Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Arthritis Runner

I feel as if I've been given the wrong prize. You know, like when Steve Harvey announced the wrong Miss Universe. Or when the wrong movie was incorrectly announced as the winner at the Academy Awards. I keep waiting for someone to tell me there's been a mistake. If Steve Harvey was my doctor, for sure I'd be questioning him. I'd be glad to give up the title I've been handed.

Except that I wouldn't want anyone else to claim this "prize".

I've been writing more about running with rheumatoid arthritis than I ever intended. Immediately after my diagnosis, I wrote that I didn't want to be known as "the arthritis runner". I still don't. But the hard truth is that RA is affecting me more than I ever thought it would. Just when I think I'm feeling better and getting on top of my symptoms, RA is there to remind me that "you're not the boss of me".

Humbling. And somewhat distressing.



The truth is that for this runner who has always been in control of her health, I don't have a lot of control over what is happening inside my body. I like to think that I'd be so much worse off if I hadn't been in such good physical shape at the time of my diagnosis. I haven't missed a run, a yoga class, or a CrossFit session since my initial diagnosis. The irony of that wasn't lost on me this week when on Thursday, the day after I got my methotrexate and Humira injections, I felt as if I had been hit by a truck. If it isn't the disease, it's the treatment making me feel crummy.

When I got up in the morning after receiving my meds, I felt somewhat nauseous and a whole lot of tired. My low back hurt. It was like a hangover, only I didn't have the funny stories from the night before to share. It would have been so easy to just stay in bed. But being the stubborn runner that I am, I laced up my running shoes and headed out for a 6 mile run. After all, it was "on the plan".

The run was hard. I won't sugar coat it. I had the thought of just giving up and walking home. But I was able to run and push through the run, and even at a pretty decent pace. I needed a picture for my blog post, so I stopped and took some selfies. I even tried some jumping poses, which always put a smile on my face!

I look like I'm blasting off here!
I was grateful that I had a day off from working with Becky. I was expecting a delivery at the time we normally meet and we mutually agreed that this would be a good rest week since I finished up my strength cycle last week. Sometimes things happen for a reason. After the delivery, I ran some errands and headed to the couch for the rest of the day.

By evening, I was feeling better. I made dinner for my family and enjoyed some wine. Hair of the dog?

The rest of the week was uneventful. I made it to both yoga classes this week. Both teachers are taking us through some pretty meaningful practices. While the classes are physically challenging, I feel full and content when I leave.

Chair pose with Cocoa

Twisted high lunge in the wind
Sunday's run was also tough. I woke up really early, in spite of the time change. My elbows, wrists, and hands did not want to work. Once I got moving and made my coffee, they loosened up. I was feeling off, but I really wanted to get my 8 mile run done, in anticipation of next week's 10 mile race. The run was tough from the get-go. My legs felt great, but I was fatigued and my stomach was not cooperating. Fortunately, I ran to and around the retention pond, so I had access to heated, clean facilities. With plumbing. In spite of my troubles, I enjoyed the sunshine and managed to maintain pacing at about 8:45m/m.

Sunshine on my shoulder makes me happy....
I've got to sort out this GI thing. Is it RA? Either that or my smoothies are too smooth... I continue to play with my smoothies, working hard to incorporate as many anti-inflammatory ingredients as possible. I am determined to get off my medications or at least lower my dosages as soon as possible.

Interestingly, I had a huge ingredient find at TJ Maxx of all places. I went there this week, looking for running clothes as a way to perk myself up. While I didn't find running clothes, I scored big time in the nutritional department. Since when does TJM stock up on obscure nutritional supplements?

Since now.


You just never know what you'll find there, do you? And spoiler alert, there will be a smoothie post coming in the near future....

Some of my favorite quotes.
I also found some fun signs to add to my spare room, aka my workout room! Saturday, my oldest son came home from work and helped me clean and organize what was a junk room/shoe depository into a much less cluttered area. We've still got a few things to do. There's an old chair in there that my husband seems to feel the need to keep. Maybe because he uses it as his clothes rack. It's going to the curb, honey.

