Thursday, August 21, 2008

Always an evolution

When I was little, I always thought I was a bad athlete. I don't even know what "athlete" meant to me back then, but I just thought I wasn't the athletic type. I did gymnastics, dance, and cheerleading most of my life, but even now those sports are still under discrimination for "is this really a sport" type of debate, even within my own family. Since I wasn't in the "regular" sports, I didn't consider myself an athlete.

When I started running in 2005, "I'm not an athlete" would continually scroll through my brain. I would feel out of breath and it would totally be the self-fulfilling prophecy - "Yep, you're not an athlete." Or, my muscles would feel sore, my knees would be sore; whatever the ailment, it just confirmed I wasn't a good athlete. That is until, one day while running the San Francisco half marathon. It was an exceptionally warm day for SF, and I was having a hard time catching my breath from the beginning. I always complained to the girls that it felt as though my breath was only making it half way down my chest. So, lo and behold, at mile 10, I start seeing black spots in my vision. Out goes the "I'm not a good athlete" and in goes "I think I might have something wrong with me."

I feel my eyes involuntarily closing, so I decided to sit down on the curb, right in the middle of the race. I sat there for a few minutes trying to catch my breath and finally got up. From mile 10 until the end, I had to continually run/walk to catch my breath.

Now I'm hearing my dad's voice (who was a Dr.) in my head saying, "Oh, just take an advil" which was his answer to everything. So, I am not the least bit surprised when my Dr says in the same brush-me-off tone, "Oh, you probably just have exercise induced asthma, here's an inhaler." Ok, sure. I use the inhaler, but I'm realizing it only works for a small chunk of time and then I am back to sucking down wind.

Fast forward to now - it gets so bad to the point where I am stopping to catch my breath on short morning runs. Not normal. I finally kick down my pride and go see an asthma specialist. Turns out I have regular asthma - not exercise induced, and the medicine I need is not a rescue inhaler. Who would have known? Yeah, maybe an asthma specialist.

So here I am, 3 years into running, surpassing "surviving" as a runner and finally evolving. I'm starting to enjoy running for new reasons, and realizing that pride is of no help in situations like these. It made me realize - maybe others out there have things they just ignore as an athlete because they don't want to deal with it - like a bum knee, or ankle, or whatever. Is this true? I realize that no one likes bad news, but I've also realized that you can't go up until you go down, and you can't evolve as an athlete when your body is holding you back.

What do you guys think?


  1. wow, that is seriously amazing that you were running for so long with asthma! kind of scary to think about. glad you got it figured out, and that is so cool that you are finally able to enjoy and excel at running!

  2. i think it's always important to listen to your body, and like you illustrated, sometimes it takes a long time to figure out exactly what your body is telling you - like, i have asthma. i think it is paramount to do everything you can to fix those little "ailments" because in the long run (no pun intended) you'll be a much happier runner.

    and just like kaylynn did, see a specialist. lots of times general practitioners won't take the time to really dig into your problem. a sports medicine doctor will take that time needed, as they're motivated to get you out back into your sport as safely as possible. that's been my experience anyway. :)

  3. I know first hand that pride in running can ruin you. I hurt my knees on a 12-miler and pushed through it all the way until my 20-miler (or was it my 18-miler?). Either way, I couldn't bend my knees after the run, and I had to skip the marathon and take 2 months off of running. It was horrible. But now I feel like I'm much better to my body and I became a much better runner after those two months.

  4. ugh, i remember that molly. it was your 18 miler and we were at los gatos. it was AWFUL!! you are a rockstar though. come back kid! :)

  5. ugh, i remember that molly. it was your 18 miler and we were at los gatos. it was AWFUL!! you are a rockstar though. come back kid! :)