Archive for category Running/Marathon

Running and the Sundance Film Fest

I ran the longest I’ve ever run this weekend – 17 miles! My marathon training friend and I combined a 5-mile race, a 2-mile in between run, and a 10-mile race, for one epic morning.

The run went pretty well. I was worn out after, and my legs definitely started feeling it around mile 13 or so. The great thing is that all the aches and soreness seems to be normal “I just ran 17 miles” pain, not Rheumatoid Arthritis pain. And that makes me so happy to be sore. 🙂

On another note, I’m going to the Sundance Film Festival next week. This will be my second year going. I have mixed feelings about the event last year. It was a couple of months pre-diagnosis, and I was struggling to be normal and figure out what the hell was wrong with me. My feet were aching, my mood was low, and my energy was pretty non-existent.

The streets of Park City were snow-filled and icy, which made walking on uncooperative feet and poorly-chosen shoes one of the worst experiences of my life. Despite all that, we saw some great films and apparently I had enough fun that I signed up again.

This year’s gonna be a little different. First off, my feet are way better than they were a year ago. Second, I’m only packing ridiculously not-cute, but totally ice/snow appropriate shoes. Third, I can’t drink.

As Sesame Street would say, “One of those things is not like the other!” That’s right, not drinking at Sundance is really not something I’m particularly looking forward to. Drinking is kind of part of the Sundance culture – where celebs drink and bars and clubs literally pop up over night. So everyone I’m going with is understandably excited to party. Hopefully with Joseph Gordon-Levitt. 😉

I, however, just got back a blood test that shows that my over-worked liver enzymes are once again elevated. This is a fun side effect of taking Methotrexate, which happens to be a chemotherapy drug that’s pretty hard on your liver.  So, that’s fun.

My friend was excitedly talking about the parties and how our friend is psyched to be ending a detox with a drink-fueled weekend at Sundance. Great. So I told her that I was worried that the whole thing was going to be drinking and I may be seeing more movies than all my friends to avoid the bar scene. To which she replied, “You’re not drinking??!!?” Uh, yeah, still got that disease goin’ on…and still on that drug…which you know because we hang out all the time…so, yeah, I’m not drinking.

I’m trying to look on the sunny-side though, because I’d rather be sober and enjoying Sundance pain-free, than be drinking to try and dull the pain in my feet, making it all the more difficult to walk (go denial-style logic!).

Joseph Gordan-Levitt and Tony Danza posing for pics at this year’s Sundance. (January 18, 2013 – Source: Larry Busacca/Getty Images North America)

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Never, Never, Never Give Up

Happy new year everyone! Today, I feel like 2013 is going to be a great year!

I guess that between the holidays and being stuck in a bit of a flare without the energy to put a positive spin on it or the desire to add to the negativity you often find online, I didn’t have much to say over the last month since my last blog post. At any rate, it’s a new year and I’m back!

Let me catch you up on both my RA and my marathon training. Over the last month or so I’ve been having more inflammation and pain in my feet. The three smallest toe joints in each foot have been pretty stiff and painful. It wasn’t hurting more with running, but it was making me just not want to go running. Or do yoga. Or do much of anything at all.

Despite all that, I’ve started my ski season. It makes my foot, especially my right foot, extremely angry and swollen to ski. It’s a little reminiscent of last year’s ski season, before I knew I had RA, but thought my feet mysteriously had grown because it was such a painful struggle to put my boots on (Nope, they were just majorly swollen with RA!). At least this year my boots go on fine. I just start to feel them swell and press on the boot about halfway through the day. (Yeah, yeah, maybe I should lay off the moguls, powder and trees, but where’s the fun in that?) It’s a little disappointing that I’m not just “cured”, but I’m grateful to be back on the slopes.

Combine my mad ski foot with lack of sleep because of an unexpected, but welcome holiday houseguest, and RA symptoms seemed to be creeping up on me.

Then, like I like to do, I pushed myself a bit too hard. After a week of Christmas parties (read: not enough sleep) and a day of mogul skiing, I decided to go on a 10-mile run with my two Barcelona marathon training buddies. My pace is slower than theirs, but I tried to keep up anyway, and the run was pretty rough. My foot didn’t feel great, I accidentally hyperextended my knee on a steep downhill, and the cold weather and wind made my normally-dormant asthma flare up.

After that, my marathon training started feeling pretty damn stupid. And there’s nothing like seeds of doubt to make everything – from pain to happiness to stress – worse.

