The start of Olympic Trials marathon training week #2 I woke up in the middle of the night with stomach pain and again in the morning with it. I ate my breakfast hoping it would alleviate the pain that circulated my epigastric area and radiated up into my left breast. I made it to work clenching my upper stomach area. Oh god, what is wrong? I had been dealing with GI issues since August and 2 weeks prior to this day had a colonoscopy. I might puke. My coworkers saw the agony in my face and cancelled my patients. I left the hospital trying to decide which urgent care to go to, I had never been to urgent care in my entire life... As I got in my car the wave came on strong as I managed to open my car door quickly enough to vomit on the pavement instead of inside my vehicle. I started my 10 minute drive to urgent care. A few moments later, another wave, I searched frantically in my car and grabbed a collapsible garbage container and puked inside. I checked in, but not without stopping mid paperwork to run for the bathroom. The doctor wanted an ultrasound and bloodwork. The ultrasound technician decided to leave without telling anyone. “I think you need to go to the ER”. It seemed a little extreme, I’ll just come back later? No, they couldn’t let me drive. Again, another wave came and this time I vasovagaled. Okay, I’ll go. As soon as the paramedics got me on the stretcher I had another episode where I became diaphoretic and vomited. Well, hopefully they’ll finally figure out what’s wrong.
I had multiple lab draws, ultrasounds and a CT. The PA came in to tell me they were afraid my fallopian tube had twisted or something of that sort. Technically, it was a procedure GYN could do as an outpatient but they wanted to admit me. That makes no sense I thought. I believed there was an incidental finding and I just had a stomach bug, I mean the other girl in the hall was puking way more than me. However, he convinced my family that I should not go home who ultimately made me stay. He told me the plan was for a MRI in the morning.
The Hospitalist came into admit me and asked if I knew why. I gave her my explanation and she seemed shocked. Well no, hmmm... let me get you your CT report. The report read a 9 cm mass unclear of what structure was involved. Apparently being thin is not good for clear images. I was made nothing by mouth and admitted. The next morning I went for my MRI and was seen by colorectal surgery, general surgery, GYN surgical services and GI. There was no definite answer what it was after the MRI..still too thin. Finally, it was decided the next day they would go in for surgery, with all surgical services available depending on what they found. I consented for multiple procedures; open vs. laparoscopic, hemicolectomy vs. removal of ovary, fallopian tube, appendocel mucocele and appendix. Yikes.
Surgery went the best it possibly could have gone. There was a contained, yet angry, 8.5 cm appendiceal mucocele unattached to the colon and solely on the appendix which they were able to remove via the scope without spilling any of the contents. The cells within the mucoceles are known to be benign (most of the time but pending pathology) but have a high rate of transformation. Inside a mucocele they are fine, but if it bursts or spills into the abdominal cavity you now have potential cancer cells seeding throughout your insides. A reason many surgeons have a low threshold for excising the mass via scope. In fact, the first general surgeon, who I requested said she would just do the procedure open, which would mean a much longer recovery.
I went home the next afternoon and couldn’t lift anything or go back to work for 2 weeks. At three weeks I was told I could run. I ran into my surgeon just about 2 weeks post op and he figured I would have tried to run by then. Are you kidding me?! I didn’t want to set myself back farther. He said I could try the alterG over the next week and then get on pavement. He assured me my hernia rate was extremely low. I was so excited. I booked a run on the AlterG with the thought I’d just get on and run for an hour... except that is not quite how it went.
My first run on the AlterG was miserable. My incisions hurt, things were cramping, pulling and I felt awful. I ran/walked for 3 miles. Fuck, how am I going to do a marathon at the US Olympic Trials in just over 2 months? Thankfully, each day got slightly better, however I was still having major GI issues. Wasn’t this tumor suppose to be the culprit? Did we do this surgery for nothing? I know that’s not the case. The thing was on the fence of a rupture, which would have been an absolute nightmare. I continued to increase my mileage as I continued to be worked up and seen about my GI problems.
My first 4 weeks back looked like such:
1. weekly mileage: 22. longest run: 6 miles
2. weekly mileage: 48. longest run: 7.3 miles
3. weekly mileage 60. longest run: 14 miles
4. weekly mileage 66. longest run: 15.2 miles
We are now at the end of December. Shit.
