The title of this should be, “Heart Rate Training Update… and a whole bunch of TMI.” I’ve been struggling to find the words and feelings and just all around reason for my heart rate training taking a total dive off a cliff. Then today, all the pieces suddenly fell into place and it was all so obvious. I just needed to make sense of it myself before I could try and explain it here. Instead of getting TOO long-winded and FAR too detailed about it, I’m going to break it down into chunks, since it was a series of events, not just one. These will explain why I stopped heart rate training, and really almost stopped running completely this year.
For those of you who don’t know, half way through 2015 I started heart rate training. I got my VO2 max test done (as shown above) and was running almost every day. It was slow progress, but it seemed to be working. The heart palpitations I thought were related to my running, were mostly gone. Things were going well.
We went on vacation to Oahu for 10 days, I took a nice break from running — only ran once — came home and I was right back at it.
Can you scratch that?
Then WHAM, one day I realized I was itchy in all my hot spots; where the undergarment on the running shorts hits my hip flexor, behind my knees and even on the tops of my thighs and elbow creases. Fast forward through a MONTH LONG battle with an ALL OUT body skin rash… well, ok, I’ll share a bit more about it. It never reached my face or toes, but it sure hit everywhere else. It was as if I had pissed off the ecosystem of my body and it was majorly rebelling. MAJORLY.
Every day was a mental struggle.
I’m not one to use conventional medicine unless absolutely necessary (think almost dying or can’t breath). But I WAS seeing a NMD and I DID cave about 2.5 weeks in and take Benadryl for 2 days — and it really didn’t do anything but make me feel very drugged out and somewhat sleepy.
I had stopped running completely after about a week of believing that running could help it move through my body faster. I came to the grim realization this wasn’t going anywhere quickly, and running only made it worse. I felt like my sweat was burning me, and the heat only made everything more uncomfortable. So I just worked my at-home job, became a hermit, watched the entire series of Gilmore Girls on Netflix and tried to remain positive, while my body worked out this mess.
This whole skin battle started on Oct. 2nd and it wasn’t until Oct. 31st (yep, Halloween) that I FINALLY was able to make it through the day without scratching my skin off. Coincidentally I was volunteering at Javelina Jundred (a 100 mile race on Halloween), so it helped to be preoccupied out in the cool desert. Below is what I wore to volunteer, I was Rainbow Brite. 🙂 You can still see some bumps on my right thigh. 🙁
So, this was the first life event that brought my heart rate training to a screeching halt.
While I was itching and scratching each day, I kept thinking my daily running and daily showers (sometimes 2 a day) contributed to a major imbalance in my skin and body. I was releasing heat like crazy when I was at my acupuncture appointments and I just felt in my gut it was from overdoing it with my training. Again! However, I was still registered for two races, and I wasn’t quite ready to give up completely on running, I just knew I couldn’t keep doing what I was doing during the summer. So 6 days a week of running was off the table.
By the time I hit my first race in early December, my fitness had already started to decline. I couldn’t tell if it was the heart rate training that was to blame or the 3 weeks off from running, or a combo of both. Finishing that 13.1 miles felt like I was back to 3 years ago when I had sore hip flexors and had to fight with everything I had in the last half. You would think with running as much as I did all summer, I would have gained some strength!
My friend Jeremy and I after the Tucson Half Marathon
After that race, weekly running continued, especially since my skin was back to normal; I was running 2-3 days a week. I still monitored my heart rate, but I wasn’t following any sort of plan and wasn’t trying to stick to any zones.
For the Love of Family
Soon it was Christmas, and along came my entire family, from all over the country! I am the youngest of 5 and every sibling was here with each and every one of their children (with the exception of ONE).
My parents were here, Aunt, Uncle, cousin and her husband and son!
It was 4 days of chaotic, stressful, bliss – I even went on a trail run with my sister, 3 nieces, and my niece’s boyfriend. They BLEW ME AWAY. We did 5.5 trail miles and it was such a fantastic feeling! Proud aunt and sister moment for sure.
And then, everyone was gone and I was alone on the couch with Mr. Zucchini Runner, watching TV, back to our normal, quiet life… and I burst into tears. I missed my family.
And not only did I miss my existing family, but I missed our family we haven’t been able to start yet.
We had a good, long talk. It was time to get serious — REAL serious — about starting our family and to get back on the TTC train. In April of 2015, shortly after my “Inside” post, I had a very spiritual moment after a 4 day juice cleanse, where I felt at peace with not having a child. For about 6 months I was not concerned about trying to conceive. But in January, everything changed. I’m not getting any younger and being around my family made me realize that I wasn’t actually OK with just accepting my childless fate. I — WE — were going to try everything we could to get pregnant naturally.*
Then, the only “child” each of us had ever known — the only other member of our tiny but super close family, got sick.
It took a couple appointments and medications to finally diagnose what our Rocco boy had — but when we found out it was advanced dilated cardiomyopathy — we knew what choice had to be made.
