Monthly Archives: February 2012

Goals and February Summary

In working to get my Exercise-Induced Asthma under control, I am now able to set fitness goals with actual dates of completion.  My overall yearly goal is to run or cycle in a race once a month.  So far I have run two 5Ks, one in January and one in February.

The January 5K was pretty rough, the temperature was in the 60s but the humidity was brutal.  I was fighting with shin splints a week or so before the 5K and did have a little pain during the run.  I ended up walking three times and finished in 34:24, a little over 11 min/mi.

The February 5K was much better.  I took off a little over two weeks off of running to allow the shin splints to recover, and so didn’t think that I would do very well.  I was able to get in a couple runs before the end of the month and ran the whole 5K in 30:04, which is a little under 10 min/mi.

For March and April, I have scheduled mud runs.  These obstacle course races are a little different but are still approximately the same length as a 5K.  I will be looking up exercises to prepare for the obstacles, but will still only have a month or two to prepare.  Mainly I am going to be doing them because they look like a lot of fun.

I haven’t decided yet which races to pick for May and on.  I would like to participate in at least a couple of cycling races and there are a couple in May that I could decide between.

I do have my eye on a couple of sprint triathlons in fall, but I am not sure that I am going to be ready for them in time.  I haven’t swam in several years and wouldn’t start for another couple of months.  However, I can’t deny that they are very intriguing.  The first one that caught my eye is in August, but there is also one in October that is almost equally appealing.

This is a slippery slope I am on…

Overall, my February challenge turned out well.  I did blog every week, and stuck to the topics I had chosen.  I am glad that I didn’t decide to devote an entire blog to Exercise-Induced Asthma, as I don’t have a lot of experience with it and would have begun to run thin on topics.

March Challenge: Festivals!  I will be visiting a festival once a week in during March and will post about my experiences at them.

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This isn’t working!?

When I was first diagnosed with Exercise-Induced Asthma (EIA) my doctor prescribed me an inhaler, the ProAir HFA (Albuterol Sulfate Inhalation Aerosol).  My cycling route went by much faster, I immediately dropped 15 minutes off my 17 mi loop!  I could actually look around while cycling, rather than staring at my front tire to make sure it was still moving.  However, I still couldn’t breathe well while running.  After discussing the issue with my doctor, she made me an appointment with a pulmonologist.

As I mentioned in a previous post, the appointment was almost a complete waste of time.  When you have a complaint of “I can’t breathe well when I run” and the doctor says “Do you need to run?”… That’s when you need to run!  The only good that came out of the appointment was getting a peak flow meter.  The peak flow meter allowed me to quantify how poorly my lungs were functioning immediately post running.  My pre-exercise average was around 520 L/min, which is slightly above average for my age and height, and my post-exercise average was anywhere from 60-80% of that.  This was after using the inhaler as a preventative measure, as I was directed to use it.  When I saw my primary doctor after using the peak flow meter for a couple of months, she prescribed me the nubulizer.  There have been a couple of times, when running after using the nebulizer, that I still felt like I wasn’t breathing as I should.  Mostly this has occurred on high humidity days (>70%) and I am concerned that this will affect my 5K goals during the summer and fall.

My next 5K is on Saturday, two days from now.  I don’t expect that I will do any better than last time, due to taking a few weeks off to heal my shin splints, but I am still hoping that I will be able to run the majority of the race!

Next week:  EIA and Fitness Goals

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Out of Shape vs. Exercise-Induced Asthma

One of the things about Exercise-Induced Asthma (EIA): some of the symptoms could be mistaken for just being out of shape.  General symptoms for each are

Out of shape:

  1. Winded easily
  2. Fatigue
  3. Poor athletic performance

Exercise-Induced Asthma:

  1. Prolonged shortness of breath
  2. Fatigue
  3. Coughing
  4. Wheezing
  5. Chest tightness/pain
  6. Poor athletic performance

So, how do you tell the difference?  One of the biggest clues for me was how long I felt like I was out of breath.  Post exercising, my breathing was off for much longer than anyone I ever exercised with (winded easily vs. prolonged shortness of breath).  Another big clue was when running with a friend of mine who decided to tackle a marathon.  We started out running the same time, she followed a marathon plan and I was there to keep her company on her runs.  She quickly surpassed me in mileage and completed her marathon, whereas I never ran more than 2 miles at a time.  I ran with her for months and was never able to run more than 2 miles.  It is expected that if you have never run before that you might not be able to go very far when starting out.  However, there is supposed to be some progression over time, which I didn’t experience.

