Saturday, May 14, 2016


I'm excited about the progress, so I'm sharing!

On April 12th I had my blood drawn in an attempt to determine the cause for the various symptoms that had been thrown at me. This week, I went back to the lab to see what improvements, if any, my blood would now show after one month of iron supplements and dietary changes.

April 12, 2016:
May 11, 2016:
As you can see, my ferritin level has increased from less than 5 up to 40! I'm still anemic, but I now have the iron stores that my body needs to get out of its anemic state. I'm very happy to see my hemoglobin up from 99 to 113. Soon, I'll have the blood of a healthy person again!

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Training, "racing", and health.

It's been an interesting few months since I last posted...

I got a coach.

After a month of attempting to figure out some sort of training plan, getting nowhere other than to the land of frustration, I decided that I needed someone else to do that for me. So... I started looking into coaches online. I was looking for someone with ultramarathon experience, since I plan to continue running at least one ultra per year most years. I found someone that looked like they could be a decent option, and asked my friend Adam, who is a coach, for his opinion... which ended up turning into him becoming my coach! It was something that neither of us really considered because of the above noted ultra criteria, but after some discussion, figured this could actually work. So, I am now training with Fastisfun Personal Running Coaching.

I attempted to race a few times.
The key word is definitely "attempted."
I had my worst races in 3 or 4 years.

My first race of the year was the Re-Fridgee-Eighter 8 mile on February 21st.
It did not go well. I had difficulty trying to even stay below marathon pace.

Here's what I wrote in my log after the race...

That sucked. I'm not sure why, but I didn't want to race; there was no adrenaline, no excitement, etc. I think I kind of went into it with a negative frame of mind... thinking about how I was more fit last year, etc... essentially setting myself up for failure.
Mile splits: 7:08, 7:32, 7:41, 7:38, 8:05, 8:12, 7:53, 7:29

On the plus side, it was a fun pre- and post- race with lots of great performances by friends and teammates. Also, I had some fun with being a double agent of sorts. Fastisfun had put in a couple of teams, so we took some photos with the singlets, etc, but I was racing on a team with Health and Performance (I'm still a member), so that was the shirt that I was actually wearing during the race. Terry, from H+P took the following photo:

On April 3rd, it was time to run Around the Bay 30K, which is generally one of my favourite races of the year.

Log notes from that day...

I felt so rushed this morning.... things were not going right on my way to the race, so it took longer than it should have.. I jogged from the car to the stadium, threw my stuff inside (after it took forever to get to the section where I was supposed to be meeting some people and where I was going to leave my bag), hit the washroom, then back out for a km more and 4 strides. Then got into my packed corral.

The Race:
Cramp in my side around 12K, took a while to go away.. when it did, I felt nauseous.... and the nausea kept recurring for the rest of the 30K. I kept taking walk breaks to try and make it resolve.. I would start to feel better, get back to running again.... re-pass a bunch of people... then it would come back. This was the cycle for over half the race.

(Something I didn't mention above was my ring finger on my right hand.. it went numb before half way through the race and did not return to normal until after I finished)

Wee Cool down of sorts:
I was cold... so I went back in after slightly more than a km.

I finished ATB 15 minutes slower than last year.

And then the following Saturday was my Aha race.... ENDURrace 5K.

Log notes:
First bit of the race was good. I felt good. But... before 2K I was already feeling drained and starting to slow down. I was asked right after I finished by a runner that I'm usually pretty evenly matched with if I've had bloodwork done recently because she's noticed that I'm not running like myself. So yeah... today was the day that I now really do think there might be something wonky going on. I have my doctor's appointment on Monday, so I'll get him to give me a requisition for a whole whack of stuff and see what (if anything) is going on with my blood. I kind of hope there is something... 'cause then there would be an explanation and hopefully an easy fix so that I can get back to running well.

There was a bit more to it than what I wrote above. Around 2.5K, I had a bit of numbness in my legs. Just before 3K I tried to get back to a normal 5K pace... I got there ever so briefly. I felt like I was running hard... the effort was there... but I glanced at my watch and thought "really?" I was only going approximately half marathon pace. I kept trying to push but the pace would not improve. In fact, it got slower and I was down to marathon pace and slightly slower by 4K. After the final turn, about half way to the finish line I tried to kick. Everything from 3K on had been a test at this point, trying to see what my body would allow me to do. So.. I pushed HARD... the end result? Not even what I would normally average on a 5K. I at least got just under 7 min pace in that final short stretch, but barely.

My finish time was 23:48, which was my slowest 5K since 2012.

I saw a doctor.
Two days after my "aha moment" of ENDURrace 5K, I had an appointment with my doctor. I rambled off all of the random symptoms I had been having, some of which I had for 3+ years (see photo to the right for a post-run hand for me), but never thought a whole lot about them until they became more and more frequent,

I had Raynaud's symptoms for over three years. They started in 2012, but were infrequent. White fingers only occurred maybe once every couple of months and resolved fairly quickly with some warm/hot water. They also used only affect maybe half of each finger until this past year, when (as you can see in the photo) the full fingers started to be affected and symptoms became more and more frequent, occurring after almost every run.

Other symptoms I had recently were: cold hands and feet, headaches, needing to sleep 9+ hours per night, fatiguing more quickly when running (workouts had gotten more and more difficult... I kept feeling like stopping in the middle of workouts and runs... it was frustrating and was very difficult on the mind), and some numbness in a finger and also in my legs. The fatigue and the numbness were what brought me to the doctor. By the time I attempted the 5K, I figured it was quite likely iron related.

I was given a requisition for blood work including a CBC and ferritin and I was on my way. I promptly stopped by a lab that same morning to have my blood drawn.


I actually laughed when I saw the results the next morning (I love being able to get my results online!). I expected them to be off... I expected low ferritin, but I didn't expect the ferritin to be THAT low and I also didn't expect full blown anemia.

I called my doctor's office to book an appointment to go over the results, but they stated they would review the results and call back with recommendations. So... I waited.... and waited... I got a call back at the end of the day requesting for me to come back in. So, I booked an appointment and wandered over to Shoppers to talk to a pharmacist. I wasn't going to wait until I went back to the doctor to start supplementing. The results were clearly showing iron deficiency anemia and I was going to get started on treatment ASAP. (as a side note, I read and assess lab results daily as part of my job, so I do have knowledge in this sort of thing). I discussed my lab results with the pharmacist, who recommended ferrous fumarate 300mg tablets. He mentioned that these particular pills have a tendency to cause more side effects than some others, but that it has the highest amount of elemental iron, so due to my super low ferritin, this would be ideal. So.. starting the same day that my lab results became available, I was on iron supplements three times a day.

A couple of days later, I saw the doctor again, went over the results, answered a bunch of questions to ensure there was no other cause for anemia suspected, and was informed that I was doing exactly what would be recommended to me. Excellent!

I left with another requisition, which I will use mid-May to see how things are progressing and to make an educated decision on whether or not to run the marathon that I'm registered for at the end of May.

I'm on my way back.

As of today, I've been on iron supplements for three weeks. I'm amazed at how much better running feels already. I am definitely not 100% yet (and won't be for another couple of months, most likely), but seeing as I was likely anemic or at a bare minimum iron deficient for a really long time, feeling part way to normal is amazing! Workouts are no longer something I dread. I don't feel like I need to drag myself to complete a longer run. I am enjoying running again... and I absolutely cannot wait to have normal blood with enough hemoglobin to deliver all of the required oxygen to my muscles!

I am actually glad that things got as bad as they did because otherwise I might not have seen the doctor, I might not have had bloodwork done, and I might not be on this road to becoming a person with healthy, normal blood.