Back to Normal

12923232_456795557839846_7986080387765353919_nMy life has finally returned to it’s normal ebb and flow. My biggest problem is once again getting sick with colds, as opposed to dealing with the aftermath of Adelaide’s crash that happened a year and a half ago, or my non functioning thyroid and depression. With the more serious problems behind, I can finally turn my focus to getting upper respiratory viruses and missing races and large chunks of training as my primary worries. It’s pretty nice to have a cold be your main problem in life. Despite the frustration of waking up day after day with the same raucous cough and eventually having to cancel my plane ticket to the race for which I’ve been training for over three months, I’m not that upset.

It’s been almost four weeks since I first came down with this cold, which is bordering on ridiculous, even for me. After taking an initial week off from training to mend, my cough seemed to reach stagnation. Rest wasn’t curing it so I decided to start training again. Maybe breathing hard would clear everything out? It’s never worked before but there’s always that chance. Over the next two weeks I began ramping things back up to normal, culminating with a 25 hour week last week that included 20 kilometers in the pool, an hour-and-a-half track session with 8.5 miles of intensity, a couple days of easier bike intervals, and a race on Sunday. I don’t have anything else to talk about so I’ll write about the race.

I travelled down to the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs with Travis and his girlfriend Rachel, attempting to muffle my hackling, overly productive cough with an elbow in between conversation. The day before, Saturday, I’d gone on a group ride with seven other people that had showed up for the greatly reduced Gateway ride. I was half wheeled by a couple masters guys and non-racers, then turned back after getting dropped on the climb up to Carter, ego fully torn to shreds. To be fair, my legs had been destroyed from the track workout the day before, and my cough hadn’t helped matters either. I needed a good night’s sleep to recharge. I spent the night coughing into my pillow.

Onto the race.

During a slight incline during the first few minutes of the neutral section, I was dispatched to the very back of the pack. Things were not looking good. My legs ached, my lungs cackled, and I felt incredibly uneasy riding in the group because I was seriously out of practice. I was picturing crashes happening in front of me for most of that first lap, which never helps positioning.

This was a race that I’d decimated three years ago, and now I was all the way at the back, riding scared and worried about getting dropped on the first main climb, a 10-minute false flat stair step ordeal that never gets very steep. By the time the hill came around I’d at least made my way to the middle of the pack of 50. The pace went up gradually until everyone else was breathing has raggedly as I. Gaps opened up with a kilometer to go. I went around riders who I had assumed were stronger (that day) than me, never to see them again in the race. Near the top of the climb I dug as deep as I could to close a large gap that had formed and barely made it. There were only 12 guys left at that point. Was that the race?

Everyone took too long catching their breath over the next half lap and 20 more guys eventually caught back on. By then I had started attacking on the downhill and got away with Zack Allison (Elevate) before the base of the next climb. My hope was to get a bit of a head start in anticipation to the explosion that was sure to happen in the pack. My lungs couldn’t take another brutal beating like that again and survive 50 additional miles. On the climb, I eventually dropped Zack in my effort to stay out front. By the top the pack was only 20 seconds back. I pushed on. Then on the feed zone roller after the finish line the group came to within a few bike lengths before I attacked again and got away for another half lap by myself. At that point I started dreaming about doing well in the race, not just hanging in to eventually get dropped. I didn’t have any power in my legs at all, but almost everyone was racing timidly, scared from how hard the first lap had been.

When the pack caught me later on I started attacking again but was re-caught at the base of the climb. Pierre (Lucky Pie) slipped off the front on the climb, which was much easier than expected. 10 minutes later, with two laps to go, I got off the front again at the top of the course and was joined by a Primal Audi guy a few minutes later. He and I eventually made it to Pierre, and the three of us started the second to last climb together with a 50 second lead on the pack. I couldn’t believe the race had been this easy and slow. I didn’t have a power meter but I knew that the efforts I’d been putting in were pretty weak, and the fact that I had been off the front so long meant that everyone was riding incredibly cautious-like. Maybe I should have been riding like that too.

