Sunday, May 27, 2007

Great Week

I can't believe how much better I've been feeling. I'm diligently planning my training plan and figuring out what races to do. I'm trying to be very conservative.

I can't believe I signed up for IM-AZ! What the f--k was I thinking? A big part of me wants to back out. I was so humbled by the HIM. Then I got so sick. I can't do the marathon I was planning on doing next weekend so I'm not going to get a chance to do one before the IM, which means that will be my first marathon--not exactly what I had planned. I don't feel ready at all! On the other hand, a big part of me really wants to do it. Just to finish and prove that I can. I would feel the ultimate sense of accomplishment if I could just cross that finish line. I have a huge respect/fear of the distances now.

My plan is to do a few Olympic distances this summer and if all goes well, and I regain my fitness quickly, don't get injured, and don't get sick again, finish out the season with another HIM. This will boost my confidence, my base endurance, and be great practice for nutrition and hydration for the IM. I thought about doing a marathon instead this fall but I think it would be smarter to do a HIM in preparation for the IM. Since my body isn't used to marathon distances yet, the recovery time would be significant and the risk of injury would be very high. A HIM, on the other hand, won't be as hard on my body and will be better preparation for the IM. So that's my rationale.

Last week, I did a little bit, but not too much. This week, I did 1 workout every day for 6 days (I got a massage on Monday). It feels great! I haven't lost too much, especially the runnng. The swimming--well, hopefully it will come back quickly. I've lost a lot of power and muscle so it will be important to really focus on weights. That's my body type for you. I haven't gained any weight after my stint of inactivity, which is great but I basically lost muscle and gained fat. I think it will redistribute pretty quickly after a few weeks. I'm also starting to make healthier diet choices--eating small meals frequently is sooo key.

Here's how my week played out:
Monday--lymphatic massage--Tried to drain out the remnant of the sinus stuff. Was verrrry relaxing.
Tuesday--ran 4 miles. slow and easy. lots of fun.
Wednesday--ran 5 miles with my new running group. they're a little fast so it's good speedwork for me.
Thursday--biked up the coast ~25 miles. haven't lost too much speed but the Torrey Pines Hill definitely slowed me down. Feels sooooo good to be back on Bluebell!
Friday--biked Rocky (mtn bike) into work and took the easy trail through the UCSD park for my inaugural off-road ride. It was uber-fun! I can't wait to hit the trails again for longer!
After work, jumped in the pool. I really didn't want to do anything. Extreme case of Friday-itis. Started a basic workout and decided to stop at 30-50 minutes. After a brief warm-up swam a 500, 400, then a 250 with active recovery breaststroke in between. This was my first time back in the pool after a 4 WEEK BREAK!!! After 30 minutes, I started to get that cranky feeling I get mentally when my body feels a little spent and called it quits. Surprisingly, it went better than I thought. My breathing felt good and I focused on form lot, not caring about speed. I've lost muscular endurance. The important thing was that I didn't push it.
Saturday--quick, zippy 20 mile bike ride through Rose Canyon, around the East side of Mission Bay and the outer loop of Fiesta Island and back. A lot of traffic and headwind on the way back. But it felt soooo good.
Sunday--slow, relaxing 8 mile run with my other running group (Jason says I'm a running group whore--hee hee). It was fun and the farthest I've gone in awhile.

It feels good to be easing back into it. I'm trying to do a little something 6 days a week until my body feels like I can handle more. One thing I've noticed is that these workouts totally wipe me out. I'll plan on doing weights or something later that evening but I've been totally exhausted. I've been going to bed early, taking naps, and getting lots of sleep as my body gets reaccustomed to the training. I'm sleeping like a baby!

Friday, May 18, 2007


I can't believe it. It seems too good to be true. But I've felt 100% better this entire week! I can breathe and smell and taste! My energy levels are returning to normal. I feel myself again. After 10 weeks of being sick, I was beginning to think I was never going to be well again. Tomorrow is my last day of antibiotics! I can't wait.

