Saturday, October 25, 2014

Introducing: Jordan Joy!

During my absence another huge event took place.....

My beautiful niece was born!  Jordan Joy burst forth on October 5, 2014 around 9:00 PM.

Friday, October 24, 2014


To continue my medical drama, I did figure out some things after visiting the allergist on Monday.

I went in fully expecting to get the full panel of testing done on my back.  I was anticipating food, drug, environmental and animal testing.  With my t-shirt in hand, and my mom at my side, I was ready to get some more answers.

The doctor is a cool dude.  He was a jokester, which I liked, but still was very concerned about my "condition" and is sure he can help to come up with some answers.  After listening to my lungs he had me to do a breathing test and my lungs were functioning at 68%.  He wasn't impressed.  He wanted to rule out any sort of immune disease associated with my lungs and mostly wanted to make sure my lungs didn't have mold in them.  He ordered some blood tests for that and at that point told me they can now do allergy testing through the blood instead of the traditional skin prick test.  Sounded reasonable to me, although I wouldn't get the results until the following day.

Somehow, I knew I could make it another 24 hours.

Sure enough, I sat and waited diligently by my email to get the test results.  Tuesday afternoon I was impatient so I emailed the doctor and he told me the allergy testing machine was broken.

Finally, yesterday the results were in.  I am "highly" allergic to everything I love in this world....

I am allergic to cat dander.  And have a lower grade allergy to dog dander.  So after crying about having to possibly get rid of my cats, I spoke to the doctor and he said that my severe asthma (also a new development) is probably exacerbated by the allergy and vice versa.  So maybe if we can get one under control the other will follow.

So, bottom line, Patrick has no reason to divorce me yet.  Considering the cats are the reason why he married me.

So I am going to start using the high dose inhaler of Dulera, and continue prednisone for three months.  I still have to go see the pulmonologist in two weeks to discuss my poor lung function, but my oxygen is now up to 96 and I am back in the pool!

Things are looking up.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Update: Pneumonia

I haven't been great about keeping up the blog, but I figured I would shoot out an update since a few things have happened.

I have written extensively about some ongoing breathing/lung/health related issues that I have struggled with throughout this year and finally it all came to a head.  Two weeks ago I started to have breathing issues again.  I was sucking down my inhaler, and I was finding myself winded at strange times.  It was majorly impacting my workouts and even causing me to struggle through normal day to day activities.

After a particularly bad swim on Sunday morning, I decided it was time to go to the doctor again.  So I made the first available appointment for the following Monday, and I was able to get in with a nurse practitioner.  That Sunday night, Patrick and I went to our friend's wedding and the entire time I struggled with breathing and I couldn't dance or enjoy myself.  I was ready to go into the doctor's office demanding answers, clearly their treatment so far wasn't sufficient.

The following morning I went to my appointment and after the nurse practitioner took my vitals she told me I needed to go to the ER.  My blood oxygen was in the high 70s and she told me that without treatment to raise my oxygen I could possibly have organ failure.  Especially for the prolonged amount of time I had been struggling for breath.  I was given a breathing treatment (albuterol) and that helped me temporarily raise my oxygen to about 83.  An IV was started and the next thing I knew I was being taken by my husband to the ER.

When I got there I was taken back and the IV drip started with prednisone and I had a blood draw to test for clots.   The test came back positive, although birth control pills can cause a false positive.  The likely scenario.  The doctors wanted to eliminate any issues with my heart before they started on anything else.  I knew I didn't have a heart problem, but I guess you have to start with the worst case scenario.  I was given a CAT scan, an EKG, an echocardiogram, a chest x-ray and an ultrasound.  All turned out normal.  So we were clear the issue was with my lungs, not my heart.

The end result?  I have pneumonia.

Finally, a diagnosis.

The treatment for bacterial pneumonia is a round of antibiotics (azithromycin).  I was told to use my albuterol inhaler as needed and in a few days the mucus should start breaking up in my chest and I will develop a cough.  I was told by my awesome nurse, Chuck, at the ER that going to work the following day was probably a "dick move", so I decided to heed his advice and rest at home on Tuesday.

Wednesday morning I was still feeling pretty bad, I wasn't experiencing any coughing, I was exhausted, my back hurt from shallow breathing and the antibiotics were tearing up my stomach.  But I went to work.  I didn't want to waste more days when I would be miserable no matter where I was.

I lasted about two hours until I was told to get out and go work from home - something that is almost unheard of at our company.  I was banished for the rest of the week.

By Friday I wasn't feeling any better and my week of antibiotics was almost done.  I called and got a follow-up appointment with my doctor for late Friday afternoon.  I was doing my best to not use my inhaler so that my symptoms were peaking during my appointment.  By the time I got there and had my oxygen tested I was back at 79.  After a triple strength breathing treatment a prescription for whatever they give 80 year old emphysema patients and a course of prednisone, I was on my way.

