What the Heck Happened???

Its been a long, long time since I last posted, and if I do have any followers left, you’re probably wondering what the heck happened to me!!

Well, a lot!

I got really sick after Ironman Tahoe, actually before, but I didn’t realize it as I thought it was merely training fatigue. I was having severe abdominal pains, bloating, and fatigue, and was found to have two very large uterine fibroids (one the size of a grapefruit and another the size of an orange) and a large ovarian cyst a month after the race. During surgery for a hysterectomy, the doctors also discovered a netting of scar tissue connecting all of my abdominal organs, which they had to cut away with surgical scissors, presumably from undiagnosed endometriosis. It was all a shock to me and my physician, as I’d had a normal routine gynecological exam two months prior to my race and no family history of these conditions. This seemingly came out of the blue.

I figured after a normal recovery period, working closely with my physician, I’d be back to training and regaining my fitness. I was registered for Honu 70.3 that May (surgery was in January), so I contacted Ironman for a medical withdrawal and they actually just transferred my registration to 2014, which I thought was very, very nice of them (I’d not even requested that!). So that became my game plan, recover for a season and back to it.

But apparently my body didn’t like that game plan!! I just couldn’t kick the fatigue. I retired September 2014 and figured that would give me some time to rest and get back with the program. But life had other foci—I moved to Seattle, we remodeled our house, and I was still tired. I started back on my running plan and it took everything I had to do it, and it was just awful. I did do some races, the 9K Portland Shamrock Run (down from my regular 15K), a 12K Seahawks run, a 10K run for Autism, and then I just couldn’t run anymore, I was too tired. I DNS’d the May 2015 Honu 70.3 and September 2015 Beat the Blerch half-marathon I registered for. I was exhausted, had gained weight despite my continued vegan diet, and felt my body was telling me to rest.

Finally, Fall 2015, after really trying to get my running plan going, I realized something was wrong with me. I simply could not run or do any sort of workout without being completely exhausted. That is, if I ran one day, even something as simple as 1.5 miles, or did a Zumba class I was shot for a week and a half!! And by shot I mean, couldn’t get out of bed, certainly could not work out, and could barely function. And to make it worse, I couldn’t sleep either.

Long story short of doctors visits, referrals, and frustration, I finally saw a naturopathetic physician who discovered I had hypothyroidism and adrenal fatigue. Turns out my bout with influenza 2012 probably taxed my adrenal glands and the added body stress from Ironman training and my firefighting job never allowed them to heal. In fact, they worsened to the point that I developed the uterine fibroids, polycystic ovaries, and endometriosis as a result. It turns out that your endocrine system uses your adrenal glands, reproductive organs, and thyroid gland to keep your hormones in balance. When one group is taxed, the other two pick up the slack to keep things steady and to allow the other part to rejuvenate. So when my adrenal glands were exhausted, my reproductive organs took over, leading to their dysfunction. Then, unbeknownst to me, I made it worse by having my hysterectomy, taking a large part of that system out, causing my thyroid gland to do all the heavy lifting for my defunct adrenals and lacking reproductive organs. It makes perfect sense now, after the fact, but it wasn’t obvious at the time.

So I have been working with my naturopathic physician to restore balance back into my endocrine system, healing my adrenal and thyroid glands. And it’s taking time. But, I am finally feeling better and have slowly started to regain my fitness. I walked the 2015 Shamrock Run 5K and I’m now able to run a training plan and have done some shorter events (3-5 miles). I’m working on a 10K running plan and have registered for the 2016 Beat the Blerch 10K event in September.

Girls Weekend Shamrock Walk

The hardest part of this recovery is taking it slow. My ego wants to jump back in and start where I left off, but my brain has to tell me to be patient. I was hoping to get back into triathlon this season, but seeing that it’s mid-May and all I’ve done is worked on my running, it’s really just too much to ask my body to get my swimming and biking up to par so soon. So, my plan is to continue running and start to add some biking this summer. I’ll introduce swimming again in the fall and be ready to go for the 2017 tri season. It’s been very hard to make that decision, but I know I’ll be all the better for it.

So, stay tuned for some running reports and stories of me getting back into the (bike) saddle!

And heck…I’ll even age-up in the process! WooHoo!

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