My run is over

It’s official. My run is over.

Tuesday I had an appointment with the rheumatoid doctor I waited 4 months to see. It started out a little rough. The nurse asked what tests I had done. Tests?? What? None, I replied. She said that my visit was probably a wild goose chase and they would end up sending me back to my doctor. I felt discouraged. I knew something was wrong. I mean, just this week I started having a hard time bending my toes. I am in almost constant pain. It’s more of a dull ache, but still.

Next the doctor came in. She listened to all I had to say…that I was a runner for 15 years…started having pain in my joints…having a hard time bending my toes. She did an exam. She heard my knees grind when I bent them. I can no longer bend over and touch my toes. Then there was the pain in my hands and feet. She told me I have osteoarthritis. I also have a bunion on my right foot which is a great source of my pain.

I told her that I could no longer run. The last time I ran I had a lot of back pain and a piercing stabbing pain in my ankle that would randomly come and go. She said I most likely have a bone spur on my ankle and when I would run it would pinch a nerve. The doctor said she didn’t recommend running anymore. Instead I should do low impact sports such as walking or swimming.

It’s difficult because I am sore when I get up in the morning. I’m sore if I sit too much. I can’t do any high impact exercise without a tremendous amount of pain. Even walking hurts. It just sucks. I tried walking with hand and leg weights and ended up with tendonitis in my shoulder. The doctor said I am overweight. Outside of being pregnant, I’m the heaviest I ever was. The doctor said I needed to exercise more. Yeah, I wish I could run and do everything I was able to do before. Of course I’m going to gain weight. I went from running marathons to Netflix marathons. I feel trapped in my own body. It no longer does what I want it to do anymore.

But I do feel better knowing I have arthritis. I knew something was wrong. How do you go from running to hardly being able to walk without something being wrong??

Next month Angel and Paul are running a 10k. This will be the first time I will be an observer of the sport I was once so passionate about. I am a little sad because the time I ran in races were some of the best years of my life. I felt so healthy and alive. I’ve accepted that my run is over. Recently, I donated or threw out most of my running gear. I guess it’s on to a new phase of my life whatever that will be.

I was worried (and pretty much everyone I told asked) I caused this arthritis in myself by being a long distance runner. The research says that is simply not true. You are at higher risk of developing arthritis if you are a professional athlete running 50+ miles a week which I am not. The research I found said you are more likely to develop arthritis if you are obese living a sedentary lifestyle and not as likely if you are a runner. Honestly, I don’t know why it happened to me. That’s life I guess…you just never know what’s going to happen next.

I once was a marathon runner. Now I have arthritis.

The old normal, part 6

Before COVID, I spent a lot of time at the gym. I don’t even have a gym membership anymore. How things have changed.

Back in the day, I used to go to the gym three times a week for at least an hour. In the summer, I would run the streets. I did countless marathons, a half Iron, and a 50k. When I first started blogging I wrote about training for my first marathon after reading a marathon training book written by a blogger. At the time I thought I could run a marathon and I could write on a blog, and I did. I even have running in the title of my blog. Over time this blog has morphed into something more than that.

I always thought I would be a runner. I didn’t often see a lot of older runners competing in races, but when I did I thought to myself that will be me someday. Running helped me burn off a lot of my anxiety and stress. I worried a lot about becoming injured because I didn’t think I would be sane without running. I know I have posted before if I couldn’t run someone would need to check on me because I would not be okay.

Then the world changed. When COVID hit my gym closed and all the races I was planning on running got cancelled. Not long after that, I had a 10 day bout of colitis that knocked me off my feet. A month later it was hard for me just to put the laundry from the washer into the dryer. I thought I would never be able to run again. I was able to but I lost most of what was left of my endurance. Then I started to experience joint pain which made it all but impossible to run without being in pain.

I’m not sure what is wrong. It could be a number of things or it could be nothing at all. I have an appointment scheduled with a specialist in May. My doctor thought the joint pain could be related to colitis. I recently read stress and trauma can cause inflammation like I have. Or maybe I overused my joints by all my long distance running. I also saw it could be a symptom of perimenopause. Or maybe I’m getting arthritis like some of my other relatives did. I started noticing bumps on the knuckles of my fingers. But until I see the doctor I’m just guessing.

