“When you try your best but you don’t succeed
When you get what you want but not what you need
When you feel so tired but you can’t sleep
Stuck in reverse” – Fix You, Coldplay
I’m on the struggle bus. I never really get off these days. I don’t know what I was thinking gleefully agreeing to take a chemotherapy drug to treat my RA right before training for a marathon. When I went on the meds, I googled “marathon training on methotrexate” and found nothing on it. No medical websites, no blogs. You know why? Because I don’t think people do it!!! In hindsight, it makes sense but in my ever positive, stubborn mind, I thought, “oh, it will be fine, running is always fine”. Not so much.
It has caused rapid weight gain (and despite my #margaritaFriday posts, I am not eating poorly enough to justify this gain). Turns out it is a side effect. I get dizzy when I stand up too quickly (or run too fast, apparently). Side effect. It causes heat intolerance and I’m running in the middle of a hot Southern summer. The absolute worst? The nausea I feel for about 48 hours after I take my weekly dose. Did you ever have morning sickness?It’s like that. I either don’t eat at all or I eat carbs because it is all I can tolerate. I take my dose on Wednesday and I feel like crap for all of Thursday and I finally start to feel better around noon on Friday. And don’t get me started on the chronic fatigue and the fact that my hematorcrit went from a barely acceptable 12 (not good for runner) to an anemic 10 since I started this medication. The one good thing is it made a tremendous difference in my joint pain. I can actually walk to the bathroom first thing in the morning without hobbling like a 90 year old.
So, guess, what? I am done. I’m not taking another dose. The joint pain wasn’t fun but it didn’t affect me while I was running – only after. The side effects of my medication are disrupting my quality of life. I have no idea what is next. I’m already on the next level up of meds to treat RA after my first line med quit working. We’ll see what my doctor says.
You know what else doesn’t work? The Weight Watchers Smart Points plan and marathon training (Points Plus worked and I’m still pissed they changed it). Now this one doesn’t come as a surprise to me because I googled “weight watchers and marathon training” and got a lot of hits. All the blogs I read said the plan just isn’t made for endurance athletes so they all went off the plan during training. It penalizes healthy fats and complex carbs too much. Hummus has more points than a bag of chips out of the vending machine! I figured I’d give it a try and see how it worked out. I really don’t know what I was thinking. I think I was thinking that I was upset about the weight gain from the medication and I was going to see what happened. I’ll tell you what happened. I was starving and I’m pretty sure I was screwing up my metabolism with all the running and inadequate fueling (like I haven’t already screwed it up with my disordered eating and my yo-yo dieting). So, the Smart Points plan is going the same way as the methotrexate – far, far away from me. I’m not really sure what I am going to do. I do need to lose the weight I gained from the meds but you know I am not aiming to be model thin. I’ve tried My Fitness Pal and I’ve tried eating out of those runner cookbooks like Run Fast, Eat Slow (I’m talking to you Superhero Muffins that made me gain weight) but didn’t lose a pound. I think those runner meal plans are made for people who don’t sit at a desk all day and maybe run faster than a 12 minute mile in a marathon. I’m sure it works great for Shalane but it doesn’t work for 45 year old moms who are really slow marathoners. So, I made an appointment with a nutritionist. When I was being treated way back in the day for my disordered eating, I was forced to go to intensive outpatient therapy and see a nutritionist. I hated it because I was a stubborn pain in the ass and thought I knew better than all of those people. Let’s see if I have changed any in 26 years. I’ll report back.
So, what’s next? First, I have to run 6 miles on the treadmill when I get home because Heather and I met early this morning to run 16 miles on the ATT but I only made it 10 before I felt like I was going to barf. I felt like I was going to barf because I didn’t eat dinner last night because I felt like I was going to barf and I didn’t eat breakfast before the run because I felt like I was going to barf and I didn’t take in nutrition on the run because I felt like I was going barf and it was during this run when I decided I was no longer going to take that crappy methotrexate. Side note: I’m not just discontinuing the meds for my running – it is also making me a horrible mom because all I want to do is lay on the couch and I am letting my kids eat Pirate Booty for dinner because the thought of cooking food makes me want to barf. Thankfully, I currently feel less like barfing so me and Thomas Shelby are going to keep that treadmill date tonight (extra credit if you get that reference).
Second, I’m going to try to salvage this marathon training season by actually eating real food and by going off the chemotherapy drugs. I haven’t really been able to struggle through any of the total miles I am supposed to be hitting on my long runs. There are so many reasons for this – the weight gain, the meds, the heat and humidity, my anemia and I’m just fucking exhausted. I spend a lot of time on the pace calculator website entering in paces for worst case scenario outcomes at the Chicago Marathon. Even in my worst scenario, I still finish so I think it brings me some level of comfort. (Yes, I bought the Worst Case Scenario book back in the ’90s and I memorized it. I know what to do if I encounter a grizzly bear or my car goes over a bridge into a frozen river. When the zombies come, come find me – I’ve got you covered and I have hoarded a lot of bottled water in my garage along with La Croix because you know I’ll be high maintenance even in the end times but I hope you have some camping gear because all I have is 1000 thread count sheets.)
A really good thing that has happened is I have switched to heart rate training. Kelly, one of my Oiselle teammates, graciously offered to reconstruct my training plan to be more heart raced based. I am really loving it. The long runs are getting easier when I am not married to hitting a certain pace. I’m keeping an eye on my heart rate which is causing me to slow down and it works. My strength training is also really, really working. I am finally using my glutes to power my running instead of my quads and my body is happy. I am not falling apart (at least from a muscle standpoint) at the end of my long runs. Tyrone is my hero for getting me to where I am today.
Why did I tell you all this? Because when I tried to find this information on the interwebs, all I can find is advice that doesn’t suit me. I’m a fairly untalented runner trying to run marathons with a chronic illness, a non-runner body and an unorthodox approach to running by doing run/walk intervals. When I can’t find what I want to know, I just do it myself. I’m not an expert but I’m honest. We still have a lot of weeks left in this training cycle so hang on and let’s see if it gets better. I’m on Plan C now and we’ve got a lot more letters in the alphabet. Meanwhile, there is this….