When something bad happens, you have three choices: let it define you, let it destroy you, or let it strengthen you.

The heart of the difference is not ability or even talent, but desire

The purpose of life is to discover and develop your gift. The meaning of life comes from sharing your gift with others. - David Viscott

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.

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

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

All Pro Science product review - Protein shakes and more.

At the end of September I got an email for a product review. I am never certain how some companies find their reviewers - I understand trail running shoes, but Protein powder? It turns out, this company also has recovery stuff, and I think the Google lead them to me after the Paleo discussion back in Spring, and my posts on recovery drinks and similar stuff.

But lets get to it, shall we? The catch-up promo as follows:

All Pro Science (www.allproscience.com) is an all-natural supplement company with more than 15,000 regular customers and 150 top professional athletes who rely on our products to keep them the absolutely leanest and best at their game. Found in Whole Foods Market and other stores and gyms globally, we are the first to offer a gluten-free and soy-free Veggie Protein that is peas, brown rice, and hemp based, 100% Grass Fed Whey and other nutrition supplements. Our products taste amazingly delicious, with all-natural re-created flavors such as Cinnamon Roll and Mocha Latte!

I received the package that contained a big jar of Protein powder (all grass-fed whey) and a box of individual packages of Recovery powder shortly thereafter, and it took me a while to figure out how protein from whey can be grass-fed. Well, yeah, duh!

Anyway, I normally use protein powders for a quick breakfast, as I run (or go to the gym), shower - and off to work in a matter of minutes (I don't even ever dry my hair, no time for that, just let it down and hope that it's dry by the time I get to work. Brushing? Forget about it!). I tried a variety of protein shakes, and as I stepped into more or less Paleo life style (full disclosure - I really hate calling my eating habits any kind of names, including Paleo, as I don't subscribe to the idea fully, however, because I eliminated same products as Paleo suggests due to my Irritable Bowl Syndrome, it does resembles Paleo, I guess, with some exceptions and not as "all you can eat meat and fat" adhesion), it was getting not so easy to find a protein powder that I could use. Not only that, I seem to react to additives that keep powders, well, powders (like, even Egg White powder has something that gives me bloating and other symptoms) - and I had given away pretty much every jar so far I had purchased (I don't like to waste product, and have friends who could use it). I was a tad hesitant, but hey, got nothing to loose, right?

What do you think? A day goes by, another, a week...still no problems! I use a full scoop as suggested, mix it in my Vitamix with some berries and some other stuff I got in the fridge (I am not very sophisticated,whatever I had at the time goes, kale, spinach, carrot, pear, beets...always some fruit though, for the sweetness), and I would take it with me on the bus for "breakfast on the go".

So, my personal reflection on the powder is positive in terms of it not giving the negative effects (if it makes sense). Does it fill me up? I am a person who needs to chew, so I am hungry an hour later no matter what's inside the shake. So, take it with a grain of salt. I am also not so involved as to cook and bake with protein powder, so I will direct you to other people's reviews who actually used recipes using that protein powder.



I kind of feel guilty somewhat for not trying those recipes, and may be my friend Iva at PaleoFlip, who is about to open a Paleo restaurant (donations welcome!) and has self-published a Paleo recipe book, will try some. Oh, well. I never claimed to be The Cook, even if I do cook daily.

Now, what's inside? From the website:

* 23g of Protein per Serving 
* Vitamin and Mineral Fortified 
* Good Source of Calcium* and Amino Acids* 
* Only 3g of Naturally Occuring Sugar 
* No Artificial Flavors, Sweeteners, or Fillers * Made from Grass Fed Whey Concentrate
* Hormone-Free Dairy (BGH-Free)

The variety I got tasted really good - even Larry approved - and mixed well. The company has many more different flavors, as well as All Veggie type for those who prefer not to deal with Animal Products.

APS doesn't only focus on Protein Powders, they have Pre-workout and Post-workout formula (see website I didn't get those), Complete Immune formula, Supplements, and Recovery powder - that one I did get.

However, since by the time I got this package I was tapering, then slowly getting into overtraining syndrom - with no training involved anymore as I try to recover - I only used 3 packets of it (two after two of my 20M long trail runs back in October and one after my 51M walk at Ozark 100) - and Larry tried 2 more after his quality runs. All I can say at this point on the recovery drink as it didn't cause any problems and worked as well as other recovery drinks I had - however, I am in the camp "any recovery drink is good as long as they have carbs and protein that are easily digestible and you consume them within 30 min window after a workout".

See my previous post on comparing recovery supplemental powders here. (As Pam Smith said in her  interview post-Western States 100 win, mix Gatorade and grocery-store brand Whey protein, if that's all you got, just do something).

That said, I will conclude my review with:

- good quality
- good taste
- does the job promised
- not a holly grail that will save you from lack of training or bad planning:)

If you're interested to try, you can use coupon RMTL40 for 40% discount, and since prices on all that new stuff are pretty crazy, discounts are the only way I ever try - or, in general, buy - any product besides produce and meat.