I started doing low impact workouts but I find them to be frustrating because it doesn’t feel as if I am doing anything. I had to take a step back because I just couldn’t do it anymore. I miss running, I really do but I don’t feel like I will not be okay without it anymore. I don’t need to beat the hell out of my body anymore. But I don’t want to do nothing either. I’ve gained some weight. But is it realistic to think I’ll always be able to keep a youthful figure as I age?

Sometimes now I run into people from my running days. I’ve been asked what race I am training for. It’s hard to admit I am much more of a walker now. For 15 years I identified as a runner. Now it’s just another area of my life I don’t know who I am anymore. But one thing I can say for sure, I can live without running. I am okay. I never thought I would be saying that. Now it’s time for something new. I’m just not sure what that is yet.

Goals for the new year

To be honest, I haven’t done New Year’s resolutions in years. But every couple of months I try to come up with some bucket list goals and check my progress on making them happen.

Today I decided to go back to my first blog post in May of 2015. I wrote a list of goals. Here they are:

  1. Write something that gets published. I’ve wanted to write a memoir for the longest time. I am currently working on the second edition of my book. I hope to complete it in 2022.
  2. Run a marathon. I wrote I ran 18 miles that day without stopping. I am totally jealous of myself! Since then I’ve run multiple marathons and a 50K. I just stopped running after doing it for 15 years. Now I want to focus on stretching and yoga. I mean, I haven’t started yet but I want to try to at least maintain if not gain some flexibility. I have been having joint pain and stiffness but I still want to remain active as much as I am able to.
  3. Travel to all the continents. I haven’t gotten too far on this. I did check off Asia since then. If it wasn’t for COVID, I would’ve checked off Europe and Africa too. Instead I have been trying to visit all 50 states. So far I’ve checked off 39 states. I visited 8 states in 2021 and plan on adding another 5 in 2022.
  4. Read the Bible in a year.
  5. Be a lead singer in a band. I still think this would be fun, but I don’t want to do this as much as I did before. It sounds like a lot of work.
  6. Drink green beer on St. Patrick’s Day. That one was pretty easy.
  7. Get a tattoo. I got my first tattoo this year of an anchor. I am planning on getting my second tattoo in 2022.

I have some other new goals for 2022. I would like to be more bad ass. Ha ha ha. Actually I want to get my motorcycle license. I picture myself on something loud blaring my rock music as I drive down country roads on sunny summer days.

I would like to get half way done with the remodeling project on our garage apartment. I also have a list of home renovation projects. I would like to cross off half of my list this next year on house projects as well.

I also want to continue growing and working on my self-improvement projects. I want to be more accepting of myself as I age. I have always been a go, go, go person. It’s hard to adjust to being a go, go, go slow person. This coming year will be the first full year that all of my children are adults and out of school. I no longer have parenting commitments. I want some time to just be responsible for me. I want 5 years of not being responsible for others. I will not take on any long term foreign exchange students, foster children, or new pets. I will also keep working on the relationships that are important to me.

That’s about it. See ya next year!

Have a happy, happy new year!!!

Fortune cookie wisdom #28

Catch on fire with enthusiasm and people will come for miles to watch you burn.

Wow! Is it just me or does this seem rather sinister?

I understand how enthusiasm can spread like a wildfire. When I first started running races I was on fire for running. I was the person that posted race pictures all over social media. I had all the annoying stickers on my car to announce to the world I was a runner. I had the Half Iron, 13.1, 26.2, and the 50k. People I didn’t even know knew I ran and would strike up conversations with me about running. They saw me on the neighborhood roads. In fact when we moved people said they missed seeing me run. I was well known at the gym as well.