About 12 guys came sailing by near the top of the climb and I couldn’t hold on. I only needed to go about 15 watts harder for 90 seconds to survive over the top but I had nothing at all in my legs at that point, and I’d been having some massive breathing issues as well. I was eventually gathered up by a chase group a mile later and ended up just struggling up the final climb at a snail’s pace for 19th, which is probably one of the worst local race results I’ve had while not working for a teammate.

After I finished I chugged a root beer and ran for half an hour at a super slow pace, coughing so hard that I had to constantly stop and catch myself from throwing up. The drive home was pretty miserable as I was on the verge of puking for over an hour. Then the nauseousness vanished with the snap of the fingers and I was finally able to eat my post race snack of sharp cheddar cheese and spiral sliced ham, both oily and soft from sitting in the warm van for half a day.

I did an easier 3.5 hours of training the following day, Monday, and realized that my cough hadn’t gotten any better for about a week. I took Tuesday almost fully off and still had coughing fits all throughout the night, keeping Adelaide and myself up for the 10th day in a row. I finally pulled the plug on the race I’d been training for, Texas 70.3, this morning. It’s just not worth continuing on like this at 50% capacity. Time to rest up for a few days and start up again at 51%.

Third Person State of Fatigue

 

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The alarm went off in the dark at 5:30 a.m., which, to Kennett’s dismay, had become a recurring phenomenon. Practice started at 6:00 a.m. twice a week and at 7:00 a.m. two other times a week (three swims and one run), ensuring that there would be plenty of time to get in one or two other workouts throughout the day and to be back in bed no later than 8:40 p.m. Kennett fumbled with his phone to turn the alarm off, which was the old phone’s primary use. Next to him, Adelaide stirred in drowsy eyed solidarity. They had five minutes to be out the door if they wanted the precious few moments of hot tub time before diving into the frigid pool. They pulled on clothes, both silently rethinking their wardrobes to add multiple layers of jackets and hats. The van had no heater and it was well below freezing outside.

Out the door to the van, with snow crunching under their feet, the two said nothing to one another. Or maybe Adelaide said something, her being the more cheerful of the two when it came to mornings. Kennett, with zero coffee in his system, did not respond. His scowl most likely only deepened at the thought of conversation.

Once in the van, Adelaide took the lid off the Tupperware container that held Kennett’s pre-made pancake, already slathered with peanut butter and honey the night before and folded into taco form to ensure ease of consumption while driving. The van erupted to life and Kennett backed out into the street. A minute and 20 seconds later, about a quarter mile down the road, the pancake was finished and Kennett slid his ice-cold hands into a pair of itchy wool mittens. The radio blared some horrible song that Kennett and Adelaide both hated, yet sung along to anyways until they got to the Colorado Athletic Club parking garage five minutes later.

They both said hello to Mash, the friendly front desk employee, Kennett forcing himself to smile for the first time that day. It hurt. He quickly moved a few paces over and filled an eight-ounce cup full of free coffee, which was one of the highlights of the morning week. He took his steaming prize to the locker room, sipping as fast as he could to get the precious fuel into his system for the workout ahead. He dropped off his gear bag in front of a locker and went to a restroom stall, praying for a quick movement. He was burning up hot tub time.

Upon entering the toilet stall and pulling down his sweat pants, he spilled coffee on himself and all over the ground. “Fuck.” It happened every morning. Kennett wondered what the guy in the stall next to him thought as he cursed and wiped up brown liquid from the floor with toilet paper. The guy in the stall next to him erupted with a violent diarrhea fart. He’s got his own issues to worry about, Kennett thought to himself.

Kennett finished shitting and simultaneously gulped down the rest of his coffee. He exited the stall, tossed the empty cup, stripped down, and got into his neon green speedo and gray swim cap. He grabbed his gear bag, which contained paddles, rubber band, fins, and other miscellaneous stuff, and then speed-walked out the locker room, past the already-crowded-at-5:57 a.m.-exercise-machines, and out the door into the freezing cold dark. He ran barefoot and shivering over the slush and snow to the pool area and jumped in the steaming hot tub, where Adelaide was already sitting with a glazed look in her eye. It was 5:58 an a handful of seconds. A little under two minutes of bliss. These were the few minutes that Kennett lived for-the extreme comfort besieged by cold, discomfort, and hard work on either side.

