Wednesday, March 1, 2017

February Wrap-Up, The Big 5-0, and Health News

Before I get into the deep stuff, here are my, as always, "edge-of-your-seat" numbers from February:

Runs: 8                                              (YTD: 12)
Miles: 31.4                                         (YTD: 45)
Rides (trainer): 8                              (YTD: 18)
Miles: 143.9                                       (YTD: 273)
Swims: 4 (hangs head in shame)     (YTD: 10)
Yards: 7,350                                      (YTD: 20,600)

Well, I officially made it to the half century mark yesterday (2/28). It feels odd to think of myself as a 50-year old. I remember how old that seemed to me when I was a teenager. Yet, here I am. It's better than the alternative.

Fifty means a new age group. I can't say I'm terribly excited about that, for two reasons. First, I'm nowhere near what I would consider racing shape. And, secondly, m50-54 is a VERY competitive age group! We're a bunch of guys trying to fight Father Time, proving to others (mostly ourselves, honestly) that we can still compete with the younger guys. Combine that with possibly more free time and disposable income, and you have some tough dudes to hang with.

Now, on to the "bleak at first glance" health news.

If you've read this blog in the last year and a half, you probably know that I've had three surgeries during that time: both arms and my right hip. Not one to visit the doc very often (let alone the hospital), I learned, during my surgery-related visits, that I had dangerously high blood pressure (174/106, at one point). Whether or not that was caused or enhanced by the surgeries is up for debate. It could be stress-related, given the up-and-down/deadline oriented nature of my self-employment the last 23 years. Oh, and having two teenage daughters, of course ;-)

I finally started taking blood pressure meds last October, which seems to be working well. Fast-forward to January of this year, when I found a new doctor (my previous doc left his practice), who decided to run me through every test known to man, since I was turning 50. That turned out to be a good thing, since it was discovered (after several blood, urine and ultrasound tests) that I have Stage 3 Chronic Kidney Disease. This came as quite a shock to me. I've been healthy my entire life. I'm active, eat well (usually), don't smoke, hardly drink, and have never been overweight. Kidney issues don't run in my family, either.

Long story short, Stage 3 CKD is manageable, and with diligence, can be stopped from progressing to Stage 4, or Stage 5 (total failure, requiring dialysis and/or transplant). Management for me requires me to ALWAYS stay hydrated. My doc said my kidneys start shutting down when I become dehydrated (which, apparently, was pretty frequently in my case). So, 60oz of water, minimum, every day. Also, no ibuprofen or NSAIDs, EVER! And, no contrast dyes if/when I have any scans in the future. That, and keep my BP under control.

So, really, it's not THAT big of a deal, as long as I stay on top of it.

During this "New, Hydrated Me" period, I discovered something interesting. A couple of weeks ago, I had to drink 100oz of water per day for a week. During that week, I had one of my best workouts in recent history. I did a "brick" (bike/run) at the gym. Thirty minutes on the spin bike, immediately followed by a 3 mile run on the treadmill. During the run, I actually got angry at the treadmill because I couldn't crank up the speed fast enough. I felt almost unstoppable, especially compared to recent previous workouts. I wasn't quite sure why I felt so strong that day. After that week of ultra-hydration (needed before additional blood work), I slacked off the water a bit (this was before my doctor's new edict). I then had a couple of mediocre and a couple of lousy workouts (runs & swims, mostly). I'm currently 3 days into my new 60oz+ of water per day routine. I did a 4 mile treadmill run earlier today, and had that unstoppable feeling again. I ran mile 3 in 7:52 (fast for me, lately) without much discomfort or strain at all. Therefore, my theory is that hydration makes a HUGE difference for me. That said, I certainly don't expect every run, ride and swim to feel great, now that I'm guzzling water every day. But, I would expect lousy workouts if I slip into dehydration again. It will be interesting (and possibly scary) to see if I can remain hydrated when on long rides or runs in the heat this coming summer. It'll take some planning, but I think I can manage.

Before I go, a very quick knee and hip update: both hurt just a bit when I run, but since I switched to running in Hokas, both are tolerable.

I'll end this with my own Public Service Announcement: Please get checked out by your doctor regularly! Especially middle aged men, who don't enjoy visiting the doctor. We're not invincible, no matter how healthy we appear to be.