my life, tri life

kristin, you have asthma.

wait.. so you’re telling me it’s not exercise-induced asthma… it’s ASTHMA Asthma?! Like the type of asthma I could potentially have for the rest of my life?

I wanted to cry in the doctor’s office.  I never thought I would actually be diagnosed with asthma. The truth is, I’ve been in denial for about a year now, thinking that my lungs weren’t that bad.

Let me back up a bit here…

Last june I had a scary breathing episode at the Patriot Half Ironman.  I was on my way to setting a PR and going under 5 hours, when I got to the run and literally could not inhale (what the doctor called bronchospasms). I had to slow down, walk a bit… almost stopped entirely.  I got it together somehow, worked through the spasms in my lungs and finished, still placing 2nd AG.  When I crossed that finish line, it was a scary couple minutes before I got an inhaler. I was more frustrated that I didn’t PR and I didn’t even think something was seriously wrong with me.

Kristin's iPhone 6.16.14 389

At Ironman Mont-Tremblant, during the run, the same episode happened again! Prior to the race I received a new type of inhaler, thinking it would help me. I was feeling great on the run (my legs at least) but my lungs could not inhale. I was wheezing and coughing the entire marathon of IMMT. How frustrating!! I think I could have had a better run, had I not had the breathing issues. I wanted to cry out of frustration during the marathon, I was so pissed off at my lungs and even said a few times ‘F you lungs, my legs trained hard for this race!’ The wheezing was horrendous, even WITH my inhaler. I recall taking it, and taking it again, it did nothing.  It also didn’t help that it was a chilly day in Tremblant that day. When I crossed the Ironman finish line, I couldn’t inhale and was wheezing beyond belief.. it was awful.

Mom Camera IRONMAN 146

In every day life & training, there have been warning signs that I have ignored until now..

I’ve been out of breath going up stairs (which shouldn’t happen for someone as fit as me). I’ve been coughing excessively after runs (no matter the temperature outside, but obviously worse in the cold), I’ve been wheezing in the pool at every swim practice, coughing all day long on the days that I swim…. feeling out of breath for hours after a long run… oh and I was getting used to living with shallow breathing, thinking I could just ‘deal’ with it… silly me.

So yesterday, I finally got a second opinion and saw a Pulmonologist. I filled him on on my symptoms, family history (my grandma had horrible asthma) and he listened to my lungs.. which sounded horrible by the way.

One thing led to another and then he told me that I have asthma.  He actually said ‘I’m probably the first person who’s ever told you that you have asthma.’ He was right. I had been told I have signs of exercise induced asthma, but not full blown asthma… this was the first time. The pulmonologist then told me that asthma can show up differently in fit people. What I’m experiencing with my lungs might appear a lot more severe in someone who is unhealthy. Of course, there are exceptions to this.

While at the doctor’s office, I was told how to do the proper breathing technique with my inhaler. Go figure, I was not doing it properly! Previously, I would rush the ‘puffs’ with the inhaler and then would just go out for a run immediately after taking them.  I just found out I need to take the inhaler 20-30 mins BEFORE exercises (good to know!). I also learned I need to take a break between puffs (about 1 minute).  This should help the exercise symptoms!

In conjunction with my rescue inhaler (used to treat sudden symptoms), I’ve also been prescribed something more ‘heavy’ that will be help open my airways, less reactive like the inhaler, and more proactive.  The medicine is called Flovent, which can help prevent symptoms before they start. Flovent helps reduce airway inflammation, an underlying cause of asthma symptoms. To be honest, I am a person who hates taking medication.  I don’t even like to take advil, so this will take some getting used to.  However, if it means I can breathe better, sign me up. As far as I know, this drug is not a banned substance with WADA, something you have to check with Ironman and USAT races.


After hearing all of this, I asked the question: ‘Does this mean will I have asthma for the rest of my life?’ and while the doc couldn’t really answer that, he did say it’s possible, but sometimes it does go away.

So, what’s next?

I am going to start my new medication in conjunction with my inhaler. I will them have a pulmonary function test in 6 weeks or so and a follow up appointment.  I’m also getting an allergy test to see if I have any allergies that are triggering the asthma.

So, I guess I’m now an Iron(wo)man with asthma. I know it could be so much worse, but for an athlete like myself, this feels pretty devastating. On the other hand, I know there are TONS of other runners and triathletes out there, even professionals, living with asthma.

Looking forward to breathing better. 🙂

Do you or does anyone in your family have asthma? How do you/they deal with it?


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  • Reply Lee@tri*inspired*life March 20, 2015 at 1:08 pm

    Hang in there! I am sure after you get the routine down with the new meds and how to properly take them, you will be feeling so much better and you are going to rock even more! I understand your feelings about not liking to take mediation, but sometimes we have to just roll with what we are given. At least there are meds out there to help so you can fully continue to do what you love to your potential!

