Sunday, October 25, 2009

Comebacks, Chemical Burns, and INTERRUPTED ALLITERATION

This week has proved a frustrating one in many ways. My workload in school has been reasonable all semester-- then this week I had two-midterms and two papers. As if that wasn't enough work, I shot myself in the foot by being a moron and not writing the papers ahead of time. Then I spent what felt like half the week bouncing back and forth between different doctors and my health insurance to continue attempting to figure out what the heck was going on with me. Despite my pneumonia-scarred lungs, propensity for chest infections, and past respiratory difficulties, the doctor I saw is concerned that it's some magical underlying defect that got totally missed in my last full cardiac workup three years ago. I understand wanting to leave no stone unturned, but getting the referral approved by my primary care guy so that my insurance would cover it was probably enough of a hassle to GIVE me a heart condition. Suffice to say, I'd be down for any healthcare reform that cuts down all this hoop-jumping, no matter whose idea it is.
Anyway, what the cardiologist decided to do is put on me on a halter-monitor for 24 hours and test my blood for every condition known to man and a few only Wookiees are supposed to get. When I went into the office on Friday (this is one huge positive to this situation: the cardiologist's staff was very helpful and were able to get me in to see them on only about 24 hours notice) I was hooked up to the monitor (sadly, this mechanical implant had no impact on my ability to dance the robot). They drained out what felt like about half my blood to test and then told me I'd have to redo my cardiac stress test on Monday. I was also told they'd have to shave patches in my chest hair in order to place the electrodes. Thinking myself ahead of the game, I asked some teammates into depilation what methods were best. Well, 6 coats of Nair later, I had a patchy, stubble, itchy chest with a few chemical burns and a slight rash. I realize that might be crossing into the TMI category of blogging, but for any young males out there thinking they're going to go smooth- DON'T DO IT. If you have some medical reason to get patches shaved, GO WITH THE PATCHES!
On the plus side, I'm feeling much healthier than last week. I have a solid wheeze going still, but I think that's mostly seasonal allergies. I can breathe deeply for the first time in weeks and I have tons and tons of energy (too much, in fact- without any physical exercise I find sleep very difficult). BU alum Dave Proctor came to visit this week and was a temporary resident of 15 once again. Dave and I never got to run as teammates, so it was nice to hang out with him. I'm looking forward to seeing his post-collegiate career take off!
Lastly, and perhaps the brightest spot to my week, my friend and old high school teammate Owen Graham emailed me to let me know he had quit his college team. This would usually be cause for disappointment, but Owen's former coach was one of the most irrational, irresponsible, and plain bad coaches I have ever seen in the sport. Owen went from a promising, undertrained HS prospect to a chronically injured and demoralized runner who began to wonder if his high school performances would remain his lifetime PRs. Now he's dealing with the last of the injury issues he suffered under his former "coach" and is on the comeback trail. I was very flattered that he sought me out to write him a training plan and advise him through his road to competition. I forsee the biggest issue in the short term being lingering injuries from years of abuse and in the long term, Owen's tendency to be too tough for his own body and neglecting to take the proper steps to avoid injury.
Hopefully, by this time tomorrow, my heart will be found healthy and in fine working order and I will be cleared to begin training again. Hope everybody out there is doing well!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Obligatory, Crappy Mood Blog from Work