“Morning guys! Oh, don’t get out just yet. Let me see, 22 seconds left. Plenty of time!” an overly cheerful voice said from the dark, its face still partially hidden from the thick steam of the hot tub. Michael, Kennett’s coach, is the most morning of morning people Kennett had ever met. Kennett groaned, dunked his face for an extra second of warmth, stretched his goggles onto his head, and followed Adelaide and Michael over to the pool. He leapt over a few people hanging onto the wall of his lane and every ounce of warmth instantly left his body in a millisecond as he crashed through into the water, and I was shocked back to life.

The two seconds before and after jumping into the pool are the absolute worst part of my day every Tuesday and Thursday. “Okay people,” Michael said to the 20 or so of us spread across five lanes, “500 warm up, every fourth backstroke.” He then cracked a joke, which I don’t remember, and we were off. From there, things got harder, yet somehow easier at the same time.

 

Men Don’t Cry

Men have violent “sad seizures” in which there just so happens to be a large amount of liquid lost from their eyes, nose, and possibly mouth.

I like to make fun of Adelaide for crying a lot. Not while she’s crying (I’m not that dumb) but later at some point, at least a few minutes after she’s finished. She claims that she doesn’t cry that often, so I’ll remind her of all the days in the past month or week that she cried, which leads to her saying that a lot of girls cry just as much as her and that she isn’t that abnormal. I roll my eyes at this. “Mm-hmmm.”

I pick on her for crying about what I think are somewhat unimportant, minor things. Things that I would personally just mutter a few nasty curse words at. Or if it’s something more significant, I’d just bottle it up and keep it to myself to silently obsess over for the next week or two while losing sleep. But I rarely cry. I just don’t feel the need for it. In addition to making fun of Adelaide for crying, I like to brag to her about how seldom I cry. “Before I met you I went for seven years without crying. I was 21 when I cried last, Adelaide! Can you believe that? And the time before that I was 13! I bet you’ve cried more in half a week than I’ve cried my entire non-baby existence!”

To be fair, I shed more than a bucket full of tears when Adelaide was hit by the car, and many more in the week after. But after that? After that I was all dried up.

I was three and a half hours into my ride today when I was passed by a firetruck with its lights and siren on, heading west into Lyons. I didn’t think much of it at first, other than hoping it wasn’t another cyclist like the guy who was hit two days ago (at the time of this writing I don’t know what it was for). I made the left turn to head south back into Boulder on 36, which takes about half an hour. A few minutes later a police car flew by in the opposite lane with its lights and siren on, heading to Lyons as well. At that moment I let the horrible thought that I’d been holding back finally enter my consciousness: Adelaide was going to ride with Rhae at 1PM. It’s 1:53 right now. It would take them 35 minutes to get to Lyons from our house, meaning that if they were hit in Lyons it would have been 20 minutes ago, which was just a few minutes before the firetruck passed me.

I was getting pretty tired and hungry at that point and only had one gel left, which was a nasty, old, stale flavor that I despise. And it wouldn’t be enough for me to ride into Lyons and back without a bonk. I had $10 in my seat bag though. Assuming it wasn’t Adelaide and Rhae that were hit, I could stop at a gas station on the way back for a burrito. No, I’m gluten free now. I can’t have burritos. Two more police cars went by while I thought of this, right as I was half way up the hill that Adelaide was hit on a year and a half ago. I began losing the ability to pedal. My legs felt like mush and it wasn’t from being tired and hungry. I began doing the hyperventilating thing that a crying person does without the tears. I slowed and was about to do a U turn to head to Lyons but held back just a moment. I didn’t want to see whatever was waiting for me there. In my mind I already had images of blood, bodies on stretchers, and flashing lights everywhere. If it was Adelaide and Rhae, there was nothing I could do at this point and I’d rather not see another crash scene. If it was another cyclist, I certainly did not want to see that either. I kept riding back into town, speeding up with a small jolt of energy, knowing that the sooner I got home the sooner I could call them to see if they were all right.