I'm sorry this post is such a downer. As much as I try to put a positive spin on things, this week was really tough. I'd love to ignore RA, to say that it isn't affecting me. I'm still getting my runs in and I'm still running at pre-RA paces. But I'd be lying if I didn't say that having RA is messing with me, mentally. My old friend, self-doubt, has returned to reside in my head. I've got a 10 mile race on Saturday, and that is going to be a good test of my confidence and my endurance. I'm really grateful for all my years and experience on the road. I can't imagine where I'd be, physically or mentally, without it. Before this, I didn't consider myself a mentally tough runner, but now I know that I am. I am determined to win this battle. Even if RA has different plans.

I can and I will.

How was your week? Any good finds at TJMaxx lately? Did you know there's an Instagram feed called "Ross finds"? Do you ever find anything at Ross? Tell me what you do to dig deep during a tough run or a tough life situation. 

I'm linking this post up with Holly and Tricia for the Weekly Wrap as well as Angela and Ilka for the Sunday Fitness and Food Linkup!





97 comments :

  1. Oh, I'm so sorry to read this ;-( You are fighting this situation like we all should...with relentless forward motion. My week was a bit of a downer (due to travel and a nightmare of emails waiting for me when I got back to work on Wednesday...with a whopping 3 hours of sleep, none the less). We'll get through those 10 miles on Saturday ;-)

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    1. I'm glad you are going to be here to do it with me! :) I think the weather is supposed to improve.

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  2. Ah, Wendy. I'm so sorry you had a shitty week. You are a super strong, fierce woman. Do NOT let RA get you down and don't even consider, for a second, of letting that self-doubt creep in. The fact that you haven't missed a run or workout and you're still on pace speaks volumes about you as a determined individual and as an athlete. Stay strong, lady.

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    1. Thank you. I'm going to keep on keeping on.

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  3. I love TJ maxx for the boys' pants and shorts! Love the run sign too! It looks good on your wall!

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    1. That was a big score! I couldn't believe I found both of those signs. It was meant to be, right?

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  4. You know what, to someone who has been knocked on her butt with a terrible cold/flu/ebola virus this week, this post is actually pretty inspiring because you are one tough cookie! I tried to run through this yesterday and woke up feeling worse :( Totally unrelated, but awesome scores at TJM! I've really got to get back there. I'm good at sniffing out online deals, but not good at doing it Brick and Mortar! Go win your battle! We're rooting for you!

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    1. I'm afraid if I stop, it's like giving in! Right?

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  5. I may have to check out our TJM those are some great finds! Sometimes we get control what happens and sometimes we don't I think you are amazing and making the best out of it. You are no doubt inspiring to many women with RA and will provide hope and inspiration to those who receive that diagnosis in the future.

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    1. I just want to go back to being an "older runner". This RA thing? It can go away.

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  6. Unfortunately I do have stomach issues and not sure what to do about them since they are inconsistent. Your pace is amazing considering the pain. You are inspiring.

    I find things at TJMaxx when I'm not looking for something. When I want to buy something, I find nothing. Love those signs esp the one about the bad run. I have to remember that most of the time.

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    1. The bad run sign was the first thing I saw when I got back this morning. Kind of made me laugh. Oh, the irony!

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  7. I am so sorry that you are dealing with this. There isn't much to say beyond that. Find joy in the victories, give yourself grace when the ugliness rears its head.

    I don't know if I was lucky to have been diagnosed with Crohn's so early on--I've had it for so long that I hardly remember what it was like to not have it, or to be steadily healthy. I just take every day as it comes. Sometimes I do a better job at that than others.

    That is why this infertility journey is so... contentious for me. I know how to deal with having and living with Crohn's Disease. I'm still learning how to deal with my infertility. So, you and I both soldier on. That is the only option, honestly.

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    1. Having been down that path as well, it makes me want to jump up and down and say, not fair!! But we muddle through it all, because really, do we have a choice?

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  8. How frustrating that you had a rough week. But being able to say you haven't missed any runs is a huge accomplishment! Not only are you getting through them physically, but you are sticking with it and not giving up. I hope that you start to see improvements soon. And I hope you have a great time at the race next weekend!

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    1. No Humira this week, so there's a pretty good chance I'll be feeling better. I may need to schedule my races around that!