I knew I needed a break. I took two weeks off of running completely, only skiing twice (foot wasn’t exactly happy about the skiing). I spent the time doing holiday stuff, eating and relaxing. It felt good to rest, but a little dispiriting. In all that resting, I was secretly giving up on the marathon.

Then last Saturday rolls along. My training buddy and I were supposed to be at 16 miles (wtf, right?!), but my feet were hurting (especially the right one) and just the thought of one mile was enough to make me want to go back to bed. But, I didn’t. I strapped on my running shoes and drove to meet her. I warned her that one mile might be my limit and she could be on her own, and she agreed that I should prioritize my health.

So, we took off. Mile one felt good, mile two great. We got lost in conversation, and suddenly we were at mile eight. I started playing music, and miles 10-14 literally had me grinning. It felt SOOO good to be running. My feet felt fine. Honestly, it was so weird. The last two miles were a little rougher, but totally manageable. Nothing like the miserable 10-mile run I’d done over the holidays.

16.4 miles later, I felt great. I mean, beaming ear-to-ear, exhilarated, and feeling for the first time in nearly a month that a marathon was possible and not the dumbest idea I’d ever had.

Another bonus from my awesome run: I woke up the next day and my feet DIDN’T HURT. I don’t really have an explanation for this. Maybe the run and the stretching after actually stretched them out in a way they needed. Maybe my flare just ended (topic for another post, but my symptoms seemed to disappear with my waning hormone cycle – read: period). Whatever. I didn’t care too much why, I just felt great. AND I’ve continued to feel great all week – my mood and energy levels are way better; I’ve done yoga, weights and a six mile run.

Moral of the story: please don’t give up. Or, in the brilliant words of Winston Churchill, “NEVER, NEVER, NEVER GIVE UP.” I feel like it really is that simple.

Sure, listen to your body. Take a break if you need to, but don’t get sucked into that creeping, enticing lazy, depressive apathy that can take over your life. Strap on your shoes, go for a run (or whatever that activity is that makes you feel happy, powerful and strong). Just never, never, never give up.

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Marathon Training & Raw Food

Mile 4.5 water break!

Mile 4.5 water break!

Just had to share that last weekend I had a great solo run – 13.2 miles (that’s a half marathon!!) on a beautiful, dirt, hilly trail. I was running VERY slow, but I had a great time and it was FUN! Barcelona Marathon, I’m on my way!

On another note, I tried Kari Carr’s Mediterranean wrap recipe. This was my version of the cashew cheese:

Throw the following into a blender and blend until cheesy (consistency of hummus):

  • 2.25 cups of raw, unsalted cashews (I didn’t presoak because (a) what does that even mean? (b) why would one do it? and (c) who has the time?
  • 1 cup almond milk (I used almond milk instead of water because I thought, why not?)
  • handle of Italian parsley
  • sprinkle of chia seeds (they’re apparently good for you and give you energy, so this was another addition to Kris Carr’s recipe)
  • sprinkle of salt & pepper

I put the “cheese”, black olives, sundried tomatoes, and pumpkin seeds, onto collard greens for a super yummy (trust me!), healthy lunch. 🙂

My super yummy wrap! :)

My super yummy wrap! 🙂

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Thanksgiving Update: So Many Things To Be Grateful For

My Thanksgiving and the last week has been awesome, and I’m so grateful for it.

My marathon training had been off to a slow start as I was dealing with some symptoms, fatigue being one of them. It was really hard to motivate.

My last two long runs – 10 and 11 miles – have been great. I did the second long run on Thanksgiving with my parents’ dog. She’s a great motivator & keeps me going fast.

So now I’m feeling like a marathon may actually be a possibility for me. I’ll be getting X-rays in February, so I’ll be able to see if I’m doing damage, but so far I feel great. I love the feeling of getting out and running. I’m so grateful to live in a place with such awe-inspiring running trails.

Then I spent the rest of Thanksgiving cooking – 2 gluten-free, dairy-free pumpkin pies, 1 gf, df pumpkin bread, and a grilled zucchini/squash salad tossed with garbanzo beans and olive oil. Yum! My family was very supportive of my restricted diet (with a little teasing, of course!). I am consumed with gratitude for my supportive family and friends.

Also, perhaps one of the biggest things I’m thankful for: my symptoms have been really minimal. AND, I’ve gotten the hang of the syringe, so self-injection is finally pretty painless. The verdict: I definitely like the syringes better than the pens. Way less pain, bruising, swelling and uncertainty.

