Chest Pain & Passports: Riviera Nayarit Half Marathon Training

When you've been running most of your life, it is very hard to stay sane when you have setbacks and can't run. Not running really makes me feel kind of crazy, stressed, frustrated, and depressed at times. But when I got injured a few months ago and had chest pain, I was more worried about my physical health and even my life. 

Me wearing Adidas running gear in Bushwick. Photo by Filles Garcons NY.

Me wearing Adidas running gear in Bushwick. Photo by Filles Garcons NY.

About two months ago, I experienced a terrifying feeling of intense chest pain and limbs tingling during track practice and thought I may be having a heart attack. After trying to stay outwardly calm (I mean I'm the coach, I can't just keel over in front of everyone right?), I went home and Googled that night ( I do not have health insurance), which convinced me I may be dying... the usual, thanks Dr. Google. The next day I went to the doctor. To my relief the doctor said it was not heart related and diagnosed chostochondritis... chostocon what? 

Chostochondritis sounds pretty terrible but is much less serious than a heart attack. Chostochondritis is when you sustain an injury in the ligaments around your ribs, which puts pressure on your chest and back muscles, causing pain and sometimes nerve tingling. It is usually from too much exertion (I had gone on a pull-up, push-up spree and also did new weight exercises at the gym as well as a new martial arts class so really it could be any of the above). In any case the doctor charged me $250 and told me to take Advil and rest. My wallet took a hit but at least I would be ok and live!

Chostochondritis varies from person to person and can take weeks or even years to heal. So it is a waiting game, and testing to see what you can do slowly again. It is hard for me to do nothing. I have so much energy at times I can't stay still...which is what led to the injury in the first place. In any case, I did my best to rest, despite traveling a lot and leading a few Runstreet events. My pull-up and push-up game had to be completely paused but eventually I could run - albeit slowly - again.

This hidden beach in Riviera Nayarit's Marietas Islands is nestled in one of the islands. 

This hidden beach in Riviera Nayarit's Marietas Islands is nestled in one of the islands. 

And now, about two months later, I am happy to say I did my longest run in months - 9 miles - training for the Riviera Nayarit Half Marathon in Mexico. I feel pretty, pretty good, as Larry David would say. I still get some tingling in my limbs but overall I am 90% better than where I was, when I had pain for days and could barely sleep. Also I am feeling much happier and mentally back to just my usual level of weirdness now that I can run again. 

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I found out about the Riviera Nayarit Half Marathon from the race director, Arturo Garcia, and it felt like perfect timing. I was finally able to run again and train for something. And it was perfect timing as I did not have plans for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. After visiting my family in St. Louis as part of my October travels, I had no turkey day plans and don't even eat turkey so I was down for the trip. As anyone in NYC knows who doesn't have family here, the holidays can be depressing in New York. There is a yearly mass exodus where it feels like everyone else is with their families in the city or somewhere else. So fun and running in Mexico over Thanksgiving weekend sounded perfect! Also, as someone who gets bored easily, I am always up to try a different race, and I've wanted to go to Mexico for a long time, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity.

This trip means a lot to me because since I moved to NYC about 6 years ago, I've worked almost non-stop and hardly had the chance to travel, much less leave the country. I'd been meaning to renew my passport but didn't have a trip booked to motivate me to figure out all the paperwork and wait at the post office for hours. And I am happy my friend Derek, ConBody trainer and leader of the Real Team Milk $$ Run Crew, can go as well. We both have had injuries lately and work a lot. We are excited to have renewed passports, race in a new place and also to enjoy the beaches post-run. 

Follow my training journey and trip for the Riviera Nayarit Half Marathon on my @runstreet Instagram and Instagram stories, and stay tuned for a future blog post on the run and trip. I am also going to Mexico City after the race to scope out what many have told me are the most incredible murals. Runstreet runner Melissa (@vegloverun) will join me in Mexico City for our street art hunting, where we will check out the Frida Kahlo Museum as well. I am working on DuoLingo Spanish and hope it helps on the journey:).

I am very thankful to be alive and running again, and for my nomadic life to continue. See you soon, Mexico!

Mural by Apitatan in Mexico City. 

Mural by Apitatan in Mexico City. 

Riviera Nayarit Half Marathon is an annual race along Mexico's Pacific coast. Join Team Runstreet next year - stay tuned for details.