With the prednisone working I almost immediately felt relief.  My lungs started to open up and I was developing that cough they spoke of earlier in the week.  Chunks were coming up and I was feeling optimistic about figuring out the cause of my issues.  I survived the weekend feeling better than I had in awhile, and I was anxious for my allergist appointment on Monday to cut to the root of the problem....

To be continued.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Swimming: The Secret Sport

As a swim coach, I do a lot of reading about the sport.  I don't do it because it is my "job", I do it because not only can I pass on relevant tips to my swimmers, but I also try and continue to improve.

Swimming is an enigma to most.  In a lot of ways it a very much a "secret" sport.  Most practices go on while other people are still sleeping and they are usually contained to a rec center.  You don't see swimmers along the side of the road like you see runners or cyclists.  Swimming is not a sport that you can do anywhere, you have to seek it out.

There is very little "glamour" to swimming.  Nobody has ever posed for Playboy wearing a cap and goggles, and there is no way to look sexy in a Speedo.  Recently, I read an article that described swimming as zen mixed with masochism.  I laughed and thougth about how this is shockingly accurate.  Swimmers voluntarily get up early, very early, to jump into a cold pool and swim up and down and up and down for hours all while depriving ourselves of oxygen.  And why do we do it?  Because we like the challenge, we like the feeling of a hard workout, and we like the "high" we get from doing something the majority of people can't do.  It is a feeling of accomplishment, pride and a continued quest to achieve goals.

You know that joke about how you don't have to ask someone if they ran a marathon, they will tell you?  Swimming is the opposite.  I think it boils down to the workout itself.  Everyone has tried running.  Running is hard.  Most people know the kind of energy that goes into running a mile, let alone the thought of running 26.2 miles.  If I tell someone I swam 4000 yards it sounds like a lot, but they don't have anything personal to compare it to.  If I were to say that 4000 yards is actually 160 laps, you can almost see the little lightbulb go off on top of their head and it starts to make sense.  When you tell them you did all of that in 75 minutes, it makes even more sense and their jaws start to drop.

But swimmers don't do that.  Why?  Because it doesn't matter.  I don't swim for other people.  I don't do what I do in order to have something to tell people, or a picture to post on facebook or instagram.  I swim because I love it, and so do the other weirdos who swim with me.

And within our secret society we talk about what we love, we talk about our workout and we are able to relate to each other about something that other people don't understand.

The secret sport of swimming.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Struggling with recovery

I am now 4 days out from the marathon and my soreness has decreased.  At the same time though, it has changed.  I am no longer actively paralyzed from the waist down, but I have some muscles that just do not want to loosen up.

I attempted to go out for a trot today.  I planned on not taking a watch and just seeing how I felt and doing 4-5 miles depending on the legs.  They were loud and clear:

I think it was too soon.  My hamstrings, namely my right hamstring, is just screaming.  Additionally, I am having a strange issue with not being able to keep any food down today so I left work to go home due to not wanting to vomit during our weekly meeting.  I have no idea what it could be from.  Don't worry, not preggo.  The world isn't ready for more gingery Boylans just yet.

When I got home I immediately went to down on the foam roller, but it doesn't seem to be helping.  I know what most people would say, just rest.  But my issue is that I have a half in two weeks and I feel like I need to get back out there in order to push through.

The voices in my head while running today were saying "who give a shit about the half, let us rest" and I am going to listen.  I am hoping another day or two off the legs will be the final boost I need to be fully recovered.

Until then...

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Revel Rockies Marathon: Race Review


I did it!  My goal of completing two marathons in three months is complete!

When I made the decision to sign up for another marathon a few months ago I wasn't sure what to expect from my performance.  It was fresh in my mind how bad those last few miles were and, of course, I want to be able to do better.  So, one day while browsing facebook I saw an ad for the Revel Denver Marathon.  The race was all downhill (4500 ft of loss) and around the right timeframe I was looking for to do this again.  I love running downhill.  And I am actually kind of good at it.  I think it has to do with gravity finally working in my favor.  This was the inaugural year for this event.  Sometimes that works in your favor, and other times it is bad.  Very bad. (Ahem...Xterra Aspen anyone?)

Fat Kid Rolling Hook

So let's get down to it.  The race was Sunday morning and packet pickup was downtown Denver on Saturday.  Saturday morning I went out for a two mile run just to stay loose, and did our usual weekend stuff, went to Costco, etc.  Before we knew it we had to head down to the expo.  The hours were 10AM to 8PM, so they definitely catered to everyone's timeframe.  We rolled downtown around 5PM and it was practically empty.  There were a few vendors, but nothing fancy and we were in and out within 10 minutes.

We met up with some of our friends at the expo and headed over to dinner together.  We had a lovely carb session at Macaroni Grill and by the time we were done we headed over to our hotel.  We decided to get a hotel because my wakeup call was at 3:45 AM.  If I had left from our house in Boulder it probably would have taken about 45 minutes to an hour to get there....getting up at 2:45 to run a marathon just doesn't sound good, so we opted for a hotel about 3 minutes from the race finish.  The race parking lot was right next to the Bandimere Speedway in Morrison, CO.  This was a point to point course, so we parked at the finish and took a bus to the start.  Also, I was the only one running the full out of our group, so the other girls who shared the room with us got to sleep awhile longer and Patrick hitched a ride with them.

