Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Race Recap: Jingle Bell Run 5k

When I last saw my rheumatologist in September, she told me about the team she was forming for the Jingle Bell 5k Run for Arthritis. She wanted me to run on her team. This year, she was named the medical honoree. Of course, I agreed! This was so important to me because the date of the race also happened to be my one year anniversary of my diagnosis with RA.

I recruited my youngest son and his girlfriend to join me--no one else wanted to make the trek into the city for a 5k--and we made our way to Soldier Field on a cold, snowy, windy morning.


We parked in the North Garage at Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears, and made our way to the United Center, which is a club for fans to hang out before or during the game. My rheumatologist had made arrangements to pick up all of our packets and gave them to us when we arrived. Along with the race swag, we had custom hats with the name of our team, the Jolly Joints, embroidered on them.

The area was set up with different stations where participants could go meet the sponsors of the race. They had activities for kids and Santa and Mrs. Claus were there.


Shortly before 9 am, everyone headed outside into the cold for the race. Matthew, Diana, and I lined up fairly close to the front to avoid the walkers. I started my Garmin and turned on my headphones-or so I thought. We were off!

Even though this wasn't a huge race, there was still some weaving through the slower racers for the first 1/4 mile or so. One kid wiped out on the icy surface, but he recovered quickly and got right back up. Meanwhile, I was distressed that my music didn't seem to be working. I considered stopping to fix it but come on man! it was only a 5k! I decided to just suck it up and run without music.

That made it kind of interesting. As I ran along, I could hear conversations and then there was a guy breathing funny. He sounded like the little engine that could--no words, just that breath pattern: "I think I can, I think I can", trying to get his motor running. I pushed my pace a little to get ahead of him so I didn't have to listen to that.

I had planned to use 9:1 run/walk intervals, but I felt so good that I decided to skip the intervals and use a walk interval only if I needed it. My son caught up to me and passed me during the first mile. I wondered how Diana was doing. I could see my son up ahead and at the turnaround, we high fived each other.

But oh, the wind out of the north on the way back was brutal. I kept my steady pace and at mile 2, passed my son, who was walking. I tried to get him to start running again, but he told me he couldn't feel his legs! I started passing a lot of people at this point. I also started to feel kind of sick, and I decided that if I were to vomit, I'd just keep on going. Fortunately, that didn't happen, and I crossed the finish line at 26:20.





Wow. I wasn't expecting that!

I waited for my son and his girlfriend to come in. There was a guy yelling very loudly to "come and get your participant medal". It was pretty obnoxious. Once I got my participant medal (I've never gotten one for a 5k before), I walked over to the side of the path where I stood next to a guy who was vomiting into the snow. There but by the grace of God...

Matthew came in about a minute or so after me. He told me that he had trouble breathing and had to use his inhaler. I asked him about his legs and he thought it was because he wasn't used to running "so far". He looked so good out there--he has such a natural stride! Someday, maybe...


Diana finished a few minutes after Matthew. She looked a little peaked, so after we all grabbed food and drinks from the amazing finish line spread, we walked back to Soldier Field to get inside and warm up. As we walked inside, I could tell she wasn't feeling well. We sat down so everyone could recover.


After everyone finished, the ceremony started. They presented awards to 3 honorees, a young and older patient with RA and my rheumatologist. There were awards for the biggest fundraisers. Then the race awards were given. Diana was surprised to find out that she took first place in her age group! I was so happy for her, and that award really seemed to perk her up.

AG winners!
We stopped to eat before we headed home, fortuitously finding a parking spot on the street a block away from Frontera Grill. They were serving brunch and we were seated at the last table. Meant to be? The food was, as always, incredible. If you ever visit Chicago, I highly recommend visiting this iconic restaurant which is owned by Rick Bayless. What a treat!

