Beating the heat.

The heat index is over 100 today in my neck of the woods, so it is the time to start talking about safely training in the heat. Many people, understandably, will resort to treadmill, indoor track, or indoor crosstraining like swimming or rowing… But those stubborn folks who continue to run and ride outside need to take special precautions. Running early in the morning or late at night might help a little, but it is still pretty miserable (and dangerous) then.

There are lots of graphics that talk about how much to slow the pace based on temperature and heat index, so I won’t even go into that. Instead, I will talk about a few ways that I try to train as safely as possible. Since I have autoimmune, I really have to be careful and listen to my body. My heating and cooling systems are just not as efficient. Also, if I am in the sun for any length of time, I get horrible itchy sun blisters. (Lupus is just the gift that keeps on giving).

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First, we all know hydration is key. For track workouts, we fill a giant insulated jug with ice and water, and try to keep it in a shady spot. (Bowie has evening track practices twice a week – so I am sure to make sure he always has water available). For runs and rides, I fill up all my insulated bottles as well as my hydration vest. (Shameless pitch for Orange Mud here because they are just the best!)

If you will have an extended workout, you might consider something a bit more than just plain water. I like to use Nuun Hydration tabs. One bottle of Nuun, another bottle of cold water, and I am good to go. (They even make a new “performance” product that can be used for nutrition /fuel.)

Next, apply sunscreen before you even go outside, and be vigilant about re-applying once you are on the go. Make sure you apply under the edges of your clothes. (I recently reminded myself of this after I got a super-bad burn from where my shorts slid up while sitting in a lawn chair. I had a 4” bright red band around my thighs were supposed to be.) Be sure to hit the backs of your ears and back of your neck! There are a billion sunscreens out there, and everyone has a favorite… but as someone with lupus, I need one with Zinc.
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For clothes, I like light, breezy layers. I like to feel like my skin is breathing and the sweat is being wicked away from me. Wrestling my way out of a tight, sweaty top isn’t much fun. Right now, I am liking Rabbit Race-her Back and Bunny Hop tops with Hopper and Catch Me If You Can shorts.
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(I just joined their running team, but I am not selling anything! I swear!) And like, all the Body Glide I can possibly apply on my thighs and armpits to fend off sweaty-chafing issues.

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I do like to wear a visor to keep my hair out of my face and sun out of my eyes. (I find a hat holds in the heat too much). I really like my Orange Mud visor. I just received a BOCO visor, so I will give some feedback on that once I have a chance to test it out.
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I am sort of hit and miss on wearing sunglasses. My prescription sunglasses broke, but I do have several pairs of regular sunglasses. Sometimes I have issues with glasses pinching behind my ears, so I end up stuffing them down the front of my sports bra. (Which makes for really gross glasses when I am back in my car!) I actually just received a pair of polarized sunglasses from XX2i. I will be taking them for a test “run” this weekend , but so far, for everyday use, I really like them (now that I am getting used the the “polarized” lenses). Review on that coming once I have really had a chance to train in them.

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Finally… a sort of girly topic. Hair. I have long hair, so I am always trying to keep my hair off my neck and out of my face. Putting hair in a ponytail all the time can cause breakage. (If you only put it up for training, you might be OK). I have been working on managing my hair without the ponytail pulling. Lately I have been twisting my hair up into a bun and securing it in place with a couple bobby pins. (And it actually stays put!) If I am feeling fancy, I even braid a little section before pulling it up. If I am feeling frisky, two little baby buns are kind of fun. I have done braids a few times, and that is actually easier to fit a visor or hat over. Just throwing that out there since my hair becomes a nasty curly rats nest if I don’t keep it under control in humid weather!

Notice: I am an ambassador for Nuun, Rabbit, and Orange Mud but I was not provided any free products or paid for my opinion. All opinions are my own!

When your new miracle medicine sucks.

I disappeared for awhile. I hemmed and hawed about what to write about. My training plan came crashing down. I put my coach on hiatus. I have spent the last month trying to muster up the energy to get out of bed.

I started a new medication last month that I was oh-so-hopeful that it would magically make me “ME” again. But in actuality, I spent the first couple weeks throwing up and surviving entirely on dry gluten-free toast and Sprite. I have been able to start tolerating bland foods lately, so I am hoping good stuff is on the way. I did lose some weight – but definitely not in a positive manner.

