Naysayers

From time to time I get folks who want to convince me and others that paleo is a fad, that AIP is pseudoscience, and that I should trust our government and follow the food pyramid like a good little girl. After all, SCIENCE!

I’m all for science. 

I did an n=1 experiment on the subject that matters most to me (i.e. Me), and found that when I ate clean and stayed away from certain food groups, I suffered fewer symptoms from my autoimmune condition and generally felt better than I had in decades. And when I reintroduced the foods I had eliminated, my symptoms returned/worsened. 

Hey, want more science? I then REPEATED THE EXPERIMENT and ACHIEVED THE SAME RESULTS. 

So at this point I’m pretty comfortable with my scientific assessment of the effects of dietary changes on women with lupus named Amy who are born in my hometown and live at my address. 

If other people want to say I’m gullible or following a fad diet, that’s their prerogative I suppose. I’m too old for peer pressure. I feel better when I eat this way, so this is how I eat. 

I’m not saying everyone has to eat like I do, but I am saying that for some people, dietary changes can be a powerful (and often overlooked) tool for better health. 

Balancing Act

I’m finding that living with Lupus is a balancing act. Even though my case is relatively mild so far (I hate to say that and tempt Fate — KNOCK ALL TEH WOODZ!!), I’m still faced with the classic Spoonie dilemmas… How many spoons do I have left, and how many do I need?  And how many will I need / have tomorrow?

Do I run today when I am able and the weather is okay but my child wants Mommy for bedtime instead of Daddy?  What if I feel like crap tomorrow?  Should I try to run on a cold day despite my new tendency for cold weather hives?  Would it be better to do two shorter runs on the weekend, or one longer run?  Do I push my pace a little harder, despite my other charming new tendency for exercise-induced hives?* Or do I shuffle out 14-minute miles forever?

It’s easy to say run whenever you can, since we spoonies never know what tomorrow will bring. I’ve said it myself. But reality is that most of us are many other things besides just spoonies/lupies or just runners — we are partners, parents, children, students, bosses, employees, etc. and we all face a similar question at times: Do I push a little harder to become a better runner (or whatever else it is you’re working toward), or do I ease up and be gentle with myself (and be a “better” Spoonie / lupie)?  What’s the right balance between the things you do to yourself, the things you do FOR yourself, and the things you need and want to do for others?

That’s a tough needle to thread, and although the brat in me is tempted to scream SCREW LUPUS! and run until I keel over, the grownup in me says to do as much as I reasonably can and no more. Maybe my struggle to find out where that “reasonable” line is will make for some quasi-useful reading for others in my situation. (Stay tuned for some illuminating failures ahead!)

And please oh please, if anyone out there has figured this out, please share with the rest of the class.

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*I have a theory that my exercise hives only present when my heart rate is above 80% for too long. Further research is required. I am not a doctor. You are not my doctor. This is not medical advice. 

The blog formerly known as…

The cheery new blog title probably steals the punchline here, but I still feel obligated to bring you (that would be the figurative you, since I surely have less than zero actual readers at this point…) up to speed on the events of the last year.

I wrote last spring about my prolonged battle to stay healthy… that battle progressed from run-of-the-mill bronchitis to mystery symptoms to wonky test results to specialist visits to finally being treated for Lupus.

As all that was going on, I also stumbled upon the Paleo diet, and I gave it a shot in the hopes of mitigating what was at the time a completely mystifying collection of seemingly unrelated symptoms. Ten months and thirty pounds later, I am a total convert. Don’t let the caveman gimmick or the cult of CrossFit dissuade you — focusing on clean protein and vegetables and cutting out/back grains, sugar, and processed foods can truly transform how you feel on a daily basis.  

Amidst all this change, I’m still running. Or, I suppose I should say, I’m back to running. I left this blog almost a year ago with a cute little teaser — I won a spot in the 2014 Marine Corps Marathon! (Yay!). But I was too sick for most of the year to train for it, so I deferred. (Boo!)  

Deciding to actually register for a 2015 spot was a big step — I consulted with my rheumatologist and my husband, and did some soul-searching of my own. I ultimately decided to go for it, and now I’m training over the next 30+ weeks, slowly building up to being able to cover that distance.

Note that I say “cover,” not necessarily run. I was never a fast runner to begin with, and right now my body is telling me that the right course of action is a Galloway-esque Run/Walk method. (Rule #1 for newbie Lupies — listen to your body!)

Will I be able to Beat the Bridge? Who the heck knows.  Can I consume enough paleo carbs to keep from bonking? I look forward to trying.  Are there any other paleo lupie runners out there? 

You tell me. 

Race Recaps: Fairfax Four and GW Parkway Classic

I suppose it would have made more sense to recap the Fairfax Four back when it happened, you know, FOUR MONTHS AGO. But in my defense, I could hardly type for all the coughing when Bronchitis #2 settled in a day or two after the race. I know science doesn’t put much stock in the cold-air-making-you-sick folklore, but gulping oodles of cold night air certainly didn’t speed me on the road to recovery, either.

