Living with Lyme

May is Lyme disease awareness month!

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Even though I’m at the end of the month here, I thought it would be timely to make a post about how lyme affects me.  Generally, I don’t really like talking about my symptoms or when I’m sick. I’ve always struggled with sharing my feelings and feeling vulnerable, in fear of disappointing friends and family. But now that I’ve decided to do the 57 mile run in November to raise money for Lyme disease research and awareness, it’s only fair I share a little more about the disease.

I share my symptoms NOT because I want you to feel sorry for me, but because lyme is often viewed as an invisible illness. Myself and many others who struggle with lyme often look perfectly “healthy” on the outside, even though inside our bodies are raging in war. I’m sharing my symptoms because it’s a difficult disease to understand because of it’s complexity, co-infections, and vast ways it affects every single person who’s been bitten.

HEADACHES/MIGRAINES 

This is my number one problem of late.  I can have anywhere between 3-5 headaches a week and they last ALL day.  Usually, I feel the pain building throughout the day like an angry thunderhead, so by the time I get home from work it feels crippling to move (fun!!!!). I have the pleasure of experiencing light and noise sensitivity with these headaches too, so once I feel one coming on, I need to get out of loud environments to lessen the building pain.

FATIGUE

Since treatment, my fatigue has definitely improved. I used to hardly be able to handle going to work, and whenever I got home I was so tired I could only lay on the couch and nap until it was time to go to bed. Luckily, now I’m able to workout, go to work, write, see friends and do some house chores without completely destroying myself, but I still take things day to day.  I know when I’m overdoing it when I start to have trouble getting out of bed in the morning again, and when I wake up feeling like utter crap.  I still have weeks when I feel horrible and can hardly do anything but drive myself to and from work, but luckily these have lessened.

The past two weeks I’ve been struggling with fatigue a lot. I’ve taken this time off from training, and even though taking a step back is EXTREMELY difficult for me, my body feels much better and rested now.  Treatment of my fatigue is bundled up in my many supplements and restrictive diet, and I’ve learned with I’m lax with my diet, my fatigue increases significantly.

INFLAMMATION

Ah, joint pain. But this isn’t the only way I experience inflammation. While I do ache periodically in my joints – usually my elbows, wrists, fingers, knees (especially my arthritic knee), and ankles – these aches honestly don’t bother me much.  A few years ago, because of inflammation in my scalp, I was diagnosed with diffuse areata alopecia by the Mayo Clinic.  Basically, my hair hates me and likes to come out. A lot.  While the intense hair loss has lightened up since starting treatment, my hair is still incredibly thin and comes out whenever it pleases. I don’t think I’ll ever have the head of hair I had back in high school/college. The hair loss used to bother me a lot more because I tied my conception of beauty with my long hair, but I know better now.

DIGESTIVE ISSUES

This really ties into the inflammation, but because my stomach has pained me the most, I decided to give it it’s own section. Before I was diagnosed with lyme, I was seeing doctors for my stomach issues and we believed I could have Crohn’s disease. While my stomach issues are 80% better than last year, they used to be intense. I couldn’t eat a lot of the times, I had horrible lower stomach cramping/pain, and my stomach was constantly upset.

While my blood work did flag for Crohn’s (something to do with the inflammation I came back positive for) all other testing came back negative.  I had SO MANY procedures, I can’t even remember what they all were called but I was clean on everything except my endoscopy.  During my endoscopy my doctor discovered I have metaplasia (cells changing) in my stomach.  This is still something I need to monitor and will most likely have another endoscopy this summer to make sure it’s not worsening.

Because of my digestive issues, I try to stick to a pretty particular diet.  I am gluten free (except for the occasional beer every few weeks I can’t seem to stay away from) and mostly dairy-free too (this is new).  I don’t really eat much meat anymore either.

Recently I had a KBMO FIT test because of some continued digestive issues and my headaches/fatigue. The test identifies foods likely to cause food sensitivity. Using a blood sample, IgG and complement reactions are measured against 132 foods and additives which cause delayed food sensitivity. Basically, this test was able to tell me which foods I’ve been eating have been causing an immune response in my stomach!

