Crohn’s and the Endurance Athlete

Hi everyone! I hope you all had a good weekend. Today I have a little something different for you… and I hope you can learn a little something from it!

Last week was Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Week (sorry a little late…oops). Someone very close to me has been affected by Crohn’s disease. They also just so happen to be the very same person who introduced me to the world of running, cycling, and duathlons. Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract. Crohn’s most commonly affects the end of the small bowel (the ileum) and the beginning of the colon, but it may affect any part of the GI tract.

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This would be my boyfriend, Drew who has been living with the disease for the past 5 years. He was kind enough to let me interview him and share his experience through diagnosis and living with the disease currently for this post. Drew started getting into cycling and duathlons a few years ago, and has been able to keep training and competing despite this annoying disease. Our hope in this little interview is to maybe enlighten others on the fact that you can certainly tackle the endurance world if you have Crohn’s.

When were you diagnosed with Crohn’s?

I was officially diagnosed with Crohn’s in August of 2007, which was my freshman year of college. I had been dealing with extreme fatigue symptoms and bowel issues for a few months before blood work finally showed that I was extremely anemic for a guy my age even lower than a girl. After that they ordered a colonoscopy and once they put both of those together they realized I had Crohn’s. Mine happens to mostly effect my lower GI tract.

Did  these symptoms occur out of no where or had you always had stomach issues?

I feel like they really came out of nowhere. I never had stomach issues growing up and they hit me all of a sudden.

How was the first year of dealing with Crohn’s?

Actually after the diagnosis, my whole freshman year the symptoms were under control. I was on a type of anti inflammatory. However, for whatever reason, right as the summer began I ended up with my worst flare up. I landed in the hospital for 6 days, no solid food had a colonoscopy and upper GI. Sometimes I go for a long time with no issues and then sometimes I feel like it wont stop. A couple months ago, I needed to go to the ER because the pain, cramping, and nausea in my stomach was unbearable. Once you start having a flare up and your stomach starts cramping you hope that its just something small and will go away. When they start getting extremely intense and you start vomiting and you can’t control it, you know you’re in trouble.

So, basically Crohn’s is very unpredictable. How does this affect your daily life?

It is very unpredictable. I know the foods that set me off but there are times where you could go from feeling great to absolute crap in about 30 seconds. It affects my daily life being constantly worried on how your going to feel especially with important days and work. It sucks to always be tired and not know how your going to feel. Also, with the bowl problems that are associated with it…They can be unpredictable and embarrassing at times. When your in the bathroom for 15 minutes everyone knows what your doing… not fun.
Being that you are an endurance athlete, how does Crohn’s affect you during your training or race performance?
Well obviously low iron (anemia) means less oxygen to muscles which is counter productive to anything endurance related. Days when your just so tired makes training extremely difficult or impossible. Also, crohns is trigered by stress so when race day comes around your nervous that stress might set off a reaction or symptoms which is the last thing any one wants.  Long training rides where you go for 3 hours can be really tough because you hope you don’t have to go to the bathroom and your out in the middle of no where. Really just trying to keep up with people who are equally trained and in equal shape makes it difficult when your anemic and tired your just at a disadvantage at any endurance sport when you have low iron. I take iron supplements but they are very rough on the stomach and really don’t seem to make a dramatic difference so it gets frustrating.

Well, that doesn’t sound fun… What is it that gets your through the tough training and what keeps you doing it?
I like to do it. I enjoy riding bikes. I’m part of a group in PA and I’ve met so many great people who share the same interest. Riding a bike is a great stress relief and gives you a different perspective of things around you that you dont get while in a car. It something i can do with my father and we both love spending time together.
DrewDuBike
So basically you giving a big screw you to Crohn’s and doing what you like right?
Exactly! You can’t live everyday afraid to get out of bed becasue your scared about how your going to feel. If you let it control you your just going to go insane.The first time I was in the hospital my parents and friends where very scared and nervous for me. But my rationale is that it could always be worse and i could have some worse disease or illness. Thats what i say to myself every time (or almost every time. Sometimes you cant but help feel a little sorry for yourself) it could always be worse. Im lucky i have parents that help me and have taken me to doctor appointments, found me doctors, driven me to the ER at 3:30 in the morning and ruined a camping trip. Oh, and an amazing girlfriend who helps me and understands that I just have bad days. (I didn’t pay him to say that- I swear 😉 )
Any tips for people with Crohn’s or GI issues who want to try endurance sports?
You can’t let it control you. Your going to have bad days and those are the days where the bike stays leaning against the wall and the running shoes stay in the closet. And you just have to say to yourself that tomorrow will be better and I’ll go after it tomorrow. Im not a sponsored athlete and no one is paying me to do this. I do it because  I enjoy it and you can’t let Crohn’s ruin it for you! You just have to listen to your body. If your feeling good, go for it. If your feeling crappy (haha- sorry), cut it back.
DrewDuRun
  • Any questions? I hope you all learned something and for anyone dealing with the disease know that you can also do endurance sports. Drew has gladly agreed to answer any questions you might have 🙂
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Hagerstown Duathlon Recap

