MCM 2013: The post-mortem!

I’ve always thought that using the term “post-mortem” with a reflection of an event is kind of odd, since in the literal sense I am very much still alive (woohoo!) and the event isn’t strictly a living thing in and of itself. But it kind of makes sense, I guess, if you think of it in terms of having enough perspective on the event to be able to objectively analyze it. That, and the event is now history, something to be remembered rather than anticipated.

So, this may not be the most interesting post to people who aren’t me, but maybe you’ll find something of use in it if you happen to be reading. Also, I put pictures at the end, so if you get bored, you can scroll down to those for a good laugh.

For my recovery this time, I took five whole days off of running and any other physical activity that was not scaling stairs or shuffling after a bus I was about to miss. On days one and two, I felt sure that this was a good decision. On day three, I still felt that it was a good decision, but I could feel the soreness in my legs and joints going away for good, and I started to get that itch again. On day four, personal-life-things took an acute turn for the not-so-good and I was really regretting my stubborn decision to not go for a run even though I was very stressed out and craving like mad the endorphins from exercise. My legs were not sore, so I was itching quite badly to run, but I told myself “no”. Day five was 3x worse than day four, but I had a light at the end of the tunnel: on day four I’d set up a day-six morning run with the friend I’m pacing through her first half, so I knew I’d be getting out and chasing endorphins by the next morning. One of these years I’m going to make it a full seven days between “marathon” and “run again”, but this is not that year.

The run itself was a warm and cloudy 9.5-mile jaunt in about 1:40, which is about right for my long runs, so at least it looks like friend and I have about the same pace, which is good. I think she started out too fast, though, since by the end she had slowed down a lot and was not feeling happy. I’m trying to think of ways I can subtly steer her towards a slower start that don’t involve taking off from the start line at a half-jog, so if anyone has any suggestions (and no, loading her pockets with rocks is not going to work) I’m all ears. My own legs hurt a little by the end, but it felt fantastic to run again, both for the sheer motion and the endorphins. I’d told myself to stick to 8-9 miles, and accidentally overshot to 9.5, but I felt like I could have gone for at least another three or four.

On Sunday, I’d planned to run an easy-easy recovery 5 miles, but then I realized that I had not slept in and failed to run and been lazy and given Saint the pleasure of my company on a Sunday morning since… um… early June. Fuck that, I said, and rolled right back over and ignored the alarm. I have no regrets. πŸ™‚

I was back at the gym this morning for some cross-training, and tomorrow I’ll ease back into the running-weights-Tuesday-Thursday and running-Wednesday and rest-Friday routine. Saturday morning I’ll go for an early, easy 11.5, and then Sunday I’ll aim for an easy-recovery 4.5ish.

Okay then! With that out of the way, commence the 2013 MCM post-mortem, which I have labeled “NOTES TO SELF”.

– I had zero, none, zip, zilch! stomach issues throughout the race at all; not even any feeling of having to poo, which was odd (but very much welcome!). This could have been due to a lack of water consumption on my part, but I did eat my usual pre-race cereal and finish it 2 hours before the race began (instead of finishing 45 minutes to an hour before running), so maybe my stomach had time to process it properly? One hour before the race began I ate a snacky bar, and all was well. I also sipped on water before the start, which turned out to be ok, so it’s good to know I can do those things again if I need to.

– Being on my feet as much as I was the day before the race (waiting in line at the packet pickup/expo for an hour and change, spending a lot of time walking to and from Metro stations and my hotel and places nearby) might MAYBE have fatigued my legs somewhat. My next marathon takes place the day after the local 10-miler WHICH I SWEAR I WILL RUN ONE OF THESE YEARS DAMMIT, so I plan to volunteer at the race for the second year in a row. However, I know now to look into volunteer opportunities that involve a lot of sitting down. πŸ˜› I was at a water stop last year, but that was a good 3-4 hours on my feet, so that’s a no-go, which sucks since it’s a lot of fun.

