Well, that month came and went rather quickly. Between all the usual obligations and general “life stuff” that peppered the month of November — in addition to Thanksgiving break (a week long! An entire WEEK!); conference week (a week+ of shortened school days to allow the teachers to meet with parents in the early afternoon hours); and other one-off events — this month came and went, I ran a couple races, I finished the thick of my CIM training, and now we’re just a couple days out from The Big Day.
Admittedly, as I talked about in previous months’ entries, this quarter has been pretty tough. Fortunately, by the time November came (and went), a lot of the stressors began to diminish a bit: namely, my husband continued to recover from surgery, and the dust at school from A’s teacher quitting began to settle. I had mentioned in my October recap that I had felt pretty knackered but had basically attributed it to life and everything that was going on. Well, long story short, the “extreme fatigue” seemed to be sticking around. A call to my endocrinologist (whom I see yearly for a diagnosed thyroid issue) about it led to testing my TSH — all normal — which made her suggest that I take a pregnancy test. I’ve been pregnant twice, and I know pregnancy tired, and I knew this wasn’t that (plus those minor my husband just had abdominal surgery and I have a semi-permanent birth control details).
At any rate — long story short — a routine test as part of my annual physical with my GP revealed that my liver was, as we say, seemingly fucked. My liver enzyme levels were through-the-roof horrible (like, 5 times what they should have been); it looked like there was something — some thing — on my liver; and if I were a) obese and/or b) a heavy drinker, all of this would make sense … but I’m not … so it didn’t. (For reference: the last alcoholic drink I had was a single mimosa. In October. Of last year).
Fast forward through the month of November, which included:
- another set of bloodwork;
- going off my colitis medicine (with the thinking that it might be contributing to the liver inflammation/enlargement and other stuff) but then
- subsequently having to deal with the fun realities that come when you have colitis but aren’t medicated for it (read: lots of QT with my bathroom and/or the great outdoors, in emergency situations, mid-run, which is always a great experience and a fantastic way to meet strangers (mortified beyond mortified));
- an ultrasound;
- a CT scan;
- more bloodwork;
- and an MRI.
I’m still waiting for the final diagnosis (diagnoses? maybe?) to put all this to bed — and did I mention we’re switching insurance in the new year, and I’ll have to find a new GI to help manage this mess? — but it seems like we’re almost out of the woods with all of this stuff. I can’t do a happy dance quite yet, but I feel like I can at least get into position. I didn’t dare Google anything that my doctor said or what the radiologists’ reports indicated because I’d surely learn that my death was imminent, but let me assure you: all of this stuff was scary shit. I am so grateful to a) have insurance; b) have a doctor who listens to my concerns; c) have gotten a physical that caught this in the first place (moral: get your yearly physical, people! And when something seems “off,” listen to your body and call a real-life professional instead of trying to fix it yourself with remedies that aren’t scientific and are deleterious to your health, at best); and d) that my sister is a real-life medical professional who talked me off the ledge and helped me make sense of everything.
I’m not a medical professional, but here’s a quick and dirty lesson about your liver. It’s important. When it’s not working as it should, that’s a problem.
All of that said, there for a while, I wasn’t even sure that CIM would come to fruition. A lot of my runs this training cycle have been okay, meh, or kinda flat, and the fatigue was pretty killer; one of the liver’s many functions is to do the detoxing in your body — the real kind, not the “I’m gonna go on a juice cleanse to detoxify my body” kind. (Sidenote: again, another quick and dirty biology lesson. Your liver and your kidneys are your built-in detoxing buddies. If you hear that you need to “cleanse” or “detox” for some reason [barring something that’d actually warrant detoxing, like drug abuse], assume that the person doling out that advice just wants your money, and do yourself a favor and go set your money on fire. Either one suffices because they achieve the same end result. There’s no scientific merit to the idea of “detoxing” diets, cleanses, anything, unless — of course — you’ve been abusing drugs. Huge pet peeve of mine. Anyway). My GP and GI both seemed to think that all that crazy fatigue I had been feeling could be attributable to my liver’s subpar status in that it was incapable of fully or adequately doing its job. It was even as late as the Clarksburg half — mid-November — that I was fairly torn about whether running, much less trying to race, CIM was a good idea (and conversations with my doctor informed me that me running or training wouldn’t exacerbate anything; provided I wanted to run and wasn’t having horrible unmedicated colitis-related issues, I could run my little heart out).
As we rolled through November and the final handful of weeks of training — running Clarksburg and XC Champs, doing the last hard workouts, getting race ready with more GMP-focused stuff, and running a little lower mileage than usual (about 190 for the month, my lowest all year) but with specific and deliberate intensity — eventually — fortunately — things have seemed to begin to turn around. As of a few days ago, anyway, my labs on my liver seem to be indicating the same.
A note about CIM training, generally speaking: when I first decided that I’d race CIM, I had just come off racing the SF Marathon in late July and then pacing the 3:33 group at Santa Rosa a month later, so I knew I didn’t need to start from scratch with my training. I decided to try something new and enlisted the help of Lisa — gracious and humble human being; devoted Wolfpack wonder leader extraordinaire; and badass and fast runner — to coach me. I hadn’t been coached since I did this stuff for the first time, back in 2007 with Team in Training in Chicago, so it has been a lot of fun to work under someone for once and not be the one calling all the shots all the time. Working with a coach this time around has meant “doing running” differently — different workouts, different mileage volume and intensity, different everything — and honestly, it has been great. I have hesitated to work with a coach because my running is so varied all the time — between running with my kids; pushing a stroller more often than not; run-commuting 1.5 miles, four times a day, four days a week, most weeks; racing fairly frequently, be it roads or XC; or needing/wanting to have the freedom to mix in trails with roads basically whenever I want — that I have more or less thought of myself as fairly uncoachable at this time in my life. I’m super fortunate to have had the opportunity to work under Lisa because she gets it in the broad sense, and more specifically, she understands my running and how it can (or can’t) look right now for me. It’s a relationship that I plan to continue, and I’m grateful that Lisa has gotten me to the starting line on Sunday ready to rumble (bizarre liver issues be damned).
I’m totally stoked and honored to toe the line at my 31st marathon on Sunday morning. Marathons are tough as hell, obviously, and I could have a fantastic day, a horrible day, or something in between, regardless of what time I end up posting.
Spoiler: it will be fantastic.
Reading: You Are a Badass (eh) for Lindsey’s podcast’s book club; Kevin Hart’s Book (I Can’t Make This Up), also eh but actually fairly funny and moderately inspiring; and I’m partially through Elizabeth Warren’s book and Hillary Clinton’s book (both very good and highly recommended, especially HRC’s). Oh, and this is a great CIM-related read. Hat-tip to Mario for sharing that gem.
Listening, Watching: I should just omit this stuff because I’m a horrible consumer of entertainment and am basically eons behind the rest of humanity. How awesome was the NYC Marathon though?!!?!
Enjoying: So much in November, including our ten-year wedding anniversary, my birthday, and my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving. Oh, and this tea. (Not an affiliate link or anything; I had it for the first time on the Hoka trip and have been hooked ever since. I asked for some for my birthday because I’m weird and ask for tea for my birthday every single year).
It’s CIM time, baby!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!