A bend in the road is not the end of the road unless you fail to make the turn....

It's gonna get harder before it gets easier. But it will get better, you just gotta make it through the hard stuff first.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Ringing out a year, or something like it.

Wow, it's been awhile...but understandably so. Ever since Ozark-51 walk, my health had declined even further down. Any kind of attempt at the run was futile experience and a mere couple of miles at around-12 min/mile pace would put me out- out of breath, out of normal range for the heart rate, out of strength...I once attempted a 5M loop, and hit low 11's for the first 4, after what felt so exhausted, I had to walk last mile slowly and cry quietly, as if I had finished a 100M race or worse.

It is something that was extremely hard to grasp and understand and make peace with, and I just simply had no idea what I am dealing with, until Pam Smith pointed me to Neal Gorman's blog's post, which I sort of read - diagonally and without paying much attention - before. And as I read it, again, and then again, it was a pure revelation, a "bingo" kind of thing, a complete and exact description of what I was going through. I got an appointment with my doctor - whom I like very much, and I don't like many doctors, but this one is young, an athlete, respects my medical background and spends time listening and thinking. We agreed (on December 17th, the date of my appointment) to run a bunch of blood work for latent viral infections (because all the blood work on vitamins deficiencies, anemia, thyroid function etc. I had already done and checked out normal).

A week later, during my and Larry's trip vacationing in CO and NM skiing, a day I attempted a 6M trail "run"/shuffle/walk at the Devil's Backbone trail near Loveland, CO (I even made it running up the hill for a full minute and half! barely), I got an email with my results back, and a note from my doctor:

"Labs indicate that you do have CMV. I would expect this to resolve over the next 6−8 weeks. Once you feel better, start back with gradual running, approximately a quarter of what you would normally do." 

I also was positive for EBV, but there was no clear way to say whether this particular infection was recent or far in the past. However, the amount of antibodies and a type showed that CMV was recent and that I needed to be re-tested in 4-6 weeks prior to return to my chosen activity.

More information on CMV and EBV latent infections, which exist in more than half of adult population, but only become symptomatic in people with compromised immune system, like HIV-carriers or over-trained endurance athletes, go figure) - read in my friend's post here (she is a doctor AND an elite athlete, just like Pam Smith is. These two are a great resource when I am driving myself crazy - and confirm my fears more often than not (as I am technically out of medical field for the last 20 years, though am following it intently).

Back to the email...and while it was great to learn and KNOW that I am not imagining things, it was still a shock and a let-down. Because after reading Neal's account and his very slow come-back, it was petrifying...somewhere deep inside I was hoping it is just some sort of "blah" (in fact, my doctor even considered depression, which I do have at low levels and was able to control in my adult life with said exercise activity, listen to Nikki Kimball's honest story). BUT the "blah" turned into a medical condition which requires FULL rest! FULL REST??? My pants are already hardly zipping in! I can't stand to see myself in the mirror! AND I have a 40 mile trail thing on February 21st, in exactly those 8 weeks!!! 20 of those miles are all uphill to the highest point on East Coast - Mt Mitchell in NC!

I am in disarray, that is certain. As soon as I got my lab results back, I emailed Neil Gorman in quite an erratic letter: really? Tell me I'll be ok! - kind of thing.

He was kind enough to respond:
Hi Olga,
 
Thank you for the email and for touching base.  Aside from CMV, I hope all is well with you.  I am assuming everything is great with you which is probably why you have CMV.  : )  That was the case with me at least which is very ironic.  So many good things going on, very little time for sleep.  Alas...
 
Anyway, definitely expect to make a full recovery.  Diagnosis was the first painful step.  Time off is the second.  Try not to beat yourself up too much in the process.  Like most painful experiences in life time is on your side and will wash away the pain.  Your running will come around.  So will your pants.  I promise.  I would probably bag the yoga, too.  Do nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  You will recover faster.  Be sure to get your blood checked again to make sure you're recovered then get back to running like you're coming back from a broken bone- nice and slow.  At least that is what I was told to do.  My cross-training at the time was gardening and planting trees.  It worked for me.  It will work for you.
 
Happy holidays!  See you in February.
 
