Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

Hi, everyone! Welcome to the Weekly Wrap. No, you aren't at the wrong blog. Holly and Tricia, who normally host the Weekly Wrap, are taking a little bit of a break from hosting duties. While they take a little time off, the Weekly Wrap will be rotating among guest hosts. This week, I'm your guest host and if this is your first time visiting my blog, welcome and I hope it won't be your last! If you are interested in being a guest host for the Weekly Wrap, please let Tricia or Holly know and they will fill you in on the details.

If you are new to the Weekly Wrap, the rules are here. Please comment on as many blogs as you can. Don't forget to comment on the guest host's blog and link back to them too! My motto over here is "sharing is caring". Don't just drop a link and leave. You might find a few new blogs or even make some new friends! Come back during the week to check out some of the later links, too!

So how was the week?

Spring in Chicago is not for wimpy. The standing joke here is "if you don't like the weather, wait and it will change". We also joke that we can experience all 4 seasons in one day. As a lifelong resident and longtime runner, I've learned to be prepared for anything. We went from summer to winter this week. I'm not exaggerating. It was 85 on Wednesday and 45 on Thursday. I use this as an excuse to have an expansive running wardrobe. 

I filled every bit of my last week before I go back to work to wrap up some loose ends. It was busy and productive, but that's a good sign, right? It means that I'm heading in the right direction!



The early part of the week was remarkable for the warm and windy weather. It was beautiful and the warmth was welcome, but it's always a challenge to go from running in cool conditions to running in the heat! On Tuesday we hit 87 degrees. I was up for the challenge and the run/walk intervals made it much easier than I expected. I'm loathed to admit it, but I'm kind of enjoying these run/walk intervals. What does that say about me? Am I going soft? Is my edge gone? Is RA mellowing me? What kind of runner am I?

Who me, mellow?
No worries. Validation came on Thursday's run, which was one of my fastest in months! I even eliminated a few walk intervals. In the interest of full disclosure, I will say that I did that when I had a very strong tailwind. This was the first time I've run a full mile without stopping in several months. But what was equally rewarding was that I kept a strong pace, even running into that wind. Is it possible that my endurance is coming back?

The answer is yes. I saw my rheumatologist on Thursday for my 3 month follow up. We reviewed my blood work and my symptoms. Everything is markedly improving, which means that the medications are working. Finally, I can see the light at the end of this very long tunnel. The plan is to continue on the same regimen for now and re-evaluate in another 3 months. I'm going back to work on Monday. I'm very grateful for this relentless forward progress. This may be my new mantra!

I also saw Becky on Thursday and we took our session outside. I noticed that I didn't get gassed as often during the activities. In fact, Steph and I were pretty even throughout everything we did. We pushed the prowler, carried sandbags, did box lunges, and wall ball squats.


I woke up on Friday with really sore glutes. Because I went to a sports medicine conference on Wednesday, I swapped out rest days this week and went to yoga. That yoga class was more challenging than usual. Now I know why Becky has me take the day after CrossFit as a rest day.

This was from Sunday's run
Then there was Saturday's run. I checked the weather forecast and rain was predicted. Although I use multiple weather apps, my favorite is Accuweather. There is a feature called "minutecast" which predicts the arrival and departure of rain to the minute. What runner doesn't need that? When I checked it, there was a predicted 81 minute window before the rain came. I finished up my coffee, got ready to run, and headed out into the cold, raw morning for my planned 4 mile run. My legs felt surprisingly light and when my Garmin alarmed the first walk interval, I decided to bypass it and keep running. And so it went for the entire run. I never stopped to walk. At the end of each mile, I glanced at my Garmin and when I saw my splits, I was stunned. Since I bought myself some more rain-free time with my speedy pace, I changed my planned distance to 5 miles and kept on going. I finished my run in 42:27, which was an average of 8:29m/m. My fastest mile was my last mile, with an 8:23m/m pace. Regular readers know that is my "normal" pre-RA pace. I haven't seen splits like that for several months. As you can imagine, I was ecstatic!

Oh, and by the way, it rained as soon as I walked into my house. Thanks to that app, my timing was impeccable!