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  9. Please don't ever apologize for what you feel is a "downer" post. I don't think your readers/followers/friends/fellow runners see it that way. I know I don't and I sure don't think I'm unusual. We deeply appreciate your honesty, your sharing your bad moments/days/weeks/runs/illness with us. And if you're being honest with the bad stuff, we can trust that you are with the good as well.

    That said, my heart aches for you suffering from what is, despite your fight, your stamina, your strength, your determination, a debilitating disease. We cheer that you will not let it take over your life. Sure, you'll need to adjust here and there, but the good days will prevail.

    And we'll always be here for you.
    Love you, my friend.

    To answer your final question, a good week for me. Second day on the t/m retraining, and I took three yoga session (two were special events). I was scared of the power yoga, but I was able to keep up with the young folks.

    Funny how a good day erases the bad ones, isn't it.
    Holding you in my heart and waiting for the next post. (Insert heart emoticon here).

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    1. Thank you for all your support! Glad to hear you are doing fantastic with the yoga. I never had a doubt.

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  10. I'm sorry that the RA is continuing to bother you. You are strong though and I love that you value the fact that RA isn't keeping you from running or yoga or anything else, albeit it makes it more of a challenge.
    Coco is getting so big!

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    1. Cocoa needs a trip to the groomer! Her hair is so big, she looks like she came from the 1980s! I guarantee you she'll be much smaller after a trim.

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  11. Ugh, I'm sorry... you're right... not the prize you want to win! You're handling it well... I'm sure it's extremely frustrating some days,

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    1. Like today...hence this blog post. Grrrrr....

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  12. You know, I could say that I'm sorry to hear you are struggling, but what I'm reading here is the doing of a strong and dedicated woman! Since you were diagnosed, you have not stopped or dialed down ! You are still going strong towards your goals! The only difference I see, is that now you know where the pain is coming from. Keep on kicking butt !!

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    1. You are right, I do know where the pain is coming from--and that is definitely a plus. I just want all these meds to do their job.

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  13. I'm so sorry you've had a tough week. Mine was really good even with all my runs in warm temps except for my 10k race. I think running in the heat helped me have such a great race. That picture of you jumping really looks like you are flying! I love that! You are so strong, Wendy and you inspire us all. I hope this week is better for you and I am looking forward to your smoothie recipe!

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    1. I'm heading to Florida next week, so I'm hoping the heat will do me some good!

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  14. Sorry this week was a challenging one. I suspect the RA journey will be that way but you'll learn to flow with the ups and downs. I don't see this as a "downer" post at all, btw. It's as if the universe put those goodies in TJM for you to find. I wouldn't worry about RA shaking your confidence. I think it's helping you build grit and mental toughness, because we never truly "conquer" anything. We just learn to flow with what the day brings. That's my perspective anyway. xoxo

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    1. When I was at TJM, I had the exact thought about the goods--it was meant to be. The Cacao nibs have made my smoothies perfect.

      You get me. That's why I love you.

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  15. Such an honest and raw post Wendy. This post to me is not a downer, those are real feelings and we simply cannot sugar coat everything in life. You have such a strong will, you are still running long-distances with RA at an impressive pace.
    I have a feeling you might be one of those people who are able to send this thing eventually into remission, after you figured out what works and what doesn't.
    I certainly wouldn't be surprised :)

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    1. From your lips to God's ears. I hope he's listening to you! <3

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  16. Do you expect that those treatments and injections to eventually control your RA symptoms? Or at least, do the side effects lessen enough to improve quality of life? You have such a strong spirit and and are clearly committed to your running, yoga and workouts. I have to believe that is all helping.

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    1. I do agree to all of your questions. I have to believe. As I re-read this post, I can't help but think that this is going to be my new normal and I have to get used to it.

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  17. I'm so sorry that you had a challenging week but I so appreciate you sharing your ups and downs with us. I don't think you realize how many people you help through your blog :)

    Wow, you really scored at TJ MAxx! I always love finding awesome things there!

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    1. This week was a big score for me at TJM! You just never know...

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  18. I don't think your are being down, I just think you are being real. And that is OK! We have become ingrained by social media that everything should be perfect at all times. It never is. In fact, life is messy a lot of the time. I'm confident things will get better. You will stay strong. You will adapt. You will feel better. YOU will show RA who is boss. Thanks for linking, my friend. {BIG VIRTUAL HUG}

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    1. I'm going to keep on moving forward. Because it's all I know...