The first thing I did when I walked into our apartment was to go find my phone upstairs under the pile of blankets on our bed (I don’t call anyone and no one calls me so I leave it upstairs as my alarm clock, which is its main purpose). I called Rhae first since I knew she rides with her phone. It range five or six times and went to the answering machine. I immediately called her again, with no answer. I called Adelaide next, pacing back and forth across the room. Her phone rang and then went to the answering machine too. I called it again, this time looking for it upstairs, hoping to see it there buzzing on silent—that the reason she wasn’t answering was because she left it at home. I didn’t find it. I became more frantic, fully realizing how irrational it was to be freaking out like this since there were hundreds of other cyclists out on the road and the chance of them being the ones that were hit was tiny. I called Rhae again, and again, and….

“Hi Kennett! What’s up?”
“Hi Rhae, are you riding with Adelaide right now?” I asked.
“Yeah, we just stopped to eat. You want to talk to her?”

I spoke with Adelaide for half a minute, hung up, and immediately began sobbing. It was a quick cry (a man sad seizure). It only lasted about 27 seconds but by the time I was done there was snot touching the ground, still hanging from my nose (I was seated, not standing).

“Damn. That definitely counts.”

Like a factory with one of those “397 Days Without An Injury” sign, I just set mine back to zero.

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Fuck This World

For all you other white people (men) out there that don’t know what it feels like to be segregated, hop on a bike. It’s the closest thing you can do to feel the discrimination and hatred that people of color live with their entire lives. It is just insane to me that I rarely go a day on my bike without having a serious close call or someone purposefully endangering me to make the point that I shouldn’t be on their road.

Almost every day I see articles such as the one below. Sometimes they involve my own acquaintances. Not only do these completely avoidable “accidents” make me hate humanity, they make me relish the thought that one day none of us will exist. That these disgusting excuses for people, along with me and everyone else, will be dead and gone. That all of the absolutely horrible, inhuman shit that we’ve done to each other and to the world won’t matter because no one will be around to remember it. I can’t even imagine the hatred and lack of hope that people in third world, war-torn countries must have. As for the person who committed the crime below and fled both the scene and the dying victim on the side of the road, I really hope they just walk into the wilderness and die. They have nothing worthwhile to offer this messed up world.

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5280 Elite Video Interview of Pennett Keterson

It’s not me I swear. My voice doesn’t sound even close to this nasally in my own head.

I don’t really need to be making this into a blog but I’ve got to get to 1,000 posts somehow. This video was made by Kenny Withrow of 5280 Elite. In addition to racing he does photography, videography, and some pretty awesome marketing* for athletes. I’m pretty sure I’ll be getting a few crates of UmkaCare in the mail once they lay their eyes on this bad boy. We did the original take on the bike during a cold December day but there was simply too much mucus to have on film. Way too much mucus. Enjoy.

*I realize I’m marketing for a marketer. Irony noted.

Tucson Cycling House

This past fall Adelaide directed me to a the Cycling House’s website to enter a contest for an all-expenses-paid trip later that winter. It required a short essay explaining just why you were so damn awesome. As I read the rules I thought, “Wait…all I have to do is write really good things about myself? The competition didn’t stand a chance!” And it was true. I’m pretty much in my own league when it comes to blagging (blog bragging). See, I just did it right there without even having to try.

But before I was awarded the Cycling House scholarship I actually had a long phone conversation with one of the owners, Shaun, about working for them as a guide. It sounded pretty amazing: riding in the sun all winter long and getting paid for it. But the more I thought about it the more I knew being away from home for four months wouldn’t work out…being a dog owner and all, and married. I was also worried that I wouldn’t be able to get the type of training I had to do in order to be competitive for racing, so I held out hope that I’d at least get the scholarship and get to spend the better part of a week down there at camp. When I heard that I had gotten the scholarship it couldn’t have come at a better time to lift my spirits because the day before I’d found out that I had NOT won the top prize in a literary competition (for Narrative Magazine) that I’d entered last October. In fact, my story wasn’t even one of the top 10 finalists. I sent them an angry postcard: “I’m disappointed in your literary acumen, and in the words of Ernest Hemingway, ‘Damn you with eternally crusty anus scabs.'” I am fairly certain he said something like that.