We checked into the hotel and got our things together for the morning and went to sleep around 9:30.  It was one of those nights where I felt like I didn't sleep at all.  I would lay there, look at the clock and an hour would pass.  I know I did sleep, it just wasn't very satisfying.  So the last time I looked at the clock I had two minutes till the alarm went off so I got up and snuck out of the room without making too much noise.  I drove over to the finish and got on the bus within 15 minutes.  And then we were off.

The drive seemed to take forever.  It took over an hour to get to the top of the course (which was about 2000 ft short of the peak of Mt. Evans).  We basically stopped in the middle of the road, and there were about a dozen porta potties.  This is when I realized how small this race really was.  There were only about 400 people signed up for the full.  So looking around, it seemed like a joke to have a dozen bathrooms, but I was able to use one before the race so I was ok with it.  They did delay the start by a few minutes to allow everyone some extra time.

Before I knew it the race started and I was wedged between the 4:10 and 4:25 pace group.  I started a comfortable, slow trot and I was enjoying the immediate downhill.  As we started to descend further, the pack spread out and I was keeping pace with the 3:55 pace group somewhat easily.  What was really weird to me is the 3:55 and 3:45 pace group were right next to each other, so I sped up a bit and went with the 3:45 pace group.

I was cruising, it felt good, I couldn't believe the fact that I was holding a pace under 9 minutes.  In fact, for the first 6.9 miles I held an 8:41 pace.  So I just went with it.  I stayed with this group until the halfway point where I looked down and saw my watch at 1:51.  I crushed my half PR by 12 minutes!  I was still holding an 8:40 pace.  Up until this point it was a smooth downhill.  There was only one tiny uphill.  Well, right after the aid station at the half there was a giant uphill, followed by another giant uphill.  Moving this much solid muscle mass (BAHAHAHAA) up a giant hill is hard work, and my pace slowed down considerably.  I waved goodby to the 3:45 group (just kidding, they left me in the dust without saying anything.  Dicks.) and decided to walk for a bit to eat a gel.

At this point is where I saw something strange in the road and jogged up to it.  It was a giant brown dildo.  I kid you not.  I looked around to find someone to laugh with and realized I was all by myself and made a sad clown face and pressed on.  Truly a highlight of the race for me.

It was at this point I realized I had been a little too aggressive with my pace at the beginning.  Between the uphills and the flats during the middle section my pace increased to 10:10 (yeah, told you) but I was still ahead of the 3:55 pacer and she was my target to stay in front of.  At mile 20 I hit the wall.  My left hip was aching and sending pain up and down my left leg and I started to walk.  Until this point I hadn't walked at all except for that first uphill for a bit and through the aid stations.  And once I started to walk I knew it was the beginning of the end.

I started to do a walk run and I was compensating for my left hip through my right leg, trying to propel myself forward.  I was holding about 11:00 minute miles through the walk/run method and around mile 23 is when the 3:55 pacer passed me.  This was also a very slow uphill section.  I was driving the pain train.  I watched my under 4 hour dreams pass me by and I realized I was still crushing my previous time of 4:40.

The last few miles are a blur of running/walking and pain.  I was just ready to be done and I knew it was close when I got to downtown Morrison.  A nice policeman told me that I had one more turn and then the finish line.  I started to book it toward that turn and that's when I saw a hill that looked like Everest.  I was walking again and at the top of the hill I saw my cheering section:

Patrick looking regal as can be.
So I did the best I could and managed to get back into a trot...
Oh haaaaaaayyyy.
Green shirt guy had no chance.
And I finally crossed the finish line at 4:21!  A 20 minute PR!  Thinking about the race now I always try to analyze what I could have done differently.  I suppose I could have taken it out slower, but I am not really sure I wouldn't have been that dead at mile 20.  Regardless, I proved to myself I could go under 2 hours in a half, and 20 minutes off my time is nothing to feel bad about.

After I went through the finisher chute I sat down.  I think my face says it all:

I felt kind of faint so I just sat for a few minutes before we went back to Boulder to go to breakfast.

And that's the end of it.  My mission is complete and I am proud of myself.  If anyone were to ask about this race I would say they have to like running downhill, but the race itself was smooth, the aid stations were filled with great, smiling people, plenty of gatorade and the necessities.  The course was beautiful.  I give Revel Denver an A.  I have a feeling I will be back next year.

By the way, everyone in our group fucking crushed their half.  This course is a PR dream.

And now, I am DOMS-ing hard.  My body is more wrecked than after the last marathon.  All the downhill was brutal on my legs.  I took yesterday off, I don't think I would have been able to do anything.  I am walking around like Frankenstein.  I rolled last night and this morning I felt better, good enough to go swim at the Rez.  I think all the goose poop provided some healing elements because I feel better already.  I am not sure when I will be ready to run again, but it will be this week because I have the Chicago Half Marathon on September 7th!

Friday, August 15, 2014