Data can be a good thing

Last weekend I went out to do 9 miles.  9 miles should be easy.  Instead, at mile 5 I was ready to lay down and cry I was so exhausted.  “This is why I run loops,” I thought to myself.  See, with loops you have to finish you have no choice.

Something wasn’t right.  I couldn’t put my finger on it, but something definitely wasn’t right and I’ve been here before.  See, last year after my hypothermia episode the wheels came off the bus in an epic fashion.  I thought, maybe just maybe it was all in my head.  Maybe I was just having a bad day.  However, the scientist in me knew there was only one way to find out; data.  The good news is that I had lots of it between my Garmin, Strava and Beyond the White Board.  However, the bad news is that data doesn’t lie. Sound the alarm, GENERAL QUARTERS GENERAL QUARTERS!!

The sailor in me let out a blue streak a mile long.  Not this again.

I sat down with Sainted Mary and we had a frank conversation.  She was wondering if it was a diet deficiency.  OK, a dietary deficiency I could work with that.  She recommended that I have some specific blood panels done to see if that is, indeed, what we were working with.  I made an appointment with Dr. Roy for the follow day.

Dr. Roy and I spoke about what has been going on.  The bone crushing exhaustion.  My stubbornness (and love of food) which has kept me working out despite the fact that  I have absolutely no gas in the tank and all I want to do is sleep.  I showed him all the data I had and we spoke about last year.  He drew the blood for the labs that Sainted Mary wanted in addition to a few of his own.

Two days later we got the lab work back.  It wasn’t a dietary issue.  (Crap) Nope.  Apparently my pituitary gland was having to work WAY harder than it should.  What does the pituitary do?  I’m glad you asked.

My TSH levels were out of whack.  Huh, this explains a ton of other things that have been going on.  Of 14 classic symptoms, I was exhibiting (and quite frankly, dismissing) 9 of them.  It’s funny how it wasn’t until I wasn’t able to run like I wanted to that I suddenly said, ok there’s an issue.  (face palm)  Man I never learn.

It will take some time for the medicine he prescribed to take effect.  There are multiple pieces of good news.  First, soon I am not going to be bone crushingly exhausted any more.  Second, my desire to run and workout will come back instead of it being a tug of war and a lecture of my inner voice ordering me around.  Third, if we get my dosage right perhaps I won’t be walking around in a hat, jacket, and gloves at 50 degrees.  Snicker.  Hey a girl can dream.

Advertisements

Sonofabitch

**Disclaimer: Yeah, yeah, yeah I know I shouldn’t have hiked/run the mountain.  However, some things in life are worth it and this is one of them.  I wound up coming home, taking a shower, taking extra asthma meds, and crashing for 2 plus hours.  I will pay for this, but totally worth it.**

0400 this morning my alarm went off and I bounded out of bed.  I can hear you now, why in the hell would you bound out of bed at 0400?? I was going to go climb mountains.  More importantly I was finally going to get to show Sainted Mary Shenandoah!

0500 I was on the road making the two hour trek out to the mountains.

IMG_58150650 We both pull into the parking lot having basically followed each other the last 15 miles to the park.  As she got out of the car my jaw hit the floor.  She was in shorts.   It was 40 degrees at the base of the mountain and the top is always at least 10 degrees cooler.  I relayed this to her.  Thus started the “Sonofabitch” hike.  As she attempted to call her husband to let her know we got there I let her know that we probably weren’t going to have signal until we got up the mountain a bit.  We took a proof of life selfie, though, that I promised her we’d send him later.  This btw is why I normally hike with my spot device it let’s my loved ones know I’m ok.  However, it only seems to work when you turn it on (oops).

0700 We rolled out of the parking lot.  We were within the first 5 cars in the parking lot.  This is why we were starting early.  I joked with her that we should enjoy the quiet because in a few hours the mountain was going to be crawling with a two types of people: 1.) The “let’s take Mom for a hike” people even though Mom never hikes and would much rather be at home taking a nap or 2.) The “I’m taking the kids out to the mountains” also known as “Dad has no idea what he’s doing” with all the Dad’s who brought the kids out to the mountains, alone, so that Mom could have some peace.