Sunday's long run was another walk interval-free run. I set out to do 7-8 miles and held back my pace to 9m/m. My knees were a little achy and I promised myself I'd put the intervals back in if I needed them. I only stopped a couple of times--to use the bathroom, for water, my picture, and red lights. I ran into the wind on my way back and that was a struggle. What is with the wind this spring? While I wanted to stop to walk, I didn't and I finished up this run exactly where I wanted it, 8 miles/1:12:12 (8:58m/m).

The best way for me to sum up this week is one of validation. The diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis has been really difficult for me. I have been so frustrated as I struggle with my loss of fitness and endurance. I learned how truly important running and strength is to me and how I view myself. I had to deal with feelings of "why me" yet defend my need to keep moving to people who don't get it. I've gotten all kinds of advice and while I appreciated every single suggestion, I had to learn what works for me. There have been a lot of changes in my life since my diagnosis. The one thing that didn't change is my determination and will to keep pushing on. I have kept on running even on those days where I felt like crap and wanted to quit. I've learned to read my body's signals and if it's not a good day, I've utilized run/walk intervals to keep me moving. I know that even though today I'm feeling really good, RA is a jerk and the rug can be pulled out from me at any time. Silver lining: I've learned to really appreciate the good days and respect what my body can do.

That light at the end of the tunnel? I'm running towards it. Relentless forward progress.

An InLinkz Link-up

122 comments :

  1. I'm so glad you have an awesome "rally back" week! Long overdue, huh ;-)

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    1. I wasn't expecting it to happen so soon--but yes, I think it's overdue. I do believe things happen for a reason and maybe this was RA's way of making me explore other options so I can keep moving even through a flare.

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  2. How fabulous that your endurance is coming back! You looked so happy this week. Yes you have to have an extensive workout wardrobe bc you just never know and you have to look cute too! How fun to be the guest host this week!

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    1. It's so funny--when you don't feel well, you don't really realize it until you're better. I felt so great this week. The fatigue is gone, which truly was the worst symptom. I'm still having aching in my joints. But I can deal with that. I'm a runner, after all, and pain is the game...

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  3. So glad you had good runs this week and you are improving! As much as I have been trying to enjoy the run/walks I really prefer to just run non-stop.
    We had opposite weather from you guys last week- it went from 50 to 90 in Baltimore. Then I flew to Cleveland and it was 50 yesterday. I can't keep up.

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    1. I am so with you--I would always rather run. But the run/walks were great. They got me through that half marathon, and with a good finish time too. I'm sure I'll be utilizing them pretty often!

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  4. I am ecstatic for you ready this, dear Wendy. That is all. (Insert love emoticon here).

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    1. I'm happy for you! I hope you'll keep on going, Connie. Look at what you can do when you put your mind to it!

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  5. So awesome that you are guest hosting the weekly wrap link up this week. Thanks so much!

    I'm super happy that you had a great week of running! It's such a great feeling when you have good runs.

    The weather here was insane this week. In was almost 90 degrees Wed/Thursday and 50 degrees w/ a little rain during my race yesterday. This upcoming week is calling for mostly rain. Mother Nature is definitely having an identity crisis!

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    1. This has to be the strangest spring we've ever had!

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  6. Love, love, love that you had a good week! Here's to many more to come!

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  7. Our weather swapped with yours - we were in the 40s earlier this week and hit 90 yesterday and today. I am SO happy for you that you had such a fabulous week and that your doctor validated your progress. Onward!

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  8. Oh wow, I've not ready your blog for a while and it's so great to come back and read about your fantastic week. So glad for you.

    I might have to download that weather app, not just for running but for walking my dog too!

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    1. It's good to have that technology available!

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  9. Yay for a great week of running. Fingers crossed that the meds keep you feeling and running well.

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  10. Man, you are not kidding with this weather! Mother Nature likes to mess with you.

    I am happy to hear about your great runs this week. Let's hope you have many more in the future.

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    1. I'm optimistic but I'm also realistic--I know there will be tough weeks. I'm so glad I have those run/walk intervals in my back pocket!