Neal

Didn't solve much, right? But what would one expect in response to my complete panic? So, I emailed back in a more coherent way...

In the meantime, I am still going to yoga, but AM taking it easy. I tried my 2M test yesterday - I should stop playing with it - to confirm, yet again, I can't make past half a mile jog. But I am getting lots of sleep (7 hrs daily!) and taking vitamins, just in case, and will have a meeting with my nutritionist Meredith Terranova for her advice o how to sustain any kind of sanity over loss of muscle, increase of fat and elimination of bad stuff out of my system. May be I'll take walks couple times a week. Sadly, I just committed to a fancy local gym Pure Austin and can't even activate the membership I purchased as I am not supposed to be exercising!

Well, this is where I am. Neal Gorman was right in his assumption - I WAS great this year. I felt awesome, healthy, fast. I had one of my best races in 10 years, culminating in well-executed San Diego 100. I took almost 2 months off hard training with more hiking, power-walking, yoga and some backpacking (and leading boot-camp). However, beginning the year and all the way as I returned back to train for Grindstone 100 (which was subsequently canceled), I ran on steam from negligible sleep, too many jobs and business hours and hobby add-on's, and some personal family difficulties. No wonder I could be a classic case...but I am still in disbelief...

I guess, my New year's resolution should be managing my life better, not pretending I am 25 and invincible?

I guess, that will conclude my recap on what is going on - and I am resolved to get back to fully healthy and run again, whether or not I decide to race is secondary. I miss running so much, even driving on roads makes me tear up, as I wish I could just jump out and run, every jogger or a shuffler brings some jealousy, and my dear husband is loosing his own great fitness in support of my sad physical state...That shall not go on any longer. We will be back.

On a great news, we had fantastic vacation! We spent a day and half in a place we plan to call "HOME" in 5 and half years, then a day and half skiing in Salida, CO at Mt Monarch (a second day in a blizzard freezing conditions and a whiteout), then a day skiing at Taos resort (what an amazing place to downhill ski, especially when it's Christmas and very few venture to the slopes we had all to ourselves!!), then on the last day a few hours cross-country skiing at Red River, NM, Enchantment Forest - oh, my God! Perfect morning, nobody around, over 9,000 feet altitude with a loop of 11 miles, and while I haven't been on Nordic skis in 10 years, being born and raised in Russia it's like I have my skis tied to my feet naturally! I had a blast (don't believe Larry when he says it was more uphill:)).

Well, 158 hats and 17 scarfs later, I am also finally knitting for myself, again, from the best Alpaca wool I went a little crazy buying in that mystery town we'll be moving to - which also had a real Alpaca present!

Below are some photos, Merry Christmas, everyone, and a Happy Healthy 2014 year!!! See you on the other side! Full album





















20 comments:

  1. I'm sorry you have to deal with this but glad you found out what was going on, and that it's nothing too serious & doesn't require medical intervention and treatment. So great to be part of a community that shares information & tries to help each other! The patience to wait it out must be hard, but it's the same determination you've used to finish 100 milers, just applied differently, so I know you can do it. Your knitting looks wonderful! Best wishes to you & Larry for a happy, healthy, joyful, active 2014!

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    1. Thank you so much for kind words, today and before! It helps to feel the support. Happy New year!

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  2. Olga, well, at least you know what it is. That's tough but you will come around! I would read Geoff Roes blog too -- his overtraining was even more profound. And take Neal's advice to do NOTHING. Really. At one point Geoff could barely walk around the block so take it very seriously.
    Wishing you all the best for a speedy and 100% recovery, my friend.

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    1. Kristin, I will, thanks! I was planning to email Geoff, he seemed to have had a different thing and was tested for the same latent infections (and a slew of others, and a bunch of everything else) - who knows, but I was going to email anyway, for support and stuff. He is good people, hope he runs well again, whether or not high profile racing fits his new life. Wishing you best as well - lots of Paleo eats too! Keep on tracking!

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  3. Olga! Love your photos, you look happy :-)

    Rest is good, be good to your body and it'll treat you well. Quit all racing, it's not worth your health, you'll know when it's time to race again.
    Happy New Year to you and Larry!