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  19. I'm sorry you are having such a hard time with the RA, but I'm impressed that you haven't missed a workout. I definitely miss workouts on occasion because I'm just not feeling it.

    I never go to Ross or TJ Maxx or Marshalls. I just don't have the patience to deal with it (and I worked at a TJMaxx for a while in college...)

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    1. I find the best things at TJM and Marshalls! It's like therapy.

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  20. So sorry you are struggling, but even your "down" posts sound pretty "up" to me. My Mom finds tons of stuff at Ross! I don't have the patience to not find what I'm looking for.Cocoa is looking so big!

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    1. I don't know what it is about those places, but I find that rifling through the racks is somewhat therapeutic. And not horribly damaging to my budget.

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  21. I sorry that you are dealing with this and had such a bad week. Wish I had some magic advice or a way to help but no such luck so I will just send some virtual hugs your way. Hope this week is better for you

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    1. I have my trip to Florida to look forward to--the beach will be therapeutic!

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  22. You are so strong! Many, heck most, would take their diagnoses and crawl into the woodwork, assuming that was it. I love watching how hard you fight back. I hope you really do kick RA's butt. If anyone can, it will be you. <3

    On another note, we just had a TJMaxx open in La Quinta a few months ago and I haven't been there yet. I'm thinking it may be time to stop by!

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    1. You have to go! It's kind of hit or miss, but when it's a hit, watch out!

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  23. I see you winning the battle! You will get through all that, just keep thinking positive. Great job getting your runs in! Nice pace on your 8 miler! Love the pic of you looking like you're about to fly off like Superman! Have fun and good luck on your race on Saturday!

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  24. I live in a small town so the day that TJ Maxx came to town was a happy one. I've found some really great Saucony running tanks, Minnetonka moccasins and a lot of really fun, fancy food. I can't seem to resist the spicy dill pickle chips I find there. It's a goldmine!

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    1. I agree, 100%! The Athleta thermal tights I scored last fall were probably my best find of late.

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  25. I'm having a set back this week as well. Guess I got a bit too intense with my running because my IT band woke up and is loudly complaining about it. Soooo frustrating. I don't think your post is a downer. I think you are very brave to reveal your struggles instead of keeping it to yourself. Thanks for keeping it real.
    I might go to my TJ Maxx and look for the cool stuff you found. Retail therapy is a real thing.

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    1. I always try to stay positive--I found that to be a real challenge this week.

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  26. No need to apologize. This is life and you're going through some heavy stuff right now. I love how determined you are to either lower your dosage or get off your meds. I would be doing the exact same thing! Having a goal like that will keep your competitive mind focused and I have no doubt you will achieve it. And TJM? Really? I guess you really never know what you will find there!

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    1. I was kind of surprised to find the running signs there. I thought to myself, who would buy these? But I did, so there you go!

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  27. awww- tough week girlfriend! We are here to share the good weeks and the not so good ones. Your determination stills shines thru! The shopping gods were a little silver lining this week, I agree you never no what you will find in TJMaxx- love that place! Looking forward to seeing you in a week! XXOO

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    1. I'm so excited for our adventure! See you soon!

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  28. What a crummy week! I think you are more than entitled to share what it's actually like. I am beyond impressed that you are pushing through these runs. So inspiring.
    I am always stopping by TJMaxx or Marshalls and find some great stuff!

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    1. I'm going to just keep moving! And shopping.

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  29. Ugh.....I'm feeling for you. Sorry you're dealing with this. I know I've shared that I was diagnosed with arthritis in my knees last summer and I wasn't back to running until December and pain free running in January. But then in Saturday's race, my big toes were hurting and I just wonder if early arthritis in my knees means I could have it flaring up elsewhere??? I sure don't know but I just want to run, pain free, problem free. I had breathing issues last year as well that hindered easy running. Still not quite sure what that's about, asthma? allergies? Who knows?? I'm not even 45 yet!!! lol! As for TJMaxx.....I can't say I've been to one. Hang in there! Hope you have a great week :)

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    1. Wouldn't it be nice to always run pain free, problem free?