– 3/1 long runs (run the first 3/4 slow and gradually speed up over the last 1/4 of the distance) should probably be written down on my training calendar so that I actually adhere to them at 3-week intervals. I think I started doing them early on in my training, and then by week 9 or 10 they sort of fell by the wayside, That may have contributed to my lack of strong finish.

– Running by feel is a good thing. I may honestly never wear a watch when I run ever again. I’m used to it now, so I can’t imagine going back. (Yes, this means you have to return the Garmin you got me for Christmas. Awww!)

– So far, day 3 after the marathon was the one on which I was the least sore, but having said that, future self: TAKE TIME TO STRETCH RIGHT AFTER THE RACE IS OVER, DAMMIT. Getting good sleep (at least 7 hours/night) and eating well (lots of extra protein) also worked well for me.

– Day 4 was when I got the itch to run again. I am telling my future self to ignore it. Wait until day 6. I REPEAT: WAIT UNTIL DAY 6.

– IMPORTANT: Try a two-week taper next time. Three might have been a BIT much. Maybe do a 22-miler 2 weeks out, and go from there?

– Not lifting weights the week before the race was a good idea. Do that again next time.

– It’s still okay to drink a beer or two the day/night before the race, but maybe no more than two. The beer lunch was a lot of fun, but it might not have been exactly the best idea.

Okay then! Post-mortem done. Pictures you want, pictures you get.

Because I am too cheap to buy anything from MarathonFoto before they reduce the prices heavily, here’s a link to the page that has my pictures:

http://www.marathonfoto.com/Marathon/Marine-Corps-Marathon-2013/LastName/THOMPSON/BibNumber/25907/offering/myMarathonfotos/RaceOID/13692013F1/Language/en?utm_source=SilverpopMailing&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=6%20More%20Photos%20ID%20ENG-SPA%20%285%29

Last but not least, here are the pictures Saint took, in chronological order!

I somehow COMPLETELY missed this guy’s sign, which makes me sad because that’s a reference to one of my favorite movies (“Better Off Dead”, if you’ve never seen it BUT YOU SHOULD):

SAMSUNG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I saw a sign similar to this one at mile 7, and I had to actively avoid focusing on it as I passed it in case my bowels understood what was going on:

SAMSUNG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saint found this guy’s outfit amusing. Also that he stopped to stretch in that spot:

SAMSUNG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hey look, it’s me! Right around the mile 17 marker, and feeling great for it being that late in the race. You can see my grandfather’s pin on my left side (though it’s on the right, here):

SAMSUNG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Around the corner, this is me making my confused “why are you running after me to take pictures?” face (the scaffolding on the Washington Monument behind me is coming down this week, btw):

SAMSUNG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, one last shot before we parted ways to meet at the finish:

SAMSUNG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That one would have come out pretty well if not for that silly sign blocking half of my torso. πŸ˜›

That’s that, then! Happy Monday to you. πŸ™‚

 

 

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YAY more health and marathon stuff. (But: I think I figured out the weirdness!)

Health stuff first. If this makes you squicky, skip ahead to the Marathon stuff below. (this is when I miss Livejournal and its cut-tags!)

Right. so: at last post in, um, June I was on inhalers after an “all-clear” signal from the cardiologist. I gave them two weeks, and they didn’t seem to be helping; I had a couple of panic attacks that they definitely didn’t help, so I called my PCP I guess about two weeks ago from this Wednesday (July 10, if you’re counting) and said “hey, these aren’t doing anything, so what next?” He steered me towards a pulmonary specialist to make sure it wasn’t a lung issue, and then he said “at the same time, you may want to consult psychological services (called CAPS here at school) to see if they can’t refer to you someone to help you manage the physical symptoms that I think are pointing towards panic disorder”. So, I did those two things; the pulmonary folks got me in for July 15, and CAPS – well, CAPS works a little differently because they do a screening phone call to help figure out where they should best send you. I’ve had some not-so-great experiences with CAPS in the past, both for me and with other people (as in, hearing about their experiences), so I was not entirely looking forward to the process. But, at the same time, these panic attacks had been starting to interfere with my daily activities – and especially running! – in a way that made me say “okay, it’s time to do something about this already because I cannot handle this on my own anymore”.

