The Clues:1. Being sick often. Perhaps I've developed allergies because my sinuses seem to continually be congested. I've literally been congested the last 4 weeks. No lie. Not with actual stuff, just inflamed (or whatever happens to them) enough to make me sound really stuffy. Before Chicago I was super stuffy, but after a day in Chicago I was almost completely clear. That would point to allergies. After I returned to MN, stuffiness that lasted until NY (THREE weeks). I also swear I had two actual head colds in there, but it's hard for me to tell the differece between a day or three where allergies might just be overdrive or I have a head cold. I'm pretty sure I had two head colds in there, though.
That means that I've been sick at least 5 times since the ER visit. I think that's about twice as many times as between starting with Jerry in 2011 and this summer.
2. Extreme sleepiness. Two nights last week I either fell asleep on the couch (I think I lasted 10 minutes through a movie one night, if that... sorry, Nate) or needed to go to bed at 9:30 because I just couldn't stay up any longer. Another day last week I slept HARD for 14 hours. I woke up and looked at the clock and did the math, immediately forcing myself out of bed. 14 hours? The problem was... I was so groggy for the next two hours... I probably could have used 15+ hours that day. Yikes. I am normally a good sleeper, but that means a norm of 9-10 hours/night, and that's when my mileage fairly high. Anything lower than 60, I am okay to operate on 8-9. Last week I think I did 15 miles leading up to the marathon. And I think I probably averaged 12 hours/night. Or more. I remember another 11 hour day where I then laid down for a nap and didn't wake up for 4.5 hours. Wow.
Thank you, Nate, for being supportive during this. I felt so unbelievably lazy and like a complete pile sleeping this much, but you were nice enough to go with it and tell me "I needed it". Probably just being nice, but I appreciate it :). *Best Husband*
3. Most prevalent symptom is clumsiness of the legs, leg-lock, and straining to hold paces after about 3-5 miles into an easy run.
The clumsiness/harder time controlling the legs started after the ER visit this summer. It was officially diagnosed as colonitis, but I swear there was something wrong with my uterus since that was where the intense cramping and pain seemed to be coming from. And now that I've officially lost every guy reader...
Then it turned into persistent straining on easy runs. I would feel great for the first 25-35 minutes of a run but then all of a sudden my legs would be working super hard to keep going. Most of the straining was in the hamstrings. If I stopped and stretched and started again, I'd be good to keep going for another 10 minutes or so. I just realized how much starting and stopping happened during my runs during the last 6-8 weeks. Hmm, no wonder Chicago and NYC didn't go well...
On the 2 mile T segments I had, I'd do fine for the first mile and then REALLY struggle to stay upright during the second mile. It was as if the legs weren't firing right or I was just fighting to keep them turning over correctly. I literally couldn't go any faster, not because my lungs wouldn't let me, but because my I couldn't get my legs to turn over any faster because they were fighting coordination issues.
The clumsiness seemed to come on earlier and earlier as time passed. Right before Chicago and then again between Chicago and NYC, I remember struggling at mile 4.5-5. Closer to NYC it was at mile 4, then 3... and during NYC, before mile 2. Yikes.
4. Headaches. Nothing super often or bad, but I don't typically get headaches.
Things I've thought about:1. Overtraining/Exhaustion - probable. But I also think I've been overtrained before, and it hasn't been like this. Usually it's just a feeling where the legs have no spring, I can't bound of the ground as far, paces slip, etc.
I'm disappointed in myself here. I know the signs of fatigue/overtraining and would catch it in my athletes right away and correct it. Instead, I continued to fight through. Part of that was Jerry's coaching style - to get me to push harder than I thought possible & hit aggressive target times. Once I wasn't able to hit those times post-ER visit (and start of this decline), we didn't edit anything. Instead, everytime I went out I tried even harder to hit those paces. In doing so, I know I was working outside of my correct "zones" on nearly every hard workout from about July & on. I know better than this! (hanging my head)
Chris thinkgs it's just extreme overtraining and said that it usually takes months to come out from under. Super.
2. Iron/Ferritin - my first reaction so I was tested. Things actually looked great. First number is my value, next is the normal range.
|WBC||6.9||4.0 - 11.0||thou/uL|
|RBC||4.35||3.80 - 5.40||mill/uL|
|Hemoglobin||15.2||12.0 - 16.0||g/dL|
|Hematocrit||43.9||35.0 - 47.0||%|
|MCV||101||80 - 100||fL|
|MCH||34.9||27.0 - 34.0||pg|
|MCHC||34.6||32.0 - 36.0||g/dL|
|RDW||12.8||11.0 - 14.5||%|
|Platelets||401||140 - 440||thou/uL|
|Mean Platelet Volume||7.2||7.0 - 10.0||fL|
Ferritin was 121 (wow!)
Two things that stick out:
MCV - a measure of the average red blood cell volume. Calculated by dividing the total volume of packed red blood cells (also known as hematocrit) by the total number of red blood cells.
