Early Tuesday morning I woke up in a panic. I could have sworn something was crawling down my face and neck.
Turns out it was a couple of things. Sweat droplets to be exact. Big fat ones.
My first reaction was quick and without censor, the way most thoughts at 2 AM are: thank God I'm not running today.
Running during menopause poses its own set of challenges. For me, the main one is trying to get a full night's sleep in preparation for a hard morning workout. Lately, it's been like chasing the impossible dream.
I've had night sweats on and off for about two and a half years. And their daylight companion, the ever-popular hot flash. But up until four months ago neither was much of a problem. Then in early May, some one or some thing flipped the heat switch to the "on" position.
These days I'm apt to be seen strolling around the house with my t-shirt up around my neck, a look I won't be taking on the road thanks to another new development: the meno-pot.
For decades my stomach was either flat or concave. Now no matter what I weigh or how many crunches and planks I spit out, there's some extra junk in the front. In menopause circles it's referred to as the meno-pot. I like to call it the Boomer Belly.
So now my days are spent yanking my shirt up and down like a defiant toddler. What's especially tricky is handling a hot flash while running. The first time this occurred I thought I was coming down with the flu. I felt dizzy and flushed, the way you do before the thermometer under your tongue flashes an over-100 degree reading.
But what has really interfered with my training is saying farewell to a good night's sleep. I've always been someone who relished her eight-nine hours of solid shut-eye. These days I'm lucky to get by with three hours of straight sleep before the sweat cycle begins. From that point on I wake up on average every 90 minutes, often literally dripping.
If my morning workout is a particularly demanding one - say a tempo run or hill repeats - it's tough to pull off after a night of tossing and sloshing. What I find works is to convince myself I actually slept well and just pray that saying so makes it true. That and a good afternoon nap.
Which brings me to wonder how I would have coped if I still worked outside the home. Back in the day when I was a sales rep for a major soft drink company, how could I have made it through a nine-hour workday after a lousy night's sleep? Especially given that I always scheduled my runs before arriving at the office.
It's doubtful I would have been able to cut it without a nap. And that's near impossible to do when you're working full-time.
How do so many of my fellow Old Gal runners do it? I would love to hear from you.
In the meantime, I take my hat - and my shirt - off to you.