When Life Gives You Lemons

I’m sure we have all heard the various takes on this phrase- make lemonade, add vodka, etc. I don’t particularly hate lemons although they can leave a sour taste in the mouth. I’m pretty sure that is what the author of this phrase meant in regards to something that can be distasteful or disappointing.

My last post I was entering my last 27 days of training before taking on 100 miles. My last long run was exactly 2 weeks ago-a 20 miler that felt sluggish at best and left me feeling really beat up. I could have blamed it on the intense wind that day or the fact that is was day 3 of back to back long runs, but that was not the case as I was soon to discover.

Enter The Lemons: I awoke the next day ready to go to work but feeling a bit “off.” I thought I was just a little sore from the intense 3 day runs so I arrived to work ready to tough it out. Have you ever had one of those “pseudo reality” experiences? Like arriving at your destination without recollection of how you got there? I sort of felt like I was floating and then the intense chills/rigors/body aches set in. I left after 30 minutes, realizing I was going to be a worthless nurse that day.

I seldom miss work, but for the next three days I was behaving something like this:

Baby Rex the Chihuahua

Needing a Dr. excuse for the 3rd day of missed work, I embarked on urgent care for the first time. Nasal swab confirmed influenza B. So much for mandatory flu vaccines. I have honestly not been that sick since the early 90s. The body aches were so intense that I could NOT get comfortable no matter what I did. I maxed out on ibuprofen and took Tylenol for the first time in at least 15 years. I soaked through bed sheets at least three times a night for 4-5 nights. M-I-S-E-R-A-B-L-E! By Saturday (day 5), it had settled into my lungs/chest and every cough felt like I was going to hack up a lung and felt like an inferno in my lungs. The thick, green phlegm that came up (sorry) told me that I was now sporting a good bacterial infection that was not going to go away without antibiotics.

Urgent Care Trip Two: Having been there once, I thought, “Okay, this will be a breeze. I’ll tell them what I need (after all I AM an RN), they’ll write me a prescription for an antibiotic, and I’ll be on my way and feeling better in about 48 hours.” I can now appreciate when patients say that doctors don’t listen to them. The “full of himself” physician told me that he was sure that it was viral and that I did not need an antibiotic. I’m so glad that he came to this conclusion without a chest x-ray or sputum sample. Holy crap-me knowing my own body and what it needs surely was not enough! I left with a prescription for steroids and tessalon pearls because CLEARLY the doctor knows best! The ONLY reason that I filled the prednisone was because I had also developed an itchy rash on my chest & on both ankles and I knew that steroids would calm that down. I did not fill the tessalon pearls because I hate taking medication that makes me feel loopy. It was only to suppress the cough anyway. The fact that he would not listen and almost insisted that I smoked (asking 3 times) left a REALLY sour taste in my mouth. Talk about lemons!

What is a nurse to do when she has to return to work the following Monday. She takes matters in her own hands and uses the internet to get what she wants. I’m pretty sure that feeling like I was drowning, not being able to breathe and wheezing was indicative of something more serious to which an antibiotic would be effective. Long story short, I got my antibiotic and within 48 hours was feeling much better although the cough seems to be hanging on without the burn. For all I know, I could have had a touch of pneumonia or RSV. I was never checked for either. What I DO know is that I NEVER want to be that sick again. I’m pretty sure my body could have fought it off after being exposed to the germs at work, but doing those back to back long runs expended all of the energy that was needed to fight it. Who knew?

Lemons. The two things I love doing the most -running and eating, I could have cared less about. I missed key training runs leading up to the ultra. The weather here in Missouri has been bipolar lately with cold, damp mornings and chilly, windy days. I have since started running again on my treadmill, embracing it like an old friend. I am not going to run outside until the weather levels out. It’s just not worth the risk of relapse.

10600606_10209020022243883_4051353301629070759_n (2)
Not quite 2 weeks, but close

Lemons. Where does this leave my ultra? I had at first bumped down to the 50 miler, contacting the race director who was gracious enough to do that for me. But as of this writing, my gut is telling me that although I know I could do it (12 days away & I am THAT stubborn), it would probably not be the best decision. The long range forecast is calling for low 40s that morning with a high in the 50s. Normally great running weather, but not when one has another week of antibiotics to take, sweating and cooling off in those temps would not be wise. Weird to be side-lined by illness instead of injury.

