Update

Day 142

I am on medication and my body is still very weak. Most symptoms are starting to go away. I knees are weak. Sometimes it is hard to go up the stairs. The inflammation of my back is gone now. I am no longer sore anywhere on my body. My sore throat has gone away. My jaw hinge is no longer hurting. All kind of weird stuff that was happening before are gone. One of my ear is still block from time to time. My balance is off.

One thing though I am still very weak. I get out of breath easily and my heart too races too frequently. It is getting better.

I tried to do some hiking today even though my friend protested against it. It was supposed to be a 9 mile loop at the Little Devil Stair. It is not an easy hike but not a too hard a hike either (rated one of the most difficult in our area) but runners run on this trail. I did it couple times before. To me it was easy. You climb it like stairs. Imagine it is a 100 stories building, like the empire state building.

The trail started off gently for a mile and then shoot straight up for a thousand foot climb. Something like that. I did the first mile fine. I was strong. Then came the climb. I think I got to 3/4 of the way up when I became very weak all the sudden. I was out of breath and breathing hard. My heart was racing. We took a stop for me to rest up. I got my breathing under control and calmed my heart. Then we continue on. We didn’t get more than 20 steps, my vision started to go blury. My hearing too. I was disassociating all things around me. It was like I am floating. I could hardly focus. I couldn’t hear what my friend was saying. Everything was muffled. Something about I should sit down.

I sat down. Luckily that stopped me from fainting. I felt I was on the verge of tumbling over. I told myself I got to hold on else it will freak my friend out. She was very worried about me already.

She asked if I wanted to turn around. That choice never occur to me. I knew we were almost to the top yet, the last quarter mile seemed impossible for me to go on. I felt if I took another 20 steps the same thing might happened again.

I told the group I can manage to get down the mountain by myself, but they were worried. So the whole group walked with me back down the ravine. I was grateful but embarrassed.

I made it down and back to the car. I never imagined I can be this weak. I felt I can do it. Yet, when my body run out of energy it just shuts down and it was very scary. When I am not moving I felt I have enormous amount of energy and I can take on anything. However, once I started to move, my energy quickly used up.

I then waited at the car as some of them tackled the trail again. They did the shorter version (5 miles) and ran down the last 3 miles. I wasn’t sad. Just a bit disappointed at my body is unable to keep up.

Result came

Day 141

I haven’t written much because I have been laying low due to health.

Dr called and confirmed I have Lyme Disease. It explained everything that happened to me the past month. I wanted to run but the fatigue, the irregular heartbeat, the shortness of breath, and the general unwellness made me unable to run much.

Eating well boosted my performance just a bit for a time. I felt a bit better last week. I felt I could run. I ran last Tuesday and was a bit faster running at 10 min pace instead of 13 or 14. I was hoping that was the beginning of my recovery.

I am happy now. No more doubting what was wrong with me or if it was all imaginary. It is real. I can do something about it. Not just random stuff like eat well sleep well kind of shot in the dark thing. I was willing to try anything at the time, because being not able to run drive me nuts.

Hopefully in couple of weeks I will be back in shape. Next week is my July marathon. I won’t be ready for that. I am hoping August Marathon, will be my full strength. Then comes Sept and Oct.

4th of July weekend

Day 140

Good news. I ran today. It felt good. It was a slow run and I couldn’t get my heart rate above 110 beats. I ran for 4 miles, actually 3 mile and walked for 1. This was my long run for the week! But I’m very happy because I wasn’t out of breath!

My body is really weak. I am still happy to run because for last three weeks, it has been on a downward fall. I was wondering when I would reach the bottom. I actually couldn’t run at all. And today I felt I could finally find a pace and keep it. It felt great.

I felt now this what I can work with. I can rebuild and I will take it step by step. I will need to work up my mileage all over again. It is like I have a three year set back. It is hard to believe in three weeks time it got me down to like I haven’t ever run before. I still have five months to prepare for the 50 mile race. So it is not too late.

I have a bunch of marathons in between and the few of those will probably be scratched (meaning I will run very slow or not finish). The one in couple weeks, my target time will probably be 6 or 6.5 hrs. I will have to see what the cut off is. It might really be a scratched for me (DNF – did not finish).

Reread

Day 139

I reread a blog post I wrote a few days back about why I run. At that time I thought my running career would go on indefinitely. I was young and there doesn’t seem to be why I couldn’t run except for lack of interest. Now looking back I spoke too soon.