CAPS dude called me on July 11, and instantly he was fantastic. He asked good questions, and seemed genuinely interested in my situation, and at one point actually said to me “I am going to follow up with you – and I want you to follow up with me – every week, because I’m going to be with you until we get a solution to this problem”. This was huge, because no one at CAPS has ever said anything like that to me, and it was such a relief to know that – even though my issues aren’t life-threatening or even really that big of a thing – this guy had my back. He gave me one referral, and I called her and set up an appointment with her for last Thursday (July 18, again, if you’re counting).

Fast-forward to July 15. I went to the pulmonary folks, and we did a bunch of tests to see if I had asthma, all of which I passed – as in, no asthma, completely clear lungs, no clots or fluid or weirdness or anything. The doctor did suggest that it could be vocal cord dysfunction, in which the cords don’t fold or unfold properly during inhalation or exhalation and can cause blockage of the airflow into the trachea and lungs. Since I’ve been having trouble inhaling, she thought it would be more this than asthma, especially since I came out of the tests asthma-clear, and the inhalers didn’t do anything (they’re more for lungs than throat). But, we left it at that, and I told her I was going to pursue other possible leads in my quest to figure this all out.

Before my July 18 appointment with the licensed professional counselor (LPC), I – somewhat at Saint’s insistence – returned to the idea that all of this could very well have been caused by the birth-control switch. I had an IUD put in at the beginning of May, before our trip to London; specifically, it was the Mirena IUD, which had a long list of side effects and, I noted while reading and asking around for others’ experiences, was one of the most hotly divided between “love it/hate it” among those who’ve had it put in. The first couple of days after the insertion, I felt meh, but not awful, and within a week or two I felt more normal. Then London, then the weirdness. Saint kept saying that the timing was just right – three weeks after insertion – for it to have been something about the IUD that was the root cause of all this. I didn’t discount that theory, but I wanted to rule out everything else first. Now that I’d done that, well, there I was.

One side effect that isn’t anywhere in the mound of literature that comes with a Mirena insertion is “panic attacks”. A quick Google search will lead you to an apparent army of women who never had a single panic attack in their lives who started having them after getting Mirena put in. You know that feeling when something so blatantly obvious finally goes click in your brain and you wonder why you didn’t realize it sooner? That was what it felt like, reading about all of these women who were completely derailed by this device. Another thing I didn’t realize about Mirena is that it is partly made of silicone; I’ve recently – as in the past month – had a very bad reaction to something else containing silicone, so I’m wondering if there isn’t some silicone allergy I never I knew I had that would be causing my weirdness. In any event, every instinct in my body was telling me “get this thing out of you, so I decided to sleep on it and see if I still felt the same way the next day (which was July 18).

I did, so I went to see the LCP and told her immediately that I wanted to rule out the possibility of the IUD/silicone allergy being responsible for my panicky everythings, and she agreed, and we had a very nice hour together talking about ways for me to cope with weirdness for the time being. I told her that if it did turn out to not be the IUD or silicone allergy, that I’d prefer the mental coaching / cognitive therapy approach first, and then short-term medication second, if that didn’t work. I’m in no way saying that I attach a stigma to being on something like Xanax – which is what she said would be prescribed – and I can hear my sister saying “You voluntarily turned down Xanax? Are you nuts?!”, but because my other sister is a somewhat-functioning prescription drug addict, I’m quite leery of being on prescribed medication if it’s not absolutely necessary. (I get irritated enough at having to take 4 horse pills per day for my ulcerative colitis, and I won’t even take ibuprofen for a headache unless I can’t see straight. I may also be slightly overreacting to the idea of taking medicine, yes, but we’ll save that for another day.) I’ve even taken SSRIs before – Lexapro – with good results, and I know plenty of people for whom SSRIs and similar types of medicines have worked. I just want to emphasize that I don’t know if these medicines are right for me at the given moment, is all.

