Thursday, March 24, 2011

Health issues

Not just a class some of us took in high school, this is also a topic very near and dear to my heart.  For the past year and a half, I have been suffering from some chronic and pretty weird lower intestinal issues.  I have seen Eight different doctors to try and figure this thing out, to no avail.  I went gluten-free for about three weeks, which only made my running self hungry and cranky.  Dropped sugar-free gum from my diet; periodically went caffeine-free; could never quite cut out dairy.  At this point, I am fairly certain the problem isn't dietary.

Today I met with a new doctor, a gastroenterologist at the University of Chicago Hospitals.  Her initial thoughts are that my intestinal problems are a manifestation of a severely low number of a certain type of infection-fighting cell in my bloodstream.  My intestinal flora are all awry!  A few years ago I was administered a drug (another story for another time) that targets a certain type of B-cell and destroys it.  While tremendously necessary and exciting for me at the time, this doctor thinks that one of the long-term side effects of this drug is a lowered immune response.  Fewer B-cells floating around in me means fewer immunoglobulins to battle infections and maintain the happy little gut bacteria who keep me regular...  (I'm over bodily functions, so you know.)  So she's doing more tests, checking my blood, trying to figure out what exactly we are looking at and where to go from here.

The point of this is that she mentioned there is a strong possibility I am deficient in some very necessary vitamins and minerals.  If my intestines aren't working properly, then it is likely I haven't been absorbing nutrients well, which is not great news.  I probably should, but I do not take a multivitamin, although I recently started taking a probiotic.  I am curious though: if my blood work shows a significant deficiency in some vital nutrient and I start taking a supplement, will I feel better overall?  Will my mood improve or my general feelings of exhaustion diminish?  Will caffeine no longer be the crutch on which I lean heavily to get me through my mornings?  Will my running be stronger and faster and less injured because, finally, my bones are strong and my blood is healthy?

I don't know.  Perhaps I'll find out.  At the very least, I hope my gut one day stops grumbling at me and returns to its delicate balance of proper digestion.  Come on, good bacteria!

Oh yeah, and my race is in 60 hours.  Woah...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Game: on.

For now...  It is supposed to be around 30 degrees Fahrenheit and sunny in Hamilton, Ontario this coming Sunday.  I can work with that.  My nerves are currently in a hotly contested race with my IT band for my attention.  This past Saturday I went for a 9.5 mile run, and I forgot to wear my IT band band.  I finished the run solidly and without limping, but the band is still sore to the point of notice-ability.  So there's that...

This all being so new to me, I am torn between wanting to run this week and wanting to not run so as to not further aggravate my leg/knee/tendon thang.  Does this sort of thing get easier with experience?  Perhaps I really and truly am not meant to run long distances, but that is not something I can accept yet.  So, on we go to Ontario!  Can't wait.  I also can NOT WAIT until I move to Colorado and can start trail running.  As much fun as trotting all along suburban sidewalks and streets is...  I am anxious to be able to literally run up a mountain.  After acclimatization, naturally.  But that is a post for another day.  Right on.  Running more; thinking less!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

...oh well.

No run, just a lot of chocolate, a lot of reading, and one indie film from 2005.  Oh yeah, and a face full of sinus congestion.  So much sinus congestion....  That whole "not being able to breathe" thing will really do you in.  So I am heading to bed very soon, and hopefully this will all be over shortly.  Hooray late-winter colds! 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

An impulse trip to Whole Foods

A slightly-more-than-casual runner's Whole Foods impulsive purchases on a Wednesday night:

2 lb. tub of beautiful strawberries (ugh, so good)
carton of Horizon organic chocolate milk
Ben and Jerry's Vanilla Caramel Fudge ice cream
small chevre log
2 clif shots (strawberry and mocha)

No idea what this says about me, but I like it, whatever it is.  Can't wait for those strawberries all chopped up in my steel-cut oatmeal tomorrow morning.  If the weather is as warm as the weathermen are promising, I am going to try and do a "long" run tomorrow, something like 9.5 miles.  We'll see.  My 18-miler is in 11 days!  And I've pretty much resigned myself to the mentality that whatever happens on March 27, happens.  At least I signed up for the race; at least I'll be there.  The countdown is on! 

Friday, March 4, 2011


Right now, I am plopped in front of the window in the front room of my house, looking at the yellowed grass and blearily uniform gray sky.  It is close to 50 degrees outside, but it is also terribly damp and weirdly chilly.  Instead of lacing up my new Nikes and pulling on some short running pants or long running shorts (depending), I am nursing four shots of espresso laced with nonfat milk and cinnamon-y sugar.

It is finally the first week of March and I have not blogged as much as I would like, and I have run even less.  My 30 kilometre road race is in 23 days.  Only recently have I accepted that I probably shouldn't have signed up for it, that I do not have the mental fortitude to train through the winter.  I just can. not. get. off. my. ass.  I both am and am not making excuses for being unprepared for this run.  Clearly, mine are lame excuses, but they are also explanations.  It is a fact that I get severely down during the winter.  And this winter, we have had so little sunlight, so few truly beautiful days.  I know and admire and am (truthfully) a little jealous of my friends who remain functional all 12 months of the year.  The key for me, then, is to accept that I am not one of those people and not let myself feel too guilty about it.  It isn't like I stopped running altogether; I just ran less and at later times in the day.  There was no chance of finding me awake and eager to run 12 miles at 6 a.m.  Perhaps it is SADness; maybe it is just the lack of intellectual stimuli in most aspects of my life these past few months.

But it is finally March.  I can actually hear some birds outside right now who had been wintering down south.

And I do still have a race to run in 23 days; I am not going to bail.  I am going to do what I can between now and then, and then I am just going to enjoy myself on March 27.  (Unless it is 35 degrees and raining, then, yes, I will be bailing.)  There are very, very few constants in this world.  People, beliefs, seasons, everything changes.  This time in my life, too, will pass.  This winter, these suburbs, this unmotivated blob I have become...  I am changing everything.

In two months, I am moving to Denver.  No idea what I will do with myself once there, but it is a change.  It is a giant leap into the unknown world of self-reliance and growing up.  I think I am even going to sign up for the Denver Marathon (October 9...!) because I want to keep growing, and I need to have established goals.  May 1: move.  October 9: run.  In between: Live Fully.  (and if anyone knows of any job openings in and/or around Denver, please let me know!  Hooray!)  Plus it will give me something fun to blog about.

So.  Running.  Thinking.  Making it happen.