I don’t think I am being taught a lesson. But immediately after that I started to struggle with my run and everything. It is like a switch is turned off.

I did many things since. Too much to recount them here.

Last weekend I had to take a break from running. A 5K was only thing I did. A consolation for me was it could have been worse. At least I finished. I don’t mind when people were passing me because at least I know I have done my best. Run used to be effortless for me. I just tapped on the pavement and I would glide across. Big steps and fast steps and I hardly breathing. Now I am huffing and puffing. It doesn’t matter if I take a big step or small step or if I run in fast cadence or slow cadence, I just don’t go any where. My lung feels like exploding and my heart really twists violently inside and a few times I put my hand across my chest to feel if it is alright. People were calling out to me, asking if I am Ok. Luckily at the 3 mile mark, I had a burst of energy. I felt a little bit like my old self and ran to the finish line. It wasn’t super fast but the feeling was the same. It was like I could fly again.

I have been fasting every Monday for the past month immediately after I got the news that I have high cholesterol. I was determine to lower it. A total life change. I went from eating burgers every day to eating none of those food. I still eat out but choosing Panera or Chipotle instead and usually having a salad or a wrap. So that I cut 15-20% of my calories. No fat or sugar either. Instead of Coke I now have vitamin water.

The result is my run now is 25-33% slower. I can’t get any slower than that. Any slower would be walking. I can walk in a 5K but I can’t walk the whole thing in a marathon. I wouldn’t able to finish within the given time. Walking through a marathon takes about 10 hours and most races stop around 6.5 or 7 hours. I used to do it little over 4. And I thought I was slow because others were doing it in 3 hours. Everything is relative.

I wish it is the other way around. If I improve on what I eat and my run would improve 25-33%. Why food matters? On the weekend I went for a bike ride. Originally I planned to ride on a trail that is 45 miles long from the city to way out in the suburb and back making it a 90 miles ride. This was before I experienced being very weak. It is actually biking to another city in the outskirt of the DC area. By middle of the week, I realized I probably wouldn’t make it out and back, so shorten the ride in half, a 45-50 miles ride instead. I did this distance a few times before. But on the day of, once I got on the bike, I knew I wouldn’t make it at even this distance either and cut it down to 30 miles. My friend was biking with me. He biked slow but he had to stopped and waited for me a few times. The first 15 miles was a struggle. I just couldn’t keep up. We got to Leesburg by lunch time, and we met up with a friend for lunch. I had a whole 14 inch pizza. It was one of a few times I broke my diet. Actually 2nd time since I started eating right. The result was, on the ride back, my friend was getting tired but I was full of energy. I felt I could pass him if I want. We ended up biking back faster than when we headed out. I was so happy. Food really helps. It was an insight.

If I continue on my vegetarian-like diet, I am thinking of taking vitamin supplements. That is a start my friend told me.

Maybe that is my current limit

Day 138

I always want to know what is my current limit. Now I feel like a boat out of the water. I really love running but as much as I tried this past week I couldn’t get anywhere.

I, in the past, laughed at older runners who swing their arms vigorously while their feet do not seem to be going anywhere. Now that is me. I am willing to do anything to propel me forward even if it means swing my arms 10 times faster than my legs are moving. My body just wouldn’t budge. Now I believe my nonrunning friends who often told me they just couldn’t run. Now I couldn’t run even if I want to. I could jog and that about it.

If it is really exhaustion or if it is due to my improper diet, I can make adjustment and in no time I will be back in my old self. Otherwise, it might be a long wait and I might have to hang up my running shoes.

I have been reading a lot on why I am feeling anemic.

I have a few reasons of my own. #1 reason was I just recovered from an illness. It was not serious but it lasted couple weeks and it affected my body. Apparently I am not a super hero and don’t have an indestructible body. I am human and with all its frailty. I completed couple marathons since but results were not good.

#2 All my running friends have been telling me I have been running too much. Surprising given we are runners and there is nothing about running too much in our vocabulary. I didn’t know this myself. I have been feeling fine all the time (except for being sick, but that only happened at night) unlike my previous recovery from a long run, this time around I did not feel much pain or tired. On paper though I did a lot. I already did three official marathons in three months. I have seven more to go. I have done many off the record runs.

