Tuesday, January 18, 2022

2022: A Shaky Start

This is my 500th blog post! And it's the first blog post of 2022.

The year is off to a shaky start. On New Year's Eve, I had some major digestive issues that left me feeling

January 5 snowy run
quite fatigued and unsettled. So when it came time for my annual New Year's Day race, I made the decision to run it as tempo run, not a full-out race.

New Year's Day 5K
I didn't write a blog post about this race because it wasn't really a "race" for me. Greg and I were planning to leave for our vacation in Mexico on January 7, and I didn't want to get sick beforehand because I raced a 5K when feeling worn out.

Backing up slightly. . . I received the J&J booster shot on December 19, which meant I would be fully boosted by the time I departed for Mexico on January 7. Greg and I also decided to do a self-imposed quarantine after Christmas. . . aside from the 5K race. This meant no going out to eat, curbside pickup groceries, and no going into the office. No socializing with family or friends. 

So with the vaccine booster, the self-imposed quarantine, and the decision to not race the 5K full out, I thought I was being pretty smart. The goal was to make it to vacation and back while staying healthy.

Back to the race. It was 57 degrees with light rain. I decided against my carbon fiber plate shoes because those have no traction, and I am not convinced they make me any faster in the 5K distance. So I stuck with my adidas Adios 4. 

Greg and I warmed up for about 2 miles beforehand. I had a Maurten caffeinated gel, which I hoped would sit will with my still recovering stomach. I felt decent during the warm up but definitely not good enough to want to race at 5K effort.

The first mile was downhill. I went out conservatively and was passed by about 4-5 women. By the end of the mile however, I had passed all but two of them. (6:49 split) 

I decided to increase the effort slightly in mile 2, however it ended up being my slowest mile. I passed one of the two women who were ahead of me, but then there was a slippery path we had to run on followed by another slippery wooden surface. At this point, I was passing 10K runners on a narrow path so even though I had increased my effort for the first part of the mile, I slowed down quite a bit on the slippery surface while passing other runners. (7:10 split)

The last mile was up hill and I had just one woman to catch, but I didn't have the motivation to go any faster than my strong tempo effort. (7:01 split).

I ended up with a time of 21:18 and second place. The course was short and the first place woman was 19 seconds faster than me. I am confident I would have won the race if I had given 100% effort, but there will be other races to win in the future. It wasn't my day to push hard and I was happy with my decision.

Vacation in Mexico
After the race, there was just six days left until our Mexico departure. Flights were being canceled all over the place due to Omicron and the weather. So each day I monitored the flights from Dulles to Cancun and all but one of them were on time. 

Greg and I hadn't flown since the California International Marathon in 2019. We had driven to all of our races and vacations because we wanted to avoid sitting next to strangers in close proximity. I've always viewed airline travel as having a high potential of making me sick. 

Our flight was on time, our plane was only 1/3 full. We had the entire row to ourselves and nobody sat in the row behind us either. The airport wasn't crowded. We had just recently secured Global Entry/TSA Pre and we breezed through an empty security line. 

When we arrived in Mexico, the customs line was ridiculous. It took nearly an hour to get through it and people were packed in there like sardines. Some people were coughing. Sure, everyone was wearing masks, but I don't think the cloth masks do much to stop a virus. I'd personally be more comfortable with people truly staying six feet apart.

We finally made it out of customs, got our transfer to the resort and we were there! We arrived healthy and on time, after two years of wanting to visit our favorite vacation spot: Excellence Playa Mujeres. This was our 5th stay at this Cancun resort. We love it so much that we don't want to go elsewhere. 

I asked my coach to leave my schedule blank and I would "play it by ear". I decided beforehand that I wasn't going to run all that much because the only option is the treadmill, and I didn't want to spend a ton of vacation time on a treadmill. It's not safe to leave the resort and there's really no place to run around the resort. I ran Saturday, Monday and Tuesday, with workouts on Saturday and Tuesday. 

The treadmill was in kilometers so I did a 7K progressive tempo on Saturday and then 4 x 2K on Tuesday. Given that the gym was hot and I was on a treadmill, I was pleasantly surprised at how strong I felt running around 7:00-7:20 for these workouts. 

My favorite workout was on Sunday, when I swam in the resort pool. It was nearly twice the length of a traditional lap pool so it was a nice challenge to have to swim more before turning at the wall. Normally I swim the lazy river pool, which winds around the resort and you don't have to ever stop! But that water was way too cold. The water in the long pool was warmer and I had no issues swimming in it. I did 7 out-and-backs, which I am guessing is around 500m. 

