So, how’s it going?

This is more a self-directed question than anything else, mostly to set me up to answer it. But, if you feel like telling me, I’d like to know how you’re doing, too.

Since my last post, I’ve:

– watched the Nationals beat the Phillies, 8-5, in a comeback win fueled by Jayson Werth’s 1,000th career hit;

– ran a good chunk of the Mount Vernon Trail near D.C., which was awesome because I got to watch planes take off from National Airport for a decent part of the run [Warning: gross thing coming up];

– tied my shoe too tight on that run and gave myself a zombie toe (wherein blood collects under the toenail; Google it if you really want to see what one looks like); I let it go for a week, couldn’t take the pressure any more, drained it, breathed a huge sigh of relief, and was pretty irritated when it flooded with fluid all over again the next day – so now, I just have a zombie toe full of dried blood that does not hurt but looks nasty;

– ran 15 miles in the rain one cool Sunday and – much to my surprise – really enjoyed it;

– went to the Central Virginia Craft Brewers’ Festival and tried several delicious beers, not that I can remember any of their names now (oops), but let me tell you, this part of the state makes some damn fine libations;

– in that vein, happily welcomed a new brewpub to town that I hope will continue to make delicious offerings, if their first go-round is any indication;

– began YET ANOTHER school year, in which I apparently will not have time to blog, but that’s okay – being busy with dissertation stuff is good;

– played a couple of rounds of golf / had some practice at the driving range, in which my shots were not terribly awful and in some cases even traveling straight and/or in the air;

– visited my family for Labor Day weekend, which was hot but full of beer and dancing and grilled meats and boat-time;

– aaaaaand last but not least [screech] [thump] caught a really nasty cold that has temporarily thwarted my MCM training.

I’m in that meaty part of marathon training composed of heavy-mile weeks, and this past weekend I peaked at 44 – which is the largest amount of miles I’ve ever run in one week in my entire life – and it’s interesting this go-round, because I remember how hard it was last year, when I was writing about this more often as I went through it for the first time. I don’t really feel the need to document all of that this time, because not much about it has changed. It’s still hard; there are still mornings when I want to give up and fling myself down on the concrete and take a nap [but I don’t because it’s 4am and I will probably get hit by a car], and there are nights when I wish I could go hang out with friends [but I can’t because I have to be in bed by 9pm], and there are aches and pains and sorenesses that won’t go away unless I just flat-out stop [which I won’t because, deep down, I love doing this]. But, it’s much easier to manage this time, because I’ve been through it before and I have a better idea of what to expect, and a better idea of how to recover and protect myself properly.

I also feel more confident about being able to finish this marathon faster. My pace runs have all been hovering right around the 10:00/mile mark, which is right where I want to be, though I’m not sure I can hold that pace over 22 or so miles. (My m.o. for any race longer than a 5k is to start out slow, excruciatingly slow, and then ramp up to race-pace and, with any luck, have enough left to hit negative splits in the second half.) It’s easy to hold for 8 miles, but 22? I don’t know. I feel like a better and stronger runner this time through, and I feel more mentally prepared and much less freaked out about the whole process, which I know will help me on race morning.

But this cold. This cold! I missed a workout for the first time ever in any of my training this morning, and I had to actively tell myself that it was and is okay for me to miss one stupid 5-mile run and gym session because missing one day is not going to completely derail my entire 18 weeks of training. It’s funny, given how much I tweaked last year’s marathon plan I was not nearly as freaked out about all of that messing around with the schedule as I was about missing this one stupid run. I think it’s because I’m a better and smarter runner now that I think, well, if I stick to the plan that’s been working for me, I’ll have a great race! Thing is, precisely because I’m better and smarter, I also am more willing to listen to my body when it tells me no no no please don’t today. And this morning was the first time that it said that, and I said, I will listen to you, because I know that it is you and not my trickstery brain trying to tell me I’m lazy or unwilling to do this. [Trust me,  I know the difference; that moment when the alarm goes off at 2:45am and my legs try to tell my hands hit snooze! We’re tired!, my hands, being closer to my brain, know that my legs are trying to usurp my brainpower and make me be lazy, so the hands win – the alarm goes OFF, out of bed I go.] What did it for me – and I’d suspected last night that this was going to be the case – was that this cold has moved down into my chest, and I now have the lovely death-rattle of crap skeeballing around in my lungs before it gets expectorated. I had nose- and sinuses-only symptoms starting Friday morning and going through Sunday evening, so I did my 8- and 18-mile runs on the weekend as normal, and I felt fine, even a little better because the running cleared a good deal of the congestion out. But when I finished Sunday’s run, I felt a tightness in my chest that I knew spelled trouble, and sure enough, Monday morning I woke up and knew what was coming. I did a shortened and very not-intense cross-training session Monday morning, and was prepared to back off and run just an easy, slow 5-miler this morning, but when I crawled into bed at 8:30 last night and set my alarm for 3am, I had a sneaking suspicion I was going to say nope! and turn back over for 2 more hours of sleep before work.