My new medicine is an injection that I do every morning in my abdomen. It is supposed to fix my insulin resistance. I am not the expert by any means, but I can say I do not have Type 2 diabetes, but insulin resistance related to my autoimmune issues. Maybe I can go off the injections someday? I hope. The autoimmune stuff is all inter-related with my Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, low ferritin, low Vitamin D, leaky gut, wheat allergy… It goes on. And it isn’t an awesome list. But I am doing my best to be a trooper and manage the obstacles as they come.

Back when I was hopeful that my racing form would return, I registered for a few races. The next race on my calendar is Hospital Hill Half. I entered the Re-Run option for a 5K Friday night and a half on Saturday morning. So, yeah. Obviously that isn’t going to happen. I am bummed because I love this course, and have PR’d on it before. My plan is to run the 5K, and if my body allows, I will drop to the 10K and be happy that I ran at all. Autoimmune is a bitch.

Given that I have not ran or rode in a month, I want to start easing my way back in a plan. A low-key plan. A simple “if I don’t feel like doing my workout tonight, no big deal” plan. I am thinking 3 milers and a slightly longer run over the weekend. Mix in some biking as well. Some swimming if I am feeling like getting crazy. I have some triathlons penciled in, and I am hoping this whole phase passes. (Can you call two years of hell a phase?)

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On the upside, my little Bowie is really shining with his running. He took some time off for cyclocross and soccer, but he is back at it now. He had a great run at the Pi Day Half, where we dropped to the 5K due to weather. A couple weeks ago, he came in 5th male in the Skyline Shuffle 5K, and a PR. Last week, he beat that PR at a hot evening run called Ad Astra Summer 5K Series. (He finished 25 out of 100) runners).

Not too shabby without any training. I want to give Bowie the best shot at his goal race this fall, so I plan to get Bowie working with a kids track team this summer. When he is not a sprinter, I think track workouts will be beneficial to him.

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Bowie at Bunker Hill, Clinton Lake – Lawrence, KS

He can put in his big miles with the Trail Hawks group runs, at least until mama is back at it. (Please be soon! I miss long runs! I miss speed! I miss the burning lungs!)

 

Smelly skunky and cups of sugar.

When I got home yesterday, I felt OK. Normally, I am always super tired and if I even sit down for a moment, I will fall asleep and wake up a couple hours later wondering what the heck happened. It is always a struggle to convince myself to get dressed and head out for a run, and if I wait until after dinner, it is super late and I won’t get it done. So, because I felt pretty good, I decided to seize the opportunity and get a run in when I could.

I wanted to try something different, since I always run in Lawrence or on the Prairie Spirit trail, so I decided on the Flint Hills Trail. What I didn’t think about was that by the time I got there, it would be dark… and Flint Hills Trail is kind of scary after dark. The wildlife tends to be bigger and the timber is much deeper… not to mention the creepy Jason house where I am sure he is sharpening his machete and waiting for runners stupid enough to run at night.

I picked up the trail where in Ottawa. (I think pretty much where it joins with Prairie Spirit). Right away I noticed that it felt nice and cool – perfect running temp. I mean. I am running in February at night in shorts and a t-shirt. That is crazy! (I am Team Spring / Fall, by the way. I will gladly avoid crazy heat and cold if I can.)

Also, I need to mention how bad my allergies have been. I think because we didn’t have a horribly cold winter, all the bugs and such didn’t die off, so we are all already pulling ticks off. And the pollen has been really bad. I have had a miserable runny nose, sore throat and sinus pain the last few days. I neglected to take a wristband, so I had to keep wiping my nose on my shirt, which is kind of gross, and makes for a sore nose.

I trudged along and heard the usual rustlings in the timber so I cranked the music a little louder. Those are spooky sounds when you are solo! Eventually I came upon a skunk. Now, opossums and rabbits I will run right up on. Skunks, I yield the right of way. I want no part of that action, obviously. Once he cleared the trail, I was back in business.

