Sunday, April 16, 2017

Running on Eggshells

You all know I love a good pun or idiom. For this Easter Sunday weekly wrap up post, I really couldn't think of any phrase more fitting to describe my running right now. Running right now is just the craziest thing. I dunno, I look in the mirror and I look like myself. At rest, I feel like myself.

Once I'm up and moving, though, it's a different story. Any activities--running or walking--require careful pacing. There's no dashing out the door with reckless abandon, which has always been my MO. Gingerly placing my feet, now when I run, I continuously monitor my internal sensors. Is my heart beating too fast? Am I short of breath? Do my legs feel fatigued? I don't even have to remind myself to go slow because my body just won't let me push any faster.

I try not to focus on all the negative but it does really feel like I'm running on eggshells. As I reflect back on the week, there were some positive reminders that I'm still in this body. I might be down but I'm not out. Not yet. Actually, not ever.



On Tuesday, I received my monthly Tailwind newsletter and look who was featured! As one of the few marathoners who has been chosen as a Trailblazer, I was honored and excited to see this. It was a great reminder of yes, I'm a runner! Even though my trails are mostly asphalt. By the way: have you tried Tailwind? I'd love to send you some. PM me if you are interested.


Because I wasn't feeling well earlier in the week, I didn't go to the yoga studio, but on Thursday I went to CrossFit with Becky. I was a little nervous to talk to my tough-as-nails coach and tell her how I have been feeling. We talked at length. While I'm still on the fence about my marathon--I'm holding out for a miracle--she didn't try to sway me either way. What we did talk about is giving my go-go-go self a break. Rest days are rest days. She handed me my marathon training plan, which I am going to try to stick to even if I decide not to run Grandmas. We talked about how hard it is for me to call it quits. Becky reminded me that I'm not calling it quits, that my body is asking me to, essentially taking the burden of guilt off my shoulders.

By the time we finished talking, my session was over. My running friend Steph trains after I do, so we trained together. We've talked about doing this anyways, and it was really fun to have her there to keep me going. We did laps of lunges, kettlebell swings, unstable overhead presses, resistance band work, and my personal favorite, swings from the overhead rings. I was worried I wouldn't be able to do it, but yep, I did it all!


Running this week, for the most part, actually went better than I expected. While I'd love to just fly, I've come to the realization that RA has clipped my wings. I did all my runs using those 4:1 run/walk intervals. It's still so hard to believe that I have slowed down so dramatically in such a short time. But I'm still running and to me, that is a win.

One thing I've noticed about the run/walk intervals is that I have pretty consistent splits. So there's that too.

Saturday's run brought me some unexpected hilarity. It was sunny and 75 when I headed out at 8 am--unusual for this time of year. I decided to make the most of my 5 miler and drove to a local preserve that has a limestone path and a latrine at the trailhead. On the run, I was working hard at my newfound slow pace but enjoying the gorgeous day. Much to my amusement, as I ran, I came upon a guy on a bike and I passed him. I couldn't contain myself. Here I am, frustrated and angry, and there's a guy on a bike who couldn't care less that he was being passed by a runner, albeit a slow runner. Talk about perspective. During one of my walk breaks, he passed me on his weird, tiny-wheeled bike and I took his picture as he rode by.


For Sunday, I had 12 miles on the marathon training plan that Becky made for me. I agonized over this distance. 12 would be a great confidence booster for my half marathon in 3 weeks. But to run 12, I'd have to go into the Forest Preserve. Normally, that doesn't bother me. But I'm currently reading a really disturbing book--don't ask me why but I can't put it down--and I'm a little gun-shy about the woods right now.

So I compromised with myself and set 11 as my goal. I'd run the bike path and turn around at the entrance to the preserve. This turned out to be a good plan because I ran out into a very brisk wind. In fact, I had to do some serious pep-talking to get myself to push on. The run/walk intervals at 4:1 are still working well--I did do some minor adjustments when I anticipated a hill coming up. I wanted to make sure I walked up those hills. On the way back, the wind pushing me home was a definite plus for my tired body. I finished up with a smile on my face. Yes, it was slow. But I didn't quit. The fact that I ran 11 miles wasn't lost on me either!


