Thursday, September 21, 2006

Tolstoy Syndrome

Or, How Cold Medication Can Help. Uh, duh!

The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him. --Leo Tolstoy

Anton Chekhov once said he could write a story about anything, even about something mundane like an ashtray. I think maybe Chekhov was a little full of himself but also having read some of his compatriots and not loved them ( One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, anyone? Nobel prize Nobel smize) I guess he had reason to be a braggart. Not to mention success will do that to you.

I am not sure why I remember this particular statement when I remember almost nothing else about Chekhov or his work. I am sure the context of this was something one of my professors said in one of my fiction writing workshops when we were discussing either writer's block or inspiration.

Writer's block isn't something I worry too much about since obviously I too can write about anything. Inspiration though, is something I think about a lot--especially while running. And this particular notion of Chekhov's, of writing about anything, floated into my head while I was running yesterday. Which in turn, led me think about another great Russian writer.

And so here is where I recall the words of Tolstoy and rework one of the greatest opening lines in novel history for my own purposes: Healthy people are all same; unhealthy people are unhealthy in their own way.

Okay, so maybe I am being a little dramatic about my health. Really I am just trying to cleverly work in the topic of my nasal spray-- which is really what I was thinking about on my run yesterday before my wildly firing mind lit on the Russians. And the reason I was thinking about my nasal spray was because it was then, while running, that I realized that I was able to breathe through, get this, both of my nostrils. It is truly amazing how much more oxygen you can take in when your sinus cavities are clear.

On Monday I went for my girly check up. I love my Ob/Gyn. If nothing else I go so he can boost my ego and tell me how great I look and how healthy I am. He really says all that. I know he probably says it to everyone but I totally buy what he is selling me.

My overall health really is fine and same as always: BP 110/70, heart rate 54, temperature a cool 97-- which is normal for me. Disappointedly though, my weight-- of course-- was exactly the same as it was last year and the year before and all the other years before that. I never weigh myself so I only get weighed when I go to the doctor and with the exception of pregnancy it is always the same. I am the only person I know who trains for a marathon and doesn't lose weight. It doesn't matter what I do but I never lose weight. Well that isn't true. I may gain a few lbs but I will always lose right back to my regular weight. This time though I was hopeful that maybe I'd budged a little because I know I have definitely lost inches since my jeans are all fitting looser. Apparently though I only change in measurements not weight. I guess it could be argued that I am denser.

So while my overall health is the same as always, my wonderful doctor did notice that I was congested. He asked if I was taking anything for it and I said no. He then asked if I wanted anything for it. Then I went on to explain that I don't like to take medication because I think the side effects might be detrimental, or worse, the medication might make me tired. Because, you know the last thing I need is to take anything that is going to make me tired. I mean, I am in the middle of marathon training and here is where he cut me off. "It is just nasal spray," he said. Then he dropped the word "steroid." I asked if it would make me run faster. He chuckled at me and said yes, probably, since I would be able to breathe.

And low and behold, he was right! Not to mention the dark circles that are perennially under my eyes have magically disappeared. Now, when I suck in a breath through my nostrils, it goes through both the left and the right. Amazing! It use to only go through the left side.

He gave me 12 refills for the stuff so I am thinking I might have to be on this stuff forever. He said maybe, maybe not. I just know I can't possibly go back to only being a one nostril breather now that I know what it is like to be binostrilly.

The added perk of all this easy breathing is that my running performance has indeed improved. Tuesday I hit the gym and did a 10k on the treadmill. I finished in just under 48 minutes. It would have been faster and was to start but I had to take it down to a walk around the 4 mile point when the cookies I ate on the way to gym threatened to come back up. I managed to keep them down and finish running, though a little slower. I then did 40 minutes of all over body weights.

Wednesday I did the 10 mile run where I realized the connection between the nasal spray and being able to breathe. I didn't have Garmin with me but according the clock on my phone it worked out to be an 8:20-8:30 pace.

And this morning I had the most amazing long run. I cannot believe how good I felt. Especially since I just ran 20 (well 23) miles last Saturday. I even sprinted out the last mile and a half. It was 18 miles in just under 2 hours and 35 minutes-- about an 8:40 pace. For sure the cooler weather has helped but so has my apparent nasal doping.


  1. Glad you can breathe! Doug says to watch out for the 'roid rage. : )

  2. I am feeling very aggressive these days ;)

  3. Howdy! COOKIES ON THE WAY TO THE GYM??? ...nuf said. Happy trails, Bruce

  4. I seem to have a bit of a cookie problem of late.