I hope you all are off to a great, pain-free start to the holiday season.

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Emotions and Other Sharp Things

No, it has nothing to do with this post, but this baby hedgehog is waaaay cuter than any of the sharp things in my life. Give me a baby hedgehog over acupuncture, blood tests and Enbrel any day!

I went for my second acupuncture appointment a couple of nights ago.

I would love to say that it was an enjoyable, healing, relaxing experience. But, in truth, my heart was racing and blood pressure was high before the needles even came out. I’m not sure why – it wasn’t so bad last time.

So my heart was racing, and I was sweating, and my acupuncturist and an observing student (who I had recently met at a party and who now knows way too much about me – awkward!) were sticking me with needles, and I was talking myself down from a panic attack.

Weirdly, the needles hurt more this time than the first time. I felt each one going in, and some of them felt uncomfortable as they were in my skin.

After the acupuncture, they gave me earnest tips on how to improve my circulation – ginger foot soaks, chi generating hand exercises…

They were well-meaning and those things might actually work, but in that moment I was so overwhelmed. How many things can I try? What other ridiculous suggestions is the world going to throw at me?

So leaving the acupuncturist, I just felt depleted. Every part of me felt heavy and I felt overwhelmed with emotion.No matter how much you do, how many new things you try, how much sleep you get, how kind you are to your joints, how much effort you put into positivity, there’s always one more – one hundred more – things you should be trying.

It was enough to make me want to curl up in a ball under my covers and cry.

The following morning I saw my rheumy. The report was more of the same – I’m improving, I’ll improve more. Things will get better.

I’m due to get X-rays in February and am very curious to see how those will go.

He did say that he’s doesn’t think going down on meds before my marathon (March 17th) is a good idea, which is disappointing, but I understand the reasoning. I don’t want to not be able to do the race, and I don’t want the race to do more damage than good.

I told him about the problems I’ve been having with the Enbrel pen (button not depressing correctly, bruises and welts, etc.) and my wonderful, amazing, patient, kind, God-send of a nurse gifted me four Enbrel syringes to try out. I am about to do my first one (post for tomorrow!) and am so nervous, I’m procrastinating by writing this.

The beauty of the syringe is that you have complete control of when the medication enters you and how fast. The downfall is that you have complete control and you get to see the whole thing. AHHHHHH!!!!!

I’ll let you know how my injection goes…

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Five Secrets of Toughness

Alright, it may be my own fault for having two blogs under one identity on WP, but why won’t it let me reblog in two places?

At any rate, I loved Jim’s post about ultramarathoner’s secret to toughness and wanted to reblog it here on My RAD Life.

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True Grit


GRIT: noun – firmness of character, determination or strength of character

I think some people are born with a natural abundance of grit. I think my grit, the will to persevere and the optimism to keep going is learned, practiced and fickle.

I’m still trying to figure out why sometimes I’m so strong and determined, and why other times I want to pull covers over my head and never leave my bed.

I think something about the beginning of October triggered the ostrich response in me. Suddenly I bounced from I can do anything to I don’t want to do anything anymore.

When I was diagnosed with my RAD new disease back in March, my doctor marked autumn as the time when I could possibly be in remission and we’d be looking at getting off the methotrexate, and later the Enbrel. My September doctor’s appointment was instead met with an increased dosage of methotrexate and the news that the MTX may not even be working yet. Doc’s new goal for remission: spring 2013.

That’s actually kind of good news because it means when it starts working, I’ll feel a lot better. But also, really?!?!

I left the doctor’s appointment feeling fine about it, but then October came and all optimism drained out of me. I was suddenly so, so, so done with MTX day and freaking injections. All things gluten appeared appetizing, dairy seemed impossible to avoid, my vitamins made me nauseous, and I felt like if I even had to look at fish oil again, I’d vomit.

What’s the point? What if it doesn’t go into remission? Am I really going to do all of this forever? I don’t want to have this life. I didn’t ask for this. F#@! RAD and all the stupid S**! that goes with it.

I stopped taking the vitamins and I laxed up on the fish oil. I cheated on my diet. But I kept going on the drugs.

My negativity quickly started to annoy the hell out of me. So there I was, standing over my morning folic acid and fish oil supplements, a wave of nausea overwhelming me, and I snapped. Out of it that is.

My grit was back.

What’s the point? The point couldn’t be more obvious or important – it’s my health. Is it worth trading because I’m a wuss about injections, I hate swallowing pills, and the smell of fish oil is gross? Obviously not.