Unfortunately, my speed work on Thursday was once again a bust. Right now, I cannot run a full mile without stopping. My VO2 max has to be zero. After 2 1/2 miles of this nonsense, I stopped for good. I walked back to the car and had the ugliest of ugly cries. You know, the kind with sobbing and hiccuping and snot and all that. I may even have banged my head against the steering wheel a few times. It's a good thing the parking lot was empty.

The tears weren't because I had a bad run. God knows I've had plenty of those.

The tears were because RA is threatening to take away from me the one thing that has given me all that I am.

Running has been my anti-anxiety and anti-depressant remedy for the past 25 years. Running gave me confidence when I had none. Running calmed me during my infertility journey and 2 cycles of IVF. Running gave me my "me time" as the mom of 2 little boys. Running kept me focused during grad school. Running let me pound out anger and frustration as those 2 little boys became teenagers and it kept me from pummeling them when I had to deal with their shenanigans. Running kept me young and fit as I started menopause. Running taught me that sh** happens--both literally and figuratively-- and when it does, you just keep on running because there are some things you cannot control.


Running has also brought some amazing people into my life. After that draining emotional outburst, I came home to a flower delivery on my front step. When I saw who the flowers were from--Marcia and MaryBeth--I started to cry all over again. Guys--the texts and emails from all of you, the kind blog comments, the wonderful Facebook and Instagram comments--you all have no idea how much this all means to me. If it weren't for running, I wouldn't have any of you in my life. While I don't want to be "that person", the one who gets flowers and sympathy, I am so grateful for the love of the running community. RA can't take that away from me.



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




82 comments :

  1. Oh, my gosh, Wendy, you're still a runner, still running, if slower, still planing half marathons and maybe that wanted full. You can still run!
    As we age, we are compelled to adjust to our new reality (and you know I have more than ten years on you so believe me). It's so disappointing not to be able to do as much as we did before, but we are not quitters. We are adjusters. We carry on.
    You're a hero; not perfect, none of us is, with our idiosyncrasies, our foibles, but real heroes are fully human. And we all have better angels that lift us up.
    Keep up the good work and have fun. We all love you.
    It so good to read that Becky had the right words (doesn't she always?) to lift the burden from your shoulders.
    P.S. A good long sob is so cathartic, isn't it?

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    1. I think the cry was way overdue. It's funny how long it took. I feel much more at peace since Thursday. I may not like my new reality, but I've accepted it.

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  2. Sometimes we all need a good ugly cry. I wish there was something I could do or say to help, but I know there are no words. Just know you are loved and we are all supporting you!

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    1. I so appreciate your support! That's all I need.

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  3. Congrats on the Tailwind feature - that's so awesome! I would love to try it so I'll send you an email :) I'm sorry to hear that you had a hard week :( I cannot imagine how frustrating it must be for you, but I know that you are one determined cookie so I have no doubt that you are going to rise above all of this!

    That's so sweet that Marcia and MaryBeth sent you flowers - what amazing friends!!!

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    1. Please send me your address so I can get the Tailwind out to you. I can tell you how much my Tailwind is helping me through these tough runs!

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  4. I am trying to think of something to say to make you feel better but sometimes just saying, wow this really does suck is what you need to hear. I can only imagine how truly frustrating this must be to you. You are still a runner and a warrior and your RA will never take that away. It might force you to alter things a little but there is always another path to take. On another note, I tried tailwind once and found it so incredibly salty! Perhaps I need to try it again or try another flavor. I'd love to use something like that on my bike/run combos

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    1. I have friends who take salt pills on the run, so apparently we need that much salt? The saltiness isn't so noticeable to me. It's probably a matter of taste. Let me know if you want to try it again.

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  5. Wow! It must be so hard for each day to be such a struggle, not knowing what the next run will bring but you seem to be dealing with it and adjusting well. A good ugly cry is part of that. Our running life changes all the time for different reasons, but like you, most of us still find a way to run. You are still figuring it all out. You can still accomplish your goals, you may just have to change up the training a bit. Its good to have support and people that you can turn to who knows what it means to be a runner and to face these kind of challenges. I wish you the best!!