We hit the rock scramble and ran into a couple of 20 something guys who were obviously struggling a bit. “They don’t have mountains where we are from.”

“Oh yeah, where’s that?”

“Florida.”

I snickered.  They followed us for a little while, but in the end I think the combination of a heavy nights drinking and the elevation just slowed them way down because they didn’t keep up.

Mary popped into the lead and immediately headed off course.  “Um, where are you going the course goes that way.” (points to blue blaze going in opposite direction and straight up)

“Sonofabitch.”

We laughed.

IMG_3983As we ascended the mountain the clothes that we had taken off at lower levels came back on.  I think I must have taken on and taken off my layers at least 7 times as we traversed different climate zones.  As we neared the top the temperature bottomed out.  Then we came around the corner and got pushed forcefully back onto the rocks.  The wind was hollowing.

SONOFABITCH!

There was definitely no lingering at the top to enjoy the view today.  As we headed back down to the trail split to take the fire road back Florida boys were finally summiting.

IMG_3003Mary and I headed jogging down the trail that leads to the fire road.  The creeks were raging due to all the rain we’ve had in the last couple of days.  We stopped at one of them and washed the salt off of our faces.  As the trail widened, ultimately turning into the actual fire road only then did we start to see any people.  First it was a trickle but by the time we crossed the last bridge before the pavement to the parking lot a deluge.  As we jogged past them in my head I was sorting them by type.  Mary turns to me and says, “You were so right.”

IMG_43141100 Parking lot.  We were both rungry.  After a quick change of clothes and shoes for me (and a “I need to plan better.” comment from Mary) we were off to lunch.  Yeah it was a good day.

New science, old science 

“If you told me you were holding crystals I’d tell you you were full of shit. Acupuncture, though, don’t know how it works but holy crap it works.” -My brother the doubter

Ever since the nuclear meltdown 50k I’ve been struggling. Just getting out of bed exceeded my energy capacity. I’ve been foggy and sleeping all the time.  Definitely not generating any of my own body heat. Thank God I’ve been on break from school. Functioning on a daily basis became challenge.

I somehow managed to guilt myself into running and going to CrossFit. How? You know the typical Roman Catholic way: guilt.  You don’t want to be lazy, do you? You don’t want to get fat again, do you?  Yet my progress was not going forward but rather backward. Weight was coming off the bar. My heart rate was spiking and staying at 165 at a WALK.

I took a week off to see if rest would fix it. When I went back my HR was worse than before. Um, yeah, time to go see doc. As I sat in his office showing him the data (logs are super helpful) and described what’s been going on it wasn’t basic functionality that I craved. No. What did I cry? I just want to run again!! Ok, maybe basic functionality would be nice.

I went from doing all the things to none of the things. What was wrong with me??? Several vials of blood later he sent me on my way and we waited for answers.

While waiting for answers I went digging on scientific articles on iron and discovered there are two types of iron: heme and non-heme. Heme (meat sources) has more bioavailability than non-heme (plant) sources. The nutritional recommendation for vegetarians and vegans is 1.8 times that of meat eaters.  I’m not a vegetarian, but I’m not a huge meat eater. Most of my protein comes from plants and cheese. Huh. Maybe I should start taking iron.

Meanwhile, I had an appointment with the acupuncturist. He and I also had a frank conversation about what was going on. He stuck some pins in new places (adrenals) and sent me on my way with a vitamin specifically designed for athletes stating that there was most likely a trace mineral or series of vitamins I dumped from my system. We also scheduled an appointment for him to do some testing on various energy fields for later in the week.

On Monday my bloodwork came back. Thyroid (part of your adrenals) a bit sluggish and SED rate high. SED rates show levels of inflammation in the body. More bloodwork scheduled for Saturday.  Huh, maybe that acupuncturist was onto something….