Mine is higher than normal and I've been tested to figure out the cause - apparently, it's just genetic. I have a lot larger RBCs than normal. Think that's a good thing. Thanks M&D.
MCH - the average mass of hemoglobin per RBC. Calculated by dividing the total mass of hemoglobin by the number of RBCs in a volume of blood.
So not only do I have large RBCs, but I pack a lot of hemoglobin onto each of them. Again, I think that's a good thing. Thanks again, M&D.
I've never had ferritin tested, so no idea if 121 is really high for me? I was surprised at the number, though. I know I'm a healthy eater and good meat-eater, but still! I've been told that if it's too high there can be negative effects... need to research...
Last time I had hemoglobin tested I was 13.9 (before Fargo). Same test had WBC count at 5.7 and RBC count at 4.10. So looks like everything is a little higher (better?). The only other thought was that maybe a little dehydrated and things are just concentrated? I asked Chris that question and he said maybe, but that dehydration shouldn't be affecting my performance THAT much, if it truly is a little dehydration.
I don't think it would be anything else nutrition related. I've eaten well throughout this cycle, and have been diligent about taking my Nutrilite Double X vitamins which are THE best vitamins out there. Can't imagine that between the two I'd be missing much of anything [Thank you, Nutrilite!!].
3. Thyroid- also tested normal. TSH was .8
4. Being "too" lean? My body fat % before Chicago was lower than it ever has been.12 days before the race I went up to the U of MN for a running economy test and they also let me re-test body composition. At 110.3 pounds, I was 13.8% body fat, which is about 2% lower than the last time I was tested (results here). But then, over the next 7-8 days, I dropped to 107. Doing the math, that means I was at a BF % of ~11. (They say the "average" elite female marathoner is 10%). I think I am genetically pre-dispositioned to have a higher than normal BF %, so I wonder if this just wasn't natural for me. It wasn't like I was starving myself to get down to this (in fact, not at all), so it's weird. I just think I've changed what I burn in workouts enough that I don't need to fight as hard to lose weight (thanks, UCAN) and my metabolism has changed a little in general so even if I'm not using UCAN pre and post workout, I've taught my body to burn a little more fat vs. entirely carbs.
The other clue that this was that I missed my period before Chicago. Since I'm on birth control, it takes a bit to miss it (I haven't missed one since starting on BC in college). Probably a sign :).
TMI? Perhaps. But I'm all about logging everything and trying to be completely real. Missing periods in competitive female athletics is common (all too common), and I know it is NOT a good thing.
Because of this thought, I allowed myself to gain a bit before NYC. Problem is, that didn't help. Not sure how much I gained (haven't weighed myself and don't really care to), but it's noticeable. Problem is, things just got worse in between Chicago and NYC. I know underfueling is something that takes a while to come back from... so still perhaps a contributing factor?
5. Just plain falling apart the day after I turned 30. Ha. Gee, I can hardly wait to see what 31 will bring!
Potential tests?I've talked a bit with Kelly Brinkman, an AMAZINGLY fast runner that has struggled with something similar starting this summer. Same leg problems, but also some GI issues. She's had a zillion tests done to figure it out and thinks hers might be a gluten intolerance.
Since a lot of our symptoms are the same (except for the stomach/GI stuff), I'm curious if that could be it...
Regular tests: vitamin D, mono, lyme's disease, food allergies (glucose, fructose, lactose, and gluten)...
Testing for abnormalities: complete blood count, chemistry panel, urinalysis, auto-immune diseases (not sure which ones, it was a panel of them), EKG
Another blogger commented here and recommended adrenal gland testing.
Some of the elites at NYC suggested a torn hip labral (which apparently causes clumsiness, but no pain from the actual torn labral.
I'm not so sure about mono, since I don't have a sore throat or other symptoms other than extreme tiredness. Torn hip labral? I would doubt it?
Help?!?So, now I leave this open to the wide world of blogging - to you! If you have any thoughts on what this might be, have had anything similar and found something you thought to have worked, please comment here. If any of the tests above would be fruitless, I also appreciate the comments (the fewer times I need to be poked or give blood, the better!).
Oh, and if there are doctor recommendations in MN, let me know. Kelly suggested Mayo and I'm more than happy to travel. Is there a doctor there that specializes in runners?
Also, if you'd be willing to forward this along to anyone else that might have an idea, I'd really appreciate it. Seriously, I really want to figure this out so I can make the most of this time off, get healthy again, so I can start running fast again :).
THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU in advance for all of your help. Already, there have been so many people that have reached out to me. Truly just awesome. :)
(Oh, and if this is really just overtraining/exhaustion and not something else so I should just enjoy this time off and not worry about this, let me know. I think there is something else, but then again, I have a tendency to over-analyze and over-think! I don't mind a million comments just telling me I'm crazy and to stop thinking about it!)