Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Pittsburgh 1/2 : My lungs failed me again

Oh yay, they made the shirts my "favorite" color.
The guys got green shirts...lucky.

It is SO frustrating to have your legs be in great shape and ready to carry you to a PR, and then have your lungs laugh in your face and constrict so tight you can't draw a proper breath.  And then your legs start slowing down because they don't have enough oxygen to hold onto the pace that they would otherwise be comfortable with.

When my lungs are in shape, breathing tends to be easy for the first 6 or 7 miles. Then it gradually starts getting harder, but just in the sense that I am breathing faster.  I am still getting enough oxygen, I just need to take more breaths per minute.  During this race, my breathing started getting tight after the first mile or two.  I had to put extra effort into drawing deep breaths, and really think about my breathing.  I knew this was not a good sign.  But since I already knew I was going to have problems later in the race, I decided to keep the pace up as long as I could, so that hopefully it would all balance out in the end.  By mile 9 I was really struggling as my legs started to feel the effects of less oxygen.  Somewhere around the end of mile 11 is when my lungs were feeling really constricted and I didn't have a chance of picking up the pace anymore.  I kept telling myself only 4 miles left, only a 5k left, only 2 miles left... Under normal circumstances, I am able to kick even though I am out of breath, because I am still getting enough oxygen and I know I will be fine to the finish line.  Under these circumstances, nothing can get me to pick up the pace except for the finish line actually being within view.  Understandably, my body just won't let me go any further into oxygen debt, no matter how much I might want to try.

At least my slowest mile was also the "hilliest."
Not that anything on this course really counted as a hill.

The day started out well enough.  I had to get up at 4:15 in the morning, which wasn't so fun, but I did make it out of bed and had a tasty cinnamon bagel with peanut butter and a banana.  Then my aunt took me to the train station to catch a 5:30 train into the city.  Thankfully, a good friend had offered to hold my sweats and phone for me during the race, so I was able to wear my sweats for the chilly wait on the train platform.  The phone was quite useful in helping me find him once I got off the train.  Once I found him, there was some hanging around with our other friends who were running, and then it was time to get into my corral right before they closed it off at 6:45.  Once in the corral, I jogged a block or two as a "warm-up" as I traveled closer to the front of the corral.  Then there was the usual standing around waiting for go time.  Finally, we were off.  I tried to settle into a comfortable pace.  I had to really focus on my breathing to try to keep my lungs as open as possible.  The course itself wasn't one of my favorites.  It was much too flat.  Really the only hills were the bridges, and they weren't much more than bumps in the road.  There was a hill in mile 12, but even in my oxygen deprived state, it didn't seem like much of a hill to me.

I finished the race with an official time of 1:31:10.  I was 194 out of 14, 577 runners.  I was the 31st female, and the 13th in my age group.  I didn't make my goal of finishing in the top 30, or of finishing with a PR.  But I did the best I could with my asthmatic lungs.  Maybe I will try again another year.

I knew going into this race that I would probably be out of running for awhile afterwards.  I hurt my right foot (not the one I had trouble with a year ago) about 2 weeks ago.  I have been taking it easy ever since, but I wasn't going to give up this race.  I was smart enough not to sign up for any races after this one, in case I ended up unable to run, since race fees are non-refundable.  Smart choice. My foot didn't bother me much during the race, but it definitely hurt afterward.  Pre-race, I was able to walk in Danskos or Chacos without pain.  Post-race, my foot hurt no matter what I wore, but at least only hurt a little bit in Danskos.  So, looks like I'm stuck in Danskos now.  Too bad, because it's warm out now and I want to wear sandals!  Hopefully after a few days of being careful I can at least start wearing my Chaco sandals again.  I am expecting to take a month off of running (or maybe just til my birthday at the end of May, because who wouldn't want to celebrate their birthday with a run?!).  I am going to wait two weeks before deciding if I need to go to the doctor or not.  If I can walk without pain after two weeks I will just continue resting.  If walking still hurts, I will go to the doctor.  And if I end up at the doctor, I will definitely be talking about my asthma too.  I don't want to have to keep being let down by my lungs during races, if there might be something I can do to prevent it.  

For now...I see a lot of biking in my future!  I did discover yesterday that my foot hurts the least when I walk in cycling shoes...maybe I will have to start a new fashion trend. 


  1. Running is a tough , demanding lifestyle ...we dont like to admit it but as much as we love it , it does create problems , foot problems , glute problems , every kind of imaginable anatomical problem .
    One thing that i've found to be true with those problems generally is that doing nothing is not helpful ...all problems are peculiar , some ya find a simple solution to if ya just try everything and some just seem eternally stubborn .
    I stopped running when I was 30 and very fast due to a knee pain problem ...I didnt know to experiment with ' anatomical manipulation ' to solve the problem , so no running for 17 years .
    I started back running 17 years later and still had the same problem but a different attitude ' whatever it takes for as long as it takes ' cuz I love running , so I learned to deep massage the muscles that were causing that knee pain and i still have to do it occasionally
    to get past that pain and keep on running .
    I had that foot pain too or similar from too much treadmill and pavement last year ' still do some ' but I learned how to deep massage that out too...experiment with that is my advice !
    Good luck , ya are a great runner !

    1. Thanks! I had tendonitis in my other foot a year ago, and after spending a lot of money on doctor/physical therapy and having nothing help, it turned out that I just needed to not run for 8+ weeks. I was not happy about spending a lot of money I didn't have just to find out that rest was the only thing that would help. So, I am trying rest first this time and hoping to save my money. Thankfully I can bike so that my muscles can stay in shape.