Thursday, December 6, 2012

Patience

Things have continued to improve ever so slowly for me. This illness/condition has certainly required more patience than anything I've ever gone through. Sometimes I feel like I can't even measure the difference in how I feel from one month to the next, but when I think back to how I felt in August and the first part of September the difference is huge.

At this point though, I've essentially forgotten what "normal" feels like. I do however have some very distinct markers that show me that things are slowly getting better. I have only even tried to run 5 or 6 times in the past 4 months, and each time this has made me feel quite a bit worse for a few days. This week though I decided I was feeling good enough on Monday to go out for a short run. 20 minutes at a snails pace, keeping my heart rate below 120. A month ago this run would have wiped me out for the rest of the day, but this time it actually made me feel better. So I tried the same thing again the next day, and then again yesterday. All three times I felt better after running than before (maybe that's been the problem all along, maybe I just don't run enough :). I'm very aware at this point that this is only 3 days, and it's very likely (based on my patterns the past few months) that I've still got some days ahead of me in which I feel like I can't do a 20 minute run, but this is certainly the most cause for optimism I've felt in a few months.

I still have not come to any specific diagnosis. I have found some things in various tests that are out of whack, but nothing that has likely been the cause of everything, more likely just some things that have been a result of some unidentified underlying cause(s). I did find (and treat with antibiotics) a parasite in my system, but my doctors thought it was most likely benign, and unlikely the root cause of all of this, but since I've had such widespread symptoms, with nothing else to point at as the cause, it is it least possible that this was the root of everything (keeping fingers crossed for that).

At this point I have begun to move forward beyond putting a whole lot more energy into finding a diagnosis, and have begun to try to treat symptoms and correct things that are out of whack. This currently consists of acupuncture, dry needling, deep tissue massage, various supplementation, and a hugely modified diet. I did an extensive food sensitivities test a few weeks ago and am now only eating the dozen or so foods that I am the least sensitive too. After a week of this I will begin adding foods back in (one each day) more or less in order of sensitivity. In this regard it will be a few months before I attempt to add back in (if ever) any of the foods that showed up as moderate or high sensitivity. It's only been a week, so it's hard to make too definitive of a statement about this, but certainly my GI symptoms have been pretty much non-existent this week.

At any rate, my slightly improved health, and especially my ability to go for a few short runs this week, has boosted my spirit a lot. For the first time in a couple months I've paid some closer attention to what's going on in the world of trail running, and have thought a bit about running in 2013, and what that might look like for me, as well as for the trail running community as a whole.

I really enjoyed following The North Face Endurance Challenge this past weekend. It's never been my favorite course, but certainly the competition at this event is super exciting, and has drawn me to it more than any other ultra. It would have been great to be there mixing it up with everyone, but with how the weather turned out (and the subsequent course modifications/difficulties) I guess it was a pretty good year to miss out. Congrats to everyone who finished that mud fest.

Looking forward to trail running in 2013 the thing I'm personally the most excited about is the third season of Alaska Mountain Ultrarunning Camp. I still have no way of knowing what my health will be come next summer (not that we ever really do), but my slow improvement over the past several weeks has me more and more confident about being able to do these camps once again. The good thing is I have so many great, and knowledgeable running companions in Juneau (as those of you have attended camp have seen), that I could essentially pull these camps off next week if I needed to, even if I was only able to do a few of the shorter runs. This said, next June is still a long way away, and I intend to be running strong by then, but I do intend to put on the camps even if I'm still less than 100%.

It's becoming less and less likely that I'll race at all in 2013. Even if I feel fully recovered fairly soon I intend to ease back into running VERY SLOWLY, especially racing. There's a really good chance that the past 7 years of racing virtually every month is what got me into this hole, so I'm certainly going to give my body a huge amount of time to get out of it. That patience game will probably be even harder than the one I'm playing now, but it's one I'll be happy to "deal with". It's also entirely possible that I'll never really develop the desire to race at a high level again, even if I do regain full health, but that's not something I need (or care) to decide now. That's something that will have to come about organically as I ease back in. I'm excited to see where that goes.