Anyway, LCP and I had a really lovely time together and I felt bad that we might possibly not see each other after the 18th – I told her I’d get back in touch with her at the beginning of August – and as soon as I left I called the folks who’d put in my IUD to talk about getting it taken out. Things escalated rather quickly, and I found myself with an appointment the next morning (this is Friday, the 19th)Β  to get it taken out after I told my doctor there what had been going on.

So, that happened, and just like that! it was out. I got a prescription to go back on the Pill, and went on my merry way. Now, I should explain here that the gynecologist I saw in January for my annual exam noted that the Pill and ulcerative colitis patients tend not to mix, because the danger of blood clots caused by the pill is elevated with UC. But, my UC has been pretty darn well held in check for a while, and I’m – at my GI doctor’s word – a rather low-risk patient at the moment, and managing well. I also never had a single panic attack when on the pill, and never had any other issues with it. It was working fine for me, so why not go back on it? I talked to both the doctor who put in and removed the IUD and the gynecologist about this – specifically, whether or not I should try a copper IUD (no hormones, just a copper device) or an implant, or just go back on the Pill – and we collectively agreed that the Pill was still the best option. I’m a bit gunshy about getting another IUD put in me, and the implant is something I’m still considering – though, my thinking is that if I’m going to get a form of birth control that lasts 10 years, why not just get my tubes tied? (I’ve known I don’t want kids since I was 12. No, I am not ever going to change my mind. Yes, I have met The One, and he doesn’t want kids either. So, hush. :)) So, the Pill it is again, and we’re back where we started.

So, where am I now with the weirdness? I feel like I need to wait a few weeks to be sure that I can conclusively say that it was, in fact, the IUD that was the cause of all of this. I’m also going to try as best I can to eliminate the source of the silicone that may have also been the culprit. I also have the vocal cord dysfunction in the back of my mind, so I’m not entirely prepared to rule that out as a possibility either. In the short term, however, I can say that – and I hope it’s not the placebo effect – I feel rather better already. I’ve gone on two runs since Friday, and cross-trained at the gym today, and didn’t get the dizziness or numbness in my hands and feet at any point during or after exercise. I did have some shortness of breath, though a good deal of that can be attributed to a) going uphill b) the fact that I was doing a pace run on Saturday and AUGH I HATE THOSE because I always feel like I’m going to puke but that’s how I know I’m hitting my pace and c) the fact that we’re still dealing with dew points above 70F at 6am when I run in 75-degree weather, which makes it really hard to breathe normally. My heart rate has been much better about going down and – more importantly – staying down when I’m done running or working out, and it’s not racing when I wake up in the morning or am sitting still. So, I will keep my fingers crossed for the next couple of weeks, and be vigilant about monitoring symptoms and whatnot.

BTW, I feel like I should just print out a copy of all that and hand it to my dissertation advisor and say “This. THIS is why I haven’t gotten any work done in the last two weeks!” It’s been frustrating and time-consuming, for sure, but I feel like there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and I’ll soon be able to put it all behind me.

Okay, health stuff done! On to Marathon stuff.

So, yes: I’ve finished week 4 of training, and am on to week 5. I like this part of the plan because it’s when I start hitting 30-mile weeks and can justify an extra snack or beer or two or three in my diet πŸ™‚ Plus, I really enjoy the double-digit long runs; not to say that 9 miles is nothing to shake a stick at, but it’s a mental thing – simply because it’s double digits, 10 or 11 miles feel so much cooler thanΒ  9 miles. When I do a 9-mile cutback long run two Sundays from yesterday – at the end of week 6 – that will be my last single-digit long run of training. After that, shit gets real. Woohoo!