My enthusiasm for running was more contagious than COVID. People I didn’t know well would come up to me for advice or tell me they started running because I made it seem like so much fun. It was adventurous. I went for runs in other states. I spent the night before a marathon in a tent when we got 2 inches of rain. I ran in some challenging courses. I did races on cool stormy days, in extreme heat, in freezing cold conditions, and when conditions were ideal. There was nothing I stepped down from. I got some really cool medals and shirts. It was one of the best times of my life.

My enthusiasm for running sparked enthusiasm in other people. I didn’t have to go up to people I didn’t know well and tell them they should run. I didn’t have to explain the health benefits. I didn’t have to tell them how important it was to exercise. They saw me have fun and they wanted to have fun too.

Now I am a week away from what I think will be my last race. I remember how much fun I had. I think there is a lot of wisdom to be gained from this fortune. What you are passionate about will draw in other people. There is nothing I hate more than having people try to pressure, manipulate, and convince me to do something I am not sure I want to do. I hate the hard sell. But if you are passionate about something I am curious and want to know more.

But I’m sorry I still think this fortune cookie sounds a bit horror movie scary. I’m not sure if I like the thought of people coming for miles to watch me burn.

Fortune cookie wisdom #22

“They fail, and they alone, who have not striven.”

I wanted to let you know I pick these fortune cookies randomly from a huge pile of my favorite fortune cookies collected over the past 2 years. I say this because today’s is very similar to the one I shared yesterday. After I share them with you I recycle them. I hope fortune cookies don’t become a thing of the past as I received a comment from my blogging friend LA saying they no longer give out fortune cookies at restaurants in NYC.

I absolutely love this fortune. It basically tells us we are successful if we try. I don’t need to have a million followers to enjoy blogging and telling my story. I don’t have to write a bestselling book although that would be quite the achievement. I can only fail if I don’t try. It’s really a great way to look at things.

This morning I went out for a run. I typically go four miles three times a week. Half of it I walk and half I run. You might think that’s amazing for someone of my age (47). I do not. I spent almost the whole time thinking about running and what my goals are. Honestly I am thinking about quitting or seriously cutting back after the race at the end of the month.

I have been running for the past 15 years. I think the first race I did was a 10k. I really can’t remember. I wish I kept track and wrote things down but I wasn’t writing anything at all at that time of my life. I got pretty good at running. It was nothing for me to run 10 miles without stopping. I could finish all races up to a half marathon in the top 10% of my age group. It wasn’t unusual for me to place in small town races. I devoted a lot of my time to running to get that good. I was well known on the neighborhood streets and the gym.

But that wasn’t enough, I wanted more. It made me feel alive. It was exciting. Exercise is a great way to burn off anxiety and a wonderfully healthy coping mechanism. I started doing marathons and did a 50k. I thought maybe I would qualify for the Boston marathon but I could never manage running the whole race. But that was okay, I just enjoyed the challenge.

Over a period of almost 10 years I worked my way up to running a marathon. It took a tremendous amount of dedication. It involved waking up early on Saturday mornings. Long lunch breaks. Running long boring miles on a treadmill. Getting caught in storms. Almost getting hit by cars. Getting attacked by dogs, bugs, and birds. Feeling afraid in secluded places. City streets. Remote trails. Getting injured, blistered, and chafed. Having to go to the bathroom really bad when there wasn’t one in sight. Wearing out expensive running shoes. Sweating. Freezing. Running friends. The endless search for upbeat playlists. Trying to beat my time. Travelling. Planning around weather. Competing. I loved it all until I didn’t anymore.

Then the pandemic hit. The 50k race I was planning to compete in got cancelled. My gym closed. Cold wintry weather. But the worst thing that happened was having colitis. I was incredibly sick for 10 days. I was so weak for a month after I could barely even walk. I had a hard time putting the clothes from the wash machine into the dryer without feeling exhausted. It was in that sweeping moment that I lost everything I painstakingly built over the previous ten plus years. I lost almost all of my stamina and endurance. I never was able to get it back which frustrated me. Running just reminds me of what I once had.