By Tuesday (day 3) of iron & vitamins I was feeling more clear in my processing. By Thursday I felt sassy enough (plus it was 70*) to try a short run to see what my heart was going to do. It still rocketed up but not nearly as high and I was able to run with it (granted not as fast) at 140. Progress.

Thursday night he did my readings. I didn’t tell him what my blood tests showed. I wanted to see what he was going to find. He laughed because he said that anything that he introduced it would hem and haw until he reintroduced it and then if it didn’t like it it would react strongly. Tolerant until pushed. Huh kind of like the rest of me.

His readings indicated disgruntled thyroid. (Confirmed by bloodwork) Also bacterial infection in sinuses. Lungs had fungus and bacteria. All of which would elevate my SED rate. The most interesting thing was, though, when working the heart he zeroed in on a CoQ10 imbalance. CoQ10 is an enzyme needed for ATP production (turning food into energy). Most folks get enough from their diet oily fish (allergic) and whole grains (allergic). Neither of these things he knew. SO, if I’m not eating oily fish or whole grains it would make complete sense I need CoQ10.

Tomorrow I go back to Doc to have further bloodwork done. We still need to figure out what’s going on.  In the meantime Doc has said if I feel like working out to go for it. I shall call that a GTG!

Weight Loss Update: Maintenance & Muscle

I, as with most women, live by a number on the scale.  My entire life I’ve been trained to focus on the number.  As I’ve made progress down the weight loss journey road Sainted Mary and I have also been monitoring my body fat percentage. Yet, I still focus on the number.  I’m trying to change. Really, I am.

This summer when I was inured and cut off from working out I immediately noticed a huge drop in the scale.  Sainted Mary reminded me that was from my muscles not retaining water from repairing themselves. She was right, the minute I was cleared to start working out again boom up the scale went again.  I know, I know, it’s just water, but I was SO focused on getting to a very specific number.  F&%*^&@

img_20160922_133305When I was out on the #ECSUT course I had a lot of time to think.  What was more important?  Was it the number on the scale?  Or was it the ability to go out and do all of the crazy things that I love to do?  It was out in the mountains of Park City that I realized that I wanted to be the strongest version of myself.  Because, dammit, I like being active with my friends! I like not being the weakest one.  I want to be able to push hard and not break!

When I returned and shared my insights, gained in the mountains, with Sainted Mary and she laughed.  She laughed because she had already been there and was just waiting for me to get there.  “With all of the crazy hiking, running, etc that you love to do you need all the muscle you can get.”  Ah yet another reason why I love Sainted Mary.  Ah the old adage of you can lead a horse to water……smart woman.

We made some changes to my nutritional plan and then we discussed how over the winter I was going to focus on gaining strength in order to make me a better runner.  Then we had to have “the talk”:

“You do realize that as you put muscle on the scale is going to go up, right??”

(sighing) “Yes…..” I begrudgingly acknowledged.

“You also realize that muscle takes up less space than fat does so you will actually be getting smaller, right????”

(sighing and with a twinge of eye rolling) “Yes….”

1411638441200Why was this concept so hard for me to embrace?  Why did she have to keep reminding me of this?  Because, well, numbers are what we women have been trained from birth to go off of.  This is why continuing to work with Sainted Mary is so important.  She reminds me of all of the things that I know, but then I stand on the scale and all hell breaks loose.  This is why we do body fat readings in addition to the number on the scale.  Now instead of focusing on the number on the scale, we are trying to get my body fat numbers down.  I started out in 2015 at 36.4%.  Now I’m at 28.3% and dropping that number a safe clip.  Ok, ok, I’ll admit I still look at the scale.  I do.  I’m trying to change.  I promise.  Change is hard, but change is good.

Absolutely not

I am a good asthmatic.  Most of the time anyway.  I take my meds.  My bed is allergen covered.  I have only 1 room of carpet in my  house (and that’s only because it would echo SO bad if I didn’t.)  I do what I can.  I also try really hard not to let my limitations stop me.  Summer in the mid-Atlantic is awful for me.  Training for #ECSUT has been nearly impossible.