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  30. Such an up and down roller coaster dealing with a chronic illness! I admire how you can just really dig deep and get it done. Most times, when I am struggling I just end up scaling back on my workouts (I walk instead of run or visit the pool which is always my friend, or spend more time on my mat and try to be intuitive about the poses my body needs) so I am not a good person to ask about digging deep. I think maybe because I don't compete that I have a mindset of "just keep moving" (doesn't have to be running) or "take the rest" (took me a long term to learn that lesson but it has helped me out a ton).

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    1. I'm not good at taking a rest. But you all know that!

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  31. Sometimes is good to be stubborn. I know it's difficult, but kudos that you're not letting this rule you. It sounds like it is winning some battles, but keep battling back!

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  32. Damn. Life seems to ask for us to find that tricky balance of letting go of things we can't control and working hard for things we can. It's hard to know which one to choose on any given day. I know you're not asking for a pity party, but I feel for you, and there's nothing wrong with a little commiseration. <3

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    1. Commiseration is good! I'll take that, over a glass of wine.

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  33. RA stinks, no two ways about it. And finding your way through the first few months of the diagnosis has got to be challenging - my hope is that eventually you'll figure out what works best for you and what is normal and what is RA (like the stomach issues). I'm sorry you are having to deal with all of this, I truly am.

    On to a brighter comment - shopping! I love our TJM and work hard to stay out of that store as I can ALWAYS find something or three to buy. On the other hand, our Ross is absolutely disgusting and you couldn't pay me to shop there. Obviously a difference in management, but blech.

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    1. Our Ross is disgusting too. I didn't want to say anything, but since you mentioned it...

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  34. Wendy I can only imagine how difficult this is to deal with and I think it is really great that you remind yourself of how bad it would be if you hadn't already been in such great shape. That is one of the main reasons I use to convince people to begin their fitness journey! Though I don't have RA, I do have a pretty darn severe case of scoliosis. I don't talk about it much either, but it certainly has an affect on my running and other workouts. I had to learn a long time ago that there are limitations to what I can do but that doesn't mean that I should do nothing. So, I do what I can when I can and try to be thankful for every mile. You are approaching this with the right attitude girl and you will inspire others in the process! :)

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    1. I can only imagine how your scoliosis limits you! I see a lot of teenagers with scoliosis in my clinic. I recommend yoga for them.

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  35. Sorry to hear you had a tough week but you are handling it well. You are tough and strong! I see how determined you are with your workouts. Way to get your runs in even though they were tough! Keep at it! Btw, had no idea TJMaxx had so much stuff. I will have to check out our local store!

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    1. Some TJMs are better than others. That one where I found the signs was amazing!

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  36. Even though I am not dealing with anything as hard as you health wise, last week I just struggled with my runs all week long. The previous week went so well, but that's running, right? I think some of it was I just had so much on my plate & was losing 2 days instead of my normal 1 day to my parents.

    The good news is while this week is also super busy -- and another big snowstorm, so they say -- I actually get to stay home all week long. To get ready for my upcoming racecation.

    Cocoa is so BIG!

    I often get great stuff at Home Goods, TJMaxx & Marshalls. Yes, they've always had great nutritional stuff.

    If anyone can figure it out and lower/get off your meds, it's you, Wendy!

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    1. Cocoa is just super furry! She needs a trip to the groomer. She really misbehaves when she looks like this. It's like she knows she looks like a wild animal...

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  37. Highs and lows, sorry this week was a low point for you but with your positive attitude surely you'll be marching towards another high point.
    Wow I was surprised to see all the goodies you got from TJ Maxx. Haven't been to one in awhile but there is a Ross near my house. I think I like TJ Maxx better though. Those signs are perfect!

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    1. I'm not a big fan of Ross...the one by me is pretty junky! But TJM and Marshalls is the bomb!

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  38. I can't help but think that your running, yoga, and lifting are making a huge impact on how your RA is affecting you, and your strength is playing a positive roll in the mix. It's wonderful to see you fighting so hard. Just wish I were going to be there on Saturday to run the race with you. I'm so bummed that it didn't work out, but I'm going through the list of races you suggested to see what works in my schedule. I'll keep you posted...

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    1. I wish you were going to be here on Saturday too! Hopefully we can do one of those spring races together!

