Two races, two DNFs (“Did Not Finish” at a race), two chances for me to feel like a weakling or a crazy person. And an unbelievable blessing in the circumstances to unlock a problem I had no idea so many women face.
I traveled to Los Alamos, New Mexico in May to participate in the Jemez 50K. While it was a tough race, with 7000 feet of elevation ascent and descent over the 31 miles and altitude to deal with for the first time on top of it, I had trained well and was ready to spend a long day climbing mountains. So when I started to seriously struggle at mile 11, and was pulled off the course at mile 20 when my oxygen saturation dipped way down to 88%, I just couldn’t understand what was happening. The medic told me it was the altitude, that I just didn’t metabolize oxygen well in my cells – that it was a luck-of-the-draw thing in our genetics and not a reflection of fitness level. But it was still a sad day, and I had my good 10 minute cry as I sat with my oxygen mask on.
Back home, another runner suggested I get my iron (ferritin) levels checked since low iron can make altitude sickness worse. In early June my numbers came back below the normal range. I was told to schedule to see the doctor to see what treatments would be needed.
However, I still thought I had an altitude problem, made worse by low iron now. So off I went that same week to Tennessee for the Chattanooga Stage Race. 3 days, 3 mountains, 60 miles. Again, I had trained for this, and independent counsel, my […]