I'm ecstatic. Little things, like riding my bike to work, I used to take for granted. Now, I relish in these daily activities. I can smell the ocean again and the morning mist on the grass. I'm not totally back to normal yet but I feel like I've kicked this bug once and for all. My energy levels definitely ebb and flow. I'm still trying to be conservative and listen to my body. Ease back into it. But I finally feel like myself again.

After my fantastic run on Saturday, I took it easy until I was off the prednisone. On Wednesday, I woke up feeling refreshed and ready to go. I rode Ghostrider (the commuter bike) in to work. It was fun to get into lab sweaty and breathless. Plus, it didn't feel any harder than it did when I was in better shape. After work, I had a great 4 mile run before going home and doing weights and cleaning up the apartment. I know I overdid it a little. I was sore on Thursday but not as sore as I had predicted.

On my run, I found myself following another running group on the same path. We started chatting and before long, I had found a new running group. There was about 8 of them going the same pace and distance and route as me. How could I not run with them? Turns out, they live and work near me and begin their runs 0.5 miles from where I work every Wednesday at 5:45 pm. So I found myself a new running group! How about that?

I've been extremely busy in lab this week. It's sooo hard not to play catch-up. I don't want to overstress my system. I'm trying to take each day as it comes. Baby steps. I have to work on not feeling overwhelmed by everything I want to do.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

brief moments of bliss

First of all, I bought a new bike! Her name is Rocky, and I hope to be tearing it up on the trails soon enough, when I'm well. I can't wait to ride her. I bought her used; she's in fabulous condition. I was able to get a great deal. I've never mountain biked before so I'm exicted about trying something new.

The bougainvillea on our balcony is going nuts! I can't believe how much it's shot up from last year. Aptly named, its species is San Diego Red.

Infection Update:
I am still sick. I'm thinking of starting a support group for people with chronic sinus infections. ;) This thing is really ruining my life. I've been sick for 9 weeks now. I feel like I have mono and can't breathe. I have good days and bad days. Usually 1 or 2 good ones followed by an equal amount of bad. My life is: sleep, bunny and apartment chores, lab, home, bunny and apartment chores, sleep. This lasts 4 days (the bad days start on days 3 and 4, and I try to ignore it). Finally, on day 5, I spend all day in bed and do nothing but sleep.
I have 1 more week of antibiotics to go (3 weeks total). This is the second round. On my last (3rd time) visit to the doctor (who's awesome), he decided to pull out the big guns and put me on prednisone. The doc was hoping I would bounce back because I don't have a history of sinus infections (never before this one); however, he said he wasn't surprised it was taking so long based on the CAT scan, which showed "extremely severe disease" (yippie) of all the sinuses, even the ones up in my head. He doesn't think the infection is resistant to the antibiotics specifically but, instead, the infection is so widespread and deep that the antibiotics are having a difficult time penetrating. Hopefully, the roids will suppress the inflamation of my sinuses enough for the antibiotics to more effectively penetrate the infection during the final week of antibiotics. In addition to this an the antibiotics, I'm on oral decongestants, nasal steroids, nasal antihistamines, saline nasal sprays, and Mucinex for the infection. Not to mention all the stuff for my tummy so I can tolerate the antibiotics over long periods. I sleep with a humidifier. I take lots of steam baths. I flush my sinuses with ~600 ml hot saline daily. I also have an appointment with the ENT guy, who couldn't get me in until the end of May but my doc is hoping the prednisone + antibiotics will do the trick and that the ENT appointment will just be a follow-up. All of this helps. I actually think my sinuses are better. So some improvement is better than none. I just can't believe I'm so sick when I'm doing everything I can think of to get well! It's like my new project--defeating thine sinus infection.