Friday I went and saw Doc and we got to talking about weekend plans.  I happened to casually mention I was going to do two 10k races this weekend.  The response I got was immediate and visceral.

“Absolutely not.  If you want to be healthy for Utah, absolutely positively not.  The air quality is going to be shit and the humidity is going to be worse.  If you want to push your luck and wind up sick less than two weeks before the race you’ve been training over a year for you go right ahead.”

Wow.  OK.  Doc normally gives me a very very long leash.  Apparently my piss poor judgement this spring is coming back to bite me in the butt.  This morning at 6AM when I checked the weather (you know just in case a miracle happened) the humidity was 86%.  Ugh…..Then I checked the American Lung Associations Air Quality app.

 

Yeah it was ugly.  There are times when I am really thankful I’m stubborn.  Then there are times I am thankful that I do listen to ration and reason.  This is one of the latter.

So, instead of running 20k this weekend you can find me at Biker Barre.  Hey, a girl  still has to burn off all of the already allocated calories AND get cardio training in for Utah.  Can it be fall and winter already?  Please?

 

Weight Loss the long and winding road

“Many times I’ve been alone. And many times I’ve cried. Anyway, you’ll never know the many ways I’ve tried But still they lead me back to the long and winding road.”-Paul McCartney & Wings

No offense to Sir Paul who was talking about a lover I find this song to be a battle cry for my weight loss journey.  I realized this morning that it has been nearly two years since I said img_0962enough was enough and I started (on my own) to get my sh!t together.  Sainted Mary has been in my life for 18 months.  When you are in the day to day fight to not put something yummy into the hole under your nose or trying to motivate yourself to go workout when it’s 100+ degrees with 80%+ humidity it’s hard to see the bigger picture.  Until, that is you actually sit back and look at pictures.  The picture on the right was taken in Fall 2013 at my brothers wedding.  That dress has long ago made its way to someone else’s closet.

I wish I could say that after two years everything was easy.  Ha! Um, no.  There is no magic pill.  There are days that I’m literally dragging my inner monologue kicking and screaming into my workout much like a petulant elementary school child who doesn’t want to go to school. BUT I DON’T WANNA GO…..  Then there are days where I’m actually excited and looking forward to my workouts. Ok, if I were to be 100% honest those are my running or cycling days I still haven’t gotten to the point where I say “YAY! CrossFit!!!” (I’m working on it. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know it’s good for me and good for my running.  It’s like vegetables, gotta eat ’em.)

There are days that I forget just how far I’ve come.  Especially when I’m playing with the IMG_9134“big kids”.  See, the “big kids” run faster/further, lift more, etc. I want to be a big kid.  I want to run faster, run further, lift more.  Then, every once in a while, a friend says something poignant that makes me realize that I am playing with the big kids. Recently that came in the form of GardnerGirl saying, “You are a beast.” I certainly don’t feel like a beast, especially when I have friends that are out running 50+ mile races or are competing (and winning) CrossFit competitions.  That’s when I realize that I have these friends.  Three years ago those people did not exist in my life.  Heck, two years ago those people didn’t exist in my life (well, except TheSaraD and that’s because we rode horses together).  These people have become my new role models.   I’m thankful and grateful that these people have allowed me into their inner circle, encourage me, and don’t let me beat myself up when I’m barely keeping up, if I’m keeping up at all.  My inner sloth whimpers.

Most days I don’t realize just how much my body has changed.  I am still me.  I’m still the goofy, snarky, girl that I’ve always been.  Then I do something like turn down a food that I love because I don’t have any of the exchanges for it; put on a size that never in my wildest dreams I’d ever fit into and my head hurts; or I’ll see a picture of myself and I’m stunned.  Who is this person???  I’m still a work in progress, but this long and winding road has led me here.   I still have a few more pounds I want to loose.  I still have a lot of muscle that I’d like to put on.  I still have goals. This long and winding road will be the rest of my life, but I’m very curious to see what’s around the next corner.   Just please don’t be a bear……

 

 

 

 

 

I’m normal!!