I swam 14 lengths of this!

The goal of our Cancun vacation is always relaxation so we spent our days lounging at the beach and/or pool, and we didn't do any excursions. Unless you count going to the spa for a couples massage an excursion! The staff hands you drinks, the food is amazing, everything is all-inclusive and it's just the best place to go!  

Leaving Mexico
In order to enter the United States, anyone traveling by air must have a negative Covid 19 test taken

within 1 day of traveling. This does not apply if you are traveling by sea or land--only by air. So on Thursday, Greg and I were tested at the resort. (The resort offers free on-site testing the day before you leave.) This was actually my first-ever Covid test! I never had a reason to be tested before. 

Greg and I were slightly nervous because we had heard that Covid was going around the resort and 30-50 people were in quarantine after positive tests. Also, I started to feel a sore throat on the day of the test so I was worried I actually had Covid. Thankfully we both tested negative so we would be allowed back into the United States. If we tested positive, they would have quarantined us in a guest room for free, and allowed us to order room service from any restaurant. This would not have been so bad, but it wouldn't have been ideal. If only one of us had tested positive, we would both be allowed to stay, but one of us would be in quarantine while the other continued to enjoy a free vacation. 

We flew home on Friday and everything went smoothly. When we checked in for our flight, they did ask us to show proof of vaccination, even though it's not a requirement. Thankfully we both had photos of our cards on our phones and that was acceptable. They really should not have asked for that because all you need is a negative test, but since we had the vaccination proof, we didn't question it too much.

My Blog was Down
On Saturday, I realized that my blog was completely offline. It wasn't Blogger (my blogging platform) but the service I used to register my domain. They had an outage which resulted in all of their domains being completely down for 3 full days! I wasn't too irked by this because I wasn't trying to write a blog over the weekend, but it was unsettling to type my URL and have nothing come up. Also, it can impact search engine rankings if you are down for too long. There was nothing I could do but wait, and I'm thankful I was able to figure out the source of the problem relatively quickly. Not knowing why it was down would have driven me insane. (I never received any kind of notification, I went into my Google console and figured it out for myself. Some communication would have been appreciated!)

Post-Vacation Illness
My sore throat got worse and worse and on Saturday I found myself physically fatigued, which hadn't been an issue previously. One of my friends happened to have an extra at-home Covid test so Greg went to her house to retrieve it. (She left it on the front doorstep for a non-contact exchange). I tested negative on Saturday night.

Having had two negative Covid tests, I was pretty sure I didn't have Covid, but I definitely was ill. My main symptoms on Saturday were sore throat, loss of voice, dry cough, body aches, weakness. I didn't have a fever.

Given my history with mono, I was worried that this could turn into mono. Mono is not a virus, but a syndrome that is caused by a virus. So any virus could bring about mono. This has been my main Covid concern from the beginning: if I got Covid, would it turn into mono, taking me months to recover? Perhaps my body doesn't recover from viruses normally - it takes WAY more time. 

Not much changed on Sunday. I still couldn't talk and I still felt totally wasted. Greg, meanwhile, felt completely normal. And he was taking great care of me. I couldn't eat solid foods because my throat was so sore, so he made me soup and oatmeal. 

On Monday, I decided to take the second test from the BinaxNOW kit that my friend had given me. And this time it was positive. Yikes. Well, I guess if I was going to be this sick it might as well be Covid to give me some natural immunity in the future. So much for the J&J booster! Greg got the Moderna booster, and that is supposed to be more effective. 

Now it's Tuesday and I have made progress. My throat is less sore, although it's still tender and swallowing hard foods makes me cough. I still woke up coughing multiple times in the middle of the night last night. I can talk again, although it's a strain to talk at my normal volume level. To summarize:

Main Symptoms:

  • Severe sore throat
  • Pain with swallowing
  • Dry cough - coughing fits lasting 5 minutes at a time
  • Inability to eat solid foods and loss of voice
  • Body aches
  • Fatigue/weakness (although not tiredness)
  • Bumps on the skin of my back and butt
No Sign of:
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Nasal conjestion
  • Runny nose/sneezing
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of taste or smell
I am making progress and I feel like I will either be running again by Monday or it will be another 4-6 weeks. I am optimistic because I don't have the typical dizziness that comes with my mono and I feel like I am starting to regain strength. But time will tell! My spirits have been high and I am in a good place mentally. 