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    1. I guess I just feel a little blindsided by all of this--it has happened so fast. Like you said, I'm still figuring it out. The run/walk intervals have been surprisingly satisfying.

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  6. Your paragraph about all the things that running has helped you through is so spot on. Its like we learn to use something good and positive to help us through the tough times, so when that gets taken away it just doesn't seem fair. I like Becky's perspective of helping you see that its not that you are choosing to give up, its that your body is telling you to take a break. I still really hope that things turn around and you can get back to where you want to be- and I am hopeful that it will happen.

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    1. I'm with you--I keep holding out for a miracle but actually, re-reading this, I'm pretty darned grateful that I still get to run, even if it isn't the way I want to.

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  7. Last year I made the decision to not run the Honolulu Marathon. Your kind and wise words to me were, "You must have known that this wasn't your time to run this race...you have to trust the gut! There will always be more marathons. For now, just run for fun!" Be kind to yourself and know that no one here will judge you if you decide to take a break.

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    1. My gut has been speaking volumes to me about my marathon. While I haven't officially made the decision to DNS, as the date draws closer, the chances of me lining up are starting to dwindle. I keep holding out for a miracle, tho!

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  8. Oh Wendy....You are a force to be reckoned with, Girlfriend. RA picked the wrong gal to mess with...stay strong and know your cheerleaders are here with you ;-)

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    1. Kimberly, a perfect description of our Wendy. She is, indeed.

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    2. If it weren't for all you--I doubt I'd be feeling so positive right now!

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  9. I can't pretend to know what you're going through. I am sorry that RA has taken away running fast . . . for now. Hopefully not forever.

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    1. RA tried to take away running totally, but I found a work-around. Those run/walk intervals are going to keep me moving!

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  10. You are an amazing runner! Don't ever forget that! And don't let this RA thing make you believe otherwise.

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    1. This weekend, I started to believe it again. Thank you.

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  11. I think you're doing great. Whine all you want. We are hear to listen. Love ya!

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  12. Sometimes you just need a good cry. And a shoulder to lean on and vent to - I'm so glad you have Becky for that; plus of course all your internet friends. :)

    Did you ever get an answer from your doctor regarding the meds and their side effects? It's so odd, your running fatigue - it almost sounds like what happens when you go off of taking prednisone. I just wish you felt better.

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    1. She and others who have RA tell me that fatigue affects 90% of patients with RA. And yes, I took my last dose of methylprednisolone last Monday. Coincidence? I think not.

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  13. Cheering for you from south Mississippi. I'm so sorry for what you are going through. I cannot relate to RA but with MVP (Mitral Valve Prolapse) even stress or coffee can knock my heart out of rhythm. I can relate to anxiety too. I wish there was no such thing! I hope this week is better for you.

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    1. Anxiety is an old friend and I do really well with it now. But the sadness and the fatigue are new for me and that will be something else I have to learn to live with.

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  14. So sorry this was such a tough week. Life definitely dishes up sh*! sometimes. That said, I think you're going to find a way to roll with this and run the way you can. There's no shame in slow and steady. xoxo

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    1. I have to thank you for all your support and guidance, particularly this past week. You have gone above and beyond with your advice and have been so patient with me as I struggled. I couldn't get through this without my friends. XOXO

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  15. I'm so impressed and inspired by all the support you are getting - and count me in as one of your cheerleaders with a shoulder to cry on and high tolerance for cursing if you need it. :-)

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    1. I'm so stunned and humbled by all the love and support I've gotten from my friends. It makes the journey so much more tolerable! <3

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  16. Love your pic in the tailwind newsletter... I'm so sorry about all this RAvstuff going on, but you are out there doing your thing everyday... I personally am a huge fan of the run/walk intervals... people run entire marathons that way!

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    1. I've never done them, but I reflected on my advice that I always give newbie runners--"there's no shame in walking". Do as I do, not as I say? I'm really happy I started the intervals. This is going to keep me moving.

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  17. Sorry to hear what you are going through. We are here for you!

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  18. Oh my gosh those flowers are beautiful. Those ladies are so thoughtful. Great job on your 11 miler.