I hope everyone had a great weekend.

Saturday morning I woke up at the crack of dawn to drive an hour with my dad to Hagerstown, Maryland to compete in a duathlon. Way back in April I did the same duathlon and this happened to be the second of their series for the year..so it was the exact same course I did before.

My dad and I had waited to register for this race race the day of so we couldn’t kind of decide last minute if we wanted to bail or not. I won’t lie- it was FREEZING but the cold I can handle..there was no rain in the forecast so we decided to just do it. Waking up was tough because of course it was about 34 degrees out and the first frost was on the ground. A little early don’t you think October!!? I mean really now.

Anyways- by the time we got down there it was about 38 degrees, but one of those days you could tell would be freezing in the morning but would warm up later on. Deciding what to wear was difficult because I hate getting hot and not being able to peel layers off. I finally just decided to wear a long sleeved tech tee, underneath my bike jersey (no tri top today- too cold) and put a thermal bike jacket on over top. Bike shorts and my purple compression sleeves were also a go to. I honestly just prayed it would work and went with it…

Prior to the race I had coffee, 2 pieces of toast ,and a half hour before the start I had a peanut butter gu – my favorite of course!

I’m happy to say, I felt great before this race which was really exciting. My legs felt good even though I had run and done a lot of spin classes that week. I hoped I hadn’t overdone it, but my body seemed ready to go. I was just hoping to hold off any side stitch issues that have been bugging me lately.

I was at the start line when I realized I had let my watch at home. Crap. With all the layers I hadn’t even thought about putting that on. Now it’s no fancy watch but I like to just have the time running so I can see where I’m at. I figured oh well- seeing the clock at transition and on my bike computer was the best it was going to get.

The two mile run I was definitely very cautious because of the side stitches. Lo and behold I made it to mile one without a stitch…so I picked it up from there and finished the 2 miles. i had no idea what time i had finished in because the clock was running from a previous 5k that started before hand so I just grabbed my stuff put my shoes on and threw off my thermal jacket because I was very warmed up at this point.

I grabbed my bike and took off toward the bike exit. I clipped in with success (YES!) and took off. This course was a big 10 mile loop on the roads around the park. This course was slightly scary because the roads were not closed and at some points there were cars close to you. Thankfully MOST of the time there was a decent size shoulder on the roads but sometimes the shoulder turned into a turning lane (yikes). This course was slight rolling hills- nothing crazy but different than the last duathlon which was a straight flat out and back. I enjoy loops far better than the straight out and back. (It’s kind of discouraging when you see the super fast people already turning around passing you and you’re like ffff i have so much longer- but that’s just me haha)

The worst part about the bike ride was that you forget how it’s going to be so much colder on there..the crosswind was tough at some points on the road where it was open. I felt good on the bike though..my quads weren’t tiring and so I pushed it as much as I could. I try to do this just for the fact that I know my runs are my weakest part so it’s all out on the bike to make up for that time.

Finally I made it back into the park to dismount (success again- yes!) and I ran into the transition the best I could.

My body was completely numb from the torso done not even lying. Running in to change my shoes was probably hilarious if you were watching because I could barely feel my fingers to undo my shoes and get my running shoes back on. Unbuckling my helmet was not an easy task either.

Anyways, once that was done I took one last drink of gatorade and took off on the 5k course that started out like the 2 mile run. I loved this run because it wound through a littler trail between trees and wasn’t boring like the beach run.

However, not gonna lie- the first mile was terrible. My whole body was numb, my legs were tired and in the mode where they feel like they’re a thousand pounds. I finally loosened up after the first mile and when I hit the turn around point on this run I decided I felt good and felt like I could bring the pace up more to hopefully kick it in hard. The moment I was able to see the final turn and straightaway to the finish I kicked it in as much as I could.