This said, there is a time of year in 2013 that I think is going to be more exciting from a racing standpoint than any other time: September. The Run Rabbit Run 100 is going to be back in Steamboat for it's 2nd running, and my guess is it's going to be even a lot more exciting this year. There's a really good group of folks involved in this event, who are determined to make it better and better each year. The large prize purse will be back, the course will almost certainly be improved (from the sounds of things it was already a pretty awesome course this year), and based on how much of a well oiled machine their 50 miler has become, you can guarantee that the aid stations, course markings, etc (i.e. race day logistics) will be totally dialed in. All these things combined make this what I think will quite likely be the most exciting 100 miler in North America in 2013.

Two weeks after RRR will be the 3rd running of UROC 100k, this time in central Colorado, from Breckenridge to Vail. If you haven't heard the news, UROC will also be the Skyrunning Ultra series finale this year! The move to Colorado combined with Skyrunning is going to elevate this already exciting race to a whole new level. Again, I highly doubt I'll be running either of these races (much more likely in 2014), but I most definitely intend to be there, following the excitement. It'll be interesting to see how many folks decide to run both. I know I would if I were healthy, but then again maybe it's that mentality that got me in this mess in the first place :)

I guess that's all for now. Time to go out and stretch the legs on a short bike ride. Hope you all enjoy your weekend.

28 comments:

Sho Gray said...

Keep it up!

Larry Linux said...

Glad to hear your feeling better Geoff. I think you definitely have the right idea; get healthy first then consider racing. Me personally, I am just happy when I get a chance to be out there in any form. As you already know, it is definitely the best medicine!

Nelson from Garland, Texas said...

Running is about SO much more than just running, isn't it? I try to make sure I'm grateful for every run I get to get out there and do. I'm glad you are getting stronger, Geoff!

George Volp√£o said...

Good news!The brazilian trail running community hopes you have and excellent and healty 2013.

All the best

John said...

Awesome to hear. I missed the pre-race (and oftentimes post race) irunfar interviews as well as just seeing you mix it up with other awesome runners this past season. (And the blog entries on the crazy fun runs) Keep that recovery mojo going!

David Kraemer said...

Hope your condition continues to improve each day!

Shelby said...

This is great news, Geoff. Glad to hear you're getting some runs in and encouraged about the future. Sending good thoughts from the Springs...

Shelby said...

This is great news, Geoff. Glad to hear you're getting some runs in and encouraged about the future. Sending good thoughts from the Springs...

RawBodyGoddess said...

Have you been tested for Lyme? I mean, REALLY tested? Most tests come back negative, and it is false. You might want to investigate that further if you haven't...your random and broad symptoms made me think Lyme right away. I have it and have had it for years and it can and does cause everything you are dealing with...

eric said...

I suppose now would be right right time to come out there to try and catch a run with you... I can sprint alongside your hobbled self in hopes of keeping up!

Geoff, you're a freaking superstar. You don't need to run another single racing step to prove that. Your words, your actions and your career have been an inspiration to so many, myself included. Give us 'fans' your blog (here and otherwise), your camps and your influence on the sport (race direction, gear innovation, opionions, advice, etc) and we'll be happy.

Shit, just BE happy (and healthy) and we'll be happy.

Unknown said...

I was thinking the same thing as RawBodyGoddess. My brother finally just figured out he has lymes after being tested a couple of times. The doctors didn't even want to test him at first as he lives in Sitka, AK. It can be dormant for a very long time so you could have picked it up anywhere.
Best of Luck! Keep on moving.

bakasvag said...

my best wishes for you and your health.Don't be harry to cam back in races, take it easy!

Doug said...

Hi, Geoff:

I posted a few months back about my experience w/fatigue and inability to run. In the past six months, I've gone from barely running for 20 minutes to running ultras again.

I ran 46 miles at Javelina at the end of October, and I'll be running 50 at the Frenzy 50 back on the Pemberton Trail tomorrow in AZ.

As I pointed out in my previous post, I was tested for everything, and nothing was found to treat.

I certainly identify with your frustration and resignation, but, believe me, you'll be back. I fully expect you to be able to participate in your camps next year, and I certainly wouldn't be surprised to see you racing in 2013.

It doesn't seem possible now, but it will come.

All the best,

Doug Brandt
dougbrandt@hotmail.com

Thomas said...

It's great that you're feeling better.

Anyone not involved in running would certainly be inclined to blame your long miles over the years, but in truth nobody know what cause it.

I hope you're improvement will continue. You have been a hugely inspirational runner to me, not just with your running but your general attitude to life as well. I wish you all the bast, take care.

Thomas

~cjt said...