This weekend I had a 6-mile pace run on Saturday and an 11-mile slooooow long run on Sunday. I’d done a 5-mile pace run last weekend in much cooler and less humid temperatures on a much flatter route (I was in Saint’s city), so I was a bit worried and irritated at the idea of doing a 6-mile pace run in warmer and much more humid temperatures and on a rather more hilly route in my own town. I even thought for a hot second about taking indoors to a treadmill, but then I remembered how much I absolutely hated every second of every pace run I ever did on a treadmill last year while training for my first marathon (plus, it’s too easy to bitch out and start slowing down on a treadmill). I also got mad at the humidity and decided that I was not going to let it take over my life like that. Armed with an abundance of caution – I was ready to take the necessary measures to slow down and cool off only if absolutely necessary – I set out early Saturday morning to get going.

Happily, it was overcast, so at least there wasn’t going to be any sun for my run. It was still grossly humid, so that by the time I was done I was completely covered in sweat (yes, even in those places). My time wasn’t as fast as I’d wanted – I was able to hit a 9:12/mile pace last weekend in the cool/flat run, and here I managed about a 10:10/mile pace – but, all things considered like hills and humidity, I was pleased. I was tired, sweaty, hot, but happy, and knew I’d set myself up well to have a nice slow long run the next day.

Sunday (hey, yesterday!) dawned with rather a lot more sun than Saturday, which I thought unfair because I had to run nearly twice as long and thus be outside for nearly twice as long. Happily, I accidentally mostly picked roads in the shade, and the first hour of my run was completely shaded because the sun hadn’t completely risen and I ran about 3 miles in a park down by a river 2 miles away. So, that was pretty awesome. I did hit some sun later, but it wasn’t too bad, and was never bearing down on me for more than .2/mile at a time. (No, I did not put on sunscreen or wear a visor. Why do you ask? :))

I did two things differently with this run than I normally would, and that was: 1) stop for water twice; 2) take 2 gels with me to consume. I’m at the point where I could probably slowly run a half-marathon without either water or food; I can do 9-10 miles without and still maintain a reasonable pace, but since it’s summer and I hemorrhage water and electrolytes like it’s my job, I decided to be smarter about replenishing stores during instead of afterwards. I also have an idea that I might need to take in more food-fuel during the actual marathon, because I’m not sure I ate enough last year. So, I’m going to start eating and drinking more on my long runs to get my body used to this idea. It worked like a charm on Sunday; I timed my consumption well, and I’d already been feeling pretty good prior to said consumptions. (Heh, that sounds like I had a really good experience with a medieval disease… not quite!) By the end, I was having to hold back a bit, because I was tempted to sprint the last half-mile home on my tired-but-feeling-gooood legs. I resisted, though I did accelerate somewhat ridiculously through the traffic light intersection closest to my house because I really just wanted to not have to wait to go the last 0.1 mile to get home. I actually laughed after that and thought, where the hell did that come from? And I was smiling like a good a couple of minutes later when I slowed down and ended my run. My average pace ended up being an embarrassingly slow 11:47/mile pace, but whatever – that’s what these long runs are for, to teach me to run long on tired legs. On fresh legs, that would have been at least 90 seconds faster; in less humid conditions, at least 2 minutes faster. So I like where I am now, but I know I have room for improvement, and plenty of time in which to get it done.

Long story short, MCM training is going well and I am pleased with my higher mileage and excited for the summer heat to eventually cool off and make things a bit less temperaturely-excruciating.

And hey! Bonus Food stuff.

I don’t have nearly as much to say here, but I had some absolutely amazing barbecue on Saturday from a local hole-in-the-wall that I am still thinking about and drooling over, and I also made some pretty awesome banana pudding (yes, the kind with Nilla wafers and whipped cream) on Saturday that I have tried very hard to not completely consume before today. I don’t think it’ll see Wednesday, but we’ll see. I swapped out Greek yogurt for the whipped cream and you can’t tell the difference, which is great, because it somewhat curbs my guilt at consuming all that sugar in one go.

Non-food stuff, but still fun.