Prednisone--a miracle drug!
Unbelievably, the prednisone started working in 12 hours. All of a sudden, I could breathe, taste, and smell again. Plus, I had energy. I'm just very scared I will feel bad again as soon as the prednisone is gone.

Things I can smell for the first time in 9 weeks that I haven't missed:
tuna fish
bunny pee
wet dog/antiseptic smell at the vet's office
Things I can smell for the first time 9 weeks that I have missed:
jasmine blooming outside
Jason's cologne on the pillow
sweet, clean smell of Taz's, Babs', and Oscar's fur
Things I can taste for the first time in 9 weeks that I really missed:
chocolate and coffee!!!
The New Weight-Loss Alternative to Gastric Bypass??? (Ha ha)
However, one benefit to not being able to smell or taste is suppressed appetite. My weight hasn't fluctuated despite lack of exercise, in part, due to the fact that I'm not very hungry. All I have left when I eat is texture. We had lemon cake in lab the other day for someone's birthday. I hate lemon. I, however, thoroughly enjoyed my piece of cake by pretending it was yellow cake. I never knew the difference. Oh, and I can put wasabi directly on my tongue, no problem. Kind of cool.
Most Awesome, Blissful, Meditative Run:
Because of the Prednisone, I felt good enough to go on a run yesterday! I have been going on short 3 mile runs/walks these past few weeks. Usually, I'm either too tired or my stomach hurts and stops the runs short. I was thrilled that I was unaffected by any of these symptoms. I planned to only do 4 but felt so good, I couldn't stop. I did 6 instead. I could breathe and smell. I felt so alive, so free. The scent of jasmine was heavy in the air, mixing with the musty smell of eucalyptus. Burts of blood-red blooms exploded from coral trees lining the center of the street,
the petals starkly contrasting against the pale gray bark. The sky was a pure homogenous blanket of baby blue, typical, yet spectacular, for this area. Once on the Rose Canyon path, thick blankets of blooming, yellow mustard grass carpeted the valley on either side of me. Tiny little lizards darted out from under my footsteps. A lyre snake lie sunbathing on the sidewalk, hoping to catch one of the unsuspecting lizards. A gorgeous male goldfinch flitted amongst the mustard grass, his bright gold colored breast brilliantly contrasted by his jet black head and back. He was so bright, I caught my breath in awe. A train roared past on the tracks in the valley alongside the path. Along the bridge under the highway, graffiti decorated the concrete, depicting a very accurate caricature of JFK with the words ASK boldly sprayed in black capital letters below. Next to it was a little four-legged devil with horns and a tail.
As other walkers, runners, and cyclists passed me, I made it a point to smile at them, even though it felt awkward, greeting them with an unspoken but understood silent message that we all outdoor enthusiasts share--the love of the freedom of getting a good sweat going outdoors in the rays of the setting sun. I felt a great comraderie, as if we all belong to some secret club. Almost everyone smiled back, although I could tell by their furtive glance and avoidance of eye contact that they felt just as awkward as I. Smiling at a stranger. How weird! Perfectly okay with me. I'm not sure I'm totally comfortable with staring them in the eye yet either. Many of us prefer to enjoy the solace of our solidarity on our outings. However, it was much more fun to count the number of people that smiled back rather than the number of people I passed (or passed me). I counted 8. Speed was the last thing on my mind.
I felt so alive. Really free from myself and my sick body for the first time in 9 weeks.
When I run, my mind becomes clear and everything negative is washed away. Stimulating creative ideas run unfiltered through my mind. When the occassional negative thought rolls in-- e.g. "I'm dissatisfied in my current job situation"-- it rolls back out again. There is no judgement, critique, or editing. Only observation and acknowledgement. Pure acceptence. I realize it's okay to not have everything in my life worked out perfectly. I'm not supposed to. And I know, for the first time, down to the kernel of my being, that everything will work itself out in time. All of sudden, I am perfectly at peace with my life and can accept the things in my life that I am not currently happy with. I trust and know that it will all be okay.
As I run, time, which is always too fast, slows down. I'm in my own bubble. Funny that I have to speed up to get time to slow down. If I could just linger a little while longer. So I ran farther. At this moment, this is all that matters. I let out a huge sigh of relief. I feel relaxed. I am strong and powerful, confident and carefree, unique and important, and, for a brief instant, I am a superhero with the power to change the world. I pick up my stride with a sudden injection of energy; my footfalls are light and springy as I soar over the ground. It almost feels like I'm flying; I am barely touching the ground.
As I reach my apartment, I slow to a walk, cheeks flushed and damp with sweat, slightly breathless. My legs are rubbery, and I know I will be sore tomorrow but I don't care. Bring it. I only hope I feel this good tomorrow.
Exercise is truly my natural antidepressant. Without it, my mood is very dark. In fact, for over a year, I took antidepressants for anxiety and depression. Once I moved to San Diego, the combination of sun and regular exercise convinced me to try going sans antidepressants for awhile. I have been free of them for over a year successfully, and I know I have exercise to thank. The effects are immediate too. It feels good to treat your body well.
Bunny Pics!
1. Curious Oscar (little watercolor pencil I did while sick).
2. Relaxed Oscar
3. Taz kisses for Rachel.
4. Rachel kisses for Babs.
5. Taz relishes pettings.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