After 3 miles, I was getting pretty thirsty, but I met up with my crew (aka person I could sucker into dropping me off at the trail and picking me up at the end) and chugged some water. It would have been easy to jump in the car and not do the last mile, but I told myself that I would be really angry at myself if I didn’t suck it up and get it done.

I headed out for my last mile and immediately could smell someone was burning their field. My allergies kicked into overdrive but I kept on chugging. By the time I finished, my eyes were watering so badly from all the smoke and particles in the air.

I think it is time for me to go and see an allergist because OTC medicine isn’t cutting it. I have tried them all and nothing is working. I haven’t ever been to an allergist but I think it might be time to start allergy shots. (I don’t know anyone who has had shots before and I don’t know what to expect with the tests or shots!)

Speaking of medicine… I started a new medicine for my insulin resistance. So far, I haven’t noticed any changes or adverse reactions. That’s actually a relief since the most commonly reported side effect is tummy distress. And I am really adverse to pooping my pants. Just saying.

In addition, I am supposed to be doing high protein meals. Apparently, I am not very good at this. Yesterday, I ate a ton of cheese, yogurt, and eggs. When I logged everything into My Fitness Pal, it yelled at me that I ate too much sugar. Apparently my yogurt is just a container full of sugar and carbs. Sigh. I will switch to Greek yogurt and see if that works a little better.

I got my running buddy back.

It has been a minute since we last talked, right? I have been sick with a nasty cold for 2 weeks. (Just in time for Christmas!) and for 4 weeks before that, I had a horrible cough. I jutst can’t catch a break!

So since we last talked, Bowie did cyclocross races nearly every weekend. (I am totally jealous and cannot wait for my body to do the things I want it to do). He had a really great newbie season and I am so proud of him for launching right into the sport. He got egg beater pedals during the week, and was racing with them by the weekend. (I remember being so afraid of falling down when I got mine!)

Now that futsal and cyclocross are over, Bowie can run with me again. YAY! And to celebrate this, I sign the family up for a trail race! Well… almost everyone. 4 out of 7 like to run. Or let me talk them into running. Bowie and I will be running the half, and Tatum (5) and my husband, Steven, will be running the 5K. While the trail is not technical, it is usually a bit heavy. Yet, I have no worries that my children will completely kick our asses. For real. Bowie is going to drop me like a bad habit, and Tatum is going to turn on the turbos and leave Steven in the dust.

Before I got sick, I was so fast and paced Bowie for everything. Now, not so much. Soon…. Soon…

I did see a new doctor at the end of November, and early December my labs came back. Long story short, here is what I know…

I am allergic to wheat. Not just gluten, but all of wheat. It caused inflammation and a leaky gut. My tummy is a brewing sludgehole of crap. Like a tauntuan. This is making me unable to absorb the iron I am taking (so my iron level is high but my ferritin is low), and my body can’t convert my thyroid hormones properly, and my Vitamin D is low. It has also made me insulin resistant. All these things suck. I am now wheat-free and on some groovy new supplements to help with the rest. It has been a month and I don’t really feel different, but I am trying to be patient.

Anyway… It is cold in Kansas and I have been using my bike trainer a lot. (I got a new one! It is a TACX Vortex smart trainer!) But I have gotten out a few times in the cold to brave the elements. I took my dog, August (Auggie), out for a snowy trail run last night and he did great! I, however, found the snow to be hard work since I am still getting over this cold/cough stuff. Poor Atlas was super jealous when we left. (He knows when I am going running and always runs to the front door.) But Atlas cut his foot on Friday night and had to get 2 staples at the vet on Saturday morning… so he won’t be able to run for a bit. It is nice that he wanted to run because that tells me he really does like it, and that maybe his foot is feeling better. Crazy dogs.

Anyway… Glad to have you back, friends. I will try to stop being sick and disappearing.

A new window opens.

I have an appointment with a new doctor on Monday. With each appointment I have an initial wave of enthusiasm. I have hope that THIS WILL BE THE DAY. This will be the appointment that some Dr. House-like doctor looks at my chart and says, “Take this pill every day and you will be running again in a week.”

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But that hasn’t happened. Thus why after my initial wave of enthusiasm, I have a flood of trepidation. This ain’t my first rodeo. I know I will have to explain my last year and a half, all the lab results, all the medicine. And after that, if they don’t think I am a hypochondriac who just needs anti-depressants, I can go down my list of questions and things I want to explore.