I had a high reaction to whole wheat, gluten and cranberries (seriously, wtf cranberries). A medium response to pears (again, wtf) and coffee – the no coffee has been crippling – and a low response to cow’s milk, rye, green olives, beets, sweet potatoes, cinnamon and pecans.  Some of this seems very random to me but for the most part, I’ve been working really hard to take these foods out of my diet. I’m going to try and follow the elimination diet more strictly over the next 4 weeks as I dive back into training for my 57 miler – so we’ll see how that goes.

Reducing inflammation in my stomach is a huge goal for me. When there’s a lot of inflammation there, my body doesn’t really absorb all the nutrients it needs to. I’m had low iron so many times I’ve lost count, but what’s more concerning to me (especially with all my running) is being able to absorb calcium/vitamin D to protect my bones. Anyone who is close to me knows I struggle with stress fractures and have been diagnosed with osteopenia in the past. I’d like to never worry about these things again.

Those are the big symptoms for me. While I do struggle with a few other issues, they have gotten better significantly since I first started treatment:

  • Trembling
  • Dizziness/balance issues
  • Eye floaters
  • numbness in my hands
  • random skin rashes

 

And I think that’s a wrap. Even though this is my case, I feel as if every story I read online about Lyme disease is different. And that’s why it’s so important for me to do my charity run in November to raise money for research and awareness. Some of the stories I read are absolutely heartbreaking – lives are forever changed. And these individuals are the ones who motivate me to run more than anything. The easiest way I’ve come to deal with the frustrations of lyme is through motivating myself to try and make a difference for those who have it so much worse than me, those who have struggled for so long just to find an answer.

I don’t view myself as sick anymore. Even though I have these outlasting symptoms, this is the strongest in a long time. My symptoms don’t define me because I know I will eventually conquer them. And more than ever, I want others to be able to conquer Lyme disease as well.

I guess my last note here is kinda a PSA you might not care to hear, but seriously, be aware of ticks when you’re outside this summer. They’re going to be bad this year and you can pick them up in your own backyard. Whenever I’m out running on trails I always stop and check myself after running through any overgrown paths, high grass, or wooded areas.  Your pets can pick them up too – I always remember finding ticks on my dog growing up, even though she was protected. Just be careful and protect yourself please!

Feel free to reach out to me if you ever have any questions about my journey with lyme. There’s a contact button on my homepage of the blog.

Thank you for reading – until next time!

 

 

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Training Update X2: March 6 – March 19

I missed a weekly update! I kept writing it in my weekly planner but I never got around to actually making the post. Eventually, I decided it would just be best to do a two-week update.

I’ve ran plenty of miles and it’s been an interesting past two weeks. So let’s just jump right into it. It’s a lonnnggggg post – so buckle your seat belts.

Monday, March 6: The first run of the week! I took it nice and easy so I could see how I was feeling for the rest of the week.

3.2 road miles – 25:25 minutes, 7:56 min/mile pace

Tuesday, March 7: Workoutttttt day. As per usual, I opted for the treadmill to get my speedwork done. I felt good and strong, and enjoyed the slightly different tempo workout than I usually do.

After a 15 minute warm up I did speed intervals – 2, 4, 2, 4, 2, 4, 2 minutes with half time rest in between. I felt strong the entire time and once the workout was done, I hopped outside for a 2 mile cool down. Because it was so nice, I ended up walking for a mile after my cool down and I saw a bald eagle!!!

15 minute warm up and workout (6.4 miles) – 45:21 minutes, 7:05 min/mile pace
2.1 mile cool down on road – 17:10 minutes, 7:53 min/mile pace
1 mile walk – 18:43 minutes

Wednesday, March 8: Pretty standard day. Not much to say other than I ran outside for five miles and felt alright.

5 road miles – 39:39 minutes, 7:55 min/mile

Thursday, March 9: Early on, I decided I wasn’t going to run today. I wanted to give my legs a rest before a long weekend of running and I wanted to sleep in as long as I could to rest up for the miles as well.

It turned out to be an absolutely gorgeous day. I couldn’t wait to leave work and go for a walk in the 70 degree weather. As soon as my shift was up I drove home eager to get outside and it was awesome. I walked for about 4.5 miles talking with my sister on the phone and it was the most relaxing time I’ve had all week.