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  11. That's so great to hear you are starting to see some improvements with your running and RA! It's starting to warm up here which I'm loving!

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    1. It was warming up here...until it wasn't...

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  12. There is nothing like the feeling of coming back strong from an illness -- I realize that this will be a roller coaster ride for you, no doubt, but it's also one where I can just see you riding it with your hands up in the air more often than not. Because that's just your personality.

    As to weather, I've lived in 4 different states (and 3 different cities in this state). Trust me when I say that aside from HI & maybe CA, it's like that everywhere. Even TX had wild weather swings -- although I can tell you that from about now until Oct it will be hot & humid there with a chance of thunderstorms. :)

    Someday hopefully I'll add a 5th state!

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    1. Where's your favorite place to live so far?

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  13. This is great news Wendy! I hope you continue to make progress! I need to get that weather app. I love the feeling of outrunning a storm!

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    1. I loved that I didn't get caught in the rain!

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  14. Very glad to hear you are making progress! The days where running feels effortless are priceless :) You earned that day! It is always hard to go though changes we can't control.
    We didn't have much Spring here, it has been summer for awhile lol I have a love/hate with intervals but they do work :) Keep on keeping on!

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    1. You guys have really had a hot spring! I'd be happy with some of that heat. This weather is wearing on me!

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  15. YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY for improvement! Chronic illnesses suck because they require so much patience. (and patients. I had to) Meanwhile, you just want to move on. I feel you, lady.
    WOO!

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    1. I know you get me! This week was fantastic. I hope to have a few more good ones!

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  16. I am so glad you can see improvements finally. I know what a long road it can be to get all the medicine stuff figured out.

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    1. I know you get it. It feels good to get things under control. I don't think I'll ever be able to relax tho!

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  17. What a fantastic week! I love your jumping pics so much. :)

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    1. I had plenty of energy to get up off the ground this week!

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  18. Fun post! That app sounds amazing- I can't tell you how often I lace up and step outside just to be rained on immediately! This will be my new thing for sure!

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    1. It's been really helpful for our rainy spring!

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  19. I am so very happy for you! I've been cheering for you from Mississippi since you first wrote about your RA diagnosis! You are one tough cookie and keep showing RA who is boss! You are an inspiration to me!

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    1. I can hear those cheers! Thank you Katie!

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  20. Your weather sounds like mine in Oklahoma! We can have all 4 seasons in one day too! I like the excuse to have a huge running wardrobe. I love run/walk intervals, especially in the summer when it’s soooo hot. I love your picture from Sunday’s run! Thanks for hosting this week and have a great week!

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    1. I think those run/walk intervals are going to be perfect for when I run RnR Chicago in July!

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  21. So awesome to hear that you had great runs! Glad things are working out! You are amazing and it's great you're doing your thing!

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    1. Thank you! I'm happy, as you can imagine!

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  22. I love your street workout! I used to workout in our driveway just because being outside is better than inside.

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    1. Becky always takes us outside when it's warm! The place has some big garage doors and they just open them up. You are right, it sure beats being inside!

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  23. We got your wonky weather. It was 40 degrees with buckets of rain on Sunday and Monday last week. Tuesday it was blazing sun and 100 degrees. I'm glad to see you aren't giving RA an inch. Keep doing your thing Wendy!

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  24. THREEEEE CHEERS for things improving. Makes me so very happy to see.

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  25. YESSSSSSS!!!! I'm so, so happy to read this and I can feel your excitement and hope on the page!!! I could not be happier that you are finally seeing some progress and actually feeling strong on your runs and in your strength sessions. And now I'm downloading that app because YES I need to know minute by minute what is happening out there. CT basically has the same ridiculous weather as Chicago!

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    1. That app is so handy when the weather is tricky. I've never used it as much as I have this spring.

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  26. Yet another metaphor for life in general. It ebbs and flows and it's up to use to figure out how to make the most of it. Love your last paragraph. Love that you're figuring it all out. Super love that you had a great week! Here's to many more to come!

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    1. My doctor actually used this phrase in the office when I saw her last week. She says she can always see the light at the end of the tunnel, even if we (patients) can't. Here's to hoping that we've tamed the beast. At least for a while!