Sigh.

But the bright side is, the appointment on Monday is with a family doctor who also specializes in sports medicine. Yes, such a mythical unicorn of a doctor exists! (I found him after much Googling, after being prompted by a doctor on Twitter with what sort of a doctor might be helpful.) This dude is a runner! And obstacle course racer! And sees not just regular people, but crazy runners like me! OMG! Someone who might get it! Yes Yes YESSSSSS! (but… but… but… trying not to get too hopeful because they let-down is just soul crushing).

So. My mission is to:

  • Talk about tweaking my thyroid meds the last little bit, to go from “in range” to “optimal.” Which I suspect would be a slight increase in my current med, plus adding on a small dose of T3, which I tolerated well in the past.
  • I want to get my ferritin level from in the toilet up to decent, and eventually to optimal. This will, I guess, just be continuing my prescription iron supplement. (But I would love to hear if infusion is a kickstart?)
  • I want to get my Vitamin B checked because the rheumatologist said that could be causing my sun sensitivity. And going in the sun for me just sucks right now.
  • I want to get my Vitamin D checked because I read that deficiency in that is common and also causes fatigue.
  • And I am totally open for discussion on anything else that could be causing my entire body to be on super-slow-mo.

So. Again, I am hopeful. I am eyeing my calendar, as I always do. And I mentally start thinking… I have a half in October. That gives me nearly 2 months to start feeling better. Maybe I won’t have to DNS. And maybe my metabolism will wake up so I will lose some weight and not feel like a wildebeest in my race pictures.

But I do this every couple months. I start plotting out my future with high hopes, great expectations and every other cliché sentiment. I think that I will be ME again, if only, if only…

For real though. I think this next doctor is my best shot yet of getting back on track. Which will put me back on the (oval) track. Get it? See what I did there?

Tips for being a fit family

I get a lot of questions about Bowie’s running, and how I keep my kids fit, in general. I thought I would answer some of the questions I get.

Bowie’s Running
Bowie’s “competitive” career in 2013 when he was 6. After the Boston Marathon bombing, we did a BostonStrong awareness run (organized by Pavement Runner). I printed off bibs and asked my sons to run 2.62 miles around the Baker U campus with me. The thing is, Bowie did it without stopping. We didn’t know he could run like that. I thought Bowie might like to try something with a medal at the end, so I signed him for the the Kids Mile at the Double Road Race. And he won! He received his medal from Olympian Billy Mills — so cool.

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Bowie (right) with Billy Mills

From there, I started signing Bowie up for 5Ks. He did that for a year or so. And then he took some time off from running to play soccer. He ran trail with me upon occasion, but didn’t do any racing for a good year.

Bowie got the running bug again recently. I took him on a couple trail runs with me as well as some group runs with the Lawrence Trail Hawks. He was easily passing me up and I decided to sign him up for a trail 5K to see how he would do. He did well at the race so I signed him up for a couple more this year.

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Running with mom.

Bowie (now 9) is currently training for The Snake, a 10-miler at the Clinton trails in Lawrence, KS. Take the term “training” pretty loosely. Really, I let Bowie decide when and how long he want to run. His last two long runs were 6 miles. This will get bumped up every couple weeks until The Snake. He runs shorter runs during the week, depending on what he want to do. (He enjoys Sanders Mound repeats with the Trail Hawks quite a bit).

As long as Bowie is happy, and his legs do not get sore, I let him dictate his mileage and pace. My goal isn’t to build a champion runner, but to have a happy kid who appreciates the outdoors and being active. I am very careful about his mileage. If we ever get the notion that he is injured, he will work with his pediatrician.

The Rest of the Kids

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All my boys

In a house with 5 boys, activities are hectic and varied.

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Dane at bat.

Dane is a baller. He loves baseball, football and basketball. He has recently chosen to concentrate on baseball since he is on a competitive team that travels for tournaments a lot. He had played competitive (tackle) football and basketball, and parks & rec soccer., in the past. he is 11 and heading into the 6th grade, but the junior high doesn’t offer baseball… so he will be sticking with his Lawrence team a bit. Again. We let Dane decide what sports he wanted to compete in. If he decides to pull the plug, he only has to finish up a season and then he can not play again.

