Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Statin Myopathy, Cholesterol Level, Diet, AREC, and Running

Photo courtesy of David K. - AREC President
          Normally, I'm overly excited about rejoining AREC's Long Beach Marathon training, but due to my most recent muscle problems, this time, I'm just elated at making it there at all.
          Backtracking a little bit to give you some history: I had to start taking Lipitor again three months ago because my cholesterol level went up when I stopped taking the medication due to muscle pains as a side effect. How bad have the pains been? Well, if I do the same type of workout two days in a row, let's say for example- using the recumbent bike, my leg muscles are more likely to hurt. Giving myself a few months break while taking Coenzyme Q-10 supplements relieved the pain and enabled my muscles recover somewhat. Even though I only took half the dose of the Lipitor (20 mg.) and only 3-4 times a week this time around, I began experiencing the muscle pains again after just 3 months, mainly on both thighs. So I requested a cholesterol level test from my doctor before visiting him and later found out that even the lower dose of medication taken roughly every other day decreased my cholesterol level from 220 to 178. More importantly, my LDL also dropped and my LDL/HDL ration remained good. So the good doctor recommended that I further reduce the dose of the Lipitor to 10 mg. three times a week in hopes that my muscle pains would disappear. By the way, I walked from home to the lab and back for my blood draw and that made for a six mile workout :-) We shall see if the doctor's recommendation is effective in a few weeks.
          A couple of days after the doctor's visit, I showed up at AREC marathon training not necessarily to train with them but mainly to pick up the beach towel which is what we get for being a member this year (last year it was a windbreaker). How often do I go to AREC runs? Well I saw a woman with her husband carrying a baby last Saturday. I never even saw that woman pregnant last year! Anyway, the workout for the day was either 4 or 6 miles and I opted for the longer distance, thinking it would take me about an hour and a half to cover it. Of course a few people after seeing me walking asked if I was recovering from an injury and all I can say is that it's just SNAFU (situation normal, all fu.... up). Nevertheless, my pace felt pretty brisk but since I was the only walker who was doing 6 miles, I was in last place. So much so that when I reached the turnaround point where the water station was, I suggested to Tina and Rosie that they could probably start packing up the supplies because I was the last one . About a mile down the road, good old Dave, the club president was still taking pictures and waiting for the last person. Thank you Dave, for being such a caring president :) I wended my way through the streets of Naples (Long Beach) in the last two miles until I reached the finish area at Joe's Crab Shack. When I clicked off my stopwatch, it registered 1:18:32. Hmm, that seemed quite fast for 6 miles but I couldn't calculate pace per mile out of the top of my head. See, I haven't been using my GPS watch lately. I had to wait to get home to plug in the numbers in a pace calculator before finding out that I had walked at an average pace of 13 minutes and 5 seconds per mile for 6 miles! My goodness, I've never walked that fast before, with or without muscle pain! That was pleasantly surprising since if I'm not mistaken, my previous fastest pace was about 13:40 per mile. I haven't exactly done any roadwork lately other than my futile attempts to jog a few weeks ago before my thigh muscles began being affected by the statins again. I guess those treadmill hill walks must be helping. And I should probably also thank AREC and it's members for the motivation they provided. And to think that I even forgot to bring coughdrops which I suck on during workouts to keep my mouth moist. Maybe not carrying 2 to 3 pieces of candy lessened my load which enabled me to walk faster :) Now if I can only learn proper racewalking technique...
Always appreciating Dave's photos :)
          Going back to my battle with cholesterol - taking psyllium and fiber gummies weren't working by themselves. In addition to the lower dose of Lipitor, I also had to do other things like cutting the cheese from my diet, bringing my own turkey sandwiches to work instead of eating the ham and cheese they give out for snacks, substituting fat free sherbet for ice cream, and using imitation crab meat or tofu instead of meat for my barley and vegetables concoction. Other things I've cut out are hamburgers, hotdogs, fried chicken, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches except for an occasional jelly sandwich. One thing I can't let go completely though are the sweets, which is my guilty pleasure, and some of you may have already seen my dessert photos on Facebook.

          So two things to be happy about: being able to walk faster and lowering my cholesterol to healthy levels. To end this post, I decided to just focus on the things that I can do (like walking at a good pace) and be thankful for them rather than lament what I cannot do (like running).
Always try to look good when you see a photographer :)
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