Saturday, May 1, 2010

Back Among The Living (Well Sorta...)

First of all, thank you all for your support, encouragement, and condolences during this period of horrible sickness and great (relative) sadness in my running life. Admittedly, I didn't know so many people knew or even cared that I was running NJM. Now that I know, it makes me even sadder that I won't be able to at least try to fulfill the expectations that many of you had for me for this goal race. It's an absolute bummer that not only have I failed myself this week, I failed you all as well :( But before I allow this post degrade into a diatribe of self-pity and despair, just know that I'm absolutely positive that the decision to withdraw was absolutely the right one for me (you'll see why in a little bit) and I will be throwing my hat back into the ring a little sooner than some of you may think. All I need is a little bit of time both to recover and to plot my revenge. More on that in a future post.

As for my physical self, I'm happy to report that for the first time yesterday, I was back among the living. I was able to stay out of bed for the whole day, had no fever or chills for 24 hours, and went back to work to take care of the really sick in my normal capacity. Yay for me! This last task for me for key because I actually got to see two new, challenging and interesting patients in my hospital clinic session yesterday. One was a college student with an unusual thyroid mass (a particular interest of mine) that no previous doctor that had seen her knew what it was or what to do with, and the other was a previously "heavy-set" teenager who took up cross-country over the winter, became "sort-a" (her words) vegetarian, lost 25 pounds as well as her periods. I was so fascinated by the running story of the latter patient that I think I might have spent more time talking about that then about the family's primary concern, which is that she hasn't had a period in 9 months! That's okay though, she's coming back to see me again in a couple of weeks with lab results and a ultrasound report. Hopefully by then I'll figure out a good treatment plan for her because my initial instinct to recommend cutting out running and resuming old dietary habits won't sit well with her, her parents or me! There's gotta be a better solution! (Maybe I'll devote a future post to elicit suggestions and comments opinions so you all can be virtual doctors to help improve her care!)

Despite my triumphant return to the workforce, I knew that I couldn't officially consider myself "back among the living" until I was back to where I am personally most comfortable - exploring the park trails next to the lake and the soccer fields and the sunbathers with a sense of swiftness generated by the power of my own two feet. So despite a long day of work and the setting sun fading towards the horizon, I quickly changed after coming home and set off for my first run of the week. (If you didn't catch that last phrase, go ahead and re-read again.)

Yes, it had been five days since my last run. Yes, I expected my body and my legs to be rusty. What I didn't expect though was the body part that would have the most difficulty on this run was MY LUNGS. Seriously, guys and girls. For the first two or three miles, I felt like I couldn't take fast enough or deep enough breaths to sustain anything faster than 8 min/mi pace. I was breathing so hard and running so slowly that I was sweaty and exhausted just trying to calm down my breathing after two miles. I knew I probably suffered a combo of bronchitis/viral pneumonia as a component of my flu-like illness but still, having to take two breaths for every stride felt completely ridiculous to me. I felt sorry for the sunbathers and the soccer players who had the misfortune of watching me curse my body as I labor-breathed around the park. I seriously wanted to quit, go home, climb back into bed and chalk up running as an experiment for the younger kids. Luckily, I remembered my cross-country patient from earlier in the day, you guys and this unfinished business I have with a certain marathon time goal and forced myself to continue running. My breathing eventually got easier, my legs got looser and by the end of my six miler, my average pace for the run resembled a slow recovery pace from months prior instead of a disgrace to my running log. Thank goodness for that.

I am also thankful that my marathon death was declared two days ago because there is no imaginable way for me to ask this zombie of a former marathon body that couldn't even suck up for 6 at a recovery pace to walk much less run for 26.2. And I'm a guy with a pretty wild imagination! Yeah, not gonna happen. That is exactly why I know, even though I've never done it before, the decision to defer this time around was the right one for me. Sometimes you just gotta know when to hold and when to fold, ya know.

Anyway, to all those who are racing NJM (or elsewhere), have fun, be safe, and crush a PR while you're at it for me, won't ya? To everyone else, have an awesome weekend and thanks again for all of your kind words this past week!

This running and blogging community ROCKS! Just sayin'!


Anonymous said...

Glad you're feeling better!

Anonymous said...

glad youre feeling much better! and my lungs always seem to get hit the hardest when i'm coming back from a flu-like illness. i always anticipate my legs because i tend to not eat much when i'm sick but my lungs almost never want to help me out!

and i love it when you mention what you do at work. i totally would be sooo interested to spend a day with you at the hospital. your cases sound so interesting!

I Run for Fun said...

So sorry you will not be running NJM, but glad you are on the road to recovery. Take is easy and hope the rest of the recovery goes smoothly.

matpedw said...

Sorry to hear about your untimely illness. It's always a big fear of mine. Glad you're feeling better.
I now all the fan fare was about the time goal but I took that for granted given your training (yep it's much easier being a fan than the runner in question). I was really looking forward to reading about your take on a two lap marathon. It sounds dreadful to me but I also think it could have some benefits.
Carry on!

Julie said...

Hi Lam,
Cheers for being back among the living:) I hate it when I get sick because not only does it do a number on us physically, it also messes with our emotional well being. Way to hang tough and fight back!

Your patient with pieriod issues is not alone. When ran high school track or was very physically active my period was MIA too. After my track season ended and my activity declined it took about six months for my body to get back to normal. I think this is very common for young female athletes. Hopefully everything will turn out as it should:)

Take care Lam and have a wonderful weekend!

Evolving Through Running said...

Glad to hear that you're feeling better, and have made peace with your difficult decision. I like to think that everything happens for a reason, so perhaps you'll come back even stronger for your next run and crush the time goal. Keep after it!

FreeLunch said...

Like you not a girl, but as a prior poster said, I think it's fairly common for teens to lose their periods while working out a lot. I had a friend that lost hers and she said it was common and the Dr told her not to worry. I didn't take many years of med school, so my opinion is worth about 2 cents!

Maybe on your slower sick day runs you feel like what most of us feel on our good days! Glad to see that you're getting better.

B.o.B. said...

Ok so that "mass" thing doesn't sound so interesting to me, but hey, I'm not a doctor so it just skeeves me out a little. LOL! BTW, you cannot tell that girl to stop running. Pretty please? KThanks.

Soooo glad you are feeling better. Rest up and plot that revenge.

Lauren said...

I think you're making hte right decision. It's so hard to listen to your body but it's soooo important.

Lindsay said...

glad you are feeling better, hope the half is going well ;) and interested to see what full you are doing instead!

kevin f forde said...

as in running as is in life you're going to face adversity,it's how you deal w/ it that defines you.
Looking forward to the Return Of The Running Laminator

J said...

Well i am glad that you are doing better! Hope you still continue to take it easy and recover from that flu!! Good idea to not run the race. Better to save yourself for another race. Also hope you are able to help your runner patient!

Running and living said...

So glad you are better!!! Any plans for a full in the summer?

Jen Feeny said...

Glad you are feeling better my dear and you SO should've posted that zombie pic I made of you back in October! LOL!

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