The Marathon That Wasn’t.

Well, it’s Wednesday. Today is the day I was planning on my Boston Marathon recap.

Instead, I’m sitting under a pile of warm blankets, sipping water, and waiting for my next transfusion/infusion appointment.

But let’s go back to Friday.

On Friday night, I was really quite anxious. I couldn’t put my finger on the issue. It took me quite a while–and it also took me nearly blacking out–to realize that it was something more than mere panic. I was shaky, sweaty, and ice cold.

I thought, “fuck. I bet I know what this is.” I’ve had the symptoms before, not in a long time, but they’re familiar.

My hemoglobin and iron had reached critically-low levels.

fuck. fuckfuckshitfuckfuck. It was the running refrain in my head. I could feel all of my training, all of my hard work, crashing around my ears. I walked into the vampire’s den, (I mean Hematologist’s office) head lowered, shoulders slumped, knowing that the numbers weren’t going to run in my favor.

They began to run all the normal tests for someone with a history of iron-deficiency anemia: 12 lead EKG, temperature strips stuck on my freshly-applied makeup, finger stick, calling in the aroused and hungry undead to determine if I’m whole milk or skim–diet blood, as it were.

Turns out, I’m Corona Light in a sea of Guinness. I’m the crappy frozen yogurt option at the ice cream shop.

I’m that weird fat-free sausage no one wants. I’ll never get a vampire boyfriend.

My hemoglobin and hematocrit were so low that the possibility of random passing out was actually more a probability. Had I run Boston feeling like that, things could have gone very, very badly. For the past few days, the docs have been scrambling. Locating the cause of the blood loss (yeah, My right ovary, Mojave, was being a real twatsicle), figuring out what needs done about that (remove it? sacrifice it to Thor?{Does Thor have a use for angry ovaries?} give me all the drugs?), and deciding how much blood I need, and how long I’m stuck doing a whole lot of nothing.

The last one is still currently up for debate. As of now, I’m not allowed to go running or go to Crossfit, and they’re not super happy with my desire to walk a few miles on my own or accompany the kids to the park, either. I’m basically one with the sofa.

I hate it. I hate it so much. But I know, I KNOW that I have it easy compared to a lot of people with chronic illness. I keep telling myself this, but I also keep finding myself getting irrationally angry at random things, like colors, like BLUE AND YELLOW. And that’s really dumb–and selfish–and I can’t help it. I am SO proud of my teammates who ran. I am floored that they ALL offered to stay home and hang out with me. I made them run. I may have threatened to post an embarrassing recording or two onto youtube if they stayed back.

But I didn’t track them. I didn’t track anyone. Instead, I threw a pity party that featured vodka and beer as the stars of the show. I pretended it was any other birthday, and had pie and Slovak food. I told myself over and over that Boston was cold and wet anyway, and I hate running in the rain. I looked at the pictures of the runners huddled under tarpaulins and in alcoves and reminded my brain that I was wearing warm and dry sweatpants and reading a very worn Vonnegut. I tried to let the pithy prose flow over and through me, sinking its warmth into my bones like the old friend it is.

I tried to allow my friends and family to cheer me up, because that is what made sense. I am a very practical person. I am very logical. I could obviously reason why running the Marathon or not running the Marathon was not important in the grand scheme of things. My health is what’s most-important. My kids. All of that.

But I didn’t reason. I didn’t look at things logically. I wasn’t cheered. I cried. I’m still feeling pretty sorry for myself, which makes me mad at myself, which isn’t fucking helpful at all. I know that I’ll probably always regard this marathon as a bit of a thorn in my paw, an itch I cannot reach which will eventually just burn. But I’m better today than yesterday, and will be better tomorrow still.

And, knowing that I need to be KINDER to myself, and knowing that I need to get beyond this gross feeling of complete self-involved pity, on my birthday, the day of Boston-not, I began a 30 day vegetarian challenge. (And, before the meat/iron/anemia questions begin, my hematologist is VEGAN and says I’m FOINE not eating meat as long as I plan!)

I’ve never been a huge fan of meat, typically only really embracing bacon, ground meats, and other meats that no longer come close to resembling their former existences as animals. I was a vegetarian for 10 years, but I did it all wrong. I ate fries and crap and bread and more crap. This time, I’m doing it right, AND I’m ATTEMPTING to also give up alcohol for 30 days as well.

Let me say this, I’m not anti-meat. I’m not anti-dairy. I’m just saying that being mindful about where our food comes from, and accepting that a meat-heavy diet is doing super bad things to the ONLY PLANET WE HAVE, is a good place to start.

Michael Pollan says it best. “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”

Seems simple.

Here’s my beautiful friend, Bex, and Danielle Diamond explaining the challenge:

To go along with this challenge, I made myself some DELICIOUS, iron-rich granola bars to sate my hunger and prepare me for (I know I shouldn’t “change myself for a man, but….)

It’s HIDDLESTON. Obviously, my feminism will have to step aside.

Oh, no, wait, you’re right, Mr Fassbender, I need to do this for me.

High-Energy Granola Bars with 15% of your RDA for iron in each bar!

High-Energy Granola Bars

Boston disappointment and a granola bar recipe chock-full of iron. #FitFluential #Anemia #30DayVegetarianChallenge Click To Tweet

High-Energy Granola Bars High-Energy Granola Bars High-Energy Granola Bars

High-Energy Granola Bars

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Keywords: bake appetizer breakfast side snack vegetarian

Ingredients (12 bars)

  • 1 1/2 cup mixed grain blend (I use target’s multigrain cereal, Simply Balanced brand.)
  • 3 tbsp grade B maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup blackstrap molasses
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup mixed pepitas, pistachios, dried blueberries, cashews, and pecans



preheat oven to 400F

mix all the ingredients together. no need for any special treatment

spread in a mini brownie pan, or handy dandy toaster oven sheet pan, or in 12 muffin tin indents that have been sprayed with more coconut oil

bake for 15 minutes and then turn off the oven and leave it in for another 25 minutes

slice or remove from indents and EAT.

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18 thoughts on “The Marathon That Wasn’t.

  1. <3 Thanks for not running Boston. I like you conscious and stuff. Also - let me know when you want a drink and I'll have one for you in support of your 30 day challenge. Come to think of it, I'll eat any meat you have a hankering for as well. (twss) You are the whiskey hard-awesomesauce on the bread pudding of life.
  2. I am so, so, so, so sorry. I can begin to imagine how it must feel to put in all that training only to not be able to run and I really feel for you. I hope you feel better soon and that Boston is in your future again.
  3. That is a great disappointment, I'm sure - but thank goodness you listened to your body and didn't try to muscle through! What a disaster that could have been, and it would have been cold, hard and wet when you hit the ground, too :-( Thanks for the recipe and good luck on the whole vegetarian challenge!
  4. Le sigh. Sometimes life just sucks and deals you a crappy and completely unfair blow. This is one of those times. I'm sorry. I'll pass you a tissue if you pass me a granola bar. Also, I will drink your booze for you this month, as an act of support and a show of kindness.
  5. i have a really good iron supplement and other recommendations if you need it. Been there. And have you ever been tested for other food allergies? wondering if you are not absorbing certain iron? sorry friend. i'm here if you need me
  6. I am so sorry for what happened! At least you did figure out what was going on before you pushed yourself in Boston. Don't know if you ever looked into nettle tea or if it helped at all. I'm told it's high in iron. I drank a cup every day when I was pregnant with twins and I passed all my iron level tests with flying colors. Hope you feel better soon.

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