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    1. It was such an amazing surprise! Talk about timing.

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  19. I like what Connie said about being an adjuster, not a quitter. I'm going to remember that one! It's so true and so powerful. I'm so glad you had and still have running to help you cope, and man I am so happy to hear that you have such great friends who are so loving and supportive. I'm really glad to have found you, and I wish I had found you sooner. Your strength and tenacity inspire me more than you'll ever know.

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    1. I think part of what is so hard for me would be giving up running--not for the miles, but for all the relationships I've forged through this blog. Because of that, I won't stop running.

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  20. I'm sorry it was such a tough week. You are fierce Wendy and I so admire how you dig in and keep going.

    Congrats on the Tailwind feature! Have I ever told you that I started using Tailwind after reading about how much you liked it?

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    1. Glad to hear it! I've been appreciating it even more now that it takes me forever to finish a run!

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  21. So cool you were featured in the Tailwind newsletter! Great job on your 11 miles! Nice that the run walk intervals are helping. You are so strong and not a quitter!

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    1. That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

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  22. sending so so so much love and many gentle hugs your way.
    Your honestly is so raw and really refreshing and I ADORE the fact you allow us in and receive everyone's <3 <3

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    1. I love that you all read it--altho I think it may be too much for some people. I have a big personality...

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  23. I'm focusing on teh positive--and you know that I am always here. xoxox

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    1. I really appreciate your texts yesterday--it's great to bounce stuff off of you. I'm here for you too and you know that. #parallellives

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  24. SO happy to hear that the interval running is going well. My heart tugged at your description of what running means to you. I KNOW what you are saying. My body isn't in the same place it was a couple of years ago and as much as I miss the type of running I was doing then, I'm so thankful for what I can still do now. I'm hanging on to it for dear life too ;)

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    1. After Sunday, I was so overcome by gratitude that I was able to run that distance. It may have been slower than I'm used to but it was all me. Glad so many of you get it!

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  25. Oh Wendy... I'd ugly cry too. Sometimes life is so unfair and so hard. I am so sorry this is happening to you. It really sucks.
    Even with your set backs, I am so impressed with your ability to try to keep running. Remember that you can only do what you can do and this is not your fault! Quitting under these circumstances is not failure either.
    Stay strong!!! xoxo

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    1. I'm afraid if I stop, I won't be able to come back. So I will push on, slowly...

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  26. Slow and steady wins the race... I am confident you will not allow RA to steal your joy. You will figure this out! Those flowers are so pretty and the sweetest gesture. I love that skirt you wore on your long run. It looks like denim. I can't wait to run with you, no matter what the speed. Thanks for linking, Wendy!

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    1. I am in love with my new InknBurn gear. It's all about dressing for the job you want, right?

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  27. You will make the right decision. And, it's absolutely ok to ugly cry. This time last year, you were giving me advice about my first marathon when I was injured. Continue to stay strong and you will prevail and there is absolutely nothing wrong with 10 min miles. :) with the run/walk method. Grandam's is a great course for that!

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    1. That's what I hear! I'm holding out for a miracle...

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  28. How wonderful that your friend sent you those lovely flowers just at the right time, too! I am sure you will get it figured out.

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    1. Only time will tell how it all plays out.

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  29. It's amazing what running can do for you mind, body and soul.

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    1. That's why I don't want to give it up!

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  30. Awesome on the Tailwind feature- that came at a nice time! Keep your head up and those running shoes on- I know it is all going to come together! Love ya- XXOO

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  31. I'm glad that your runs went better than they have recently and that the intervals are working. I know it must be so humbling to have running become more challenging with RA but you are still an amazing athlete and so strong! So sweet of the gals to send you flowers. I hope you're feeling better!!

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    1. So humbling and that is the exact word I used when I was describing it to a friend.

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  32. I hope that using intervals will help make your running feel a bit easier. I have consistently only used intervals since I started running, and credit the intervals to my ability to be successful as a runner. Hopefully those short walk breaks will help you in building your endurance back up.

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    1. The intervals are helping a ton. I was thrilled to be able to do 11 miles yesterday and so consistently!