That’s exactly what I did, and it feels weird to have done so, but I plan to just pick up where I left off anyway, and do an easy 5-miler tomorrow morning, provided I feel better. This is a ramp-down week anyway, where I was only scheduled for 36 miles, so minus today’s run, I’ll still make 31 for the week, which is not bad. [Next week I get my first 20-miler of the schedule, which will be wheeee so much fun!]

But I just want this crap out of me and gone already. Not least because I’m going to a bacon and beer festival on Saturday and I REALLY want to be able to enjoy myself as much as possible. 😛

So, that’s how things are going here. How about on your end?

In which I am annoyed. (Warning: poop talk ahead.)

But wait: yes, I am five (5) (V) days out from my first marathon and am entirely too cognizant of this. Yes, my last long run on Saturday proved to me that I am beyond ready to run this thing. Yes, it’s weird mapping out dinky (to me) 2- and 3-mile runs for this week. Yes, I am nuts for running in shorts in 35-degree weather this morning, but my legs are still forgetting that they’re really actually okay with this. Yes, I am sure that I am going to go insane – and drive all 5 of my readers insane – with the lack of running I will be doing this week. And yes, I am grateful that I have a lot of work to do this week to help keep the craziness a little at bay. I’ll probably address all of that later on in the week, but for now, you get a post-Halloween treat!

Yup, this is one of those NSFW posts I keep promising you, so if reading about other people’s rear ends and their troubles makes you squirm, get out now.

Okay, so if you keep reading you can’t complain about gross things any more.

Really.

Okay! So I know that in the grand scheme of Things That Are Bad in People’s Lives, this currently is astronomically low compared to what People Who Are Not Me are going through. But that doesn’t mean I’m still not irked by it. I’m irked enough to broadcast it on the Internet, if that tells you anything. My apologies if you stumble on this during your dinnertime; I think I put this off for most of the day because subconsciously I knew that fewer people would be reading at this time of day, at least on the East Coast of the U.S. where I am and where I think most of my readers are. But then I think: we have an Election tomorrow, so more people might be Internetting? I don’t know. Anyway, if you’re in the U.S. and you just read that, GO VOTE TOMORROW MORNING. Or I’ll poop on you.

Ahem. Anyway, I went to my butt doctor last week, as alluded to in my last post, and she gave me a different medicine to try, as I also alluded to in my last post. In case you don’t hang on my every word (tsk), I was nervous about switching to this medicine because it’s the oral version of the first butt medicine I started taking after my UC diagnosis last December. I don’t know why I stuck with those suppositories for so long, because they ended up being awful: my anus itched constantly, and only ever stopped when I cleaned it out with soap and water, so basically, it stopped itching once a day, for the merciful period in which I was showering. As soon as the next poop came, boom! Back came the itch. And I was pooping pretty much every time I used the toilet, and it was no longer the round, solid, dark toilet bombs I was used to flinging into the bowl. No no, this was much less formed and almost… orange, like I’d eaten nothing but carrots for weeks. Because it was soft and less formed, it started requiring much more TP usage to get myself clean, and even then I’d never feel like I got everything, which led to digging around, which over enough time led to irritation to the point of inflammation, and then an hour later I’d fart and think hmmm, was that a fart or a poop? and often have no way to immediately get to a bathroom to find out. And then I’d start thinking I’d just crapped myself, and with no way to fix it would just have to walk around smelling like poop for a while, the thought of which was superbly embarrassing, because sometimes I’d be doing things like teaching or meeting with students or driving people to work. Oh, and the gas? Mortifying. Silent farts became impossible. The constant stream of soft, orangey, stinky, reluctant-to-leave poo was frustrating as all hell, and within a month or six or maybe even ten or twelve weeks, I called my doctor and said, “We have to try something else because my ass is dying”.