4.4 mile walk – 1:10:43 mins 

Friday, March 10: Earrrrlllyyyy morning. I helped out at the Arlington store because they were short staffed, even though Friday is usually my day off. In order to still get my long run in, I thought it would be a good idea to run to the store. I packed a bag (not my awesome hydration vest) with food, a change of clothes, and some other necessities and headed out early to try and beat the impeding rain.

The run started out sucky. My stomach was really bothering me this morning and I had bad cramping before I even got out the door. I was unsure how the run was going to end up, especially after a shaky first two miles but things turned out not too bad. The last two miles to the store were uphill and I felt really strong, so I’m happy with this. By the time I made it to the store I only had 7.5 miles so I added on a few miles until I hit 10.5, and then headed to Peets to have coffee until it was time to open.

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happy after my morning run!

As soon as I sat down in Peets, the sky opened up and it was a torrentiallllll downpour. I timed my run just right and was so relieved to make it inside before the cold rain which than turned to snow. Had it rained on me, it would have gotten my bag soaking wet and even though I wrapped everything in plastic bags, my clothes probably would have still somehow gotten soaked. It was nice to watch it come down while I warmed up and sipped my coffee.

After working at the store, I ran into DC to meet Dave at his worksite. Since we were driving to our friends’ house in Maryland when he was done work, it made most sense for me to just meet dave at work and leave from there. The run was very windy but my legs felt good for the most part. I wasn’t as tight as I thought I might be, but that’s probably because I was hustling at work the entire time.  I ran about 4 miles and walked the rest of the way to the worksite.

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Once at our friends’ house, the guys did a lot of drinking. I left around 11 pm to drive home and sleep in my own bed, because I knew sleep was never going to happen at the house. Still didn’t get as much rest as I wanted, but there’s not much else I could do.

AM RUN: 7.7 road miles – 1:03:49, 8:14 min/mile pace THEN 2.8 miles at 24:23, 8:41 min/mile pace
PM RUN: 4.4 road miles- 37:24, 8:18 min/mile pace

Saturday, March 11: Longgggg run day! I wish I could have slept in longer because of going to bed so late, but I had to get up and get my run started early so I could celebrate dave’s bday with the guys.

I headed to Great Falls Park and was on the trail earlier than I’ve been able to make it in the past. It was pretty chilly this morning – in the teens – but I heated up SO FAST. I was in a long sleeve and jacket and tights, and within 10 minutes of running, I wished I wasn’t wearing my jacket. But oh well.

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cheezin’ half way through the run

The run was really beautiful. I practiced the trail how I plan to race it come 50k day and I walked the big uphills and took time to hydrate and eat plenty. I made it out farther on the trail than I have before and it was so peaceful having the forest all to myself. I definitely was feeling tired on the way back, and ended up stopping a mile short of what I originally planned. But I’m not even mad – the run was amazing! Considering my tight achilles and sore legs from the day before, 17 miles on the trail was perfect.

The rest of the day was spent with Dave and the guys celebrating Dave’s upcoming bday. They did a lot of drinking but I only had two beers or so throughout the entire day. I left the house around 8 pm because I was so exhausted, and I enjoyed the rest of the night to myself laying on the couch and relaxing before bed.

17.1 trail miles – 2:37:35, 9:13 min/mile pace

Sunday, March 12: I let myself sleep in nice and long this morning because I was feeling so tired. Didn’t feel like running when I woke up so I went and got Starbucks instead and sat doing a crossword and relaxing before work.

Work wasn’t too bad, and once I was done I decided to head out for a quick shake out before dinner. It was a beautiful evening, and thanks to Daylights Saving there was still sunlight! My legs were a little sore, but I felt a lot better than I thought I would with all the running around this weekend.

2.6 road miles – 21:09 minutes, 7:57 min/mile

WEEKLY MILEAGE: 52.1 MILES

NOTES ON THE WEEK: 52 miles!!! yay! Really happy with my long runs this week, despite the extra stress of late nights and traveling around. Made me feel really confident for my training to come.

Monday, March 13: Nice and easy run this morning to start the week. I felt really good and fresh, just a little tight in my calves/achilles still. It was a beautiful morning, especially given I knew the weather was going to get nasty tomorrow.