One of my greatest pet peeves as a nurse is non-compliant patients. I have to practice what I preach, and putting my body through that much stress when I have been the sickest I have been in 20 years would be a foolish decision. I missed a Shamrock 5k I was registered for as well. So unfortunately, I will take the big DNS (Did Not Start). This decision was not made lightly and is definitely disappointing.

Good Advice

My focus will now turn to training & being completely healthy for Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth this June with some of my fabulous running group friends. I will also run the Hospital Hill 1/2 Marathon this year having not ran it for several years. I’ll see how many other states I can knock off over the summer with the half marathon & do some more trail runs. Will I sign up for another 100? I don’t know. It is a HUGE time commitment. At this point I am happy just to be able to breathe and feel like myself again.

Enjoy the journey


That makes me happier than three turtles sunning on a log!946754_10209019969482564_5415457948324770105_n

Hope to see you out on the road or trails,


5 Thoughts

  1. Love that saying about listening to your body before it has to scream at you! It’s so true, whether you’re talking injury or illness! Glad you’re feeling better, but bummed for you at the same time… 😕

  2. Hey Stephanie, I feel for you, and I now feel incredibly lucky, I was sick at least 4 times this past winter, and was worried I might not make it to race day.

    I had a long 7 months of training for my first 100 miler at Badger Mountain. Unfortunately, I dnf’d at 46 km (about 28 miles for you), due to IT band issues. I hate to make excuses, so I will just say that my training was clearly not intense enough to handle the volume and grade of the mountains.

    On the upside and the future, which is where I am focusing my energy similar to you, I did get to see the amazing views from the tops of all the mountains that you would climb in the race; you repeat two on your way back to start for 2nd 50 mile loop, which included about 7500 feet of elevation gain when I stopped, which was awesome as I love the climbing in trail running. Granted it was more of a slow walk then even a healthy hike up them, but whatever you know how it is, LOL.

    Anyway, sorry for the major sidetrack there, enough about me and back to responding to your post.

    First post I have read of your blog, the memes are great, especially Kermit in the bathtub going through withdrawal from lack of running, lol.

    So not being up to speed with your blog what 100 miler were you going to be doing?

    I like your comment about patients not listening to you, and then having a moment of, oh should I, same moment I had on Friday evening.

    Anyway, hope are feeling better, and able to get out for a another run soon.

    Catchya later.

    1. Hey Adam- great to meet you! So good to hear from runners who know what it’s like to feel the pain of not starting a race or not finishing. The 100 miler I was going to do was Epic Ultra’s Prairie Spirit in Ottawa, KS. I did the 50 miler there last year & it is a great ultra. I am slowly getting back to running outside. It’s amazing how much fitness is lost in a few weeks but muscle memory is also amazing! I have 12 weeks until my next marathon & I am confident I will get back to peak level.
      Your mountain run sounds like it was a beautiful experience. I am branching out more into trails and just enjoying the journey.
      Take care of yourself. I look forward to hear what else you’ve been up to in the running world!

      1. Hey Stephanie, so funny how much repetition in city names exist in the World, as there is a city in Ontario, that is the capital of Canada called Ottawa.

        That race sounds really cool, going in and out of small communities. Do the community residents get involved in the race and show their support on race day? What is the energy like?

        Thank you for following my blog, I am going to start posting about training/race experiences (including Badger Mountain Challenge) there soon after I get back home from Washington state.

        I also have another blog aidstationswithadam.blogspot.com, which is to be devoted to my commitment to help all people who want to always be striving to be the best they can be, by becoming trail and ultra runners. As I believe trail/ultra running has amazing power to grow personally to be the person you wish to be. It is also in its infancy, and a project that will take flight when I return.

        So feel free to follow any.

        I do know all to well about DNS and dnf, but the benefit of being apart of the ultra community is the illogical belief in you regardless of what you have accomplished, and how big your goals are. As what ultra/trail runners have is not a logical belief based on progress in distance (what I saw a lot of in the road running community, which is fantastic and I appreciated and understood), but a belief in your human spirit! This is why I love being an ultra runner, as everyone believes and supports everyone else, from the most amateur to the most elite, as what we all recognize is we can all learn something from each other. This why I have become friends with weekend warriors like you and I, and the fastest in the World.

        I cannot wait to read your blog posts on your upcoming marathon, half marathon races.

        Have an awesome day!

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