After I noticed the biggest clue (prolonged shortness of breath), and looked up EIA, is when I paid attention to the other symptoms.  Was I coughing and wheezing when running?  Yes.  Did I experience fatigue during/after exercise?  Yes.  One symptom I didn’t find a lot of reference to but is mentioned a lot as a “cause” was airway constriction.  Does it feel like you are trying to breathe through a straw?  Is it hard to move air into and out of your lungs quickly? Yes!

After paying attention to what my body had been trying to tell me, I sought advice from my doctor and am now working out a treatment plan.  Now my muscles that need to catch up with my breath.

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Excercise-Induced Asthma: Child to Adult

Let me state clearly, these are my personal experiences with Exercise-Induced Asthma (EIA) and I am not promoting any course of action when dealing with EIA.

I was 25 when someone asked if I might have EIA and 26 when I was diagnosed.  One might think that I have only recently begun to push myself hard enough for this to be discovered, but I have been sporadically active my entire life.  As a child, I played with the kids in the neighborhood and our games were typical of that age: tag, climbing trees, hide and seek, biking, etc.  Most of these games required little stamina/endurance, perhaps except tag , which is probably why no one noticed any breathing troubles I may have had.  As a teenager I participated in a couple of school sports, softball and volleyball, for a short time.  Those are both sports that, at this age, don’t necessarily have a huge endurance component.  For both, there are quick bursts of running followed by standing or walking.  It wasn’t until a few years ago, in my early 20s, that I started running.  But, looking back, there may have been a couple of clues along the way.  Bear with me for a moment, I have a terrible memory.

When I was younger, perhaps ten or so, our family would go on bike rides.  This wasn’t like riding around with my friends in the neighborhood, these were loooooong rides.  Well, at least to a ten-year-old they were.  After one ride, I remember having to sit at our dinner table for quite some time.  We had just thought that the southern heat had gotten to me, I was flushed and took a long time to catch my breath.  Was this an instance of EIA?

Another time, as an 11th grader, a new volleyball coach had come to our school and practice was suddenly much harder.  The worst exercise, by far, were eagles.  Eagles, probably a local name, were done in the two level gym.  They involved 1) running diagonally across the basketball court and running up stairs, 2) running the length of the court topside and running the down stairs, 3) running diagonally across the court and running up stairs, 4) running the length of the court topside and running down the stairs.  After having to do these twice, I was done.  I nearly passed out, having to sit down for 15-20 minutes in the coach’s office and calm down.  Was this EIA?

I probably won’t ever know on those two occurrences.  My memories are a bit fuzzy because so many years have passed since they happened.

I am better able to recognize the symptoms I felt as an adult.  The first huge sign was after that first bike ride several months ago.  I felt like I had gone mountain climbing at high altitude after going just a couple of miles in a neighborhood.  I was sweating, gasping, and had to sit down for quite some time.  Part of the gasping was due to the too short chin strap on my helmet, side note: when trying on a helmet, make sure you put your head in the position it will be in while riding.  That night, the guy asked about EIA.

We went riding with a couple of friends a few weeks later.  After just riding a few miles here and there, want to ride 17 mi in one shot?  Of course!  How did it go?  I had to stop about 6 miles in to nearly break down sobbing on the side of the road.  After about 15 minutes, I got myself together and mounted my aluminum steed to finish the ride.  I made an appointment soon after that ride.

