Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Just Breathe

After a miserable race at St. Anthony's Triathlon a few weekends ago that I would just like to put behind me (although, I am happy to report that I dropped more than 4 minutes off my swim time from that race 2 years ago!), May 1 arrived and it was time to hold up the bargain I made with myself, and start my runstreak. I was a little afraid, a little hesitant, and honestly dreading the idea of running 31 days in a row.

It was an ugly race for me, but at least I got this really cool (although really heavy) stained glass finisher medal

Before I was able to hit the pavement for my first run of the month, though, I had to visit the doctor. I've talked about how difficult running and training have been for me for the past several months. Mostly, my lung capacity has felt compromised when running (also a little with swimming and cycling), as if there is a cork in my windpipe keeping me from taking in enough air when I try to run faster than a jog. After doing a little research on my own, I began to think I had developed exercise-induced asthma. But I also worried that there were other issues afoot, thanks to my nearly-constant physical fatigue.

I visited an Internist, a nice enough woman who seemed to agree with my self-diagnosis, and prescribed me an Albuterol inhaler and some allergy medication. Four vials of blood were sucked out of me, and a complete blood work-up was ordered.

My first run after using my inhaler was nothing short of miraculous. Though my endurance is in a seriously pitiful place, I was able to run AND breathe simultaneously. I did not have to stop and bend over in order to attempt to suck in as much air as I could, and I did not feel even the slightest bit of panic due to the feeling of being strangled. It was as if I had been renewed. I felt like a runner again! I don't love using the inhaler, I hate being on medication, but I feel like it is helping me, and I am grateful for having a set of lungs filled with air again!

So back to the runstreak. It is now May 7, and I have run 7 days in a row! I am running 1.5 - 2.75 miles per day. I know the distance isn't there - YET - but I am already beginning to feel as if I could run farther at the end of each run. It is hot and humid outside, but now that I can breathe again, I feel like I have power and I feel my speed gradually beginning to return. This weekend, I plan to run a 4-miler, then next weekend, a 5-miler, then the next weekend, a 6-miler, and I plan to cap the month off with a 7-miler. Surprisingly, my legs feel strong each day. I suppose that is because I am not doing any real distance each day, but the continuity and the steadiness of my pace is hopefully allowing my legs to ease back into some real strength (and some of my thigh cheese to melt away). Incredibly, right now, I don't hate running. I am, however, frustrated with the feeling that I am starting over again completely.

My lab results came back yesterday, and my thyroid tested in the hyper range. I had feared that I had hypothyroidism, like my father, so this was a weird twist. Side effects of hyperthyroidism include shortness of breath (check!), restless sleep (bingo!), itchy & dry skin (bullseye!), moodiness & depression (BOOM), among a few others. I go back in 4 weeks to have my thyroid tested again, and we go from there. But to now know that there is a concrete reason for feeling like I have been falling apart for the past year or so is a such a huge relief.

One week down, three to go in my runstreak, and there's no real finish line in sight. My goals now are more humble, more like baby steps than giant leaps. I know that it will all come back to me, in due time.

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