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  27. So glad you had a good week! Hopefully you will have more ups than downs. Thanks for hosting the Weekly Wrap!

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  28. Congratulations! That must have been such a great feeling to finally feel like you're improving! And I feel you on the walk/run intervals. 2 weeks ago, I ran my first full mile since my back injury and am now running mile segments with walks in between. They're still SLOW though...ugh. Injuries are the worst.

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    1. Yay! I"m so glad to hear you're moving too! Those run/walk intervals are a lifesaver.

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  29. So glad you are still able to run and improving. Speaking of Chicago, last week a lady who is moving here from Chicago came out to run with us and learn more about Charleston. We told her to go ahead and sell all her winter clothes up there because you don't need them here- it's just hot.

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    1. Does it ever get cold there? I loved Charleston! But I hear the humidity in the summer is just oppressive!

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  30. Really happy to hear you're feeling so much better! Yay for modern medicine and things going right for a change!!! :)

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    1. Yay for modern medicine and good insurance! Yes, I feel like I'm heading in the right direction.

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  31. Ahhhh this post makes me so happy. What an emotional rollercoaster you must feel like you're on right now! You're handling it so well and man am I ever happy to hear that this past week was better for you.

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    1. You aren't kidding about that roller coaster! I'm hanging on for dear life.

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  32. So happy to hear that things are looking up. You deserve. You work so hard. You are my inspiration!

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    1. You're my inspiration! I hope to be as fast as you when I grow up.

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  33. I got rid of the weather app that came with my phone, and downloaded the Accuweather one. I like that it says what to expect, and in how many minutes. The weather's been super crazy the past couple of weeks, and hopefully that'll help me get a run in before or after stuff happens.

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    1. I need an app that gives me info I can use and Accuweather does that!

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  34. Woo hoo! Great news all the way around!

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    1. I was pretty happy to have that speed again!

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  35. The weather here on the East coast has been crazy as well. We went from the 90s down into the 60s. At one point my phone told me that the next day would 23 degree cooler than that day. That's crazy to me. But the cooler weather definitely made the runs more enjoyable. While this is my first time reading your blog, your post just made me so happy - I could feel your excitement with your runs! It's so nice to hear when other people have good runs - it motivates me and makes me want to have a good run as well!

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    1. This was a good week for me to guest host--it was fun to have some of my speed return! I hope it sticks around. It's pretty fun to run fast. Thanks for stopping by!

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  36. Congrats on your runs this week! Sometimes (health or otherwise) we get into running/fitness slumps and it's always nice when we seem to turn the corner! I totally appreciate that! Hopefully it sticks around!

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    1. From your lips to God's ears! This was a really great week and a turning point for me.

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  37. Thank you so much for mentioning the Accuweather app! I'm going to try it right now!

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    1. It's definitely my favorite weather app, altho I have a few on my phone. I'm so pathetic...

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  38. I cannot say that I relate to your crazy weather. I'm in the southeast on the coast and it's just hot. And humid. Sometimes it rains. And then gets more hot and humid. :-)

    I'm sorry you've been struggling with your diagnosis, but I'm really glad you had a good week this week. Illness is so hard to deal with for anyone, but when you're used to running and being active, having that become hard or completely unavailable is just so difficult. But yay for your fastest run in months!

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    1. Yep! I'm hoping the struggles are behind me. I just keep pushing on. I actually think being active is a good thing in this case. I just can't stop moving.

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  39. That's amazing!! I am so glad to see you are finding a way to continue to make it work for you.

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  40. Ok, I need that weather app! How neat! Great job this week!! :)

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  41. So happy you can see the light. You had a very productive week! I love those. I hope your transition back to work goes smoothly.

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  42. Yay! Glad to read you had a good week! I hope you can keep riding this feel-good train.
    I think I say this every year but the spring weather always throws me for a loop. Last weekend I rode my bike in like 75+ degree weather and got sunburned and this weekend I was freezing with a vest and arm warmers!

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    1. I feel like this spring has been such a roller coaster! If we could just move forward into summer, that would be great!