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the calm before the storm

4.2 road miles – 7:56 min/mile pace

Tuesday, March 14: Dave’s birthday! And snow! Haha, a lot was happening this day. Woke up to a wintry mess and learned my morning meeting was cancelled. So I slept in and kept delaying doing my workout because I felt so tired. When I woke up again, I learned the store was opening late, so I still had time to do my workout. I felt like I was being given all the signs to go and get my run in, so after some coffee and breakfast I headed down to the treadmill. I told myself I didn’t have to do my workout if I wasn’t feeling it. As much as I didn’t want to run on the treadmill…I don’t mess around with the ice anymore (it’s what took out my knee in college).

Once I got warmed up, I actually felt good and decided to do the workout. I ran 6X5 minute uptempo repeats with 1 minute rest in between. My 5 minute repeats were in between 6:30-6:15 min/mile pace and it felt great!

After my work out I headed to work and it was slowwwwwww. I guess no one wanted to come out in the snow/rain mess and I got to head out early which was super helpful because I wanted to pick up some cupcakes and grab some wrapping paper for Dave’s gift.

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pretty snow falling at work 🙂

We went to Hibachi for dinner and it was delicious! I got so many veggies and fried rice – makes me hungry just thinking about it!

15 minute warm up, 6X5 min uptempo repeats w/ 1 min rest – 7.3 miles, 50:30 minutes, 6:55 min/mile pace
2 mile cool down – 8:10 min/mile pace.
Total of 9.3 miles for the day

Wednesday, March 15: I was tired today. Decided to make it my rest day for the week. Did a good amount of icing, stretching and rolling!

Rest Day

Thursday, March 16: Not a good day. I wasn’t feeling great in the morning at work and then a headache started up in the afternoon. I left around 4 PM and usually I am super excited to get out the door and go for my run. But I felt so tired and unmotivated. I knew as soon as I got home I was going to collapse on the couch and not want to move. And that’s exactly what happened.

So, right before my shift ended at work, my right shoulder started to hurt. And it wasn’t just a little bit of pain here and there…if I moved my arm pretty much any way, I had radiating pain from my joint down into my arm. I didn’t lift and boxes or do anything weird…the pain just started randomly. At first, I wasn’t concerned about it. But as I got ready to leave work the pain got even worse, so I knew I was screwed with trying to get my run in.

I sat around watching tv for a few hours until Dave got home and I felt awful. I was even more tired than I was while at work and if I tried to move my arm the pain was ridiculous. Since Dave was going down to the gym to get a quick run in, I decided to try and join him. But getting dressed was a struggle. Putting my shoes on was a bitch. I got so frustrated and upset I told Dave to just go without me.

While dave was out of the apartment, I waffled back and forth about going down to join him. Against my best judgement, I decided to try and run and I trudged down to the gym.

It sucked. I was running slow but I felt horrible. Every muscle in my body hurt and I made it 3 miles before I had to quit because of the pain in my shoulder. I was supposed to go 7 today.

I’m not mad about missing out on a few miles because I know it happens and it’s best to listen to my body when it’s hurting. I guess I’m more angry about all the pain and fatigue, seemingly for no reason. But now, in retrospect, it’s possible I was herxing a bit.

3 mile treadmill run – 24:00 mins, 8:00 min/mile pace

Friday, March 17: St. Patrick’s Day! This day has been highlighted on my calendar – not because of drinking festivities, but because I had 20 miles marked down for the day. It was my first time going for 20 since marathon training quite a few years ago and I was actually pretty nervous about it. I decided to skip out on the trails because of the snow and ice still lingering, and I’m happy with my decision given the amount I still ran into out on the paved trail.

I was a little worried about my shoulder because it still hurt this morning. It wasn’t as bad as last night, but if I moved my arm in the wrong way it sent radiating pain down my arm. I thought my hydration vest might bother me a little bit, but when I put it on before my run, it didn’t really make a difference.

Starting out, I did not feel good. I tried not to let it get in my head and around 5 miles I started to feel more like myself. I was running down the Mt. Vernon Trail and by this point I made it to Roosevelt Island and had the bright idea of trying to run some trails on the island. BAD IDEA. There was still so much ice/snow in the back trails and it took me FOREVER to make the loop because of all the stumbling on the icy/melty snow. In the spots where the snow melted away there was so much mud I was slipping all over the place. Trust me, after one loop of this mess I was done and high tailed it back onto Mt. Vernon to cross into the city and give the canal a try.