Now I have to face that my run might be over. My best days are behind me. Sometimes it’s hard to let go of the old and let something new begin. Part of me feels like a failure for giving up. But I am probably the only one that feels this way about me. I’ve always wanted to keep active my whole life. I achieved that goal. Now might be a great time to try other things I’m interested in like yoga or martial arts. When all else fails I’ll probably be the old lady that walks around the block a few times…

I can only fail if I don’t try, right??

Losing myself

It’s funny but one of the things I miss most is not wearing lip gloss. Shiny sparkly lips covered by a mask is not possible anymore. It’s messy and it smears.

Life is like that sometimes, messy.

I don’t even want to leave the house anymore. The last time you saw me I was beautiful and strong. Since then I’ve let my hair go gray. My strength left behind me with my last run at the gym before its doors closed along with my youthful blonde locks.

I’m ashamed of myself. I’ve tried to put myself back out there but I’ve been much too weak to run. Perhaps it’s over. I’ve had to let myself go. Instead of outrunning I’ve been overrun.

Do you know how much work it takes to run a 50k? Or maybe a marathon? I used to be a great runner. But now I can barely walk a couple miles without feeling winded. How will I get it back? Everything I built gone in one swift blow to my health. I just can’t seem to do it anymore.┬áMaybe my toned athletic body will turn into a blob of sludge.

I will never be what I was.

I’m mourning the loss of me. Aren’t I too old to have to find myself again?

Or is that just a part of life? Do we ever realize ahead of time when things are ending or even beginning?

Is this the end? I don’t know anymore.

If I had known it was going to be over, I would’ve enjoyed it more. I would’ve held on longer before it slipped through my hands.

But isn’t that what we always tell ourselves when we realize we just said our last good-bye? The guilt of not making the most out of our last time never seems to leave. I would’ve tried harder.

I have to let it go if it is truly over…but right now it hurts to even think it might be.

 

My first 50k

I did it! I finished my first 50k.

The ultra marathon started at 6 AM. I got up at what would’ve been 3 AM my time at home after a restless night’s sleep.

It was still dark when the race started. I borrowed my cousin’s headlamp. I thought that I could just use my cell phone, but was told that a headlamp would work better. I never ran with a headlamp before. It was disconcerting and took some getting used to. I felt like I was running with a strobe light.

I felt tired and had stomach issues for three quarters of the race despite my best efforts to get enough rest and not eat anything that could possibly disagree with me. My body likes routine and kept cuing me that something was off. I did a lot of walking dragged along by my cousin who was always in front of me. He kept encouraging me along and everyone else along the path.

As the day grew long and the end neared, we greeted everyone and were greeted with a great job, keep going, looking good. It was a difficult course despite near perfect weather conditions. I saw runners vomit, covered in dirt, lay on the ground, and fall in front of me. Some were running the 100 mile race that started the afternoon before. Some looked strong and others looked like they were barely holding on.

Every muscle in my body screamed at me to stop after I ran the length of a marathon. My feet ran along in a slow shuffle. In my mind my movements were exaggerated. I thought I was picking up my feet high enough to get over several roots on the trail. Twice I tripped and caught myself from falling. My body jolted in a pain so fiercely never experienced before.

There was no way I could keep up to my cousin after that, but he wouldn’t finish without me. He told me how strong I was and to keep going. The closer I got to the end the more my mind told me just the opposite. I sucked at running and was despicably weak.

Meanwhile, Paul and my cousin’s wife followed us around routing for us. They stopped in the middle of the woods for a picnic lunch which prompted a runner to ask them if they were real.

C’mon now, we only have a 10k left…now a 5k. After another mile, we just had 3 miles to go. Wait you told me that a mile ago. Are you lying?

The last two miles were the hardest. It took everything I had to just keep walking. I never ran that far before. I didn’t trust myself to run. I felt like I was going to pass out. But I was determined to finish even if I had to crawl. My cousin said he would carry me across the finish line if he had to, but I said I would never allow for that.

My cousin is a very kind and caring person. He stopped to offer help to everyone he saw struggling on the path.