I hiked to a swimming hole with some friends yesterday (sure, why not an easy 4-mile hike to jump-start the long run recovery?) and it was hot and humid and gross and then we got in the water which was deliciously cold and then it started clouding over and THEN we got torrentially thunderstormed upon as we were hurriedly packing up to leave. Normally I’d be irritated at getting completely soaked for a second time in one day (first time was after my run, yum!), but when you’re already swimming-hole wet, it just doesn’t matter. I did have to lay out my wallet, its contents, and my spare clothes to dry them out afterwards, but there was delicious beer and a hot shower afterwards so it was all good. A well-spent summer Sunday if ever I saw one, I say.

Thus ends the stuff! Carry on, friends, and be well.

 

A quick update on health stuff. Oh, and MCM training!

– because, you know, my many readers are wondering what happened at the cardiologist. I know, the wait was killing you! Here is your answer:

I got an echocardiogram (after having a normal EKG). It was *awesome* because I got to hear and see all of the ways my heart moves blood around and it was all sorts of colorful and squishy-sounding. A few pokes in the ribs, sure, but otherwise it was one of the neatest things I’ve ever had done to me in a doctor’s office. It turned out completely normal, save some very very minor regurgitation (I think that’s the word the cardiologist used) that isn’t supposed to be a Thing. So, I asked: what next? Off to see a primary care physician, to try a more general approach.

To sum quickly, what I’ve been dealing with is a month-plus of panicky feelings – near panic-attacks, but never having an actual one – plus difficulty breathing, dizziness, tingling in extremities, tightness in the chest, shortness of breath, pain in lower legs, thumping-heartbeat feelings, elevated heart rate, aaand I think that was it. Blood clots in legs and lungs were ruled out, heart issue was ruled out, anxiety is still on the table as a possibility (but why? I’m not anxious about anything, really; could be hormones from switching birth control…), but PCP said hey, maybe it’s something in your lungs, which sound clear but let’s try inhalers to see if we can’t open up your breathing passageways. (Going up a flight of stairs puts me very much out of breath, and I run 20ish miles a week. Laying in bed makes breathing difficult too, regardless of how I am positioned.)

So, that’s where we are now: albuterol before exercise and every 4-6 hours, and fluticasone every twelve hours. I’m learning quickly that albuterol – known for causing the jitters – is not combining well with caffeine, so I need to watch that combination. I feel like I’m slowly turning into my mother, who used inhalers for most of my childhood and may still do so, for all I know. πŸ˜› Β We’ll see how this goes for about two weeks, and then re-assess as necessary.

Anyway, yeah. This week is/was week one of MCM training. 24 miles, 11 of which I’ve already done – 5 tomorrow, 8 on Sunday – and I’m feeling okay about this. I wasn’t so jazzed a couple of weeks ago, but I feel better now. My runs have gone slightly better since then, and I have a feeling this training will be harder than the training for my first one, not just because of the breathing issues but also because it’s a more advanced plan. That’s intentional, because I’ve realized that running more miles in training = faster time on race day, and I want to break *ahem* 4:30 in this race, and I think I can do it.

One week down (mostly), 17 to go…

And with that, I’m off to teach and then off to South Carolina for the weekend. Woo!

I went to London. I ran. I came back from London…

…and I’ve run, but I have a somewhat tenuous relationship with running right now because something weird is going on with my body. (This is nothing that anyone should freak out about, btw. But you know when something just isn’t right? That’s what this is.)

London was great. It was beyond great; it was all of the superlatives you can ever assign to a vacation, and I intend to write about it at great length eventually. Running in London was great, too, and when I got back I had some nice runs before things went weird. That was a little over two weeks ago; I’m seeing two doctors this week (one was pre-scheduled for a follow-up, but the other is a cardiologist), so I hope I can get to the bottom of whatever is going on, because I want things to not be weird. This morning was the first time in a while I’ve felt close to ‘normal’ during a run – like I always do – but I haven’t really had a run lately where I felt strong or good or good-tired during or afterwards. It’s all been blergh or bad or bad-tired or ‘my legs can’t hold me up any more’. I don’t know. I broke my daily running streak on June 1 – this was the one that had been going on since November 21 – and took off June 2 as well, and have run no more than 3 miles at a time since then. I could maybe go further, but I ran an 8-miler two weeks ago and felt like absolute crap.