Anyways, for those who don’t know, the Cycling House is located in Tucson near the base of Mt. Lemmon. They also do guided tours all over the country and world, but this trip isn’t a tour. It’s pretty much identical to a host house at a stage race, except you don’t have to quietly sneak food out of the pantry when you think the hosts are occupied with something upstairs or out of the house. The Cycling House is a big, cool stucco mansion surrounded by saguaro cacti. They serve three huge, delicious meals per day, and all the rides are supported with a vehicle stocked full of ride food, water, and your extra clothing so you don’t have to have a back full of sweaty arm warmers and jackets.

I had the idea for the Cycling House about four years after it had already been created, though I still take some credit for it. It is exactly what every cyclist that goes down to Tucson during the winter dreams of when they’re stuck in a $200 closet they rented from a Craigslist pedophile. I’ve had some good years down in Tucson training with teammates and staying with friends, but I’ve never been this pampered before.

Day One: Travel to Tucson then an easy 90 minute spin. The sun was shining and there was zero snow on the ground. My legs did feel like bags of rotting manure though. Or maybe that was the stench of my unwashed bibs. Note: traveling with unwashed bibs spoils 100% of the other clothes in your bag. I have known this for years yet have done absolutely nothing with that knowledge.

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Left to right: Chef Drew, David, Tom, Sheila, me, Judith, Tarak, Guide Brendan (Guide is actually his first name), George, Kem, and Guide Cory. The photographer must have been the fourth guide, Ian.

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Drew on the right, Brendan on the left.

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Day Two: Five hours around Saguaro National Park East, then a few times up to mile post nine on Mt. Lemmon for good measure. It was decided that I’d be able to ride on my own since my speed wouldn’t match that of the group’s.

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Snacks galore with the Cycling House. I really had to go out of my way to not eat in order to bonk that first day. Here we have Tom refueling while Brendan refills bottles and Cory poses to look pretty for the camera. Work them hips, boy.

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I’ve never ridden a LOOK before. Here’s my user review: It was made of carbon, rubber, and metal. It felt like a bike. I liked it.

Day Three: Five hours of Gate’s Pass and Saguaro National Park West. The highlight of the ride was eating at a Mexican restaurant a few blocks from A. Mountain afterwards. I actually preferred Chef Drew’s cooking, amazingly enough. The meals at the Cycling House are that good and large quantities of Drew’s blood, sweat, and tears go into that food.

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Day Four: Five more hours of Mt. Lemmon. I also forgot to add that these past three days also included 30 minute swims to keep that all important water-feel (for us triathletes). Our group was half triathletes and half cyclists, with the triathletes going out on their own for trail runs just outside the house and a group swim sesh happening late afternoon (there was also yoga/core/stretching every morning and a number of clinics in the afternoons such as bike maintenance and descending skills). The third day of swimming included a winner take all team relay. Glory, that is. It was me and Tarak Vs. the guides, Corey and Ian, in a 2×100 race. Corey and Ian were given a handicap of having to “fist” 50 of each of their 100. For those not in the know, fisting is a drill used to work on the catch segment of the stroke and it’s exactly what it sounds like, you take your fist and firmly insert it…just kidding it’s actually not necessary exactly what it sounds like. Fisting is swimming normally but with fists instead of open hands. Anyways, the guides handily, or fistily, beat Tarak and I. I won’t go into detail about what the punishment (or reward?) for winning was.

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Brendan and Sheila on the lower slopes of Lemmon.

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Brendan, George, and Kem (not Kim–it’s a Canadian thing apparently)

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Tarak and Cory doing what I assume is an in-air arm wrestle. Let’s just pretend this and some of those other photos were actually from Mt. Lemmon and not Gate’s Pass.

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Judith and Brendan (how is Brendan in all of these pictures?) taking a break on Lemmon.