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    1. Steve, I a always happy when there are mountains and snow involved:) Yes, health is number 1 priority, indeed, and that is what I had been and am focusing on. Happy New Year to you and Deb as well!

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  4. Happy, healthy NEW Year to you, dear Olga! Wishing you clarity and peace as you recover.

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    1. Clarity and peace sound exactly what I need! Thanks for inspiring!

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  5. Olga, wow, I loved Neal's response. So right on. There are still a lot of questions about WHY this happened, but there is no doubt you need to give your body a chance to recover and then start dabbling in running and yoga. You will feel when the time is right. You will start having dreams and when you get out on those lovely Texan pine needle paths, the amazing scent will overwhelm you and your feet will start scurrying - even running -and it will be perfect and lovely again.

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    1. Tracy, I am already dreaming! But right now, you're all right, I am getting just weaker, and this whole thing had began affecting my yoga practice as well, as I need to sit down on the mat rather few too many times - something I never had to before. I don't know when it's right, but it's better be soon. I know how hard it is to get "back in shape" from 1-2 months absence, doing it after a few months is right now un-imaginable...Wishing you a great "match", Rasmus - full and quick recovery, and lots of fun with kids!

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  6. I wanted to reach through my computer and shake you when I read the, "I tried my 2m test again (!!!)..." Again? Rest, Olga!! That means REST. No 2m test. No nothing. Reread Neal's email (or I'll just copy and paste a key section here again): "Your running will come around. So will your pants. I promise. I would probably bag the yoga, too. Do nothing. Absolutely nothing. You will recover faster." Bag the yoga, and bag the "tests". I love you, dear, and just want to see you out there and healthy again. Please rest. :)

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    1. Thank you for reaching out, Amy, I love you too. I am going to do my best and apply the focus on rest and recovery as I do on training and hard work. This is no easy task for me. But I'll give it my best shot. Happy New Year, hope we get to sip a coffee together - and get in a knitting circle:)

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  7. Oh Olga, life takes unpredictable turns to keep us true to ourselves. I hope you find peace with the fact that this situation is temporary and when you are able and ready to resume your regular lifestyle, you will be rejuvinated. IN the meantime, rest rest rest and knit knit knit. Don't worry about your pants or the mirror. This time will go fast in the grand scheme of things and now is the time to take time out and find yourself in a new way. I know it's way easier said than done, a drastic and involuntary change is lifestyle is tough to deal with. But you are strong and reflective and I know you will blossom during this time too. Great photos! Happy New Year!

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    1. I hope I can find peace as well, Alisons:) Happy New Year to you and Owen!

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  8. Olga, love to hear that you are planning on moving closer to Chris and I in the future, where ever that may be. Take care of yourself in the best way you know how. Enjoy the quiet and solitude of being mindful and still. Wishing you and Larry the very best in 2014 and beyond. Still want to plan something with you and others for running an aid station, etc. xoxo, lori

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    1. YES, we will be driving to see each other, or meeting on neutral territory! Also, had been considering AS at that new Idaho 100k (not Pocatello, River to no return), but if I manage to recover by Bryce 50M, that would be too close for vacation off work...I will keep thinking, but this year, for sure! Just need to figure out if and when I run, and then fill the rest with fun stuff:)

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  9. I am so glad that it's something identifiable and from which you can recover. That should give you hope and the motivation you need to take it super easy for awhile until you're better. Hugs.

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    1. You are so right! At least I am no Geoff Roes case...You got something identifiable as well! :)

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  10. Good thoughts your way Olga! I have taken a couple of months cold-turkey-no-running/any exercise kind of rest periods these past years (of course, not by choice) and miracle of miracles - all of my other running "niggles" disappeared. Amazeballs. Should have taken such extended breaks long ago! Recover well. No matter how long it takes. Life's too short to be trudging around feeling like shit. Rest and enjoy it.

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  11. Oh, Olga! I am so sorry! But I am so relieved to hear that it is something that will clear itself up in 6-8 weeks. You are so strong and active that I know how hard it must be to take some "down" time, but I'm glad you got a diagnosis and know what you are dealing with. I'm sending you good thoughts and hugs :)

    Glad you had a great new year vacation!

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