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  43. Hi Wendy!!! I'm so glad you are finally seeing the light! Sunday's run sounded incredible!!! Hope going back to work goes well too.

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    1. This weekend's runs were great! I'm hoping that I continue to feel this well.

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  44. Sounds like a great week! And I hadn't heard of accuweather or minute cast before, that sounds really useful to runners :) I'll have to look into it this weekend.

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  45. It is coming together for you. Take that RA! Holly would have me do my slow HR runs after my leg days and I found that I could sneak in an easy run if I did it early but I did need the day to rest after it! Resting after crossfit would be essential!
    I use Weather Underground app for weather and it has a hourly rain prediction too it is quite nice trying to plan runs. We have to sometimes get all techy to make a run happen don't we!
    Thanks so much for agreeing to host this weeks Weekly Wrap. I think we all need a re-set every so often!

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    1. After going back to work today, I realized exactly how great it was to have my "reset". 5 weeks off was really nice. I was ready.

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  46. So happy to read this post and that everything is coming together for you!!

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    1. Thank you! I'm hoping to continue on this path!

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  47. Oh wow - do i NOT miss the prowler haha

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    1. I actually kind of like it...but don't tell my coach!

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  48. I'm so happy to hear that your paces are getting back to where they were, AND that you feel good running at those paces!

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  49. Love this so much! Starting to feel like yourself and coming out the other side is amazing, I know how good that feels!

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    1. I know you do! I love that you get it! I know this isn't the end of this journey, but it sure feels good to know that I'm still in there.

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  50. WOW! brilliant week Wendy!!! so happy for you!

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  51. I'm so glad you're symptoms are improving! I feel your pain with the crazy weather. Nebraska has been the same, but it's better than Holly's unrelenting heat and humidity right?

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    1. I can't decide which weather I'd prefer! This has not been our best spring, for sure.

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  52. WOW you ended the week like a champ! Love it that things are starting to gel and move forward- I knew it would! I hope this week back to work goes just as well as your running week did, keep smiling!

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  53. Oh, Wendy, how amazing! I'm so glad to hear this! I hope everything continues in a positive direction!

    It's been very windy here, too. Has been for months. I don't understand where it's coming from or why, but it can definitely make things challenging when running or biking.

    I think the heat is here to stay for us. That means crazy early mornings for running before the sun comes up, without fail. It's definitely hard to stay motivated for that, but we do the best we can.

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    1. What is up with the wind? It's super windy again today. Crazy, crazy weather.

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  54. Yay!! So glad you've been having really good runs Wendy! I think I first noticed on Strava and thought yes, she's back. You are amazing and love your determination!

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    1. Thank you! I'm not giving up yet. This past weekend was so empowering!

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  55. Hello Wendy! Happy to have you as our guest Weekly Wrap host this week. I'm so glad that your RA tests showed improvement. That is wonderful!

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    1. Thank you!!! And I'm so glad you stopped by my blog!

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  56. Relentless Forward Progress ....needs to be on a Momentum motivation wrap!! I'm so stinking happy for you Wendy! You persevered and that light at the end of the tunnel is brighter and tastes even sweeter! Hugs!

    Oh and by the way ....you are a great Weekly Wrap hostess!! :)

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    1. How did you know? I already ordered my Momentum wrap... :p

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  57. I love everything about this, my friend! RFP conquers RA! My favorite weather app is Wunderground, although I have three others on my phone. I sincerely thank you for being our inaugural guest host this week!

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  58. I'm so glad that your checkup went well and you are feeling more like yourself! One thing I definitely know about you is that you don't give up! So happy to hear you're doing better :)

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  59. Great news from the rheumatologist! One of those thank goodness for modern medicine moments.

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  60. Your and Becky's outdoor strength training session looks super hard core! I'm glad that you're doing better and I always love your photos - such creative shots. Hang in there with the crazy weather. Northern MN sounds similar to Chicago! We just can't decide... put away the winter coats, hats and boots or just keep them out year round?!

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    1. I sure hope we get to put those coats away for a while! Altho last week I went to the Cubs game and had to wear my North Face...

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