    • Reply Kristin March 26, 2015 at 12:31 am

      Thanks Lee, appreciate it lady! You are right about that one, sometimes we have to just roll with it, even when it sucks. Hopefully I can get this all under control before the season begins:)

  • Reply Sara @ lifebetweenthemiles March 20, 2015 at 1:51 pm

    Ugh, I am so so sorry Kristin, but I am glad you finally know why this has been happening, I was so worried about you after the Patriot race. I have asthma too and the inhalers REALLY help. I also think allergies can exacerbate the issue so maybe that is happening to you too? I hope the Flovent works well for you and I know once you get into a new routine with it, you will feel better. Always remember to keep it in perspective too–I remind myself of this a lot when things happen that I was not expecting! Hugs, I know you will get this under control and just imagine how much better you will preform once your breathing is well controlled! xo

    • Reply Kristin March 26, 2015 at 12:30 am

      Thank you Sara! Yes, and I should have been checked out by a pulmonologist right after the Patriot race, silly me. I remember you having asthma now. I do get seasonal allergies and this is probably why I feel the worst with my breathing in the spring and summer. You would think it would be winter, but it’s the opposite. I am getting an Allergy Test in a few weeks, hopefully I get additional answers then. Perhaps it’s taking allergy meds in conjunction with my inhaler? I agree with you, keeping things in perspective is KEY. Appreciate you thinking of me:)

  • Reply Stephanie @ Whole Health Dork March 20, 2015 at 4:49 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear this, Kristin. I know that to someone who’s physically active, anything that compromises that is beyond frustrating. I know the emotional roller coaster that can come with injury, so I can only imagine how much more it must be with this. You’re doing the right things, though–taking it seriously, seeing a specialist, taking things that will help. I know it’s easier said than done, but take things one day at a time. 🙂 I’ll be thinking of you!

    • Reply Kristin March 26, 2015 at 12:28 am

      Thank you stephanie! It is definitely frustrating, but on the other hand, I’m happy to have a diagnosis. Thank you for thinking of me, much appreciated lady!

  • Reply Kecia March 20, 2015 at 6:23 pm

    You are so tough! You will get over this bump in the road and find what works! While it may not be the diagnosis you wanted to hear, at least there are solutions to make things better and you can still do what you love, Iron(wo)man!! Keep your chin held high and stay tough, lady!! XO 🙂

    • Reply Kristin March 25, 2015 at 11:32 pm

      Thanks lady! I hope so too! I’m trying my hardest not to get discouraged about all of this… at least I have a diagnosis I can work with and treat. Appreciate your support!

  • Reply Hailey March 22, 2015 at 12:59 am

    🙁 so sorry, Kristin. I can’t imagine going most of my life not knowing something like that. I’ve had asthma my whole life so it’s just something I grew up dealing with. I didn’t have to deal with the emotions of receiving the news since I was just a baby when I was diagnosed. The medications and inhalers help for me most of the time. There are times when my allergies really aggravate the symptoms, but I’m also on Allegra to help with that and my symptoms have been better since I started taking that few years ago. Honestly, it’s just a lot of experimenting with what medications work for your symptoms and being extremely adamant about taking them regularly. I’ve been able to get mine under control for the most part, with the exception of when I’m sick. Usually then I have to take breathing treatments a few times a day. It’s not fun, but you will get through it. Don’t let this doubt your dreams:) Just let it be another wall to push through and make you even stronger!

    • Reply Kristin March 25, 2015 at 11:29 pm

      Thank you Hailey. You are so sweet! Good to know I’m not alone and I’m sorry you are struggling with asthma too, and have been your whole life. I know it might take time to find the right meds, and I hope I can find a way to ‘live with asthma.’ I also get bad allergies in the spring, and I think this is what brought on a big attack I had last June. I’m happy to hear you have gotten your symptoms under control, for the most part. It’s definitely frustrating!

  • Reply Kristen @ Glitter and Dust March 22, 2015 at 2:03 pm

    Kristin, this is very similar to what I was going through last year. My asthma was accompanied by thick mucus and a lot of wheezing and it seemed like nothing would help for months. Finally when I saw the pulmonologist and had a CT scan in October, I was diagnosed with asthma/bronchitis and was put on an Adavair inhaler. At first I was really upset about the idea of an inhaler and thought it would hinder me as an athlete, but after two months my symptoms completely went away. When I ran CIM it was the first time I had run without the symptoms of “pissed off lungs”, as my doctor would say. I think it will help out a lot and your lungs will be very thankful for the special attention. Hope the new medication works out for you!!!

    • Reply Kristin March 25, 2015 at 11:25 pm

      Kristen, I remember you going through something similar! I don’t have any mucus, but lots of wheezing. I haven’t had a CAT scan, yet but it might get to that point in the future. Good to know your symptoms went away, I hope the same happens to me. I am looking forward to feeling better:) Already, since starting the new meds, I’ve noticed a difference. Thank you!!

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