This is a pretty long recap for a 5k, but this race was really special for me. Not only was it my anniversary of my diagnosis, but running this 5k showed me how far I have come this year. I am so grateful to my rheumatologist, not only for her medical care but also for her amazing bedside manner. I ran this race for her, to show her what a difference she has made for me. I have learned so much about myself this year and while it would be so easy to let RA win, I'm not going to do that. But I'm also not going to fight myself when I'm not feeling good. I am learning (it's a process) to roll with this disease. While physically, I am still capable of doing great things on the road, I am more fatigued than I've ever been and so I am learning to pace myself.

Dr Arnold and me

Speaking of pacing, here are my splits: 8:27, 8:26, 8:33 (8:10 for that last 100 yards). I am so pleased with my nice, even pacing. Could the run/walk intervals be helping me with that? Another RA victory, one year ago, I couldn't even run a mile without stopping.

Yep, Marcia, it's still in me!


I'm linking this post with Marcia, Erika, and Patti for Tuesdays on the Run and Debbie, Rachel, and Lora for Coaches' Corner.



68 comments :

  1. Awesome race, Wendy! And so special to have an awesome race when it's so meaningful, too. And hey, you also beat the younguns. Just sayin'.

    I was going to do our local one with a friend, but in the end she couldn't, and I had friends to run "long" with.

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    1. Well, I did think about that...my son wasn't too happy about it!

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  2. Congrats on your Age Group Award! See you still got it! My mom and I also hung our medals up on the tree from our holiday race we placed.

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    1. I was really happy about this race for so many reasons--RA or not, that was a good finish time!

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  3. Congrats on your age group award! It's so awesome that your son and daughter joined you for the race :) Always fun when you can run with family.

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    1. I was so happy they came and ran with me!

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  4. Great way to show RA who's the boss!

    Of course I love Matthew's sweatshirt! He needs to learn how to say, "Hau’oli Makahiki Hou" (Happy New Year) to really impress folks ;)

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    1. He's so funny! He got a lot of comments on that shirt.

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  5. Well done, my friend. WELL DONE. And, how special to share it with Matthew and Diana too. And of course it's still there! I never doubted that.

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    1. You know I did! But you've been there for me along and I am so grateful!

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  6. You and your doctor look like sisters! So happy you had another great race and congrats on the AG win, woohoo!!

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    1. That's a nice complement! She did tell me that she has met her match with me--we're both very intense, type A kind of gals!

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  7. Great job and fantastic splits! :)

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    1. This felt so good! I'll ride this high for a while.

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  8. Awesome! Brunch is a great way to celebrate a race.

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  9. This does sound like a really special race, and your Rheumatologist sounds amazing! Great job with those splits :)

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    1. I am so lucky to have her--she's one of a kind!

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  10. Wow! ;-) This is an amazing finish to a crazy year! high-5's all around! And, those hats! TOO ADORABLE!! If anyone is wanting to make a few bucks, let me know....I may be persuaded to drop some coin for one ;-)

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    1. I don't know if the kids want to give up a hat that reads: "Jolly Joints"!

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  11. Of course it's in you! It'll always be in you. You're finding new way to let it out and that's what counts. Congrats to you and Diana!

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    1. You've been so encouraging this year and I am so grateful!!!!

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  12. I'm glad you had a wonderful race and on such a symbolic day. Congratulations!!

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  13. That's amazing! Your splits look great. It's so neat that you were there to support your Rheumatologist and that you got to race with your family too!

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    1. Thank you! It was a wonderful experience.

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  14. What a great race, and for such special cause! You did awesome and are showing that you do still have that speed in you. Congrats!

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    1. Now my next goal is to do a half without those intervals or with longer intervals. Forward progress is always good.

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  15. Oh, man, Wendy! This makes me smile the biggest smile! Congrats on such a great race for all 3 of you.

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  16. Wendy really there is no stopping you! Not to sound cliche but you inspire me everyday to keep pushing. You really had an amazing year screw that diagnosis. Congrats!

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    1. I'm really feeling strong and I hope that this carries me into another great year! It's funny, but if anything, this diagnosis just made me more determined!