Anyway. The race. I love Fairfax races because they’re just so darn convenient. Easy to get to the start line, and as usual for Pacers races, well organized and a lot of fun. My newbie runner friend Jo happened to be running too, which was nice because we were able to kind of push each other along when the going got tough. Considering that I was only able to run 2-3 times the whole month of December, I was pretty darn pleased just to finish (Net time 52:16, average pace 13:04).

I have no snazzy pics for this race because apparently I was not shiny enough to be seen in the dark. Boo.

Fast forward through more coughing and wheezing and sleeping…

…to last Sunday. The GW Parkway Classic, another great Pacers race (I swear I’m not a shill) and at 10 miles, the longest race I’ve attempted to date. I took the Pacers shuttle to the start line, AKA Mount Vernon. This is pretty much the most nervous I’ve ever been before a race — even my first 5k was nothing compared to this.
I ran less than once a week for the 4 months leading up to this race, and now I’m just going to knock out 10 in one shot? Are you insane, woman?!

Apparently YES. YES I AM.

As I rode to the start, I decided that the only shot I had at completing the race without injury or a humiliating ride on the sag bus would be to Galloway (run/walk) it. I ran (more of a shuffle, really) for 3 minutes and walked for 2, over and over again, as the pack pulled away. (Hey, that’s okay, I prefer to run alone, especially on a gorgeous spring morning like this one.)

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The legs were pretty tight and whiny for the first few miles, but miles 4/5/6 were not too bad. Mile 7 was neat because everything after 6.2 was the farthest I’d ever gone. Spotify was giving me all the right songs at just the right times. It was meant to be.

And then, mile 8. Ouch. From here to the last half mile, it was not a pretty scene. There was much walking. And by walking, I mean kinda limping along hoping that the pain in my feet and ankles doesn’t get any worse.

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At one point around the 9 mile mark, when I realized that I was actually probably going to actually for real finish this thing, I got emotional… a sweet little moment for like half a second, until I literally almost choked on the lump in my throat. As in, airway closed, no O2 for you. Suck it up girlie, and keep going.

I let myself walk-hobble until Mr. Garmin showed 9.5 miles. Then it was time to pick it up to a shuffle-hobble. Got some encouraging cheers from passers-by in Old Town, and managed to make it across the finish line in 2:26:39 (14:40 average pace). I was kinda hoping to finish in under 2:30 (assuming I finished at all), so MEGA WIN for me.

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Got my shiny finishers medal, hobbled out the finish chute, and kept hobbling until I found the bag pickup. I was the last bag for the volunteers at that particular table, so when they saw me coming they shouted my number and whooped and hollered and made me feel like a Finisher.

Which I suppose I am.

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The moral of the story…

What did we learn from running a 10 miler with pretty much no training?

1. I can do it.
2. I never want to do it again.

Without training, that is. All my weird aches and pains during and after have just underscored the need for a realistic, gradual training plan if I want to move up to half marathons and full marathons. This is a very timely lesson to learn, because…

I won the lottery.

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Remember me?

It’s been awhile, I know.  Maybe a little more blogging would have made the last few months easier to deal with.

Since I last checked in, my training has been, shall we say, sporadic at best.  I was sick off and on (mostly on) from December through MARCH, and every time I felt better and would go for a run, I’d immediately end up with worse crud than before.  Diagnosis?  Severe Bronchitis/Quasi-walking pneumonia.  FUN.  I had bronchitis FOUR times between Thanksgiving and St. Patrick’s Day.  Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.

I did manage to complete the Fairfax Four on New Year’s Eve — in between Bronchitis #1 and Bronchitis #2.

Three rounds of antibiotics, an impressive progression of steroids (oral and inhaled), and 1 chest x-ray later, I was deemed free and clear.  That was pretty much mid-March.  Right around the time when we got a few extra snowstorms because the winter hadn’t sucked enough already.  And although a more determined running blogger might have laughed, bundled up and headed out into the snow, I just couldn’t.  Couldn’t bear the thought of getting sick again, couldn’t overcome the Blerch, just no.  Which meant that training for my next scheduled race was pretty much non-existent.

So yeah, that would be the GW Parkway Classic — a 10 mile jaunt from Mount Vernon to Old Town Alexandria.  No biggie.

Famous last words.

 

 

 

 

The Fear of Sitting Still

Apologies in advance — this isn’t going to be my hook-iest/snark-iest/clever-est post.  I was reflecting on my week as I ran tonight, and just thought it might be useful to get some of those thoughts down in writing.

**Pausing for the audience groan…**

Ahem.

The week in review:  a 5K on Sunday morning with a friend of mine (who we shall deem Jo, if names are needed).  This was her first 5K, so I wasn’t running for time.  Which is good, because it turns out the turnaround point wasn’t exactly in the right place, which made this more of a 6K than a 5K.  That gave Jo an even greater sense of accomplishment — as it should — and made me feel a smidge better about how I felt physically after running at what should have been a pretty easy 5K pace for me now, on a mostly flat course.