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  39. Even your "downer" posts are so inspiring! You are handling RA incredibly well (in my inexperienced opinion) - despite the mental trials it throws your way. I'm certain many other runners/ordinary people would have a much tougher time fighting through and staying strong. I don't have to deal with nearly what you do, but your stories of continuing to get out there really helps me (and probably lots of your other readers). I'll admit that I only started following your blog shortly after your diagnosis and that is kind of what pulled me in.

    Your pictures are always so fun!

    It is surprising what you can randomly find at TJM!!

    Have a great week, Wendy!

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    1. Well thank you! I really try not to dwell on my RA here on the blog (no worries, I dwell plenty at home) but I appreciate the positive feedback!

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  40. Don't apologize for writing about what you're living. We are all pulling for you as you journey through the hand you've been dealt. You're an inspiration, Wendy! I'm so impressed with how you haven't missed any runs. Super woman! Hope this week will be much better for you.

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  41. So many hugs. I hate that you are suffering this, but you have got so many people rooting for you and you are so strong and determined. One day at a time, one step at a time. You are beating this every day. <3 <3 <3

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    1. I like to think that I'm getting on top of it, but in reality, it's one step forward and two steps backward. I just keep swimming...

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  42. I love your TJ Maxx finds, especially the signs. I think we all need the reminder about bad runs. Its hard to accept that they happen, but they do. Just remember that things will get better. :)

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    1. I keep telling myself that. Optimism is a good thing.

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  43. I'm sorry that you are struggling, but you are strong! You haven't given up inspite of your frustrations. WTG! This too shall pass ....

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  44. I am sorry that you had a hard week but you're determination to "stick to the plan" is beyond inspiring. Also, having control of your health something that you don't really appreciate until you have to battle to maintain it. I hope that you find ease and can do what you love without pain again. Keep moving forward, Warrior!

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  45. I I am sorry you are having a rough time, but you are a trooper. Not sure I would be able to do what you have done. I hope it all
    Settles and gets better for you.

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    1. I think all of us runners have built in determination--I'm sure you would push thru as well!

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  46. I am so sorry to hear you are having a hard time... Ugh, that stinks, especially since you are such a fit and healthy lady! I'm not sure what meds you are on, but is that the potential culprit of your GI distress? Maybe wait until after running to take them? That's the Nurse in me talking :-) I love that you found all the nutrition stuff at TJ Maxx... who knew? I love that place!!! Hope you are feeling better soon!!

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    1. Even if it were the meds causing my GI issues, I only take them once/week. The effects seem to linger tho. Or is it the RA? Time will tell!

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  47. I know it's been tough. I know it's been a struggle. I get that you are frustrated too. And you know what, I think you have every right to feel all the feelings about the situation. I just hope it gets better or at least more manageable! As you know I'm struggling with my own issues and frankly I moved from pissed to frustrated to dealing with it to depression. We will figure it out in the end though. Keep pushing forward and keep sharing. we are here for you xxx

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    1. It's so nice to have others to commiserate with. Thanks for your support!

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  48. Just wanted to comment on the GI stuff. I have psoriatic arthritis and I first was on methotrexate for 7 months. It was awful. I had terrible GI issues, horrible abdominal cramps. If I ran I would have to curl up in a fetal position they hurt so bad. Even cycling caused cramps that would bring me to my knees. I had a colonoscopy and I had a lot of inflammation. My dr switched me over to Enbrel and it's been great, all of my abdominal cramping went away. The dr said if I develop antibodies to the Enbrel and it stops working, there are so many other biologics out there, we'll just try a different one. My PsA lets me know who's boss when I overdo it. I've been doing my Enbrel shots every 10 days, but this week I had to do a shot early. I've been doing some heavy weight lifting and PsA didn't like it! Maybe ask about discontinuing the methotrexate to see how you feel. You could also try lefunomide instead of the methotrexate. I hated mtx, it made me feel like death.

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    1. Thank you so much for commenting! My rheum wants me to continue on the MTX until I see her in May, since we've already changed my treatment plan and added the Humira. I'm sure I have inflammation in my GI tract, but is it due to MTX? That remains to be seen. Stay tuned..

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  49. Wendy I'm sorry it was such a tough week. You're spirit and attitude through all of this continues to inspire me. I hope this week brought some ease for you. Good luck Saturday!

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