Finally we were about a mile away. I saw some fortune cookies left on an almost empty snack table. In only one package, there were two fortunes. I convinced my cousin that those were for us.

Ability will enable a man to get to the top, but character will keep him from falling.

Seems fitting, I guess. I am quite the character.

Finally, the end was in sight. I ran with all the strength I could muster across the finish line.

What is happening? Part 2

We left the wedding that night before the clock struck midnight. Not because something magical was happening. My car wasn’t turning back into a pumpkin. But on that day, when the clock struck midnight, my princess was turning 21. I told Angel that I would take her out for a drink at midnight. We got back home just in time for me to freshen up. When I came out of my room, Angel was fast asleep on the couch. I didn’t really want to go anyway. I was exhausted.

We took Angel out for lunch instead. We were surprised to see that a lot of restaurants were closed from the storms. Some restaurants had no electricity. The restaurants that did have power said they didn’t have enough help to cover for the restaurants that were closed and people that went out to eat because they didn’t have electricity. It caused a storm surge of customers.

It was sad to see Angel leave. It was the first time she was home after she moved out. It made me realize how much I missed her conversations. I’m not sure when she will be coming home again. After she left, I was exhausted.

I decided that I was going to go for a long run the next morning. The plan was to find a point to get on and off the trail to run to my parents house and back. I was hoping to park my car on the trail and run 10 miles one way. I wasn’t sure how it would work because of the storm damage and because I never ran the trail there before.

I left later than I wanted to the next morning. It was a nice day, not too hot and not at all rainy. The trail was heavily wooded but beautiful. The first half of the run was well groomed. I ran into a lot of people on bikes. There were several trees down and at some times it felt like an obstacle course.

But the second half of my journey was very remote. The bottom two pictures were taken on the second half of the trail. It would be a great place to hide a body. Wouldn’t it? There were fewer people along the trail here. At times I feared for my safety. It ended up being 14 miles to my parents house. I had a late lunch with my mom and headed back home.

My mom walked with me for the first 3 miles, then got picked up by my dad. She was afraid for my safety. There were times that I was too. I did something that I wouldn’t want my daughters to do. I felt vulnerable. At times I would look behind me and no one was there only to be passed by someone from behind a few minutes later without knowing they were there. It was creepy. It was starting to get dark. My mom wanted to give me a ride closer to home, but I refused.

I spent a lot of time walking. I thought I would spend a lot of time thinking, but I didn’t. My mind was empty and free. No problems, but also no solutions. It was starting to get dark. I was running out of fuel. I didn’t have much water. My feet were starting to ache. But I made it! I ran 28 miles. It was the furthest I’ve ever ran/walked and 25 of the miles I was totally alone.

I think I am ready for a 50k. I feel confident now. I wasn’t as sore as I thought I would be, but I was sore. The next day I went in for a massage. I should’ve waited because I was almost too sore.

I’ve regained my confidence, but my mom was so worried that I promised her I would never take the trail to her house again.

 

 

Running out of time

I’m STILL waiting for a call from the doctor. I did get one call yesterday. It was from someone who barely spoke English trying to sell me final expense insurance. Did they somehow know I was worriedly waiting for test results?

At least all of this waiting gave me plenty of time to think. If I end up not having Celiac, I think I will go the allergy testing route. I was going to beg the doctor to put me back on Prilosec, but decided against it. When they did the scope, they found numerous polyps in my stomach that they think were caused by long term Prilosec use. It’s rare that they are cancerous, but they could be. They did a biopsy, but couldn’t remove them all.

In the meantime, I’m running out of time. My first 50k that I signed up for is a little more than a month away. I’m planning on running a marathon distance next week.

Training for this has been incredibly challenging. I really didn’t realize how awful I’d feel off of Prilosec. I have been feeling sick to my stomach a lot or having a stomachache. Several times I have been afraid to be far away from the bathroom. I’ve had to turn around and come back home. I’ve had to run into the woods. I’ve had no where I could go.

Being anemic, I feel exhausted, weak, and lightheaded without running. Running I feel like my legs are made of lead and I have a large weight on my back. Most days I need to take a nap.