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Any time I stopped (and I stopped a few times to stretch/eat) – my shoulder ached. I have NO IDEA why and what the hell I did but at least it didn’t hurt while I was running.

The tow path was a bit better, and only a few icy spots. It was nice running on the soft, flat trail for a bit but I was definitely starting to feel fatigued by 16 miles.  I reallllyyy had to talk myself through the last 2 miles of my run but I felt so amazing once it was done. I decided to walk for a good bit when I was done the 20 miles and I’m super happy I did. It helped flush some of the building soreness out of my legs and by the time I got back to my apartment I wasn’t feeling too bad.

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After icing, stretching, rolling and showering, I really didn’t do anything for the rest of the day. I kept my feet up and hung out on the couch until Dave got home. I started feeling really fatigued in the evening so I called it an early night after one Guinness and went to bed around 9:30.

20 mile run – 2:48:52, 8:26 min/mile pace
1.4 mile cool down walk – 26:24 minutes

Saturday, March 18: Long run numero 2 day! I woke up feeling pretty sore in my calves/achilles. It took me a few steps getting out of bed to really stretch out, and I waited a bit before heading out the door so I could make sure I was warmed up. My shoulder wasn’t really bothering me as much, so one plus!

It was a really nice morning – a bit warmer than it’s been the past week. I started out veryyyy slow and I could feel the fatigue in my quads/hips, and the tightness in my calves. There was no real pain so I kept trucking along, and I actually started to feel better as I went. Before I started, I thought I was only going to make it 3 miles, but then 3 miles turned into 6.

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I stopped to use the bathroom around 6 miles and thought about calling it quits, but I made myself head out the door for one more mile, and it turned into 3! I felt really proud of myself for getting 9 miles in and walked to Starbucks when I was done for a delicious coffee.

The rest of my day went okay. I stretched, iced and showered and headed to work to help out for a few hours. Walking around the store helped keep my legs loosened up, and as much as I didn’t want to go in, I think it helped me a bit because the rest of my evening was spent sitting.

9 road miles: first 6.2 miles in 52:56, 8:32 min/mile pace.  2.8 miles in 24:11, 8:35 min/mile pace.

Sunday, March 19: I woke up this morning not really feeling too sore, but not actually feeling like getting outside for my run. I walked to Starbucks instead and grabbed a coffee and did a little bit of planning before work instead. Ragnar is right around the corner so I’m frantically making lists for packing and what needs to get done before we leave.

Work ended. up being CRAZY today. It was absolutely non-stop. No time to eat, no time to drink…almost no time to breathe! My throat got so dry by the end of the shift, I pretty much gulped down my entire Nalgene to try and feel better. I was starting to get light headed, which happens to me often, but this was certainly from the lack of food and water.

Considering how busy it was at work I had no desire to go out for a run. I cooked up some gluten free pasta and ate two bowls when I got home and then had a few gluten-free (essentially Oreos) cookies.

By the time I finally felt well enough to attempt to run it was dark out, so to the treadmill I went. It was actually a pretty good run. I went around 8:00 min/mile pace and listened to the playlist I’ve been putting together for Ragnar and it got me super pumped up. Other than a little bit of calf tightness, the run felt really easy. I was actually shocked when I checked my Whoop monitor and it said this run was a higher strain than usual. It could be because of the stressful day and long miles this weekend…idk. But I iced up after and will be rolling out my calves as well.

5.5 miles on the treadmill – 43:28 minutes, 7:54 min/mile pace

TOTAL WEEKLY MILEAGE: 51 MILES

NOTES ON THE WEEK: I’m okay with how this week went down. I skipped out on a few miles because of not feeling great, but I’m not worried about it. I got my bulk long runs in and I’m proud of myself for pushing through this weekend.  Running 20 miles, then 9 miles, and then 5.5 miles is something I used to think I was incapable of, but I’m learning my body can do so much more when I listen to it and believe in myself.

With Ragnar this upcoming week, I will probably take it very easy leading up to the event. I don’t really care if I don’t hit as high mileage as my training plan wants me to – I’m only concerned on performing at Ragnar and having a great time. So lots of stretching for the calves/achilles until the race and then we’ll take it from there!

