Guest blog: A minor setback on the road to the Tempe Half

Today was day one officially training. I have my kids at their grandmas for Spring Break which means that basically this week will be all running and swimming because there was no room in the SuperDad Volvo for my road bike. This isn’t a problem because I need to really get into the pool and get my mind in the swim game which has been hard in the past.

I got the shoes out and planned on a nice 35 minute run at about a 9 min/mi pace with a decent cool down. About 3 minutes in I got a tremendous pain in the abdomen, roughly the same spot where my kidney stone pain started in January. It wasn’t crippling but it was enough to get me to pause and walk for a few minutes. It subsided, I ran for 10 minutes and bam…there it was again. I walked again, let it subside, ran again for about 6 minutes and the pain hit me again. By this time my 35 minutes were up anyways so I did a 5 minute walk to cool down and headed inside to the gym for my swim.

My swim felt fine. I have a hard time getting into the mental game of swimming, something about staring at the bottom of a pool for an hour at a time is not appealing. Since I haven’t swam for a while I decided I would start slow…~1000 meters a day this week just mixing strokes. Today’s swim went just fine.

I got out to go the bathroom and there it was…red, red, red and I mean red urine. I have gone through the kidney stone game enough times to know that despite all the medical advice on seeing blood where it’s not supposed to be, I don’t need to panic, at least not until the soul crushing pain of the stone passing into the ureter starts and then panic can only be reduced by intravenous morphine.

Since I’m retired military, I have the option of being seen at the VA. The urologist I see at home in Tucson has to be the one of the oldest working doctors in the country.  It is awesome because he can’t stand all the bureaucratic nonsense and gave me his direct line to call him if I have any problems. So with my history, gross hematuria is not an emergency but it is a problem. I called him from the parking lot of the gym, got the clinic secretary, left a message and he called me back within about 15 minutes Being old and knowing just about everyone he was able to call in a favor with the doctors in Albuquerque and get labs set up. So by the time I drove to the VA here, the lab order was in and waiting for me. A little pee in a cup, some blood drawn, and I was out of there to wait for the Tucson urologist to call me back.

His theory is this; that the multiple stones I passed in January/February did a real number on my left ureter and the jostling of my run today probably agitated it caused inflammation resulting in the bloody urine. The CT scan I had done in early February did show another stone waiting to come out of my kidney but it wasn’t huge, but that may be contributing as well. You can probably hear the crashing symbols before I even have to say it, but he does not want me to run. At all.

I chatted with him for a bit, explained what I was doing, what my goals were and asked what could be done. He said that I could walk, even vigorously, but the running would cause a problem. I pitched to him one of my favorite “beginner” running programs that I learned about in one of the best running books I think has ever been written: “The Beginners Running Handbook.” The idea is that you basically split all your runs into 5 minute intervals. You start at :30 seconds running, 4:30 walking, repeat three times, increase to a minute running, repeat three times, and on and on. The goal is couch to 10k in about 13 weeks. He said he could get on board with this but if I see blood, I need to call him right away and then we seriously need to reassess if a strenuous running race is in the cards this year.

So that’s my new plan…instead of mixing up distance and speed workouts I need to just take it easy…for a while. Right now I’m going on the assumption that swimming and biking are fine because they don’t present the jostling and impact of running. On the runs, if things go good I will accelerate the intervals and get back on my original planned pace, but if I get more blood in my urine then I either take it very slow or…I don’t want to think about or.

Next time…by history of multi sport and my temper tantrum…seriously.


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