Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Runner with Raynaud's

I've mentioned here before that I have a condition called Raynaud's. People with Raynaud's experience an exaggerated spasm of the blood vessels as a response to cold or stress. It's more than just having cold hands or cold feet (though I normally have both) although the fingers, toes, and nose are most commonly effected. When your body is exposed to cold temperatures, your extremities lose heat. Your body slows down blood supply to your fingers and toes to preserve your body's core temperature. Your body specifically reduces blood flow by narrowing the small blood vessels under the skin of your extremities. In people with Raynaud's, this normal response is exaggerated. Affected areas of skin usually turn white at first. Then, the affected areas often turn blue, feel cold and numb, and sense of touch is dulled. As circulation improves, the affected areas may turn red, throb, tingle or swell. The order of the changes of color isn't the same for all people, and not everyone experiences all three colors.

Both hands affected, about 30 minutes after I finished running and stopped at the store on my way home.

Just one finger affected- this was at a restaurant

I only have trouble with my fingers. I don't usually have trouble when I'm running, but if I can't or don't change out of my sweaty clothes right after a run and take a hot shower, I will usually have an episode. Even in the summer, being in the air conditioning in sweaty clothes is enough to chill me and cause an episode. Sometimes I have episodes when I'm not running, like at a restaurant when I'm drinking something cold, or at the grocery store if I spend too much time in the refrigerated or freezer sections. My fingers will turn white first. They feel cold and numb and I lose the sense of touch. Hot water is the #1 thing that will reverse an episode for me. When an episode reverses, my fingers turn red and throb/tingle. It's not completely painful, but the best way I can describe it is an uncomfortable tingle.

I guess I had my first episode of Raynaud's as a teenager, but then it didn't bother me for a long time. Episodes became much more frequent when I started training for my first half marathon in winter 2010. There are treatments, but all medications come with risks, and I haven't had any long term effects from Raynaud's so I've shyed away from treatment in the past. I wear gloves outdoors most of the time when it's below 60 degrees. I carry a pair in my purse in case a restaurant or the grocery store is chilly. I use those chemical hand warming packs when it's near freezing. Keeping my core warm is the most important thing I've found, so I wear a jacket or vest even when it's as warm as 60.

I see a rheumatologist yearly to make sure I don't have any autoimmune disorders because Raynaud's can sometimes be affiliated with  them and I have a family history. So far, I'm negative for anything like Lupus or Rheumatoid Arthritis. A couple weeks ago, I went to my regular appointment with the doctor. He again brought up the option of treatment for Raynaud's. Because the episodes have become more frequent, last longer, and are harder to reverse than ever before, I was interested. He suggested a calcium channel blocker, a type of heart medication, that is used for high blood pressure and chest pain because it relaxes blood vessels. It can work for Raynaud's. I started taking Procardia about 9 days ago. I started at a very low dose, and the plan is to increase the dose if I still have episodes and as long as I tolerate the medication. I can take the Procardia seasonally- maybe just November through March. I had some low blood pressure and didn't feel quite right for the first few days but I've been feeling good the past week. I also haven't had any episodes! It's been pretty warm, so I'm not certain there's been a full challenge, yet. I should go up on my dosage tomorrow, but since I haven't had any episodes I'm going to wait. It would be great if I could stay at the lowest dose and it be effective.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

New PR- for Distance!

This morning, and into the afternoon, I ran my first 15 miler. This is part of the plan I wrote for my half marathon PR attempt. I've mentally put that PR attempt on the back burner. I'll make that call on race day. But the plan calls for a 15 miler and a 17 miler before taper. Checked the first one off my to-do list. It was my longest run so far!

I ran with Shannon and Libby, from Libby's house. Our first 4.5ish miles were part of a loop that took us through one side of my neighborhood. We briefly stopped at Libby's house before heading out on the 10+ mile loop. Libby took us through most of west Allen I'm certain. There were lots of pretty houses and neighborhoods I've never seen before. There were also hills that I didn't know existed in Allen. We made 2 stops at CVS, one for me to potty and one to buy water since we'd run out. The last 2.5 miles were tough and I think we were all hurting. Shannon and Libby had excuses, with a 10 miler just yesterday. We took walk breaks every half mile instead of every full mile. I was thankful for the breaks, but my hips/legs were so tight that it hurt to get started running again. Libby measured the distance perfectly, and my watch beeped 15 just as we got to her street.

So, 15 was tough. We ran a comfortable pace so it wasn't my lungs that limit me... But my legs (and brain) are wondering how I'm going to do that PLUS 11.2 more miles! The good news is I only have 2 more really long runs before the marathon... 17 and 20. The bad news is I only have 2 more. I'm kinda freaking out that I don't have more time to add more 20(+) milers. I believe the marathon has a 6 hour time limit, with the option to start earlier if you think it'll take longer. I will be re-reading that section of the website just in case!

