In the days and weeks since this life-altering experience I have learned much and with the end of summer looming I thought I’d circle back with an update in this week’s column.
First and foremost, my immediate order of business after the race was to get a full-blown medical evaluation from a trusted physician specializing in running-related physiological maladies. I found that doctor, Siobhan Statuta, at the University of Virginia Medical Center and underwent a battery of tests to determine what might have gone wrong. In the results, I learned several important things.
Perhaps most notably, my initial test indicated that the oxygen in my blood was unusually low. 84% was my pulse-oximeter reading five days post-race. This, of course, was likely due to the adverse effects of the high altitude on my system but could have also had to do with anemia or some other blood irregularity.
The extensive blood work indicated mild anemia as well as a compromised endocrine system. Both my liver and kidney function were good but the kidneys had “taken a hit” and Dr. Statuta did express concern that perhaps I should get back with a nephrologist to re-evaluate my kidney function. Additionally, the doctor flagged mild concern with electrolyte imbalance. In essence, I had, in the doctor’s estimation, a “witch’s brew” of issues that could have led to my struggles in the San Juans. I also more recently had a full once over with a cardiologist to make sure my heart was in good shape and I’m happy to report it was.
The most valuable part of this whole experience, however, was not any of the above. Rather, it was my work with a team of psychologists. You see, during my consult with Dr. Statuta, a doctor with extraordinary bedside manner and truly innate emotional intelligence, she observed something that was, in her words, not quite right with me. One thing led to another and she gave me a psych consult. The subsequent experience working with an experienced team of sports psychologists has opened up many new challenges for me as I have begun to address mood, anxiety, temperament, and general emotional issues that I had heretofore left unaddressed or basically ignored. The process up to now, in the aftermath of such an emotionally jarring and physically taxing experience, has been eye opening, to say the least.
So, at this point, my race calendar is completely clear. Partly on doctor’s orders and partly because it simply feels like the right thing to do. Certainly, I’d like to get another shot at Hardrock but that’s up to chance and the lottery gods. In the meantime, I am really, once again, enjoying my daily running routine. I ran every day in August and am happily settling in to a 60-to-70-miles-per-week pattern that seems to work for my body, my heart, and my head. As time goes by and a new way emerges, I am sure it will become apparent. Until then, I’ll remain content lacing them up each morning and getting out there for what is always, without fail, the best hour of my day.
AJW’s Beer of the Week
In honor of my good friend Karl Meltzer’s attempt at the Appalachian Trail supported speed record, this week’s beer of the week comes from Uinta Brewing Company in Salt Lake City, Utah. Uinta’s Hop Nosh IPA is a refreshing and fruity IPA that proves good beer can come from Utah. I am pretty sure Karl would even approve!
Call for Comments (from Meghan)
Has a race ever taken more out of you than you ever expected it to, such that you learned some new things about yourself that needed to be addressed?