I may just be exhausted or fatigued or overtrained. I don’t know. I’m supposed to start training for the Marine Corps Marathon at the end of this month, and I want to feel normal again by then, but I’m afraid I won’t, and that irritates me because I was just trying to build a base before training begins so I can run more miles during training and finish stronger and faster. I was running 30-35mile/week weeks without any issues; these first two weeks of June, I’ll be lucky to hit 16mile/week weeks.

Blergh. This sucks. I’m sure I’ll have more to write after I see the doctors, but for now, I’m just wondering what the hell is going on. Didn’t Tom Petty sing a song about the waiting being the hardest part…?

What, does my ass read the Internet or something? Also: 48 HOURS. WTF.

Okay, so hand to God, not twelve hours after my last post outlining in excruciating detail my medicine issues of the past week, everything I’d written about as being wrong (which I will not recap here, but you’re free to scroll down and read for yourself but maybe not if you’re eating anything right at this minute) suddenly went POOF. Vanished. Gone. Solved! What the hell? It’s like my rear end is suddenly part of some vast customer service conspiracy: Nothing positive gets done until you complain about it on the Internet.

So, yeah, I’m glad I held off on writing to my doctor, because (knock wood) I seem to be back to normal in the digestive area of things. This is good news, because OH HEY I have a marathon coming up in OH CRAP less than 48 hours. WHAT THE FUHHHHhhhhh.

I have to give a million thanks to my running/blogging pal Alyssa over at NJ Runner Girl (http://www.njrunnergirl.com/) for her shout-out to me – while you’re over at her page, show her home state some love (as your way of thanking her too for her support) and make a donation or two or four to some of the relief efforts still going on. There’s still a lot of work to be done there, and no donation is too small! (Might I suggest the texting donations through the Red Cross and the American Humane Society? Text REDCROSS to 90999 and HUMANE to 80888 to make a $10 donation, as many times as you want)

But, um. Yeah. I’m on day two of my two consecutive rest days this week, and today I’m starting to get that when-can-I-run-again? twitch. I can run again tomorrow morning, when I will do a two-mile blowout run, and then after that it’s time to wait. There are a ton of cliches about this period in a marathoner’s journey to the race: The hay is in the barn, the gas is in the tank, the beer is in the keg – wait, hang on… Point being, I’m ready for this, and have been really for about two weeks, but now I’m in that weird headspace where all I can do is just count down the hours until the gun goes off. AAAAHHHHHhhhhh. I expect things will get exponentially worse tomorrow evening when I pick up my race packet and have a bib with a number and my name on it and the words Richmond Marathon and suddenly it’s t-minus 12 hours and HOLY CRAP I’m getting tingly just thinking about it.

Okay. Enough taper craziness for today – no, for now. I can’t guarantee this won’t keep happening for the next, um, 47 hours and 22 minutes… not that I’m keeping track, ’cause I’m not.

AAAHHHHH! πŸ™‚

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. πŸ™‚

Probably my shortest post ever!

Not much to do with running here. Well, maybe: my visit with my doctor yesterday was quite fruitful. I’m finally moving onto oral medication, but I’m a bit nervous about the timing since it’s the oral version of something that as a topical medicine bothered me very much and was generally quite disruptive. That I’m starting it a week and change out from a marathon isn’t… pleasing exactly, but my doctor thinks I’ll handle it just fine. I hope she’s right! πŸ™‚

And this is a bit of a throwaway thought, but why does my doctor have to have the most unfair knack of working with hot internists? I can’t quite get over how difficult it is to talk about my poop with a straight face with a very, very, very good-looking guy. It’s really hard to not be embarrassed when you hear the words “my stool is usually bla bla bla but now it’s bla bla bla” (and that’s the very toned-down version) coming out of your mouth but all you’re thinking is “wow, you have got AMAZING eyes. and hands. and that smile!….”

Ahem. Anyway… nothing else to see here. πŸ™‚