So I’m staying the course. I’m back on track. (Although I am being a bit more relaxed about supplements for my sanity’s sake.)

I’m thinking March is gonna be a great month for me. I’ll be running my first marathon and hopefully I’ll officially be declared in remission and will be breaking up with methotrexate. Maybe Enbrel and I will even get to say goodbye. Here’s hoping.

In the meantime, I’m happy to report that I think the higher dose of methotrexate is starting to work. My compromised immune system and the changing season has led to a cold, but otherwise I feel great. No joint pain, no feet pain, less fatigue, less trouble sleeping. I even went on a 12 mile run a couple weekends ago.

Now I just have to figure out how to keep my grit from disappearing on me again.

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Monday Morning Motivation

The last couple weeks have been tough. I moved into a new condo and, very ambitiously repainted the whole thing and did all the moving myself. This of course led to long days and nights and completely messed up my schedule.

Not only was I exhausted from the grind of repetitive paint strokes and heavy lifting, when my schedule gets off, a bizarre sort of insomnia sets in. I’m exhausted, but I can’t fall asleep. I’m in bed, but my mind is wide awake and I’m hyper aware of every ache and pain in my body.

Needless to say, my workout schedule got off track. This only led to my sleep schedule going further down the late night rabbit hole, leading to more pain.

So late last week, I decided I had to reset. I forced myself to get up Wednesday morning to run, despite being up until about 2am reading to try to turn my brain off. Than, Thursday, I made myself wake up to lift some weights. I took the weekend off to do a lot of apartment rearranging and resting, and this morning, I’m proud to say I woke up before my alarm feeling well rested.

Hopefully this means my schedule is finally reset and I can go back to less insomnia and less pain.

For those of you out there stuck in a routine that’s not working for you, my advice is simple: break the cycle. I know, I know, WAY easier said than done. But I didn’t say it wasn’t going to suck, or that you had to be graceful. The point is just to bust out of your rut in anyway available to you. Sometimes baby steps only take you so far, sometimes it takes a leap (or, if your feet hurt, one giant, gentle step :).

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Paying The Price

Last weekend I was nonstop – a lots of yoga, a pretty tough hike, a 10K on Memorial Day, tons of walking. I felt REALLY GOOD.

I think I’m paying for it now though. My symptoms began flaring a bit Tuesday and I thought it was just recovery from the 10K. Now however, I’m sitting at my computer, putting off starting my day because I have some morning stiffness I haven’t had in a long while and my wrists are hurting again, ugh. Not to mention I’ve just been extra tired since Thursday – missing workouts and (trying) to go to bed early.

I know it shouldn’t, but whenever my pain feels more acute than normal, my mind goes into what I call “spiral of doom” thinking. Oh my god, the meds aren’t working… Permanent damage is happening. Right. Now. I’ll be disabled. I’ll be in a wheelchair. I’ll have to quit my job. Blah. Blah. Blah.

I’m trying to catch myself when I get into this thinking and replace it with other thoughts. Having symptoms reappear is totally normal. It doesn’t mean you’re getting worse. It doesn’t change the fact that you’re spending a lot more time feeling better than feeling bad. One bad day or week does not null and void your progress. 

I just can’t help but wonder if I caused the flare by pushing myself too hard. It’s frustrating though because when I feel good, I don’t want to slow down or hold back. Anyone have advice for striking that balance?

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My Half Marathon and The Convenient “Sports Injury” Excuse

After finishing the Vegas Rock & Roll half marathon.

This post could also be titled, “When Self Delusion Makes You a Dumbass,” because, honestly, why had I not gone to the doctor?

But, there I was, training for a half marathon, my feet occasionally swelling up in pain. Being confused because my “sports injury” would magically switch sides.

Here’s the thing, in November, training for my half marathon, I felt powerful. I felt strong. I was running, doing boot camps, doing yoga, trying acro yoga, writing a book and making progress at work. I was a 28-year-old superwoman, elated that I had hit my stride.

The first weekend in December was the weekend of my half, and I rocked it. I made a decent time and felt great doing it. Afterwards, trudging back to the hotel, my swollen, sore feet were screaming. The half was a sort of turning point for me because I couldn’t just ignore the pain that seemed to flare up anymore. On bad days I started complaining to people who would listen. The general consensus was a torn ligament or a stress fracture. Some weeks it was fine, other times people would ask me why I was limping.

Still, STILL, I didn’t get it checked out. I barely even stopped working out even though I figured maybe a little rest would just heal it.

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