We had a bed on the beach!
A few people asked Greg and me before Mexico if we were sure we still wanted to go with Omicron surging? Our answer was yes because something is always surging. It's almost like the boy who cried wolf. When you live in a constant state of fear, and there's always a new variant to worry about, then you become de-sensitized to it. You realize there will never be a "good" time to go, so you just do it. 

I also have no regrets. I enjoyed my vacation and I probably would have gotten Covid at some point in my life anyway, so why not now? 

Running Plans
I am registered for the Shamrock half marathon, which was supposed to be a PR attempt. Now that is looking less likely so it might be a Covid Comeback race instead of a PR. I am also planning to run Boston, but I kind of don't care that my training for that has been interrupted. I know I can run a solid marathon on as little as 8 weeks of training and with Boston I don't care about how fast my time is.

For blog #500, that was pretty eventful!

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  1. I'm so sorry that you got the COVID, and at least you got to have an epic vacation beforehand. Like you said, there is always a "something" and there are certainly plenty of ways to have gotten it at home. I think that we're on the path of "living with the virus" instead of "hiding under the bed from the virus" and I think that's a very good thing. Get well soon!

  2. So sorry you're ill! I hope you get better soon and that Greg stays well!

  3. Stay healthy! Anecdotally, I felt very lethargic (for running) for several months after the J&J first shot.

  4. Great you managed to do the get away to Mexico and in a way take some time aside from the rigorous run training. You loose nothing and appears you had a nice relaxing time, excluding 1-hr lines at airport.

    The COVID vaccinations don't guarantee you can't get infected with the virus, especially with the new Omicron variant, but being vaccinated will definitely protect you from any serious illness. I can only conclude you got that Omicron variant virus some point down in Mexico, likely late stage as you still testing negative, takes some period of time for the virus to take hold before you symptomatic and will test positive. And some of those fast tests are not highly accurate and can yield false negatives, but usually when you getting sick you will recognize it...irrespective of test results. Timing back home and test positive works out...just hang back at home and isolate and work thru the illness until you feeling better and test negative. Smart to run that race not as a race but by feel and/or as a tempo training run. Hope you heal up quickly from Omicron and you get back on the track you want to be on!

    1. "Definitely"...well, apart from the people who are vaccinated who have died.

      The main factors to not being seriously ill are no co-morbidities and being fit and healthy.

  5. Hope you continue to feel better . I so agree with you and Greg keeping your vacation plans. I want to try that resort with my sweetheart of 47 years!!!

  6. Glad you're feeling better! I had three Pfizer shots and then got Covid one week after the booster shot :(. I do feel that my symptoms were minimized by being fully vaccinated. Continued wishes for a full and quick return to health!

  7. Sounds like that customs line was a superspreader! I'm glad you are feeling better. I'm having a surgical procedure next week and I pray that I don't get Covid. I'm seeing so many sick patients at work. We wear N95 masks, so I hope that keeps me safe. Hang in there!

    1. I hope your procedure goes well and you stay healthy, Wendy!

  8. Oof, what a way to kick off the New Year! I'm sorry you got Covid, but you're right, why not get it now and get that added immunity once you've fully recovered. As always, you have a great mindset about it and upcoming races! I'm glad you enjoyed your trip to Mexico - that resort sounded like the ultimate place to relax and recharge :)

  9. Glad you had a great holiday. Not so good news about getting Covid. Hope your recovery goes well. Take care.

  10. First and foremost I love your blog and the friend you have become via it. 2nd, I'm sorry to hear what happened but as I have read, there is no vaccine for Omicron. I'm so sick of the liars that are public health "officials" and while I've been lucky with that, I haven't been with such things as my car but that's my own problem!! A minor thing but thanks to supply chain issues can't get the damn part for a week!

    I hope you're starting to feel better. Nothing worse than feeling like you are losing your health. I hope you're feeling better now and no mono issues. You'll be ok with the COVID thing and I'm sure you'll be able to run soon. I'm waiting to find a race without a vaccine mandate still!! I think I found one but I have to wait till Feb. 13th to know if I got in!!

    I hope you're progressing in the right direction, feeling stronger and sorry to hear about the struggles of late! You are a strong and proud woman though and will get thru it bc you're fucking amazing damn it!!