I’m normal!!!  Now before you start laughing, I don’t mean in general because Lord knows anyone who signs up for a 50k a couple of days before their 40th birthday isn’t NORMAL.  No, I mean on the BMI chart.  I’M NORMAL!!!!  When I saw Sainted Mary today and we did my calculations I’m at 24.9%.  That squeaks me in the normal range!!!!!!

Ok, ok, granted the BMI chart is not the be all and end all.  Heck, most Registered Dietitians and Doctors will tell you that the BMI chart is bogus as it doesn’t take into account muscle or body composition.  However, that being said, it is (for now) what most doctors use as THE indicator of whether you are below normal, normal, overweight or obese.  This is a HUGE deal in my world.

Ever since I started working with Sainted Mary I have been laser focused on normal.  Maybe it’s because I’m not normal in any other aspect of my life (thank heavens).  Maybe it’s because I had naysayers in my life who never thought I could do it.  For whatever reason it has been my sole focus.  The last couple of visits I have had with Sainted Mary I’ve been ever so close, which as my father says only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. Today, when she ran the numbers her mouth dropped open.  Then she ran the numbers again just to make sure before showing them to me.   Even in my death warmed over state of being sick I managed to eek out a, “wahoo!”  Although, I’m fairly certain had I been at 100% there would have been dancing involved.  I guess I’ll save that for the next visit.

 

 

 

50 First Dates: Weight Loss and Clothes

**Disclaimer; I originally had not listed the actual sizes, but for making of several points I put them in there.  It is not my intention to be prideful, gauche, or vain about my size, but rather make a point.**

This morning started like any other; I got up, took a shower, and attempted to get dressed for work.  This morning I went to grab a dress that a friend gave me out of her closet.  I pulled it off the hanger and saw the size and the manufacturer.

“Hrm, that’s a size 8 in Anne Taylor I don’t know if that will fit me.”

It’s amazing to me that after all of this time and all of the weight loss; my default response still is, “I don’t know if that will fit me.”  That’s the funny thing about weight loss your body may change, but you mind needs time to catch up.

As I slipped the dress over my head and reached over to zip it up I prepared myself for the prospect that it wouldn’t zip.  In my mind the friend that gave me this dress is super skinny and there is no way that it would fit me.  I even said;

“Well, it’s a size 8 in Anne Taylor it wouldn’t surprise me if it didn’t fit.”

As I easily slid the zipper up to the top I was shocked.

“They most likely cut it big.”

It hit me like a ton of bricks my response wasn’t; look at all of the hard work I’ve done, or, look at how amazing this is.  No my first response was they cut it big.  I feel like I’m the Drew Barrymore character 50 First Dates because every day I have the same level of shock and awe when I put on the size clothes that I am putting on.  You’d think that at a year plus into my weight loss journey that I’d be accustomed to it by now.

This is the mind fuck that clothing manufacturers do on women.  There is no standard sizing.  I have in my closet at this point everything from a 6 to a 10.  Granted truthfully some of the 10s are starting to get a bit loose, but still there is no consistency.   This is one of the reasons why as I’ve lost the weight it has become so hard for me to mentally wrap my head around the fact that I actually have shrunk.  It’s not until I see pictures of myself that I truly see the difference.

I know it is going to take time for me to settle into this new body.  Now that I am 4.5 pounds away from my final-not kidding-ultimate-Mary and I both say no more goal number it will finally start to hit me.  I will start to become more confident when I walk into clothing stores and stop going to be “big girl” section first.  Right now, in this moment, I’m still defaulting to the response that I have had for years the expectation that clothes aren’t going to fit me. Maybe one day that will stop, but after years of  that condition response it is going to take time.  In the meantime, I will continue to wake up every morning and be just as amazed and giddy when clothes fit.