After both of these occurrences, and other exercising, I started analyzing how I physically felt when this was happening.  Every one of my symptoms – wheezing, hard to move air in and out of my lungs, dry cough, chest tightness and occasional pain – were listed on the various EIA websites.  By seeking an appointment with a doctor and receiving treatment, I have now been able to run my first 5K and bike over 25 miles at a time.  This puts several of my goals within reach.

Next post: Is it EIA, or am I just out of shape?

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February: Why Blog?

Giving myself permission to eschew clever post titles was brilliant!  I wouldn’t have written anything yet if I gave in to my little quirks.

February: Blog

The first thought to write a blog came after my diagnosis of Exercise-Induced Asthma (EIA), so that topic is what this month is primarily going to be about.  There are a few blogs out there about it, and quite a few forum posts, however none that I saw described my particular issue.  Let me back up just a little and tell how I came to be diagnosed.

I pondered for a couple of years on buying a bicycle, but it didn’t turn into an actual purchase until April 2011.  My first time riding was not fun.  The helmet chin strap was way too short when I bent my head down.  The “choking-to-death” feeling was relieved with a new helmet, but riding was still not fun.  The guy and I rode around our neighborhood, and within a couple of miles I was DONE.  After either the first or second time riding, the guy asked if I had ever been tested for EIA.  I brushed that thought off, “I’m just out of shape/not used to riding”.  After riding a few more times, I looked up EIA out of curiosity.  The next few times riding, I really paid attention to how I felt while pedaling.  Wheezing, constricted breathing, coughing?  I soon made an appointment to be evaluated for EIA (July 2011).

My Internal Medicine doctor is awesome.  She was right there with me.  I told her what my symptoms were and when they occurred.  She prescribed me an albuterol inhaler (standard issue for EIA) and off I went!

For the first time, riding was fun!  The sun was shining, birds were chirping, the gnats were horrendous!  Life was good… mostly.  During this whole time, I was also trying to pick up running.  It seemed that the running was even more of a breathing challenge than the biking.

For running, the inhaler was worthless.

I tried looking information up on the internet, but wasn’t coming up with much.  My follow-up with my doctor got me a referral to a pulmonologist and a follow-up in four months.  I kept on cycling and running when I could.

I saw the pulmonologist in September and he was… less than helpful. I said “The inhaler works well when cycling but not running.  I think this is because I can coast when cycling, which gives me little breaks, but I can’t coast when running.”  His solution “Do you need to run?”… Technically no, but if I am chased by a bear, I want to make it work up an appetite before it mauls me.  I left there with a peak flow meter and a follow-up for six months, with direction that if there was a significant difference in my pre-running number and my post-running number, come to the follow-up but if I got better then I didn’t need to do the follow-up.  The appointment sucked.

At my follow-up with my primary doctor, she rocked my socks.  She was similarly disappointed by his recommendations and prescribed me a nebulizer and a follow-up in a month.

It worked!

I can now run, only inhibited by my muscles.  I completed my first 5k (finished appx. 34:24) in January.  I had to walk 3 times, but I did it!  My next 5k is in a few weeks and I hope to even run more of it.

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January: A Summary

January: Clean/Organize House

In late December, we moved from a 2 bed/1 bath rental into an 3 bed/2.5 bath older house.  In addition to the things that were left behind, we brought our own things into the house.  The guy has been much more interested in cleaning/organizing the yard, the garage, and the barn/workshop.  This suits me just fine and leaves me the house to tackle.  I broke out the weeks into:

Week 1) Bathrooms

Week 2) Bedrooms

Week 3) Kitchen

Week 4) Laundry

Week 5) Garage

How did I do?

Results: Mostly done.

As with any house, you are never really done.  Since it is an older house, there is a lot we want to do.  We are still figuring out the timeline on the major projects, since it seems that every room needs something done.  The areas still left to finish:

Hobby/Craft/Office Room – A lot of things that need to go into the garage are still in here.  Once we buy a few more tubs to put our camping equipment and other garage stuff, then I can move on this room a little more.

