Distance Running and Side Effects

In January of 2016 I ran a full marathon – it was quite the accomplishment, even with what I know is a so-so time of 5:21:55.  It took 9 months of training to get my body prepared to run 26.2 miles.  Doing so had profound impacts on my body, some that I immediately recognized and others that have taken months to settle.

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Headed To The Finish Line

Starting in April 2015, I ran a 7k (4.3 miles) with my wife and would run 3-5 miles at a time.  Over the next 2 months I was able to add another 5 miles onto my longest run for the week.  This culminated in a 15k (9.2 miles) at the end of May 2015.  The 15k didn’t feel good, I was too “heavy” for the increased distances.  The 15k was a 9:40/mile pace on average.  I was still lifting 2-3 times a week.

For June, I continued to lift and ran 2-3 times a week with both interval sprints and a max running distance of 6-8 miles.  My total weekly mileage was rarely 15 miles. However – I ran an 8k (4.99 miles) with an 8:00/mile pace that felt much better than the 15k.  I knew that inevitably I had to cut back on the heavy strength training and drop both muscle and fat weight to make it through a marathon.

Over the next 6 months I dropped 5lbs of mostly fat and by October I was easily running 15 miles for a long run.  However, in October I noticed that I generally felt a lot more fatigue.  Originally I attributed this to 4 running workouts per week with a total weekly mileage approaching 30 miles.  I also began to experience noticable monthly uterine cramping, but no breakthrough bleeding. Unfortunately I was smack in the middle of a testopel cycle, so I wouldn’t be seeing my doctor for 2 more months.

Retrospectively, I should have phoned in and requested to have both testosterone and estrogen levels checked.  It is accepted but not completely understood how distance running impacts testosterone levels in cis-gendered individuals, so it is understandably complex how it would impact testosterone levels in a transmale.  Since I still have the “original plumbing” – uterus, ovaries, etc – this must complicate matters more.

It was a nerve wracking time while I was training to run a marathon and my body didn’t quite know what to do with itself.  The fatigue, cramps, and other recognizable signs of hormone imbalances made it an unpleasant experience – but the accomplishment of running a marathon was worth it in the end.

After nearly 5 1/2 hours of running through 4 Disney World parks, I finished running my first and only full marathon. It took a few months after the marathon for my body to return to “normal” in regards to no cramping, etc.  I wouldn’t want to go through the 30+ mile weeks again, but I am incorporating cardio activity in my workouts twice a week.  I hope to get back to the 5-10k distances and run another at an 8min/mile pace (or faster).

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Meeting Donald in Mexico (Epcot)

Testopel: After Almost 2 Years

Back in 2014 I got sick of injecting testosterone intramuscularly.  When beginning to transition FTM, there isn’t much of a better method of getting a high degree of control on testosterone levels quickly than injections.  However, after a few years (I went over 4), it is not uncommon for the muscles to start tightening and building deposits of scar tissue.

Back When I Started Testopel

I’m continuing on testopel and have been extremely happy with the process.  The cost is a drawback, but it happens to coincide with my high-deductible health plan almost exactly – so the rest of my family’s medical needs are covered by insurance immediately.   I also save the money in my HSA, which means that it isn’t taxed. Basically, the government is giving me 25% of the money towards the pellets.

I initially felt some fatigue towards the end of the 4 month cycle, so on the third cycle I was increased to 11 pellets (from 10) and that seems to have diminished the fatigue.  It was really nice that my doctor was open to the discussion about the cycle and tinkering with my exact levels, which are generally in the 600-800 ng/dL, 1.6% free (80-140pg/mL free).

Follow Up on Life Insurance

Life insurance finally happened – it was an odd experience, the first denial, then jumping through hoops, then an unceremonial finish.


The hoops: I checked back in with a mental health provider, as mentioned in a previous post.  I made sure to have my primary doctor note that I was not anticipating having a hysterectomy. I added extra notation, sort of explaining my medical history and treatments in context of the past, to the actual application documents to be sure it couldn’t be missed.


The actual approval in the summer of 2015 was so quick that I can’t help but wonder if I hadn’t been within a year of top surgery the first time, they might not have looked so closely at my application.


It was all in all, still bullshit.  If surgery was the primary concern, they could have simply responded that I needed to reapply in 4 months.

Life Insurance

I just wrote an email summarizing my experience thus far with attempting to get life insurance, so I figured I’d also toss it up here.  I wrote this email to a regional advocacy group, seeking advice in case they have seen experiences like this before.  I first wrote about this issue back when it happened in the beginning of 2012.



I was wondering if you have had any experiences with transgendered persons being denied for life insurance for reasons related to their transition?  

I transitioned female to male in 2009-2010.  During my transition I completed a MS in physical chemistry and began teaching college-level science and technology courses full time.  I saw a therapist regularly for nearly 2 years and participated in a FTM support group at the <place I’m not mentioning>.  There were no complications from my top surgery and I am physically fit.

I applied for life insurance in October 2011.  After a delay, State Farm’s underwriters denied my contract in December 2011 for the following reasons:

– I was within 1 year of my top surgery (January 2011)

– I had mentioned in therapy sessions that I might be getting a hysterectomy in the future

– My initial gender identity disorder diagnosis was accompanied by a mild depression diagnosis, which gave them cause for concern of a “suicide risk”.  This diagnosis was removed by my therapist when I began hormones in March 2010 and was able to function fully.