 

Everyone has a story: Don’t be an asshat

Something has been stuck in my craw and I need to get it out. Last week, I had the distinctive displeasure of hearing someone say that they dated someone who ran eight half marathons (said with disgust) and how they could have saved themselves a great deal of time and money had they known that because why run eight half marathons when you can run a marathon.   This is someone, hereby known as Negative Norton, that I had respected right up until that point. What kind of asshat cuts down someone like that?  Eight half marathons is a huge amount of effort, training, and dedication.  Hell, ONE is a huge amount of effort, training and dedication.

Negative Norton then went onto say how people who walk marathons get the same medal as the person who ran the marathon; so, don’t be a walker.  While I can comprehend the point they were trying to make (albeit badly) about effort; maybe the person who walked the marathon couldn’t walk a year ago.  Oh, and by the way, Negative Norton, shows what you know, winners get fancy plaques and sometimes checks not just a finishers medal.

Then this week NavyMom posted; “Okay finished my long run…yes roll your eyes you 10 milers my long run is only 5 miles …”  Immediately, a large group of us jumped in to cheer on her effort.  This is someone who until recently has struggled to get one block due to her near crippling nerve pain and she just went 5 miles!   This is an effort that should be celebrated not cut down.

When did it become ok to cut others efforts down? When did it become ok to cut our own efforts down? That person who “just” ran a 5k might have “just” finished chemo.  That person who “just” ran a 10k may have mere months ago “just” weighed 100 pounds more.  You never know what obstacles that person had to overcome in order to conquer that distance.   There are visible challenges, but more often than not they are invisible ones; PTSD, diabetes, anxiety, asthma, etc.

IMG_7116

Still damn proud of it & no one can take that away from me.

While yes, there can be only one prize winner; every single person who crosses that finish line has overcome some challenge at work, at home, and/or within themselves.  That is something that no one can ever take away from you unless you let them.  Don’t be an asshat to anyone else either. Cheer on their efforts because you never know when it will be you struggling to crawl across the finish line.

Snozilla 2016: Dedication or crazy

The line between dedication and crazy is a very thin one.
Friday was a rest day.  Hooray for rest days!  This morning, however, I awoke to nearly 19″ of snow on the ground with it still coming down an inch an hour.  Wha??  I thought I moved south! After spending 30 minutes shoveling out the driveway (because, you know we couldn’t have the snowblower fixed in time) Perry and I came into the house thinking we were done.  An hour later both he and I were pinging off the walls and we both desperately needed to go for a run.  One tiny problem.  While the main road was plowed my road was not. What was a girl to do?

 

Yes, I spent 30 minutes and shoveled nearly 300′ just to get out to the main road.  I truly have gone off the deep end.  Dedicated? Crazy? Meh, a little of both??

IMG_8013After I was done I raced inside to put my running clothes before the wind and snow picked up again.  In feels like 11 degree weather this is what I wound up putting on;

 

 

 
Top Layer:

  1. Bergan’s Baselayer
  2. Under Armour 1/2 Zip
  3. Rehoboth Beach Running Company Tech Long Sleeve
  4. Bergan’s Jacket

Bottom Layer:

  1. Eastern Mountain Sport Base Layer
  2. Under Amour Cold Weather Gear
  3. 2 pairs of socks (1 Fits/1 Balega)

This doesn’t take into account the hat, mittens, and my ColdAvenger, every asthmatic winter best friend.

What I did the other day, which I think is GENIUS, I treated my Lone Peaks with Nikwax waterproofing.    It works like a dream.  I’m still getting the NeoShells (they should be here Monday, fingers crossed).  In the meantime,  I was able to get out (with my gaiters on) and get some running in still managing to keep my feet dry.

I kept it short only 1.75 miles due to the low visibility conditions.  We had to run on the main road and with a few plows and medical personnel out on the road I didn’t want us getting hit.  Although, how you could have missed us in bright pink and orange is beyond me.  We returned to the house.  I took a well deserved Epsom Salt bath and promptly inhaled a Udi’s Pizza.  With the extra 600+ calories I burned today I earned every single bite of that sucker.  Plus I’m confident with the amount of snow coming down I will be earning more calories later today.  Sigh.  When will it be spring??