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Tatum hydrating on the trail!

Tatum is the little guy. He just turned 5 and is begging to race. So far, I have let him do some intervals on the trail. He has run 2 miles with jog / walk. We are considering letting him do a jog/walk 5K this summer… but only if he continues to show interest. In the meantime, he likes soccer and basketball. He got a new goal for his birthday and really has a good shot for a little guy!

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Emery and Dane hiking.

Emery, the oldest, just graduated from high school. He played baseball and basketball in parks and rec but lost interest as he went into junior high. He actually did Couch to 5K with me when I first started running, and he ran my first 5K with me. So -THANK YOU EMERY for helping me get started with all this craziness. (He got 2nd at his 5K, btw).

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Satchel. Afternoon at the skate park

Satchel is cruising into high school this year. He is more interested in academics than sports, and that is perfectly fine with me. He does enjoy taking hikes with the family. We are an outdoorsy bunch and we spend a lot of time hiking, climbing, biking and camping. Speaking of biking, in our house, Santa brings you a bike after you turn 5. In the summers, we do a family bike ride nearly every weekend. We load up the bike buggy with a picnic and stop along the trail for snacks.

I guess my recommendation for people looking to keep their kids active is to just keep making it fun. Arrange activities to get them moving and encourage them to pursue the things they enjoy most. Don’t force them to play a sport they don’t enjoy. Don’t relive your glory days through your kids. Keep them happy and healthy. Encourage good eating habits. Soak up some sunshine (with sunscreen, of course). Take in every moment you get to spend with them as they really do grow up way too fast.

A whole new level of tired.

Thursday was marked as a rest day. I had considered making up the bike ride I had missed earlier in the week, but decided that my body was really just telling me I need to give it some time. Instead of pedal-pedal-pedaling, we watched Creed. (Which I liked).

A couple people have asked what it feels when I say I am having a rough day. They know I am “tired” but beyond that, they just can’t relate. Some days are better than others. Every day I am “tired.” I can’t remember the last time I woke up and thought, “man, I feel good.” That just doesn’t happen. I have days that it is easier to get out of bed, and I have days that it takes me a good 20 minutes to muster the willpower, and more rarely now (thankfully) I have days I can’t get up at all.

I used to have to take rest breaks between brushing my teeth and brushing my hair. That has gotten better. I don’t always have the energy to fix up my hair and makeup (and usually have braids on those days) but I feel more functional in the morning than I did before.

The last few days, I have been fighting to stay awake on my drive into work. That isn’t cool at all. I am hoping we find a solution to my energy crisis soon!

At work, I rely on high-caffeine tea to keep me trucking. I have a job that requires a lot of concentration and problem solving, so it is important for my brain to work. (Mental fog is a real problem for hypothyroid people, and again… CAFFEINE!)

By the end of the day, I am toast. I am pretty tired driving home and lately have been, again, struggling to stay awake.

Once I get home, I rest up a little. I eat a small snack and exercise. Some nights I just can’t find the energy, but lately, I have been completing 5 of my 6 workouts a week. The nights that I can’t work out, typically my muscles feel weak. Like, they just have nothing in them and the thought of even climbing a couple stairs is just impossible. Most nights I am tired but am able to just suck it up and get it done. I don’t have speed. I can’t jack me heart rate up high. But I can do slow and steady, so I concentrate on that.

The best way I can describe how I feel every day is… Imagine that you were up all night, whether insomnia or staying out, whatever. And then you had to get up and go to work the next day. So after work, you are tired but you have to go run 10 miles anyway. After that you, are so tired, you don’t even want to take a shower. You just want to go to bed. That level of tired right there is how I feel most every day.

Unfortunately, fatigue is just one of the bullet points of symptoms I deal with each day.

ON THE BRIGHT SIDE!!! My referral to KU is progressing. Thank goodness for a friend on the inside, because KU didn’t receive me referral at all. Once she helped discover this, they followed-up with my endocrinologist’s office to get it sent out. So I should hear back in a day or so about scheduling my appointment. Seriously. Thank goodness for her because I would have been sitting for a month waiting and not have known that they didn’t get it.