As of tonight, my shoulder pain is virtually gone. I don’t know why it came on so suddenly or what caused it. I’m just happy it’s subsiding. I don’t want to blame it on lyme because I honestly can’t see how it’s related, since the pain didn’t feel like that arthritis sort of ache I get in my knees/wrists/other joints.  Let’s just hope it keeps going away and never comes back!

Masking the Invisible Illness

Slowly the room comes into focus. Blinking once or twice, I stretch my arms over my head as I try to assess how I’m feeling this morning.  Is my headache still raging?  Are my knees still aching?  Can I feel my hands and toes?  As my alarm begins blaring again, I rip the warm covers back and place my cold feet on the wooden floor.  It’s another day, and I’m never sure what’s in store.

After waking, I shuffle from my bed to the bathroom and I can feel every ache in my body, starting from the feet up.  The running probably doesn’t help, but some of the pain I know is from a tired body, one constantly fighting against itself.

When I look in the mirror, I see the same me I’ve seen for years staring back.  I certainly don’t look sick, I tell myself.  Maybe my face is a little paler than most, my hair thinner than it’s ever been, but to anyone out in the world, I look normal.  Most people don’t notice the trembling in my hands when I’m helping them at work, or how I drop boxes all the time because I can’t feel my fingers.  Most people don’t know when I’m smiling and trying to act normal I often have a searing headache pulsing in my skull, and light sensitivity so great when I turn to look out the window the pain radiates through my head like a lightning bolt.

Morning means my first dose of medicine.  On any given day I have about 14 different medicines/supplements I need to take, all spread out from breakfast to dinner.  These days, I’m grateful not to be on the three antibiotics anymore, which often made me feel like a zombie, and sometimes forced me to stay in bed.  As much as I wish I could say I am used to taking my medicine (I’ve been in treatment for about four months now), I’m still not.  I hate dragging the bottles around with me everywhere I go, like some new appendage on me impossible to hide.  I feel ashamed.  I feel as if my illness is something meant to hide.  Growing up, I wasn’t taught to show any vulnerabilities – I was taught to be strong, even when I didn’t feel it.  Toting around pills, avoiding certain foods, opting out of outings with friends because I’m not feeling well – I despise having my weaknesses written on my sleeve for all to see.

On average, by the end of the day I’ve usually taken 16-18 different pills and about 149 drops of several liquid herbal medicines.  These are the good days I actually remember to take everything.  There are other times where I’m much more forgetful and pass out in bed after a long day of work without taking my final doses.  There have been other times where I feel a sense of sadness from all the pill popping, and in a day or two of denial, I don’t take any medicine.  Those are always the worst days.

To top it off, I’ve been very forgetful lately.  Sometimes, I’ll be telling myself over and over again a task I need to do, and in the process of getting ready to do whatever is needed, the thought slips from my mind like an elusive shadow sneaking back into the comfort of the dark.  The brain fog is heavy.  I see the world through clouded lens and often feel like I can’t put together sentences or see things right in front of me.  This is probably the hardest part, especially for writing.  As someone who used to have the words flow so freely from my mind, I struggle the most with not being able to articulate my thoughts as clearly as I used to before I got sick.

When I was first diagnosed, I tried to hide behind a mask of normalcy.  After all, this isn’t my first go-round struggling with an invisible illness, so I know the song and dance well.  In the past when I struggled badly with depression, I always wanted to appear happy to others even when I was in an incredibly dark place.  I hid it so well I went years without help.  Until I finally broke.

I wear the same constricting mask with lyme because I don’t want people to know I hurt.  I don’t want to be seen differently.  But more and more, I am taking this mask off and letting myself breathe free.  I don’t want to break again.  I now know, unlike I did before, it’s okay for others to know you’re hurting or struggling.  It’s okay to need help.

For the first time in my life I’ve spoken freely about my struggles.  And what I’ve discovered by being so open is I have a lot more support on my side.  Even when I’m having an off day, instead of wallowing in self pity I’m more apt to give myself a break.  Sometimes I have to laugh at myself, especially with the forgetfulness, even though it frustrates me to no end.  Laughing is an important part of my recovery.  It keeps me grounded and helps me realize what’s most important in life.