What was the problem?  HIPS.  Yeow.  Hard to describe, exactly — pain not on the outside of the hip, kind of more groin-y, but not down the leg — definitely in the hip.  I’ve had whatever-this-is off and on for a few weeks now — hip strengthening exercises seem to help, but then I receive a Flying Toddler Leap and over-rotate or something and it makes me see stars.

So because I am paranoid about injury and overtraining, I took a couple of days off.  (Not gonna lie — the fact that it was frickin’ freezing made that an easier call, Mr. Bigglesworth).

A couple of days turned into three, then four.  But the more “rest” I got, the worse I felt generally.   At the time I was afraid I was coming down with something, but now I think that was me in running withdrawal.  So tonight, I headed out for a quick run “no matter what.”

And wow, that felt good.  I kept a pretty decent pace (for me), and I felt good doing it — no complaints from the hips, and the malaise seems to have dissipated.

The verdict:  I think it was the right thing to do to take a day or two off to rest the hip.  But now, on that third day, I’ll know the haven’t-been-running malaise when I see it, and I’ll get my booty back out there asap.

The worst part of the malaise was that, for the first time since I started this whole running odyssey, I could actually see The Blerch coming for me.  If you haven’t read about The Blerch, go do that right now.  I’ll wait.

It’s not that I’m running to eat whatever I want (although I’m kinda hoping that comes later) — for me, The Blerch is that little voice that gives everyone their own reason not to run.  When I started running this time, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I couldn’t really hear him.  But for a brief moment this week, he made his presence known, and I got a glimpse of a world where the switch (the one that flipped inside my head to make me love running) flipped back.  I don’t want to live in that world.

blerch

Fear is a fantastic motivator.  Some fears I know well — fear of injury, of not being able to complete a new distance, of not improving.  But now I have a new fear…fear of sitting still.

2013 Veterans Day 10K

Update and Recap: Pacers Veterans Day 10K

Howdy y’all.  I’m still around, shuffling through this gorgeous autumn…

Burke Lake Nov 2013

I’ve got my long run up to 6 miles now, just in time for this morning’s Pacers Veteran’s Day 10K, which was amazing. But before I recap that, a couple of updates…

Adding another run to my week has just not been in the cards — toddler wrangling and work stuff have won out over a 4th run pretty consistently.  But I’ve made time to do some strength work on my hips, which has made a big difference in the quality of the three runs I do manage to do.  It’s becoming pretty clear to me that my left hip is what I need to watch out for injury-wise, so I’m giving it a little extra TLC, erring on the side of caution with rest days, etc.

I didn’t do a recap post on them, but in October I did the last of the 5Ks of Naivete, as the FOUR 5Ks that I signed up for at the beginning of July (before running a single serious step) shall hereby be known.  The last race in particular deserves mention because it was small and therefore spectacularly weird.  As in, I came in fourth out of 4 women (dead last in a total field of 7, I believe).  And that’s ok because hey, now my last place finish achievement is unlocked and I clearly lived to tell the tale.

Besides, it turns out that this last place finish was actually the race where I FINALLY improved my 5K PR from that first huffy puffy race in July.  I finished in 38:33 — better by  about 4 minutes.

But WAIT, there’s MORE.

Turns out the two women ahead of me were running in lockstep and finished with exactly the same time.  They literally tied for 2nd place.

So guess who gets 3rd?

3rd place

That is a fuzzy photo of me with probably the only more-than-a-finisher-medal I will ever get.  Woo.

Which brings us to today, a chilly autumn morning with nary a cloud in the sky.  As appears to be the norm for Pacers events, everything about this race was smooth and awesome.  All I have to do is run it.

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My goal was to run even-to-negative splits and finish in under 1:20.  I set out at a pace that felt good for my legs and kept my heart rate where I wanted it to be.  I love these Hains Point races because the improvement I see on the flat terrain compared to my training runs makes me realize just how many hills I actually do.

I’m not a great on-the-run photographer, so I don’t have pics of the Hains point scenery or the dude blaring bagpipe music as he passed me at mile 5 (tonight I run for Scotland?).  But here’s me afterwards, red-faced as ever, but far less huffy puffy… (progress!)

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Anyway, Mr. Garmin says I ran 12:14 / 12:41 / 12:04 / 12:37 / 12:20 / 11:32, total time 1:16:52.  I know that seems glacially slow to most seasoned runners, but 6 months ago the idea that I could ever run 6 miles at all (let alone at a pace that begins with “12”) was as foreign to me as climbing Mt. Everest.  And I finished this race feeling like I ran exactly the race I wanted.

And last but not least, I played tourist a little bit on my cooldown walk back to the car.

Washington Monument Nov 2013

WWII Memorial Nov 2013

What’s next?  I’m running a 5K with a newbie runner friend next weekend, and probably one more in December.  Then I’ll finish the year with the Fairfax Four and take a strategic pause on the racing for a month or two.  In the new year, it’s half marathon training time (no doubt hilarity will ensue… stay tuned!)