It looks like I'm running in a relay.
But, instead, I am carrying a rather old ipod shuffle that ran out of batteries after my fifth mile. I had it hooked on my shorts, but it apparently started to bug me, so I just grabbed it and carried it in my sweaty hands.
I sprinted to the finish but it still turned out to be one of my slowest races. Falling behind nearly three minutes from the previous year. It was much warmer this year. But I am blaming it more on my breathing.
I've been having such a difficult time breathing while running. It has really been frustrating for me trying to keep up with the other runners I used to pass. It wasn't always this way, but now it is getting in the way of my running.
My lungs feel heavy and strained. So do my legs. Like boards. I can't get them moving as fast or with the same ease as I once did. My chest aches. I don't breathe in deep enough and I run like a panting dog.
I'm still out there running twice a week (not nearly as much as I should be running)... but I'm out there running with my running buddies... six or seven miles up in the hills, jumping over rocks, (and an occasional snake), and through meadows and along streams.
It's just different now.
I can barely catch my breath. My lungs feel so tight and ache when I take a breath in.
So i decided to seek medical attention.
First, I had a stress test done to check my heart. Walking progressively faster and faster as the incline increased every few minutes while they stuck me with sticky electrodes and attached to my chest, shoulders and hips. I aced it! (well, that's the word my doctor used... "you aced it, Shawn!")
I have gone to an allergist. No real allergies were determined. I had a reaction to a walnut tree... but other than that, I came clean with allergies.
I had lung function tests and the doctor listened to my heart and lungs and it, too, turned out strong and clear.
Next option: An inhaler. The doctor suggested that perhaps I have exercise induced asthma. He gave me a sample inhaler and suggests I take two puffs of it 15 minutes before I run.
I look forward to it working it's magic. I want to enjoy running again. Because at the moment, I am not.
Mostly, I'm scared, because I don't know why it has become so labor-intensive to run even short distances.
And I only know too well what will happen, if I continue to feel defeated. I will stop running. At at the present moment, I don't want that to be option.