When I saw the time coming across the line I was excited because I thought it had beat my previous time for this course! I was completely exhausted so I”m glad to know that I did the best I could that day. BOOM.

Final time: 1:24.01 Beating the previous time by 30 seconds!

Post race carb fest- (Already at the donut WHOOPS!)

Even better yet- checking the results I finished 2nd out of 6 in my age group! YES medal and podium time!! 🙂 ( I look like a GIANT!)

 

  • How was your weekend?

Pudding Protein Smoothie w/ a side of Survey!

Hi everyone! Yesterday got a little crazy busy and mostly I was exhausted. I actually had half a day off (haha woo, a half!) and that time was spent running errands…don’t you love those days? I found out just how much working all weekend and staying up late watching the olympics is doing to me…  I don’t understand why they put the good stuff on SO late..like 10 and 11 o’clock?? what’s up with that NBC??

Anyways- The other day I posted on making a protein smoothie with some pudding so I figured I would tell you the recipe..even tho it was super easy!

  • 5 oz milk of choice (I used coconut!)
  • 1 cup of Dark Chocolate Sugar Free Pudding
  • I scoop Vanilla Protein Powder of Choice (I used the GNC Soy 95)
  • 3-4 Ice Cubes

Simple as that! The pudding makes the texture and thickness of this shake is amazing! I swear it was like having a milkshake! 🙂 and i loveeeee them, so a guilt free version! Also I haven’t tried it yet but I’m sure it would be awesome with any other flavors of pudding. Butterscotch would hit the spot sometimes FO SHO.

I have been having these little babies after my workouts- which surprisingly enough have been in the gym lately! I know what- me in an actually gym- weird. But I have been staying after my work which is conveniently at the gym to do some workouts because I’ve been busy enough all day long I haven’t had any other time! I haven’t been on my bike since Sunday. Miss my babe!

 

I also did a STELLAR Tabata workout on Monday full of Front Raises, Speed Skater (my glutes still hurt), Front kicks, jack knives…etc. So. SORE.

Anyways, continuing on with my last survey from the Liebster award I’ll finish up my last survey from Amalia! 

1. What is your favourite thing about a community you’re a part of (virtual or real life community) Within the Blogging, Sweat Pink, and FitFluential Community I’m pretty excited about how much everyone supports each other and learning all these new things! It’s really fun! 🙂

2. When did you start your hobby (whatever your blog is about) and why? What made you start? I’ve been “moving” since forever, but particularly cycling and fitness classes started within the last year. 

3. What is your absolute favourite thing to do? Um…eat? maybe ride my bike- but mostly eat. I love good food. 
4. Describe your ideal day! Ahhh- sleep in, get up and ride my bike, then park my butt on the beach with a good book 🙂 add in some good wine and food and I’m set…oh wait that sounds like my vacation I just had..yes my idea day right there!
5. What is your dream job? Dream job- hmm.. probably a college field hockey coaching position! I know that sounds lame but I think it would be fun. 
6. Tell me about a time you didn’t think you could finish something – how did you push through? Ahhh well there was this one time where I did a duathlon on extremely cold and windy day..it was the toughest course (not that I’ve been on many) ever..very hilly and the wind came in so many directions you couldn’t tell…I seriously wanted to quit as a I cam down one of the hills and looking up the next…but I didn’t. I was however so relieved to be done. 
7. Do you like caffeinated beverages? What’s your favorite? I loveee coffee..and I’m not going to lie I do drink a little diet soda- but trying to cut back a lot!
8. Proudest achievement to date? Hmm..graduating? But also playing hockey in college all 4 years maybe. Big time commitment with school.
9. Would you rather read a book, write, watch television or go outside? read a book, outside 🙂
10. Favourite candy? STARBURST. Like a deep love. the normal kinda AND the jelly beans!
11. One thing you can’t do for the life of you (for me its do my own hair in anything but a ponytail) but wish you could? Play the Piano!!

So now I need to tag some of my favorite ladies for the award: (If tagged- no pressure! I understand these get passed around a lot!)

My questions for you!