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Ian and Judith.

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It was one of the warmest days on Lemmon I’ve ever had. I didn’t even really need the vest descending. Even better, I got about 11,000 feet and 90 miles in that day and felt like I could have kept going. It probably had something to do with eating 9,000 calories for every meal the past few days.

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One of the best views of a road anywhere.

Day Five: Five more hours! I rode out to meet the group at Madera Canyon then went up it three times. I had planned to do the Shootout that morning but was too trashed to wake up in time for it. As always, I hated myself in the morning for not doing it.

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IMG_4450   Not actually Madera. Another photo of Gate’s Pass, but I needed another riding shot here.

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The last meal was tacos with all the fixings, including 20 kilos of freshly made guacamole. Just about all the food at the Cycling House is made from scratch, including tortillas, the cheese, wine, and the plates.

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You can’t tell from the picture but that is a human sized bowl of guac that Drew actually uses for bathing.

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That’s all she wrote. The Cycling House was an amazing way to start the year of training off right.I highly recommend it. Plus Tucson is always sunny and warm while the rest of the country is frozen, so there’s no better place to ride December through March.

 

Thyroid Update

As you may remember, a few months ago I decided to blame pretty much every problem I’ve ever had on my non functional thyroid. At the time I was pretty pleased with that decision. Here’s the post to jog your dull memory. But now that I’ve had months of rest and plenty of time for the meds to fully kick in, how have I been feeling? Am I ready to start not calling it a comeback yet? (Man do I hate that saying). This pretty much sums up my training to date:

I spent December attempting to get back in the groove of things and was fairly successful with that, despite really shitty weather, getting the flu, and then a cold. I mainly focused on swimming and building up to some longer practices now that I don’t get so cold in the water and also since my shoulder strength has gone up marginally. December wasn’t too bad. I’d hoped to be doing about 15 hours a week but I think I averaged 11. My goal was to really start my trainings in the beginning of January.

The first couple days of that first week of training (last week) went well and I was on track for 22 hours. Instead I ended up doing 11 because I got sick again. In fact I’m still sick almost a week later, hence the head-whacking video. But all complaints aside, I’m feeling a lot better after being on thyroid medication and once this cold is finally kicked I’ll restart again.

I’ve wanted to write about my thyroid observations, symptoms, and medications so that everyone else out there who stumbles across this blog, and who were recently diagnosed with hypothyroidism, know that they don’t necessarily have to kiss their athletic career goodbye. When I first found out I had Hashimoto’s, I came across a ton of comments sections on various websites with people describing how, even while on meds for years, they no longer had the same kind of energy that they used to and that they’re unable to “train” like they once were. I put train in quotation marks because not once did I come across anyone who competed at what sounded like even a modest level. Most people who have real hypothyroidism (not Galen Rupp and his doping Nike cohorts) are older women or older people in general, since hypothyroidism tends to start up later in life. Also, most of the people I’m talking about weren’t athletes to begin with, because, percentage-wise, most people aren’t athletes.

I looked everywhere and I couldn’t find any younger people who wrote about being hypothyroid and who competed on a semi professional or professional level. Anyways, I got pretty worried that I would never be even close to as fast as I was before my hypothyroidism became full blown. Although it’s too soon to tell since I haven’t started training hard yet, I’m pretty confident that with the proper medication and dosage, there will be no difference between pre and post hypothyroid me.

Signs of Healing

My first medication and dosage was 50mcg of levothyroxine, which I did not believe was enough since my TSH had been greater than 150. After two weeks, I started self-prescribing between 50 and 100mcg extra every other couple days, which I know I’m not supposed to do. After five weeks my TSH was still high and I also wanted to try a different medication, so my doctor prescribed 30mg of Armour thyroid, which is actually equivalent to half of the dose of the Levo I was originally prescribed. With a quick google search I found out about the dosage error a few days later and quickly self-prescribed 90mg of Armour as opposed to 30mg. I took 90 for an additional five weeks before getting tested again, and my TSH was still too high. I told my doctor that I’d been taking 90mg of Armour since 30mg was less than the 50mcg of Levo, and that 50 or even 75mcg of Levo wasn’t enough. So my doctor agreed to increase the dosage to 120mg of Armour. I’ve been on that for a little over five weeks now and just got re-tested today. When I learn of my results I’ll post them on here. Anyways, here’s a rundown of my medication and how long I was on it:

Started out with a TSH of ‘greater than’ 150, since the test only went to 150.
Two weeks: 50 micrograms of Levothyroxine
Two and a half weeks: 50-150 micrograms of Levothyroxine (average per day was about 75mcg) TSH was just over 10 afterwards
Three days: 30 milligrams of Armour thyroid
Five weeks: 90 milligrams of Armour   TSH was +5 afterwards
Five weeks: 120 milligrams of Armour

After being on meds, I noticed things changing. New feeling and hair growing where before it did not. Wait, no that was puberty. After being on meds I did notice some things going back to normal. Some of them immediately, some more slowly:

  • Within a day or two my sex drive went up. This may have been psychosomatic at first, although it has lasted;
  • A couple weeks in I noticed that I started laughing more–uncontrollable laughing while watching stupid videos like the one above. I realized I had not experienced that sort of real laughter in a long time. My laughter increased over the following couple months;
  • After a little over a month or so I realized that my hearing was starting to improve;
  • After roughly a month and a half I noticed that I was able to carry a conversation with someone when another conversation was taking place in the same room. This was a big one as any hypothyroid sufferer will know. Before, I simply did not have the mental capacity to do this for very long or without concentrating like mad. Over the next few months my cognitive abilities continued to improve. Now I genuinely think faster, I don’t take long pauses mid sentence to say, “uhhhhhhh,” I remember things more accurately, and I find myself not having to re-read pages of books nearly as often;
  • A month and a half or two months in I noticed that my mood was changing. I was less depressed even though I wasn’t training or competing at a high level;
  • I noticed that my skin was less dry about two months after taking meds and didn’t have to put on lotion as often. I hadn’t even been aware of this problem so I didn’t really care too much about it when it went away;
  • Also, sometime around two months in I stopped being so cold all the damn time, despite it being November instead of summer. I wasn’t getting cold in the pool and I could be comfortable sitting around at home in shorts and a T shirt when it was below 75 degrees. Not being cold all the time was one of the more noticeable and drastic changes;
  • My sleep very slowly started getting better. This started a few weeks in but didn’t really stay consistent until about two months. My sleep still sucks at times but it is much better than before and still seems to be slowly improving; and
  • I started doing some training rides three months in and felt amazing. I felt so much better than I had before being medicated. I was way out of shape, and still am, but I was finally able to put some power into the pedals. That summer when I was at my worst before meds it was difficult to pedal over 270 watts for even a few minutes. I was averaging 180 or 200 watts for a two or three hour rides, which is not like me at all. About three and a half months after starting medication I averaged 263 for three hours, which is nothing I would have bragged about a few years ago or even last spring, but it was a huge turnaround from the summer.

Dear god that last one is pretty much the only one that matters. While I did that ride three weeks ago and have only done a handful of solid rides since then (due to the weather, being sick, and my promise to not start real training until January), I still think back on it and it gives me a hope. If you have been diagnosed with a bad case of hypothyroidism, find a good doctor in town and give it some time. A lot of time unfortunately. I started seeing a specialist (Sasha Fluss of Naturemed) about two months ago. You need someone who specifically know a lot about hypothyroidism. A general practitioner may not be enough since they will likely only care about testing your TSH and will end up prescribing levothyroxine (synthetic T4). Levo works for some people, but it’s smart to try out other medications. Don’t expect a general practitioner to experiment with other options, order all the necessary tests, and really do everything in their power to fix the problem without pressure from you. Whoever you end up seeing, ask for all the tests: TSH, T4, free T3, Reverse T3, antibodies, a full CBC blood test to make sure you aren’t anemic (hypothyroidism induces anemia), vitamin D, and an adrenal fatigue saliva test. There may be hope yet. But probably not for you.