting my immune system down. Honestly, I like running, yoga, cycling, climbing big mountains, etc and I would like to keep doing them so I’m not going to purposefully break myself. Second, it means that I am not doing Antelope Canyon 50 miler. Lucky for me Vacation Races has a very generous bib transfer policy and I found someone that wanted to do it. Third it means I’m having to shift my perspective with regards to the ultracommunity. While I will never run another ultra again it means that I can be the best damn crew, volunteer and pacer ever.
Yes, all of this sucks. Yes, I’m a little raw about it. However, I so enjoy the sound of dirt under my feet so I’m going to listen to what is right for my body so that I can keep doing all of the things that I love. I will still climb big mountains, run, cycle, and do all the things I love. Just not quite in the way that I had intended. Big damn plot twist, indeed.