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  17. Oh my word. So I loved this post for so many reasons, 1) The beautiful Christmas colours on all those photos; 2) You jump as you cross the finish line!!! You look amazing! 3) The fact that your son and his girlfriend joined you for this race and fought hard for their medals; 4) The fact that you ran so strong for your 1 year anniversary of diagnosis... wow, wow, wow, on so many levels. I could go on and on. But I will just end by saying, you are an inspirational woman Wendy. Whenever I am down and feeling sorry for myself, I always draw on your strength. You are incredible. Love from Shathiso @ www.thegaboronerunner.com

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    1. This race was such a great way for me to believe how far I've come this year. Running gave me the strength to push through the tough times and I was rewarded for my efforts. I love this sport and what running has done for me throughout the stages of my life. I also love all the people running has brought into my life! Thank you for your kind words and your support. <3

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  18. Congratulations!! What an amazing accomplishment! My 5K goal is to break 40 minutes this year, I am so inspired to eventually break 30!
    Erin - StorybookErin.com

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    1. You can do it! Keep me posted on your progress!

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  19. I'm so happy for you that you had a great race (and a great time!). Yeah, you still got it. I love that Diana won her age group. Nothing like a win to encourage a new runner to continue on.

    I rarely run with music and usually like hearing the conversations and other sounds going on around me. Though a weird breather is an exception to that. As was a guy years ago in the Honolulu Marathon who was carrying change in his pocket or something. He jingled! And not in a Santa Claus kind of way. I definitely had to speed up to get away from him.

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    1. Isn't it funny how something like that can really mess with your head? That's why I bring my music to races. Sometimes I just have to shut it out.

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  20. What an amazing time!!! So much to be proud of and so cool you got the fam out there too- even if they weren't as into it as you. haha!
    I got a participant medal at my Turkey Trot- I'm all for making that a thing- haha!

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    1. I'm ok with not getting a medal for a 5k or a 10k--but if they want to give me one, why not?

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  21. I'm so impressed that your dr is also a runner- I love that! And wow, great strong paces!

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  22. So happy for you, Wendy! You're an #rawarrior through and through. Woohoo!!!

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  23. What an awesome way to end the year and how to kick RAs butt on your one year anniversary!! I love that your son and his girlfriend ran this with you ..I know that meant a lot to you and I am sure they are so very proud of you! Way to go Wendy! It's always been in you! xoxo

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    1. I feel like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz!

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  24. Congrats on a great race, so great it was on your RA anniversary and you were able to accomplish what you did despite your diagnosis. YOu truly are an inspiration. I get medals all the time for 5Ks, cant believe this is your first?????

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    1. I haven't done any 5ks for years until this year! I wouldn't expect a medal for such a short distance, but I won't turn one down.

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  25. Congratulations on your awesome race. I think it is so odd that so many people felt ill during it though. Did you ever figure it out? Great pictures.

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    1. It was really cold and a lot of us were running fast? That's all I could think of.

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  26. I'm so happy that you ran such a strong race, especially on your RA anniversary. What a great way to show RA who's boss!

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    1. It sure felt good to feel like myself again!

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  27. Wow Wendy, you killed this race! And what a strong finish :)

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  28. That is an amazing finishers picture. Love that your family went into the city with you and that you were able to wait somewhere warm until the race started.

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    1. Me too! No sooner were we outside did the race start!

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  29. Yay! I'm glad you got to have a good day for this race in particular. :) You're a great example for others with RA. And who doesn't love a good holiday themed race?

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    1. I don't normally do 5ks but this was such a good cause! I'll do it again--it was fun!

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  30. HOLIDAY RACES are the best kinds of races! The spirit is just EVEN MORE ELEVATED than it is on normal runs!!! Plus, you get to deck yourself up and that just energizes you further!

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    1. There's something about dressing silly that just makes you smile. Maybe those costumed runners are onto something.

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  31. What an awesome race for you. You will treasure this one always! Congrats on the AG win!

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    1. You know I will. It was one of those races where everything fell into place.

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  32. What a great recap, Wendy! Congrats on an AG win at a race that meant so much to you!

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    1. It was a great finish to a very interesting year!

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