Oh, and the best part of the run was a chocolate chip cookie dough cupcake that Shannon got for all of us to celebrate my 15 miler. It was absolutely amazing. I might have licked the chocolate chips that stuck to the paper.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Stonebridge Ranch Half Marathon Report

This is long and mostly uninteresting, but it's helpful for me to go back and read race details sometimes. The last paragraph is where it's at, so if you want to skip and go there, I'll never know.

I hadn't originally planned to run/race this half marathon. But, my training plan called for 13 miles and a friend was selling a voucher she bought for the race but wasn't going to redeem, so I bought that from her and decided to race. I ran part of the course with Shannon last weekend and I've run races on parts of this course... so I definitely knew it was hilly. When I bought the voucher and registered, there was only a 10% chance of rain for race day. As the week progressed and race day grew closer, the chance of rain was up to 80%. I've never been running in the rain, so I had zero rain gear. I searched online and asked for advice on Facebook. The only thing I needed to buy was a water resistant jacket. I found one I loved at the Nike outlet- purple and on sale.

The temperature was in the upper 40's on race morning. I'd read that you shouldn't dress any warmer for running in the rain, but my history of getting cold easily led me to believe that was advice for everyone else and I should still dress warmly. It turns out, I should follow the advice. I decided to wear a long sleeve top, my new jacket, a hat, gloves, full tights, and a skirt. Early in the race, when I was running hard, I was hot. If I had it to do over, I would wear short sleeves with the jacket and gloves and either just the skirt or the skirt with capris. It was only light rain to drizzle during the race, never a full on downpour. Other than the one time I stepped in a puddle (so didn't see it, and exclaimed "sh!t" in suprirse- police officer laughed at me) I kind of liked it.

Just before the race, Jake spotted Victoria. We lined up next to each other, at the back of the pack (small race with only 233 finishers I believe). I went into this race with the idea of setting a PR, despite it being a tough course. So when we crossed the start line, I took off. After 15 minutes of climbing the biggest inclines of the course, I was sucking wind and hurting. I took my first walk break and decided to switch to the 4:1 ratio I'd been playing with. I kept my running pace in the 8's to accommodate for my walk breaks and still keep my pace in PR range. It worked for a few miles, but everything was hurting. I remember my right shoulder and neck feeling incredibly tight and my back and legs aching. Victoria passed me at about 55 minutes. A long and straight stretch of the race was on El Dorado. That beat me down. Looking at the elevation chart, it appears to be downhill. There's no way! I nearly got hit by a car that turned onto El Dorado and picked the runner's lane instead of the car lane. I hopped onto a curb and the driver figured out she was wrong. The police officer at that intersection apologized for the car, which was nice. I was really surprised that much of the course was on the road instead of sidewalks. There was a ton of police and volunteer presence. But by this point, the runners were spreading thin. I could usually see somebody ahead of me and behind me. I saw Jake while I was on El Dorado and he took a couple pictures of me. I saw him again around mile 10. Somewhere in the middle of that I ran with Robin for a little bit. In the 9-10 mile range my calves started to cramp. It slowed me to a walk. I tried stretching. Nothing was working. I'd try to run a little, but that hurt more, so I was back to walking. Getting to the 12 mile marker was a big mental boost, as I knew I could make it another mile to the finish. Through all of the walking, I'd been passed and passed. I could no longer see anyone behind me and convinced myself I was DFL (dead fu**ing last) (Thank you for the term, Libby). I picked it up to a slow jog for a half mile or so, walked a little, then picked up the jog again. I was freezing and ready to be done, so I just tried to put the pain out of my head and concentrate on moving toward the finish line. I finally made it- in 2:34:46. It turns out I wasn't last, there were 27 people behind me. It also turns out that was my second fastest half marathon time. In looking at my splits, I'm surprised that my walking miles weren't slower, though I think I could have finished a good 10 minutes faster had I been able to run instead of walk.

By the end of the race I was cold, miserable, and beat down by my performance. I questioned why I had just registered for Rock n Roll Dallas, why I thought a sub-2 half was anywhere within reach, why I was running a 203 mile relay with a great group of girls, and why I thought I could run a marathon. I felt like a bad runner, one who has no business tackling crazy things like these. I've done some soul searching since then and come to a conclusion. I'm breaking up with Speed. My relationship with Speed is verbally abusive. Speed is physically abusive to me. He played a big role in my stress fracture. Goodbye Speed and our abusive relationship. I'm going to hang out with Distance. I enjoy our time together and he doesn't hurt me the way you do. Our dates last longer because I don't obsess over pace and I take walk breaks, but he's the one I really love, so more time is fine. No, it's great. Next weekend I'll embrace Distance with 15 miles, my longest run so far.