Hello, All-

These week's blog is largely dismal and obligatory. I saw Health Services earlier this week and was told I had either a sinus infection or some kind of virus. I was prescribed a ten day course of antibiotics (a giant pill every 12 hours, so 20 doses total) and told that if I didn't see improvement within 2-3 days, then my issue was likely viral and thus unaffected by antibiotics. I jogged for about an hour at a very slow pace on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday but by Wednesday was forced to concede that I wasn't getting any better and wheezing around slowly for 8 miles wasn't going to do my fitness or recovery any favors. At this point, all I can really do is wait for the virus to pass, which will hopefully only be about another week as long as I continue to drink tons of water, sleep 10 hours a night, take my vitamins, etc.
The other part of the health puzzle has been the team doctor's concern over my loss of consciousness. Much like the time this happened to me back in high school, his fear is that I have some congenital heart issue and that I'll drop dead exerting myself in a race. The last time I did this, I had to get all kinds of heart tests, ECGs, treadmill tests, etc. Now, you may ask yourself "if he's alread been evaluated, why wouldn't he just give his new doctor the results that prove his heart is entirely normal?" I had the same idea myself and got into contact with the office that did the testing. Turns out they have no copy of the test results in my electronic record, only a note that the tests were carried out and there were no major issues. The woman I spoke to who works in the Records Dept at the office said the original test results were "probably" in my chart, which was in storage (because the tests occurred 3 years ago) and the chart would take "at least 2-4 weeks to retrieve." As a result, I'll probably be put through the whole irritating ordeal again when the team doctor responds to my email.
Last time, my treadmill test went something like this-
Doctor- "Ok, Craig- you're young and fit, so we're going to put the treadmill on max speed and increase the incline 1% every 5minutes. We want to get you working as hard as you were in the race when you collapsed to monitor your heart under extreme stress.
Me- (a little intimidated, since I was just over the pneumonia) "And how fast is max speed?"
Doctor- "All the way at 8minutes per mile." So I ran for a few minutes and the doctor appeared concerned. "This is your max heart rate? You're only at like 120bpm."
Me- "Not at all. . .uh. . .this isn't that fast."
Doctor- "Um, it's 8minutes per mile- you'd cover over 7 miles in an hour at this rate. This isn't close to the intensity you were running when you collapsed?"
Me- "No, I was running about 5 minutes a mile when I went down." (doctor laughs skeptically)
So this process continues for a little bit- the doctor started jacking up the incline more than 1% every 5 minutes. By about 12min I was running up a pretty steep incline and he got my heart rate into the 170s. After a few minutes of running in the 170s he was satisfied and cleared me for normal activity. Being tested again will be irritating, but as Dr. Pecci is an athletic doctor and less condescending than the guy who tested me three years ago, I'm not too concerned. My chief worry is getting the damn thing scheduled ASAP.
Anyway, as most cross country runners are approaching their conference meets, please take care of yourselves, guys and gals. Good luck with your seasons and if you run into me, don't catch whatever I have!
Lastly, a big thumbs up to my old high school team crushing the field at the Catholic Memorial Invitational at Franklin Park this past weekend. They looked great and put 5 guys at 16:35 or better (with the fifth man being Kevin, my younger brother). They've been runners up for God knows how many years in a row now- hope they take it home this year!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Damn it

No log this week- mostly because I'm upset and confused and angry and. . .well, boy I could go all night.

I didn't finish the New England Championship race today. I knew something was off when I woke up today- I've been a little sick (just sniffles, I thought- nothing to sweat). I ate a normal breakfast, drank a lot of pre-meet water, took a day off on Tuesday to ensure that I'd be fresh for the weekend. By 800 in I felt dead and by a mile and a half I grimly decided that I would FINISH no matter what. By 5k my vision was started to tunnel on me and I apparently told a teammate "I think I'm about to pass out." Things get fuzzy from there. Well, I woke up being slapped in the face by a SNHU runner (thank you, by the way- I don't remember your name). He and a teammate basically carried me out of the wilderness loop to a waiting ambulance. I'm fuzzy on what happened next but I woke up again in the ambulance with an oxygen mask and two EMTs asking me all sorts of questions.

Obviously, this is disconcerting. I'm going to see the BU doc on Wednesday. I don't really know why this happened or what's going on. I'm having memories of senior year when I passed out during a race because of a bout with pneumonia and had to go undergo this whole barrage of cardiac stress tests on a treadmill at this cardiology center. I got to sit there and listen to a bunch of doctors in lab coats discuss whether or not I should quit running altogether. I would really really prefer to not go through anything resembling that again.

Anyway, hope everyone reading this had a better weekend than I'm having. I'm going to bed.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

A Little Bout with Food Poisoning

Hello, all (ok. . . hello, both). This entry comes a little later than usual because I had work and then a little Bible discussion afterward. As a fairly spiritual guy who finds no joy in ritual, rite, or hierarchy, this kind of group is about as close I can get to "worship" or any kind of worthwhile religious expression. I don't want to turn this into some kind of weird preach-post (especially since I found the best way to make someone WICKED uncomfortable is to invoke Jesus) but I'll say that since I was Confirmed, group spirituality has been sorely lacking in my life. The group in particular is the Inter-Varsity Christian Athletes, and it was interesting to sit there and listen to peers talk about their own relationships with the Trinity. Anyway, enough of the (probably extremely awkward) digression.