Guest room – It is currently holding all the items we want to donate to the church garage sale and a few other things.  The garage sale is in March, so I can finish that room then.

Areas not listed:

Attic – I haven’t been up there, but the guy says there are a few big things the previous owner didn’t move out.

Pool – It’s a salt-water swamp.  Seriously, you can’t see the bottom of it.  I believe that we will be hiring someone to clean it up.

For my final list for January…

The Big Projects

Kitchen: REPLACE ALL THE WALLS

The guy has wavered back and forth on these walls.  The house has a mix of paneling and drywall.  In the kitchen they decided to use textured paint over paneling.  The options appear to be: 1) textured paint remover 2) sanding down the textured paint, smoothing mud over it or 3) ripping out the paneling and putting up drywall.  The guy is leaning towards the third option.

Bedroom Floors: REPLACE ALL THE FLOORS

There are three bedrooms in this house.  Each bedroom has a different floor.  Most of the house is either tile or hard wood, so of course the bedrooms would have carpet, laminate, and parquet.  Yeah, that doesn’t make sense to me either. This would not be a concern, except that the carpet has two melted plastic spots the size of coasters and the parquet floor seems to have a ridge in the middle.  Oh, and the guy doesn’t like laminate.

Not too bad.  On to February!

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Title

Let’s start this off with a little bit about me.  You might be wondering about the “Title”.  I am the type of person who, when playing a video game, will spend hours coming up with a name that reflects everything that I want to build the character around.  For my dervish character I spent time researching female gypsy names, we figured that a dervish culture would be most like a gypsy culture.  Once I settled on a first name I liked, I tried to incorporate aspects that the game applied to the dervish in the second name.  My character is thus named Everilda Zephyr.  Everilda, though technically Old English was listed on a website as a “gypsy” name, means “Boar Battle” and Zephyr is the Greek god of the West Wind.  This combination pleased me, as she is a front line soldier and dervish have elemental powers within the game.

This type of behavior, while prized in certain settings, is not conducive to regular blogging.  So, the title of the first blog post will have the name of “Title”.  Now that this little character quirk is out of the way, let me tell you my plans for the blog.

For 2012, I set no resolution.  This is not uncommon, as I have never had a resolution, but I wanted to do something a little different.  I, like many people, wish to better myself.  A vague resolution is not the way for me to do it, I would soon forget about it and live my life as per usual.  A friend of mine has regaled me a few times with her “Monthly Challenges”.  Given her interests, they are usually food related and she tells me her adventures in sticking with the challenges to complete them.  This idea tucked into my brain and was filed away for later pondering.  As 2012 approached, I pulled the idea from the cobwebs and decided that I would have a different challenge for each month of the year.  Some challenges would be easier than other, but all would give me a mini-project for each month.  To provide direction for each monthly goal, I have broken each week into a specific task to be completed to further the overall goal.  In addition to each monthly goal, I have an overall year challenge.  Here is the schedule:

Yearly Goal: Run a 5K or cycle in a race every month!

You may have noticed that the title of the blog is “AllTheExercises”.  I want to be healthy.  To achieve this desire, I have started exercising regularly.  This is in addition to altering my diet, but that is not the focus of this yearly goal.  I have said for years that I want to be able to run a 10K.  There have been many excuses I have had over the years, but no more.  Last year, I bought a road bike and have been riding, though not as frequently as I would like.  So once a month, I may set aside a bit of the monthly goal to attend a race.

January: Clean/Organize House

February: Blog

March: Festivals

April: Exercise

May: No Sugar

June: Reading

July: No Processed Food

August: Office Dress

September: Chainmail

October: Photography

November: Ethnic Dinners

December: Sewing

Yeah, a lot of them have to do with cooking/eating.  Part of that is because I know that I can get stuck in a rut of making the same food over and over.  Then I get tired of it and eat food that isn’t good for me.  This cycle doesn’t do me any favors, so I am trying to broaden my culinary horizons to keep me eating healthy food this whole year.  As you may have noticed, January has passed.  Let’s see how I did…

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