Thursday, May 9, 2019

Graves Disease...You will never run another marathon

My first 9 marathons were complete disasters including my one Ironman Triathlon in 1995.  The pattern was always the same, run hard the first 20-22 miles and then look like a character out of the Zombie Apocalypse the rest of the way.  I have now run two marathons in the first 5+ months since I returned to running.  Both were a much more enjoyable experience. (both in horrible weather conditions) I ran Hyannis in February on a lark to see if I could qualify for Boston doing essentially a training run.  I ran 3:21:55 feeling great until 22 miles and still being able to run, although much slower, the last 4 miles and qualify for Boston.  I ran the Newport Marathon in April and was able to hold onto 7:05 pace for the first 23 miles and then slow run the last 3 miles.  The slow end on this one may have been because I dropped a couple of 6:40 miles in at miles 17 and 18 after I had to pass a guy twice after I reached a turn around point only to see him a half mile ahead of me again after he cut the course.  Really not a smart thing to do but it really pissed me off at the time and I couldn't help myself.  I also do not have much of a base yet after taking so many years off from running.
This leads me to one of the reasons I stopped running.  In early 2012 I was diagnosed with Graves Disease, a Thyroid autoimmune disease.  Your Thyroid overproduces hormones and basically keeps your body running on high all the time, leaving you always fatigued.  This explained a lot as I was having trouble in 2010 and 2011 running.  My heart would frequently start racing and I would over heat and blow like a car with a radiator problem in longer races. I dropped out of New Bedford in 2011 after it happened and I didn't run another race for nearly 8 years. ( I did jog Boston 2011 with a friend) 
     After I was diagnosed, my doctor told me my marathon days were probably over. I spent a full year taking medication to stop the thyroid to no avail and in 2013 I had a radioactive iodine treatment to finally kill the thyroid.  I wouldn't recommend this treatment as it immediately gave me diverticulitis and other digestive problems, but once its done there is no going back. Next came a year or two of trying to dial in a replacement thyroid medication that I must take every day.  This can be a little tricky as I would find out because the radiation kills the thyroid over time and I still had a portion producing some hormones.
  What is once Hyper becomes Hypo.  Another side effect of the treatment is weight gain.  While my diet of Craft beer, ice cream and donuts is somewhat acceptable when running it quickly put 30lbs on me.  Along with that I really didn't have much of a drive to run anymore and life moves on. 
    So when a few friends from college started talking about running Boston together in 2020, I really did not think it would be possible for me.  It really seemed at the time to be a mountain too tall to climb anymore.  I decided to give it a go anyway because I really needed a stress outlet.  The Farm had a terrible 2018 with the bad weather coupled with a road project which shut down the Farm Stand for the bulk of the summer.  I also could stand to lose a few pounds. 
   The first month was really hard because everything hurt.  Knees, ankles, hamstring, but I kept at it and after my first 14 miler after Christmas, things really started to get easier and I really started to enjoy running again.  So after being told my marathon days were probable over, my goal is to run three in one year.  I am really excited to see what is possible for the first time in a long time.  I know I probably can't get back to even my 2010 shape anymore but I do think my lifetime marathon PR from 1995 of 2:56:45 is within range.  It really doesn't even matter if I do it or not, I just like running again!

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