Off the grid (yet again) plagued by an unknown health issue. Countless doctors, tests, theories, and more questions than answers. All I know is that something is going on — and  this isn’t something that a few visits to PT and a couple of runs on the Alter-G is going to fix. 

Since July, running has been extraordinarily difficult. I had a fairly strong marathon in June and was *hoping* for a PR in the fall. At first I thought it was just a hip flare up (which happens from time to time post surgery) or a running “funk”. Then I realized that there was something going on at a physiological level. Overnight, EVERY SINGLE RUN became hard. Which made sense, given the fact that my heart rate was spiking 20-30 beats per minute higher than what it should have been at the same effort previously (based on months of training data).

For example…

On July 15th I ran a 20 mile run, with my last 8 miles between 7:40 and 7:00 pace (overall run average 7:58). It was warm and humid. My HR average was 150.

The next weekend I ran the same course under similar conditions. My average pace was 8:30. My HR average was 164.

By the end of September, a 5 mile run at 9:15 pace put my HR average at 163 (with temperatures about 20 degrees cooler than the two prior comparisons). A 3 mile run at 8:00 pace would put my HR close to 180.

Each week got worse. I reduced my weekly mileage to pretty much nothing (thinking that if I was overtraining, this would at least bring some relief). It didn’t. Of course, just around the time things started going from bad to worse is when I found out that I had missed the Boston cutoff. While Boston was a bummer, not being able to refocus my energy on something else because of this unknown issue was far worse. Disappointment compounded by an inability to reenergize and refocus.

I know that I have a number of autoimmune issues that may be contributors, if not causes, of what’s going on. But there is no one “test” to make that determination. If anything, there is a lot of trial and error. And patience. Which I am just about tapped out on, given I have essentially been dealing with one challenge or another over the course of the last 5 years. I know that in the grand scheme of things, it’s just running. But it’s still hard.

Most of the times I’m fairly certain that there really isn’t anything wrong and it’s just some minor issue that will be eventually figured out with an “AH HA” moment. Other times, I’m scared.

It’s funny how things change when your goals change. Injury (or illness) is isolating in a number of ways. You realize a lot about others. You realize a lot about your relationships with people. You realize even more about yourself.

In the meantime, I’ve backed my mileage way down. I am constantly monitoring my heart rate during all portions of my runs. I’m trying not to lose all my fitness (yet again) because I can’t stand the thought of having to start all over. Because (dramatic or not) it’s heartbreaking to constantly be thinking of how far I am from where I once was and constantly wonder whether or not I will ever have the opportunity to explore my potential.

I just needed to vent. I started really writing on this blog back when I was dealing with my hip diagnosis and found that having documented the journey made things more palatable (and helped keep perspective). Hopefully, someday I will look back at this saga the same way.