Last night, it finally sunk in that running the marathon in 4 weeks would not be a good idea. I'm officially out. I've missed a lot of runs, and even if I start to feel better now, long runs are too taxing on the body as I fight this infection. I went into the half-ironman with this thing and came out even sicker. Went on antibiotics and as soon as I was able, went on a 15 mile run. Although the run was fantastic, I came out even more sick on the other side. Now, I'm on antibiotics that make my stomach very unhappy for 3-4 weeks. I need my immune system to be at its best, and I just can't afford the dampening effect long runs have on the immune system right now. So even if I were to start feeling well enough for a long run, it would be a bad idea to go out and do it, since my immune system would be suppressed, and the infection would just come right back. I'm worried that if this round of antibiotics don't work, I will need a much more drastic, invasive option, like surgery. I really, really, really, really don't want to go through that. Plus, I just found out that I'm going to need dental surgery, and I have to get over this infection first before I can have the surgery. Something to look forward to. Needless to say, I've been very depressed. I can't do anything. This sucks.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Still Sick

I can't believe I'm still sick. After all that I've been doing. What am I doing wrong?

I started antibiotics (Augmentin) on Wednesday. Went home early and put myself to bed. I was SO tired. Stayed on bedrest Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I've never slept so much, drank so much tea, eaten so much chicken noodle soup, or watched so much bad t.v. To sleep, I found if I carefully positioned my head, I could breathe out of 1 nostril...given that I didn't move. I took being able to breathe and thus sleep over the nasty neck cramp I woke up with. I've been using disgusting saline rinses to flush out my sinuses. Nasty, but it definitely helps. Taking prescriptive Sudafed and Mucinex. Blowing my nose. Sleeping with a humidifier. Taking probiotics and eating yogurt.

Despite all this, my stomach rejected the Augmentin by Friday morning. Called the doctor and was on Ceftin by Friday night. My stomach was in its wildest throes all weekend. However, I did feel like I was starting to breathe better and I felt more rested. But I couldn't eat anything and was getting more and more dehydrated.

I took a mini-vacation from the antibiotics Sunday night and Monday morning. By Monday afternoon, I was completely blocked again. Stomach is 100% better. Unbelievable. I missed 2 doses...24 hours. Jeez. Started back on the antibiotics and am now praying that I can tolerate them. I'm hoping that I couldn't tolerate the Augmentin and my stomach was just completely out of whack and not allowed to recover when I switched to the Ceftin. If I show stomach troubles again, I'll have to go back to the doctor. This is getting ridiculous.

It felt good to go back to lab yesterday. I'm so sick of being in bed.