1. What’s your favorite animal and why?

2. What are the colors of your bedroom walls (currently or growing up)?

3. What’s your favorite sports team?

4. Where is your dream vacation spot?

5. Describe your perfect weekend.

6. Do you love trashy reality TV? (I DO, I DO!)

7. One thing you wish you were good at?

8. What is your favorite kind of cookie?

9. What is the best goal you have achieved to date?

10. What’s your favorite clothing to wear- (workout or normal)?

11. Generally what time do you go to bed and wake up during the week?

  • What are your answers to any of these questions?

Friday Things

I sincerely apologize to any of you who actually read my crap…I’ve been a terrible blogger for sure. This week has just been busy, and also I don’t have much to talk about…? Work is well- you know how work is..it is pretty slow right now so… ANYWAYS. THANK YOU to anyone who actually keeps coming back to read this crapthing.

Friday Things..since all I have to talk about is random. Seriously.

1. These things are what I”m using to attempt to not have a scar the size of my entire leg…we will see how that goes. BioOil and Scar zone here I come..

I know it looks horrendous… ugh. Also the scar zone stuff has SPF in it..good thing since…

2. I”M GOING TO THE BEACH!

I know what you’re thinking..”seriously? again??” yes, again! This time with Drew’s family! yay! Only a few days so I can get back to work, but still- It will be a nice get away! I will be reenacting some of this!

3. I love pedicures and manicures.

They’re the best seriously. and Gel manicures last forever. These things are both highly necessary for the beach! You can’t tell but the base of my french manicure is super sparkly! woo

4. This is how I’m greeted when coming out of my room. Don’t you just want to DIE.

and then she wags her tail at me. swoon.

5.  That’s really all for now…I’ve got a ton of things to do before I leave to meet Drew and his family tomorrow so… i’ll catch ya on the flip side!

Source

  • What are you up to this weekend? Anything fun?

Group Exercise..how I’ve missed you!

Hi everyone 🙂 So, sorry for the lack of posting I just, well, LIFE happened. I just got busy and my lack of sleep front he past seeking in Pitt total hit me like a ton of bricks by Monday night and I needed some SLEEP! But i’ve been up to a lot since then also 🙂

My schedule for work was a little different this week so I FINALLY got to go back to one of my favorite things! GROUP EXERCISE CLASSES! Ah how I’ve missed them. Since my schedule was different, I got to take 2 classes this week! A new one: Tabata Class and an old favorite: HIIT!

Oh How i missed you weights, body bar, and stepper..

My body hasn’t hurt this good for a while! It’s a love hate kinda thing. Monday I was inspired to take this new Tabata class because it a time I could do it, and my favorite kind of training! Something  that mixed it up. We did a ratio of 20:10. I liked the class, but wish the exercises were done at a 30:10 ratio instead. Every time got into the movement it ended up being over… But overall it was a good class and I would def go again.

After this class I went home and gave some time for the heat to let it up a little bit and headed out on my bike..I didn’t have a set amount of time I wanted to do, but after all said and done I completed 20 miles…with a few good climbs in it. There is one last climb that totally makes you want to cry and just walk your bike up it- not going to lie I thought about it for sure. My quads were on FIRE after I was done.

I obviously did not pose for this picture..

Needless to say the next morning I woke up before I moved I could tell I was sore. Really sore. In the Tabata class we did 4 rounds of speed skaters…and if you’ve done this you know how bad your glutes hurt after. I tried to sit on the floor last night and I couldn’t even do it without being in pain. Also trying to use a stick to roll out your butt isn’t very fun. FYI.

So even though I was pretty sore, I had the opportunity to go back to my favorite HIIT class and do that workout which was fun because once you start going to the same class all the time you make friends with those people and they notice when you’re gone! So I went and it as always kicked my butt! We did 3 minutes of straight exercise straight and then 1 minutes rest and did this 10 times. It was tough for sure! All of the exercises we did didn’t require equipment..mostly good old fashion mountain climbers, push ups (ugh), in and outs and sprinting in place. Totally killed. Last night I did the Long and Lean routine to stretch it out.

Today I woke up to do a nice 12 mile recovery ride with my dad…good thing it was recovery because I couldn’t do much more. My legs were SO. Tired. It was seriously a struggle to really keep going.

Today I got to go swim at a pool of a friends and it was lovely…It was only 96 degrees out!

  • Do you love group exercise like me? I think it’s fun to sweat it out and have other people around you while your killing yourself 🙂
  • What are your favorite types of classes to take? For me it’s HIIT! Duh!

Talk to you tomorrow!