A week before my ultra, the same week I was sick, I went on a 27 mile hike. It was a tough hike. I got blisters on both bottom of my heels. Then I had my ultra the following week, it was 28-29 miles and it took me 7 hours. I ran for about four hours at top/maximum heart rate. And couple hours just a step below the maximum. I didn’t think I exerted too much of effort because I felt I walked most of the time and averaging only at 3 miles an hour.

Then the week after that, I went out again and did a 27-28 miles run/hike on my own and it took me 10.5 hours. I ran for maybe an hour at maximum heart rate. My Garmin listed it as a 5 (top) red zone for aerobic, which would require lot of time for recovery. I didn’t know at the time. I felt I could go out again and do another run.

Since then, I did a half marathon, in which I had the worst finishing time in my life, at 2:30. Still it was a run. It was about 25% slower than my usual pace. Garmin listed that event a grade 3 aerobic.

Throughout last week, I couldn’t really run. Thursday practice was the hardest. Garmin listed it as a grade 1 aerobic, which is not much. However, I felt that run was harder than doing the marathon. I had a 5K today too and also received my worst time. About 25% slower. For the first time I did not finish under 30 minutes.

#3 I didn’t think of was the food I eat, but I changed my diet about couple weeks ago eating way less meat and more salad, no fat or sugar, trying to lower my cholesterol. I might be missing some vitamins. One that I could think of is vitamin B12 which only comes from eating meat. B12 affects one’s energy level, since it is needed for making blood.

My friend K has been onto me the whole weekend, like isn’t it obvious that I am not eating and I have been doing all these crazy runs. Wouldn’t my body break down? Nope it wasn’t obvious to me until she said it. Now I felt kind of foolish.

She said I got to eat. I got to eat the right things.

#4. I was leaning toward the 4th reason that I might have picked up a bad bug from my recent hiking trips or running in the woods. There is a tick that spread a kind of sickness that causes the spleen to rupture and destroys red blood cells. It is like malaria. Unfortunately, or fortunately it is quite rare. Like only 50 cases in 10 years. The area where the ticks reside is in the northeast of US. I am in the mid-atlantic, too far south.

I plan though to still get my blood tested again to rule out any parasitic infection. I did have fever and rashes. So there signs that I got something. It might not be the usual flu.

Lastly, I need to sleep earlier, to make blood.

Exhausted

Day 137

People are saying I am exhausted. I don’t feel tired but I can’t no longer run fast.

I have been trying to do couple of short runs, just under four miles but they have been very hard.

I would be out of breath after couple minutes and I never was able to get into my pace. I run slower than the slowest person in our running group. It is almost to the point of walking. It is not like I am not trying.

I felt my heart was up on my throat. Garmin thought differently. It said I haven’t broken a sweat. My heart rate stayed in zone 1 (resting) below 90 with on occasion entered zone 2, 93-120 beats, but I felt like dying at the time.

I am taking this Saturday off training.

I also measured my blood pressure. It is low but I am not sure if that is normal. They say runners tend to have low pulse and pressure. Mine is 90 over 65 and a pulse of 50-55.

Recovery

Day 136

The ultra marathon took a toll on my body. I haven’t recovered from it. At least I am no longer sick. I think fever left for good last Thursday. I could go out and ‘run’ 27 over the weekend and did a Half marathon on Sunday. It was not so much running but walking. My 27 mile run took me 10 hours to finish. My half was a bit better, only 2.5 hours.

I had a lot to say about the weekend. It was my first camping trip on my own. An important lesson is know where you are going. Before I set out, I thought I knew the place and all the turns but reality is I was only vaguely familiar and it was not good enough to give myself turn by turn from memory and of course I got lost. I had to make one U turn after another and back track. In the past, my friend who led me made it seemed so easy. It was not. I got off trail a few times without even knowing. Luckily, in the end, I found my trail and got to my destination.

I had some weird encounter with couple other people who showed up at my camp. They didn’t stay but they disturbed me for couple hours.

As for Half, it was hard. My body hasn’t recovered. I started with a slow pace of 10 min mile. And I thought I was consistent but my Garmin app showed that I slowed to 13 min mile pace by second half. I kind of knew too when everyone was passing me.

It wasn’t my legs won’t run but that I don’t have the breath to run.

I tried doing some running (4 miles) on Tuesday. I finished but it was very hard. I was running as slow as it can get.

This weekend, I decided to take time off from running, instead, I will be biking. I hope a change up will help my body to recover.