The Love of the Run

The Love of the Run

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Smurf Fingers

It's that time of year again- winter running!!   It is finally starting to get cold here- this week Jordan and I did a number of run's in the 30's and 40's.  I know it doesn't sound cold and really it isn't cold (especially since I'm from MN) but I'm used to running in the mid 50's to 70's here so it has felt cold!  My hats, gloves, pants, jackets and my purple "smurf" hands have appeared all of a sudden this week.  Jordan has recovered and has been able to run all week without injury (so GLAD!)  So back to the smurf fingers--> I have Raynauds which is  a vasospastic disorder causing discoloration of the fingers, toes and for some people even their nose and lips.  See further description below--
  1. When exposed to cold temperatures, the blood supply to the fingers or toes, and in some cases the nose or earlobes, is markedly reduced; the skin turns pale or white and becomes cold and numb.
  2. When the oxygen supply is depleted, the skin colour turns blue.
  3. These events are episodic, and when the episode subsides or the area is warmed, the blood flow returns and the skin colour first turns red and then back to normal, often accompanied by swelling , tingling, and a painful "pins and needles" sensation.
Raynauds affects about 3-5% of the population and is more prevalent in young females (Like me!).  My hands luckily (although still annoying!) are only affected.   I have noticed that I have a reaction whenever I come in contact with anything cold.   I often have had my fingers turn white instantly from grabbing something out of the freezer.    I always have a more severe reaction when it is damp outside or when the seasons are changing.   And that happens to be NOW...

To combat my Raynauds when its cold I make sure to grab my mittens (I can't run in gloves- I need to have my fingers together to maintain as much warmth as possible) and use hand warmers.   It has been frustrating despite these methods to still have to occassionally stop runs due to my hands being extremely cold and painful.  I've had runs where I've tried running with my hands in my pockets or even behind my back to get them out of the wind-- I look like a dork and it doesn't usually help.   I also try windmills -- swinging my arms in circles or blowing through my gloves to warm up my fingers- which still looks quite dorky, but seem to be more effective.  Calcium channel blockers (which causes dilation of the blood vessels) are a common drug to treat Raynauds and I was trying this method when first diagnosed my sophomore year of college (I had my sports physical and I remember being concerned at this time as my hands had become "smurf" like and painful that year when exposed to the cold).  However as a side effect I was getting severe headaches and wasn't able to run or function because of the severity of them.  I ditched the medication and have been managing with warm mittens and handwarmers.  I've found excellent mittens-- Lil Sport ( )  to work extemely well for me.   I get a new pair every year.  My good friend Joe has also nicknamed me LilSport!

It was actually warm on this run and I didn't run with gloves-- It was in the 50's.  It had been raining all day and we started in a light drizzle which of course turned into heavy rain!  The trail next to us was completely flooded and of course Jordan still ran in it and I ran next to him getting splashed.  Pretty sure Jordan probably thought I was strange as I replied "I like how it feels."  Although my fingers look painful in the picture they weren't.  When it's damp my fingers also turn colors, but if the temperatures are reasonably warm they don't get painful.
Jordan after one of our rainy runs claimed he must of weighed 300 pounds after the run.   He must of ingested a lot of GU's on the run ... :)  And he didn't share...!  

Two other exciting things that happened this week

1.  We saw the National Christmas tree which is located in the norteast quadrant of The Ellipse near the White House.  This tradition has occured since 1923.   Smaller trees representing the U.S. states, District of Columbia and unincorporated territories of the United States around the National Christmas Tree are referred to the Pathway of Peace.  It was incredible!   

2.  I lost the big toe nail on my right foot- again.  This is the third time this year.   The second toe nail is about ready to follow suit.   My feet are incredible.  Incredibly gross!  I have never had a pedicure and I don't know if I ever will.  I would feel horrible having somebody touch them, I don't think there's much hope for improving the appearance of my toes and nails unfortunately!