Friday, March 28, 2008

Running again!

I used to love running. A long time ago. Over twenty years ago. Then my medical mysteries became debilitating, and I was unable to run. For over 20 years. Then a couple of years ago, my general practitioner finally figured out what all the specialists missed. My thyroid was busted. So I started taking a thyroid hormone replacement, and I got a lot better. But I had other problems. Most of the remaining problems went away when I quit taking a medicine that was supposed to help with the painful burning sensation in my feet (peripheral neuropathy, probably due to the thyroid deal).

I started exercising again. I included walking. Faster... and faster. Then I tried jogging. Boy, did that feel great! After rebuilding a little leg strength, one day I broke into a real run. The first time in over twenty years. Wow! I loved it! I didn't run long, I didn't run fast, and didn't run far, but I ran! I increased all my exercising and ran more and more. Still not a lot, but getting better and better. I had more energy for other things, too, and started doing more things in my spare time.

Then my muscles started freaking out. Muscle relaxers didn't work. Massage made it worse. It got to the point that just touching muscles could hurt a lot. More doctors. More tests. Lots more. An unfortunately familiar pattern. On high-pain days when I couldn't work a full 8 hours, and not knowing what the cause was, I wondered how long I had left to live.

Then I had an annual physical, at my general practitioner's office. They were more worried than usual because I looked so bad. But, a few days later they called and said my cholesterol levels were finally in the good range, and I could quit taking Lipitor. Within a few days, my painful, debilitating muscle problems starting going away! Why didn't the doc's figure that out? Well, severe muscle problems are known side effects of Lipitor, but apparently most people who have those particular side effects have them very soon after they start taking it, and I had been taking it for a couple of years without any problems.

But, once again, I started getting better, exercising more, and finally started running again. Just a few paces at first, then fifty feet, then a hundred. When I got up to where I could do a slow run half-way home from the train station, I signed up for the Cherry Blossom 5K run-walk on April 6th, to give myself an external goal. It's only a 5K run-walk, but it's a real race. My first goal was just to finish, no matter how long it took. Unlike the 10 mile Cherry Blossom, there's no bus to scoop you up if you go too slow.

Well, I joined the fitness club in the building where I work, I've kept exercising, and a couple of weeks ago, I ran the whole way home, about a half-mile. And today... today I ran 3.1 miles on the treadmill... that's 5 kilometers, folks. My top speed was only 9 mph for a few paces, but I did 6 and 7 mph for sustained periods. Of course, the rest of the time I was walking. Total time? 32 minutes, 23 seconds, for an average pace of about 5.7 mph.

The race is a week and two days away, on an early Sunday morning. I'll let you know how it goes. If I live to tell...