I hurt my ankle last month and had to take some time off.

The weather hasn’t been cooperating either. We had a late start to the summer with record rainfall and cool days. My favorite trails were underwater. Some of the races in our area even had to be cancelled due to the weather. Then summer hit full force. Tomorrow will most likely be one of the top ten hottest days on record in our area. Followed by more rain and strong storms.

The storms have been hitting us unexpectedly at times. Just this week I drove my daughter to camp. It was sunny, hot, and humid. We passed a lady walking with her child on the way. By the time we got to camp, there was a continuous roar of thunder and heavy rain. On the way home, I saw the lady with her daughter who was about ten. It looked like the mom was huddled on the side of the road trying to protect her daughter. I know how terrifying it can be to get caught in an unexpected storm, so I pulled over and offered them a ride home.

I hollered at them to get into my car fast because a car was coming and I didn’t know if they could see me stopped in the torrential downpour. I was out in the middle of nowhere. I was almost out of gas. I was hydroplaning. Cars were driving slow or pulled over to the side of the road altogether. But it was exhilarating. I got someone home safe. But it grew exhausting driving about a half an hour through flash flooding in a torrential downpour.

You would think that all the rain would’ve washed all the mud off my car from trying to find a hiking trail that had its access dirt road under water. But no. Unfortunately, my car was unable to get through the washed out road. Instead it looked like I went mud running which regrettably didn’t earn me any bad ass mom points with my teenagers.

Needless to say, I have also wanted to stay close to home for fear of getting caught in a bad storm. Not to mention, I had a lady come up to me when running to tell me that a bear was spotted on my running route. Then there is the endless stream of drivers hellbent on trying to run me down with their cars.

I almost deserve more than a banana and medal if I can finish this race.

The good news is that I found a new running trail pictured above. It seems pretty safe and full of nature (and bathrooms). Despite my health and fears, I am determined to run this race. I might not finish, but I sure am going to do my best to try.

 

 

The ultra training starts

I just signed up for my first 50k.

There is no turning back now. Thankfully, I have until September to train. I will be running the ultra with my cousin.

It has been a cold spring here in Wisconsin. I have only been out to run a handful of times. Today’s high temps are in the mid-40’s and it is raining. Yuck! But at least it’s not snowing.

I was able to run with my new friend from the theater. I doubt we will ever run together again and I am okay with that. She is so much better than I am. What I didn’t know was that this new friend qualified for the Boston Marathon 6 times and ran it twice. She even ran something like 10 miles the day she gave birth. Talk about hard core!

She is a couple years younger than me as well which doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it is in the racing world. Maybe if I was 20 years younger than her, I would be able to keep up. That might even be pushing it.

Now that I am almost 45, I don’t have the stamina I used to.

I had a really bad run outside a couple weeks ago. I was several miles from home when I had to go to the bathroom really bad. I was in the suburbs and there was no where to go. I was so tempted to run up to a stranger’s house and ask if I could use their bathroom. How mortifying would that be! Every time I ran, the urge to go was stronger but walking prolonged the journey home. I called my husband to pick me up, but he didn’t answer. There were people everywhere. I finally made it home accident free.

Maybe I need to add Depends to my running supply list! That is the only thing I like about running on the treadmill at the gym. There is a bathroom close by if I need it. It is easier to stay hydrated as well. I finally broke down and bought a hydration belt with water bottles for the long runs outside.

Again, having to go to the bathroom is always an issue outside. Not to mention bugs, pop up thunderstorms, reckless drivers, adverse weather conditions, those horrible hills, chafing, injuries, dehydration, and animals. But that is what also makes for the best stories and adventures that won’t be forgotten. It’s the dirt and the grit. Determination. The testing of the limits. The long runs to think. Enjoying nature when it doesn’t call. The friendships, the camaraderie of strangers, the goodness of fellow travelers along the trail. I love it all!

I am hoping that the training goes a lot better once it warms up outside. Since I have a few marathons under my belt, what is a few more miles? Right?!??