The downfall of the female (vegetarian) distance runner

The downfall of the female (vegetarian) distance runner: She cannot donate blood.

I had been talking myself up and backing out of giving a blood donation for most of the entire year. Remember back in January when I resolved to donate blood and do a triathlon. These were two “activities” that I had never shown any interest in. They terrified me. But, I wanted to do something that would challenge me, that would make me uncomfortable. And hey, the blood donating bit would actually help someone else. (It would be a “win-win” as those public relations flacks would say!)

I surprised myself with the triathlon. I did it and didn’t drown! That was back in August. In August, the end of the year seemed very far away. I’ll do the blood donating later, I kept telling myself.

With my last race for the year (Seattle half marathon Thanksgiving weekend) in the books and the end of 2012 — and the world! — drawing near, I had to just bite the bullet so to speak and get my second resolution over and done with.

My work was scheduled to have a blood donation day this Friday so I marked it in my calendar. If I’m at work, there’s no way I can freak out. I’m in public. I can’t let my coworkers or patients see that I am weak and scared!

But then upon finding out that Joanna’s work was also having a drive Tuesday — today — I decided to go with her and do it. Leah (another first-time donor) also participated.

I was nervous when we arrived but after filling out all those medical history questionnaires and waiting for my turn, it sank in that I was doing it. In a few minutes, I would be donating blood!

The technician took my vitals and temperature. Looked good. Then she pricked my finger. And, that’s where it ended.

“So, you’re not going to be able to donate today,” she said to me. The woman continued by saying something about hemoglobin count and it wasn’t until she said “low iron” that I understood.

My downfall with being a female (vegetarian) distance runner: I cannot donate blood. I couldn’t donate blood today.

Now, I’m not a doctor or anything but for those of you who do not follow, this is basically what is happening: Runners can lose blood cells often times faster than they can replenish them, especially if they are running longer distances. Vegetarians tend to sway on the anemic side (low iron) because foods that have a lot of iron such as chicken or turkey (aka meat) are foods that vegetarians do not eat. Being female entails, um, you know, that thing that happens once a month where one loses blood. Put all of that together and you get someone like me who wants to donate blood, but is denied from being able to do so.

Anyway, I feel like a big failure that I couldn’t donate blood. At least Leah was able to! (Go, Leah!)

This New Years resolution would have been so much easier fulfill if I were a male carnivore who didn’t run. I guess I just need to change my diet and perhaps take some iron supplements so that someday I can donate.

I may have failed at completing all of my resolutions but, hey, at least I tri(ed)! (See what I did there??)

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3 thoughts on “The downfall of the female (vegetarian) distance runner

  1. Pingback: I can’t help it, it’s the anemia « Quarter-life victory

  2. Pingback: Donating blood: Fulfilling a resolution two years later | Averting the Quarter-life Crisis

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