As of this morning, my fall half marathon is exactly 12 weeks away. I'm starting to get excited for it. I've been running for 9 years now and I can't believe this will be the first time I'm running my hometown race. Kind of crazy. I've just never been in the right place at the right time training-wise so it's nice to be getting ready for this and able to participate in the growing buzz among the local running community. I feel like my training is going really well right now. I'm feeling strong--nothing hurts, I'm not overly tired, things are moving along like they are supposed to.
Saturday's long run was another test of the new me and how well I can manage differing conditions and situations with my new guts. Aside from blockages, the greatest threat to someone with an ileostomy is dehydration. It will take us down fast and land us in the hospital on IV fluids if we aren't careful. We've been experiencing a pretty major heatwave here for the last two weeks or so and it got especially bad this past week. Temperature indexes have been in the triple digits each day, humidity levels are off the charts, and air quality alerts have been issued on most days. I do most, if not all, of my week day running on a treadmill in the air conditioned basement. It is the easiest way to get things done consistently while taking care of my children. It also keeps me in the safest conditions possible for summer running, and I feel fortunate to have this resources available. I could never train as well and often as I do if I didn't have this option.
Long runs are a different matter. I need my group. I need to get outside. I need the mental and physical break from the monotony of the treadmill. So, I get up stupidly early on Saturday mornings and join my MIT (Marathoner In Training) group for long runs. This weekend we bumped the start time up to 6:30 a.m. in an effort to dodge the worst of the heat. At 5:30 it was 79 degrees with 80% humidity. Bad, bad news. I was really nervous about getting through the run. I'm not acclimated to heat right now. I'm scared to death of dehydrating in good conditions, so this had me really edgy. I decided to take the 48 hours leading up to the run and use them to aggressively hydrate and make sure I was as topped up on electrolytes as possible. I doubled my intake of Powerade Zero (my electrolyte drink of choice) and made sure I had plenty of water throughout the day. I also took a break from alcohol, no evening glass of wine. I did not skip my coffee though....I'm not completely crazy! Friday evening I added some extra salt to my meal and I chose pretzels for breakfast Saturday morning to take a little extra salt on board. I had prepped about as well as I could from a nutritional stand point.
I've been using GuBrew tablets in my hand-held water bottle for long runs. They have a higher level of electrolytes than my Powerade Zero yet are still basically sugar free. With as much as I need to drink, I prefer to keep my sugar and fluid replacement separate at this point, so I start out with a sugar free electrolyte drink. MIT had fluid stations at the 1 mile, 2, 4 and 6 mile points. We would go out 3.5 and then turn around to come back, so we hit stops at miles 1, 2, 5 and 6. I kept up my normal pattern of drinking as each song changed on my iPod. I was also wearing two of my 8 oz water bottles in my Fuel Belt with plans to use one to take my gel and the other was for emergency back up in case I ran out at some point. As we hit the fluid stations, I added Powerade to my hand-held to top it up, so I gradually transitioned over to all Powerade as the run progressed. This worked nicely for me and I think I'll keep doing it. At about 3.5 miles I took a gel, and at the one hour mark I took 2 Endurolyte electrolyte capsules. I think I went through about three bottles worth of sports drink in the handheld (about 60 oz), 8 oz of water during the run (to take my gel), one gel, the 2 caps, and about 12 oz of water at the finish of the run. I didn't lose any weight from start to finish, and my skin wasn't all covered in salt afterward, so I think I managed things well.
Midway through I was feeling strange in my head. I wasn't light headed, but I felt slightly mentally confused. I couldn't decide at first if I just needed my gel or if it was the temps getting to me. I realized that sweat was dripping off of my shorts and the brim of my hat. I knew then that it was pretty bad and I was taking in about all I could without making myself sick to my stomach. I also felt like my heart rate was up and I was working a little too hard even though we were about 20 seconds or so below our average pace (and a full minute below what I'd done the week before!). I knew it was the heat and I decided I didn't have anything to prove to anyone. The smart thing to do at this point was to dial it down and make it back to the starting point without ending up in a dangerous situation. There were a few other runners around me at that time who seemed to be struggling, so I asked them if they wanted to do a run/walk interval with me for the trip back. We settled into a 3 min/2 min run/walk pattern and finished the mileage feeling much better than we did when we were at the turn around. In the past I would have beaten myself up for "quitting" and walking, but I realized it was the smart thing to do. How "tough" would I have looked getting carted away in an ambulance? Not cool at all.
My appliance held up perfectly to all of this punishment. I had a little bit of nerves about it because I had my phone in my Fuel Belt and it made it heavier than normal. I kept feeling like it was pressing down on the top of my wafer, but I don't think it was---or at least not enough to cause any problems. I did a change out when I got home and actually had a heck of a time getting the wafer off because the heat caused everything to really melt onto my skin. I could see that the paste ring wouldn't have held up for much longer, so I'm glad I changed it out when I did. I messed things up when putting on the new wafer. The paste ring I made was kind of glopping over the edge at the top of the wafer, but I didn't really notice until I'd stuck the whole thing on. The paste at the top was rolled inward and very close to the opening of my stoma. I knew it would fail at some point, but it was firmly in place and I didn't want to rip the whole thing off again. I decided to just wear it and keep an eye on it until I had to change it. I was thinking maybe 24 hours or something....turns out it was more like five! I did a quick check of things before we left to meet some family for dinner and I had a leak. No big deal. I did a change and we were on our way. It was my first change outside of the shower in a long time, but I have enough of a routine down now that it was still pretty easy.
I'm not going to lie, I can't wait to get through the remainder of my surgeries and get rid of my ostomy. The idea of one less thing to think about and maintain as I go through my day holds a ton of appeal right now. I will say though that the past couple of months have taught me that I would truly be ok if I somehow ended up having to keep it or get another one. I know there would be some mental speed bumps to get over, but ultimately I would be fine.