January 7th I left for Flagstaff. I had a decent workout pre-flight, but the mileage wasn’t there yet. The workout was only 5 miles total of hard work.
Josh and Michelle joined me the first 5 days which was awesome. We did our first run on Woody Mountain Rd, which despite being mostly covered in snow was still fun. That afternoon was a Brooks photo shoot for their “hometown hero” program. The next day was a workout at Camp Verde, where Josh was in star struck heaven mode (there was a lot of fast company out there that day). That Sunday, I ran 18 miles on Lake Mary Rd (over 7,000 feet), which was my longest run in months.
I continued to build up my mileage. Josh and Michelle left, but Mike came into town. I picked him up in Phoenix which allowed me to get in 10+ miles back down in elevation. I got in some good mileage while exploring Arizona with him. When it was time for him to fly out the timing matched up with the Phoenix Rock n Roll half. I had 20 on my schedule that day so I did 5+ before the race, tempo’ed the race and cooled down 2 miles. I topped off my morning with breakfast at Snooze before driving back up to the mountains.
My third week in Flagstaff (followed by Tucson later in the week) was my peak week of OT training and I hit 87 miles. I did a final mid week workout at camp verde before driving down to my brother’s in Tucson where I got some warmer weather and more trails (not covered in snow or ice). I got in a good 20+ mile run/workout and felt like I had a good week overall.
Back in Albany:
I came home, went back to work that week. Grinded it out for the week. Friday night, I was packing again.
Off to Florida:
Saturday, February 1st I caught a morning flight to Tallahassee. There were no direct flights from Albany, which made for a long day of travel. I finally got to my hotel and went out for a 5 mile shake out run. I came back to shower and uber to an Italian restaurant called Mi Mi’s (which is what I call my dog, so I figured it was an easy pick). Mi Mi’s was pretty upscale, one of those places where it’s about quality, not quantity. So my pasta dish was gone in several minutes and I left hungry....
Tallahassee Half Marathon:
I got in about 3.5 miles pre-race. When the gun went off I went out comfortably and sat on some guys. After a couple miles it was clear this was their warmup before doing a workout. I’m glad I didn’t realize who they were until after the race... (ZAP fitness group from NC that included some wicked fast guys). The first several miles felt easy despite a couple hills, the 4th mile hill didn’t feel as easy. But, I bounced back after and continued to click off the miles. We weaved our way around a park making many turns and then had a few more decent climbs. At mile 9 I worried I never broke away from the marathon course and was on the wrong route, but soon the split came. I continued to run well although I had no idea what my projected finish time would be since I didn’t reset my watch after my warmup. We had a couple 180 turns around a cone towards the end and I comfortably made my way into the finish while reminding myself “no need to sprint and do anything stupid”. I finished 1:18:33 with no taper on a relatively rolling course (~550 ft gain/~700 loss). I was satisfied. I left that afternoon, enjoyed a 4+ hour layover that allowed me to catch some of the Super bowl and got home and into bed by 1:00 am, which made it hard when my alarm went off at 6:15 am for work.
The final workouts when I returned home from Florida were amazing. I felt I was peaking at just the right time and I was fitter than ever. I had a 22 miler that week with the first 10 @ 7:00-7:15 then 10 @ 6:15-20 pace with a 2 mile cool down. Despite chatting and trying to slow down, our first 10 miles averaged 6:50 and the next 9.2 @ 6:16. I opted for a slightly longer cool down since all parts of the workout were on the faster end.
The next key workout was 2 x 4 miles @ 6:00-6:05 pace with a 7:00 mile float. I ended up running 4 miles (5:56), 1 mile 6:59, 3.5 (5:56) before calling it quits when I reached a bathroom. This theme continued (as it had all cycle)... my final 6 mile tempo at 5:55-6:00 pace ended up being 2 x 3 miles after needing to stop for the bathroom 1/2 way in. Regardless, my first 3 miles were 5:50 pace and the next 3 averaged and were consistently 5:43. I was fit. I was ready. I just needed my stomach to hold up for 26.2 miles...