– They were concerned I was not “well adjusted” or “functioning normally”.

I have decided that I do not desire a hysterectomy and am attempting to clarify their other items of contention.  I had an appointment with another therapist at the <place I’m not going to mention> recently in an effort to show that I continue to “function normally”.  I am concerned, however, that the underwriters may still pick and choose details from my medical file.  

It took some time to get back to trying to get life insurance because it is so frustrating that I did nothing but help myself become mentally healthier for 2 years and the insurance company is holding that against me.  As my wife and I continue our life together, it is important that I do have a life insurance policy.  

If you have any advice or resources that might be helpful that would be much appreciated.

I have my emotional energy back and am determined to get life insurance taken care of before my 28th birthday (October this year).

Voice Changes Over 5 Years on T

I’m approaching 5 years on T this spring and with the shift in my administration method from shots to pellets, I’ve been paying attention to the effects of testosterone.

While it took a few months to really get going, testosterone did significantly change my voice. That said, I just don’t have the general mindset that I need to constantly use the lower range of my voice that many guys (cis and trans). That’s not to say I don’t love it when my voice is lower and has the slight rumble, I just have more trouble consistently using it on longer days.

Life is Continuous (4)

Another GOTE (goals obstacles tactics expectations) for the next year, because I really appreciate both looking forward and backward as the year flips.

For the next calendar year:


1) Take at least 1 SQL certification test.  I live and breathe in SQL every day but haven’t taken the time to dig into a certification.

2) Finish paying off student loans.

3) Join the 800(lb) club for squat/deadlift/bench.

4) Become a better listener and be more considerate of my wife.


1) Time seems to be very limited outside of work for extra computer time.

2) Stuff always comes up and eats into the money I should put towards the loans.

3) Potential injury when training and stalling on lift progression.

4) Letting less-important things get in the way.


1) Have the certification be sponsored by work to add accountability.

2) Set aside minimal (near-zero) money for extra fun until the loans are done.

3) Posting form videos for feedback and sticking to programs for at least 3 months at a time.

4) Setting aside time every day to focus on her and being willing to do that on her schedule.


1) Take the test in August.

2) Pay off the loans by the end of June.

3) 300lb squat during the summer.

4) Feel more in tune with her perspective so when she explains something to me I’m not as clueless.

Looking back 2 years to 2012:


1. Credit card debt eliminated by trip to NYC, above minimum payments on student loans post-trip.

My credit score is excellent and I have been making significant payments towards my student loans. Success!

2. Multiple home run season, OBP around 0.750.

I hit more home runs the next year, but this last year was a bit off.  I was out of shape and out of gas.  At the end of the season I tore soft tissue in my hand and had to sit out a few wees.

3. At least 6-8 meetings during the year with 5-10 members.

Not even close, didn’t even form the group.  The area FTM gathering, (aka “boys night”) is restarting this January and I’m excited to attend.

4. Raise based on positive performance reviews in 2012/2013.

I completely changed jobs from teaching to IT, became a developer, and now run an IT department for a strong small business.

Testopel Testosterone Pellets

The doctor I see for almost all medical care, including T, has always been very open to discussing alternative forms of testosterone to injections. Namely androgel, but pellets have also been mentioned. In the past I have passed on the pellets because of the significant cost increase and shots had been going just fine.

However, after about 4 years on T, it became increasingly difficult to insert the needle into my thigh muscle without significant pain. I might be overly sensitive, and I’m certainly too lazy to look into injecting into a different muscle. Because I lost resolve to do my injections with good regularity, I sought out alternatives.

The cost of pellets runs over $1000 after the insurance company negotiates the price down. Because of high deductible health plans, I am eligible to put away money pre-tax out of every paycheck into a health designated account (HSA). While the $1200 each set of pellet implants (3 times a year) is steep, once I get around to setting aside the money regularly from my paycheck it will essentially be more like paying $600 each time.

So, how are pellets? They’re an alternative to regular injections, with significantly more convenience and level hormones for a good portion of the cycle. The cycle lasts 4 months, and in my first cycle the ramping up feeling from testosterone leveled off about 3 weeks in and felt steady until about 3-4 weeks before the end of the cycle.

The pellet implantation procedure was nearly painless thanks to local anesthesia. The aftermath of the procedure was an annoying 24 hours of severe tenderness and a very large bruise that lasted well into a week. The pellets are inserted through a small incision that is closed with a bandage, no stitches required.

For the first week following the implantation of the pellets, it is advised to avoid heavy lifting as you do have a huge bruise on your backside and the pellets seem to be settling in. After about a week of healing, I was able to resume normal activities. This meant that I was able to do plenty of squats etc for the first time in a very long time since I wasn’t dreading an upcoming testosterone injection. Major bonus.

My next implantation is in the first week of January. Knowing more of what to expect, I am both dreading the implantation a little but also completely happy to have made the switch from injections. I haven’t had to deal with a needle in over 3 months! I haven’t had to make sure I have enough testosterone in my vial or syringes in my bathroom. I schedule the next implantation procedure each time I have one, and the cycle continues.

As I mentioned, the cost of pellets is significant and is higher than what injectable testosterone costed me. I a fortunate to have a job and enough financial flexibility to be able to dedicate some of my funds to this. I feel it is absolutely worth it.