Here's my log:

Monday- AM- 5 easy, River Loop from the house + a mile on Nickerson w/James and Eric, 36:15. PM- Wandered downtown via Comm Ave with a big group, ran along the waterfront for a while, then came back up via Boylston St. We added on a few minutes indoors to call it 10- 70min tot. It was a little warm out and I got kinda tired/hungry/thirsty after 50min or so.

Turesday- AM- Slept in. PM- 13 miles moderate/hard/progressive. Hit 6:15s or so by 25min, (which I know because we hit a 5:45ish B-Line Res lap then) then really started cranking around 30 min. Peter, Eric, and I got down to about 5:20-5:30 pace the last 30-40min then added on a few minutes indoors til we got to 78 min (we wanted to be sure we ran 13mi). Core/Strength after. Felt good- fast run but not a hard effort at all.

Wednesday- AM- Overslept, missed the morning group. Ran the River Loop solo in 28:11.
PM- River West really easy with Petah and Ken, ran about 65min and called it 9. Also had about 2.5 hours of walking today due to various errands, felt pretty tired.

Thursday- AM- Warmup Loop shakeout with James, 19:56- kind of surprised it was that fast, we were jogging along pretty contentedly.
PM- Franklin Park for what Bruce promised to be "pretty substantial workout." 3 up, then 4x2k- 6:15 (two laps up Bear Cage), 7:36 (starting at the bottom of Glen Rd, up Bear Cage, back the way we came- Bruce said it was maybe a shade under 1.5 but darn close) then 6:13 (opening 2k- passed the mile in ~4:59), then Double Bear Cage Loop again (6:11). We had 4min jog between each. It was a great workout because Eric, Peter, and I ran in a group the whole way, each sharing the load and running smooth. Eric said he was grateful for the help- I'm just glad that I was able to help him push without feeling like I was pressing too hard myself. It's been hard to not just hammer everything with him, but now I feel like I'm fit enough to do so without sacrificing my own conditioning).

Friday- AM- River Loop from the house with Petah, 28:15. Ate some bad yogurt for breakfast and spent the next few hours too dizzy to get up and too nauseous to leave the bathroom. After a few hours I think I kicked whatever it was, so the evening run wasn't awful. PM- 9 easy- slums to the Mass Ave Bridge and an indoor add-on. Felt weak and thirsty but I didn't vomit, so I'm chalking this up in the Win Column. Strength routine after, hit it pretty hard.

Saturday- AM- Pouring rain run, took it nice and easy, ran with Eric and Peter for ~9mi or so- 62min. 4x100 strides on the track in my milers after, then a 200 relaxed for funsies- 28.1, very smooth. The scary thing is that I'm probably in close to PR shape from 800m-10mi right now. Looking forward to the next few races. PM- 41min easy, some with a group, nearly all with Eric.

Sunday- AM- Another Franklin Park workout- 3 up, 4xmile (4:58, 4:50, 4:57, 4:56) with 4min rest. Bruce instructed us to run at a moderate effort- no faster than 8k type intensity. He gave us plenty of rest because at this point in the season, there's little point in training through the races. We did the opening mile for reps 1 and 3 and the opening mile backwards for reps 2 and 4. After running 4:50 for the 2nd one, Petah and I decided to slow down and chill out, which helped Polgar and James stick with us. Good group workout- left hamstring a little sore, but the workout was still pretty easy. 3 miles down.

Tot- 97.

I have a slight suspicion that I might have shot myself in the foot for New England's (in that running the same time will take more mental effort). I'll probably take a day off tomorrow or Tuesday and focus on feeling fresh for New Englands. I've averaged 89 mi/week since June 1st- the fitness is there. What I do in the next few weeks is only going to get me race-sharp.

I'm pleased with the way the week went, except for that little bit on Friday. Had I not had work this afternoon, I would have perhaps done a little shakeout and cracked 100 for the week. Volume, though, is secondary at this point. I'm just enjoying life- hopefully you're all doing the same!