On vacation, July 2015. Mr. ZR captured one of the moments between Rocco and I. I loved giving him a hard time. 🙂
You see, Rocco had already been fighting aspergillosis since the early summer of 2012. He needed daily medication to keep him alive and keep the fungus in his spine at bay. That medication and illness had already declined his quality of life from the once great athlete of a dog, to a sore old pup who got tired and stiff playing 2 tosses of fetch.
So we knew the time would come where we would need to say goodbye to him sooner than we’d like. We had talked about it many, many times; the signs we would look for, how long we would wait and even how and where we would lay him to rest. It certainly didn’t make it any easier though, when that reality was upon us. I balled my eyes out for 3 days. On the 4th day, I woke up and felt better — for some miraculous reason — but life was not the same. Mr. ZR and Rocco were a package deal on day 1, so Rocco had been intertwined in my life as long as Mr. ZR had. Eight long years. Our whole relationship has revolved around that pup, especially the years he was sick. And it was strange, even though on that 4th day I awoke and didn’t start crying immediately, the things I used to find joy in, I really no longer cared about. Running being at the top of the list. I had no desire to run, at all. I didn’t run for 3+ weeks after Rocco passed. For the next 2 months I was adjusting to life without Rocco — still crying at least once a day, and still feeling a huge hole in our lives. Oh yeah, and my heart palpitations were the absolute worst they had ever been. STRESS. Stress was the culprit – not necessarily my running.
I remember being on the phone with my mom one night and talking and crying about Rocco and the stress and anxiety I was feeling and somehow the conversation flowed to the feeling I had on the couch, back in January. ‘I wanted to start my own family.’ I had been so wrapped up in the grief of Rocco, I had completely forgotten about the talk on the couch.
By May I had an appointment with a NMD who specialized in fertility, and so did Mr. ZR. We both got NEW blood work done, started supplements, weekly acupuncture and I started and learned fertility self-massage on my abdomen. We already had a good routine of morning workouts going, and our main focus was on overall health and stress reduction. Going the natural route takes about 3 months for things to start to shift in the body. I still didn’t feel like running was serving me well, so I BARELY ran all summer — all year really. According to Strava I’ve run 200 miles in 2016. I’ve run that in 2 months in the past (2015). It didn’t hit me until I went on a trail run with a group of friends and I was HURTIN’ so bad — I started to do the math in my head and realized I WASN’T really running anymore and that I couldn’t just pick up and do a 6.5 mile trail run!
But for the first time ever, I was totally OK with it. Running has not been my priority. Getting my body as healthy as it can be to grow a baby has been my priority. For a long, LONG time I told myself running wasn’t hurting anything in regards to my fertility so I just kept running. But I reached a point this year, where I was willing to try any means necessary (again, naturally) to balance my body and ensure I’ve done everything I feel comfortable doing. Since running didn’t seem to be serving me anymore, it just made sense for it to take a back seat.
So that is my story behind why my heart rate training fell off the face of the earth. I’ve said before that this blog is as much for me as it is for you, and I felt like I needed to document and share these events. The good news is, since July I have somehow managed to convince Mr. ZR to run WITH me through the neighborhood a couple times a week — we’re talkin’ less than 2 miles and at an easy, conversational pace. That amount of running feels good to me and I’m happy to have the company.
I also registered for Phoenix Half Marathon (Feb. ’17) a week after I completed this year’s 2016 race.
After completing the 2016 Phoenix Half Marathon, it was one of my slower times, for sure. I was on the struggle bus for this one.
So I have that to look forward to and train for, even if I end up walking half the course. I really enjoy that local race and have participated every year since it started… it would feel strange to sit on the sidelines. No matter where I am in life, running will always have a place.
The Good News
Mr. ZR and I have completed a second round of blood work since starting the natural fertility treatment path and BOTH of our numbers greatly improved! We feel very settled into a routine of yoga, meditation (for me), light runs, good nutrition, supported by herbal supplements that work with our bodies and amazing positive support from our doctor. We both remain hopeful, despite the odds, that we will have a child someday. Stranger things have happened, and I’ve seen first hand what the power of belief can accomplish. 🙂
*As a side note to anyone who may be reading this, and having the same struggle. Feel free to email me and ask questions, reach out just to chat, whatever. It is such a touchy topic in our society and it’s so hard to find others in similar situations who are willing to talk about it. If you are like me, you have seen countless friends and family members have successful pregnancies and beautiful babies; and while you are overjoyed for them it still always stings and reminds you of what you are struggling with — it can be a very lonely place to be. I also found an amazing site called Natural-Fertility-Info.com and visit it frequently. I’ve signed up for their email list and visit the “Success Stories” section when I’m having a crappy day. Hethir, the creator of the site, also does weekly Periscope videos which I find to be very uplifting and hopeful. She posts some of them on their YouTube channel as well.
Do you have any questions for me about today’s post? Feel free to contact me personally or comment below! I always love hearing from people.