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  33. Yes you are still a runner! Ugly cries are sometimes needed. It sounds like you're still having success at lifting, and you are stronger than your mind says so. I have to keep telling myself these things with my knee, but you can do it!

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    1. Yep, I'm so surprised that some things are still relatively easy! It's the running that's throwing me for a loop. We'll see how intervals go tomorrow.

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  34. Every day you get out there shows the fight that you have - and you could be talking to me as I went through Crohns...I was able to run one 12/mile (if lucky) at a time before needing the bathroom but I just kept going for my sanity. I hope that as you work your way in time away from diagnosis you are able to regain some of the endurance. Chronic illness can be so humbling. From personal experience I find that having that good cry you've been holding in can help. Sending lots of hugs your way, you are SO STRONG.

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    1. Janelle used the word humbling as well (above) and that is the perfect word to describe how running feels right now. RA has completely humbled me. Time to find my footing again and cautiously move forward.

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  35. Those are the sweetest friends!

    So know what I think? I think you're ready to be a trail runner, girlfriend! Trail running is a WHOLE different ballgame. You WALK up hills! And you get to run/walk at your pleasure. Most ultra runners hike a lot of the time, not run. Maybe this is your body's way of telling you Tailwind knew something you didn't... ;)

    Regardless, just keep moving. You'll go into remission and be able to run like yourself again.

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    1. I'd love to be a trail runner. I just need to move--trails are pretty few and far between around here! But yes!

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  36. You know, that trail running suggestion isn't a bad one! I bet you would love it!

    I know you are discouraged and down, and it's unfair. However, cliche as it sounds, you are staying so strong and you will emerge from this. I love how much of a positive force Becky has been for you. She is helping you stay the course without allowing you to do damage. That's invaluable. <3

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    1. She's pretty amazing. Even though I'm dropping off the marathon plan, she's still going to train me. Because why not?

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  37. Nice recap. I agree that if you didn't run Grandma's it wouldn't be bailing. You are definitely not the personality type to ever back off of a challenge. It would be because you were making a decision for your body. Hopefully you will come to some clarity over the next few weeks. Good to hear that you are doing well with the run/walks. :-)

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    1. I think you have me figured out. That difficulty backing away from a challenge has served me well, but it's my downfall. I'm smart enough to know that this time, I have to let my body tell me what to do. Pretty sure I already know.

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  38. Wow. This is some post Wendy. It's not easy to be that honest and "raw". You deserve major credit for that.
    I can totally understand how much this condition scares you. As avid runners, when something threatens our ability to run then it certainly is time to panic!!
    I felt like this over the last few months with my foot pain. I cancelled my March marathon for that reason. I was so terrified that I would get injured and lose the ability to run every day!! Running shaped our lives so much, the thought of it being compromised is terrifying. I can totally understand that this made you angry, sad, disappointed and scared. Take it easy my friend. Don't push so much onto yourself. If it's not that marathon then it will be another one, maybe in 6 months, it doesn't matter. Sometimes our go-go-go personalities can actually work against us, too.
    Love that Tailwind feature!!

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    1. I'm so much better after that meltdown and my successful 11 miler. As long as I can keep moving, even if it's slow, I'll be ok. I think I"m at the point where I finally believe that.

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  39. You have a giant team of supporters cheering you on! Continue to kick booty and take care of yourself. You are the best thing that you have!

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    1. Well, yes, that's true! :p I swear if it wasn't for this community, I'd have given up long ago. Thankful for runners!

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  40. I've said this before, Becky seems to be so good for you! I enjoy it when my trainer does the workouts with me too. We got to talking and all and you don't seem to mind the hard stuff!
    I too may not tell you often enough but you have been on my mind, I pray for you and all your dealing with this RA mess. I do think you are way bigger than it is and you'll get over this down period. Chin up and I'm sending you virtual hugs my friend! I sure hope you can feel them.

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    1. I sure appreciate all the thoughts and prayers. I have had a lot of trials in my life and running has always been there for me. I swear, more than any man or any friend. Now that I'm struggling with running, I'm super grateful for the friends I've gained through running. I agree with you--I will get past this. Thank you, my friend. Love you.

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