Godspeed, Geoff. I've enjoyed following you on your blog for the last few years --- your writing is crisp, clear, and you have a profound appreciation for the sport that you communicate well --- so I'm pleased to see you on the upswing. All the best,
Clint

Andrew said...

Not sure it will help at all, but I'll share my experience. I had bout with chronic fatigue that went on for 24 months back in the 90s. I didn't get diagnosis because I didn't have health insurance at the time. I was able to visit student health at the university where I was a grad student, and they didn't find anything except antibodies to Epstein-Barr, the mono virus that was also loosely associated with chronic fatigue syndrome. That syndrome basically means no one really knows whats going on, so that was easy enough to latch onto as as self diagnosis.

I still went out every day to attempt a run, but often that would end up being a walk. Without digging up my old training logs, I think I was still managing 1200-1700 miles a year, including the walking miles, down from a high of about 5000 miles a year. Maybe a year into it, maybe sooner, I started having good days about once a month where I could run and feel almost totally normal. I would be really optimistic during those runs, but then would be knocked down for two weeks straight of barely being able to walk. After a while, each time I had a great run, I knew the bad was coming. I actually ran a PR for one of my shorter ~ 9 mile training loops on one of those good days, which still amazes me when I think about it.

The scariest part was the two or three times, when I had heart incidents, which I understood to occur to some chronic fatigue sufferers. I would be only jogging slowly, when suddenly and unexpectedly my heart rate would shoot up to about 240 (measured finger on neck, and barely able to count fast enough for 6 seconds, multiplied by 10), and getting light headed. I never went to a doctor for those incidents and was probably lucky not to have blacked out - I just walked home. About 14 years later I had an echocardiogram due to an abnormal EKG. After totally imaging my heart, they reassured me that my heart is perfectly fine, so I no longer have lingering worries about my heart.

I was a volunteer assistant for track at my old high school when I finally became healthy again. I ran with the kids, just easy runs, and quickly noticed that I could finally run day after day and recover in between. Soon, I was also helping to pace track workouts. When I started knocking out quarters in 64s ahead of the kids who were running 4:20 miles, and feeling like it was easy, I knew I was was definitely back. The transition from being ill to being healthy again happened quickly, over the course of a few days at most, almost like the flip of a switch (and about as quick as it took to go from healthy to chronic fatigue in the first place). Hopefully you'll feel just as amazing when you get healthy again, and hopefully it will be sooner than later.

Olga King said...

I am going through some weird weakness and slow/short running for the last couple of months as well, with no obvious cause. Like body finally tells you to shut up and pay attention. I am glad you got a few runs in and hope it continues. On another hand, how are your sponsorships looking for the year you don't intend racing? I am glad to have decided to not seek any at the beginning of this year, since past June I kind of burnt down on racing, and then running well became a chore...and the absense of pressure allowed me to absorb being this (not ill, but odd) feeling.

under a moon lit sky... said...

Hope things get better soon. you are an inspiration to a lot of us.

Michael Gildea said...

I think your approach to taking your time and just letting your health gradually improve is a sound decision. I agree with everyone else, you are an inspiration and this will hold true whether you race another step or not. I hope your health continues to improve. Please continue to keep us posted as we are really pulling for you.

Andrew Shuff said...

Great words Geoff. Always good to see updates from you. Sending good thoughts and vibes toward a full recovery.

Andrew Shuff said...

Great words Geoff. Always good to see updates from you. Sending good thoughts and vibes toward a full recovery.

tite said...

Did u try staying in a sunny warm place like...Italian coast for instance? Sorry if it s too simple idea.

tite said...

Did u try staying in a sunny warm place like...Italian coast for instance? Sorry if it s too simple idea.

eigerwand said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tony Grant said...

Geoff
This is a really encouraging post! Hang in there buddy, and you'll be back. I sincerely hope you manage to return to racing at the front and thrilling us all with your exploits, but whatever you do, there's a bank of goodwill out there for you that is enough to last you a lifetime. Keep blogging and posting, and inspiring us all. Best wishes.
Tony

pasi.koskinen said...

As You know I had cancer 20 years ago.
Now after over 50000 K running, ultras too, I remind that there is always hope.
Keep Your positive attitude on and get your power back.

DUANE VANDERGRIEND said...

So glad to hear you are having positive signs. I continue to hope and pray for a full recovery for you.

Art said...

Much (additional) wisdom will emerge from your travails. Best of luck.

Art