So, she put me on a cortisone butt foam, which is a steroid and intended for short-term use. I’m not sure how short short-term really is, but the medicine she’d first had me on *is* intended to be for long-term use, so the hope was that I could try the steroids for a bit and then try the oral – pill – version of the original suppository. Within three days, the butt foam was working miracles. The first thing to go was the itching anus, and everything else followed suit within a couple of weeks. Christmas! I could fart and be confident that it was, indeed, made of air and air alone. I’ll spare you other details, but suffice it to say that it was a huge improvement.

Alas, all good things must come to an end, so I was very, very gradually – over the course of seven, eight, nine months? – tapered off the butt steroids with an eye towards getting me on oral medication. That day finally came last week – Thursday to be precise, the day after my appointment with my butt doctor – and she told me I could keep the foam for maintenance purposes, and use it “as needed”, in her words; to my understanding, only if symptoms get so unbearable that I need a temporary solution until I can get in touch with her. I asked her if it was really such a good idea to be switching medicines so close to my marathon – runners have a long, storied, and not always pleasant relationship with poop, which both of us openly discussed – and she said I would be fine. I believed her, and on Thursday morning started the medicine.

Well.

Here it is, Monday evening, and I have to actively resist the urge to spend the rest of the evening sitting in my bathroom scratching my ass. It itches so damn much. Everything that happened with the suppositories is happening again, and I’m pissed about it. (there’s a joke there somewhere…) Now that I’ve compared the dosages, the four I take every morning are giving me four times as much drug as the one suppository I was taking last year. They’re extended-release, which I guess is maybe why I continuously poop soft and orange all day, and why the gas and the uh-oh-what-are-these-really farts keep going, and why the itching will. Not. Stop., except when I’m just out of the shower. Thankfully, the two runs I’ve had since I started taking the pills – on Saturday, and this morning – have passed without incident, but when I am in the middle of running 26.2 miles I want to be thinking about anything other than wow, my ass itches SO MUCH right now, can someone please kill me? Okay, that’s a bit dramatic, but this is *exactly* why I was hesitant to start taking a medicine this week that has proven troublesome to me in the past. Maybe my doctor thought the pill form would be less awful? I don’t know.

So I’m torn between sending her a message saying “guess what, my old friend Anal Itching is back again with a vengeance, and he brought ALL OF HIS FRIENDS to the party”, and waiting a couple of days to see if things even out, so that I’ll have been on the medicine a week before saying anything. Maybe this just needs time to iron out the kinks? But I thought that last time, too, and suffered for no reason for like three months. There have to be other oral medicines out there I can use, right? But also, man, I spent 130 fucking dollars on this bottle of pills, and I still have sitting in my closet the mostly-full box of un-used suppositories from last year that I kept “just in case” the butt foam didn’t work, and I spent a pretty penny on those, too, and I would be doubly pissed if I end up having to just throw the pills – and all of that money – away and spend another $130 to try something else (my insurance has a really nice $100 deductible whenever you start a new medicine, and when you renew your insurance every year. It’s shitty, yeah, but what can you do? If I don’t have insurance, I get kicked out of school – it’s required for all students here!).

Errrrrgh. Arrrrrgh. Insert pirate noise here – it just sucks, and it’s frustrating, and it’s not a distraction I need this week. Or next week, really, when I start taking my major graduate exams that sort of determine whether or not I get a PhD (but no big deal, right?). ARRRRRRGH.

Okay, I feel better now, at least in my brain. My ass… well, that’s a different story.

Sorry. But you were warned. 🙂