Thursday, January 18, 2007


It's cold here this week. After hiding out for most of a year, Winter made a triumphant return with some damn chilly air this week. Thusly, I relegated myself to 5 miles yesterday on the friggin' treadmill. I had so far this winter been able to avoid it, but since my face hurt just letting the dogs out yesterday, I decided to go it indoors.

It did not go well.

I'm running along at about a 10:00/mile pace, which is nothing difficult. I'm trying to watch the first episode of Season 2 of 24 on my iPod (I was pretty meh about season 1, but people seem to love the show, so I thought I'd give it a shot while I was confined indoors). Really from the first step, I didn't feel right. Kind of breathless, maybe, or just that I was having to work too hard at such an easy pace. Watching my distance at half a mile the way I normally would on the treadmill after a few miles - Good Lord will this never end?. Then I stopped after the first mile to get a drink.

I had surgery a few years ago, and the first time I tried to stand up, it hurt so bad the world went red. This is what happened when I stopped running to get a drink. Red crept into my vision from the edges in, until I was nearly blind. I had to sit down. My hearing went next - all I could hear were echoey lower frequencies. This was more than just a head rush - I was actually losing consciousness. I was fully aware of it, though, and had plenty of time to think What the hell? as well as the headline Man Faints After One Mile On Treadmill At Low Speed with the subheadline, Investigators baffled at the Ironman tattoo on his left bicep, as surely Ironman don't faint from prissy little treadmills. The whole thing was very odd and disconcerting.

So this whole thing lasted a full 3 minutes or more, with me sitting on my treadmill willing myself to stay conscious. Crazy. Finally, like coming up from underwater, the world re-emerged into my eyes and ears and I was okay. So of course - I got back on the treadmill. Slower this time. I went another mile. Still didn't feel totally right, but nothing too dramatic. By "not right" I guess I mean just...something was off. One of those indescribable things. As soon as mile 2 came and went, though, I just wasn't feeling it at all on the treadmill. It wasn't exhaustion or anything like that - just...whatever. Something subtle but alarming. So I got off, gave up on the other 3 miles feeling pretty dejected that I'd been wiped out after 2 measly miles, and grabbed my towels to head home.

140.6 miles in the wind and rain and nearly 15 hours, and I'm going home after 2 miles on a treadmill. This fucking blows.

And it happens again. While I'm walking back to the locker room the world turns red and I have to sit down on a weight machine for a minute or two. When I felt a little better, I started walking to the locker room when again, the world starts closing in. I'm on a mission now to make it to the locker room and not fall down or some stupid high drama thing like this. Finally I make it, and I sit down for a solid 5 minutes as this thing slowly passes.

By the time I finally got organized to get home, I was feeling okay - I wasn't in danger of falling over in the parking lot or something. I didn't have a headache throughout any of this. My chest didn't hurt. I had no real symptoms of anything, except that I didn't feel right, and I had no clinical description for why. When I got home I sat on the couch for awhile, sort of in a stupor. I waited another hour before I ate. Today, I feel fine.


This happened once to me last year on the treadmill, too - when I stopped, I suddenly about fell over. That day I attributed it to having too little fuel in me before working out. And maybe that's the case yesterday, too - I ate light all day, and maybe I was just calorie deficient...though that seems a bit desperate, as it's not like I was starving. So I dunno. Today I'll run outside, cold or no. If I have anything at all like another experience, then I think we consider it mission critical and I have to check it out. We know what runs in my family (and so what I run away from), we know what happened to my Dad, and I acknowledge visions of my carotid arteries all gummed up or something, but let's not over-react. Occum's Razor says I probably just didn't have enough to eat before running. I'm not trying to be dramatic here - this is just one of the realities of being me. Things like this happen, however benign it probably is, I don't get to be unconcerned. Anyway. I'll keep you posted.

Can anybody present any other explanation for this - I mean, all things being equal and assumed. Would it make any sense that running on a treadmill, specifically, would cause this kind of thing in me?

Strange days. S'no good, running in place.


Anonymous said...

I think the psychological impact of running indoors has left you feeling confined and in reaction the possible "panic" attack you were having with the anxiety of being indoors lead to an influx of fluid to the brain, thus creating the "black out" feeling and the "not quite right" scenerio. This, secondary to your woosification, leads me to believe that you are suffering from elephantits. (just a theory)
-dr. bieg

xt4 said...

Kressa! Didn't know you frequented the joint.

Amy mentioned panic attack, or anxiety attack. Which makes no sense, really, since I've never had one of those, aren't anxious, and don't so much panic. But there might be something to it. With the enclosed-ness of it. Weird.

I think you meant wussification. I'm not sure what woosification might even mean.

Elephantitis, though. That's a brilliant diagnosis.

Anonymous said...

I see red when I have to run on a treadmill too. Aargh!

But seriously, hope it's nothing serious, and you're still IRON in my book.

RunIrisRun said...

Funny, I get psychosomatic symptoms whenever I go to the gym. My throat feels like it's closing up, my head hurts and I even experience a weird smell. It's totally in my head - but I hate the treadmill that much.

On the other hand, I ran 10 miles in freezing temps and wind chill and ended up with bronchitis. Go figure. I can't win.

TriSaraTops said...

Zoinks! Be careful! If it's happened before, I might check with a Doc....?

Dreadmills blow!

Anonymous said...

i wouldn't say i "frequent" but my job is less than exciting recently so i need to look busy on my computer. shhh...don't tell. and i meant woosification. it is actually an ancient latin word meaning "to woos". duh. i think what really happened is that you wanted to pass out but needed to make to the locker room first so you could pass out naked on the shower floor. but the actual trip to the locker room got rid of all chances of passing out and that is a pretty hard thing to fake. so, better luck next time. maybe they should put the treadmills in the locker room, then you won't have that problem. -steve

Pharmie said...

Yikes! No real suggestions here. Maybe you just work better in fresh air. If it ever happens again, though, you really might want to go see a doctor.

Patric said...

Here is my 2 cents. In my 8 years of working at health clubs I saw lots and lots of people passout/blackout and I would say in about 95% of the cases it was because they had forgotten to eat or didnt eat at all for some reason. So my guess for you is you lacked fuel in the system. But then again what do I know, I only play a doctor on tv not in real life!!!!

Anonymous said...

Chris- When was the last time you had a physical? I know you got all checked out for IM and everything and you're more physically fit than anyone I know- even the Olympic speed skater, I'm sure. Please, you have to make sure to mention it to your doctor the next time you have one and if you have not had one in a year it's time to make an appointment. Just a cousin who cares about you a lot......For now, we rest easy with ideas of panic/anxiety...

xt4 said...

I appreciate everybody's thoughtfulness and advice here - I am keeping an eye on things. Erin - I take all of this pretty seriously, with everything we have to consider, so be certain that I'll check in with my dr. about this on my next physical. As it is, I've been free of drama for about a week now, so I'm hoping it was just a food thing or something.