So, while every day may present a new challenge, I’m up for it.  Training for my 57 mile run scares me, but that’s how I know it’s so important.  This event is going to change my life, and I know I won’t be the same person 57 miles later when I enter Bucknell’s track as I was earlier in the morning, standing on Penn State’s track.  This change will be good.  And raising money for Global Lyme Alliance may help change the lives of many others struggling with lyme and struggling to get a proper diagnosis.

There are many invisible illnesses out there and this is just my story.  But there are so many others wearing masks just like me.  And while we try to hide these weaknesses and appear “normal” (whatever normal really is), dealing with lyme has helped me find a strength within I never knew existed.  I am stronger than I ever have been before.

And from here I’ll continue to grow.

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© Allison Donaghy 2017 All Rights Reserved

 

Chasing my 57 mile dream

This week I finally took some steps toward making my 57 mile charity run from Penn State to Bucknell REAL.  I created my charity page!  For whatever reason, I was so nervous about creating it and pushing it out to my family and friends, but I think my anxieties over it shows just how important it is to me.  Lyme has been kicking my ass these past few days, so it feels good fighting back.

If you’d like to check out my charity page, you can find it HERE.  I’ve set a $5,000 goal, but I’ve also never done this before, and I’d like to dream bigger and raise more money.  But we’ll see how it goes! There’s still plenty of time – 9 months of training here I come.

If you want to read more about my story and why I decided to do this charity run (and why Penn State to Bucknell??) you can check out my page HERE.  I go a little bit more into my background with Lyme and why I’ve chosen this particular run.

That’s it for now…just wanted to send out this quick update since I feel like I’ve been so busy over the past few days getting everything ready.  If you have any questions, you can always reach out to me through the contact page.  I’ll also have a “real” blog post coming soon.  I’m hoping by Friday so look out for it :).

And as always – thank you for your support.  It means so much to me, I can’t even explain. I’m not very good at showing my emotions, but I received my first few donations yesterday and I actually teared up.  This run is extremely important to me and I am extremely determined to get to that Penn State track come November.

Weekly Training Update: January 23-29

This past week was the highest mileage week I’ve had in YEARS.  And it’s only the beginning!  Also – I should have a “real” blog post coming your way soon, I’ve just had a lot on my plate. I’m getting my fundraiser page ready for my 57 mile charity run in November and I’m trying to figure out how I’d like to organize everything, so it is taking up a bit of my time.

Monday, January 23: I woke up this morning and it was POURING and windy.  Stared out the window for a few minutes and decided NOPE.  I made it my rest day :).
(Rest Day)

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I did make some delicious veggie chili this day though!

Tuesday, January 24: I intended on heading out the door for a 5 mile run, but only made it 4.2 miles.  I ran on the Mt. Vernon Trail but was really not feeling it.  I felt groggy, my legs felt heavy and I had a headache.  I had to talk myself through each step.

But the best part of today was…I DID STRENGTHENING.  I focused on my glutes – doing lots of leg lifts and squats, but I also did some abs too! Strengthening work out lasted all of 22 minutes.
(4.2 road miles, 7:59 min/mile pace)

Wednesday, January 25: WORKOUT DAYYYYYY! I seriously love tempo workouts.  I do wish I didn’t always have to do them on the treadmill, but I KNOW if I try and run one alone outside, I won’t be able to hit my pace.  So I think going too fast on the treadmill is better than nothing.

My glutes were SO SORE this morning, but I was pretty sure it wasn’t going to affect my workout. I did a lot of stretching this morning to help alleviate some of the tightness.

I warmed up for 18 minutes at about 8 min/mile pace and then did 5X5 minute repeats uptempo, with 1 min rest in between.  My 5 minute repeats were anywhere between 6:40-5:50 min/mile pace.  I progressively got faster with each repeat, which I always enjoy.

After the workout I hopped outside to cool down for 20 minutes.  It was a beautiful day, sun shining and in the upper 50s…seriously, I feel like winter has been completely absent this year.

Total mileage for the day was 9.5 miles!

(18 minute warm-up, 5X5 min fast, 1 minute recovery: 7 miles, 6:54 min/mile average)
(20 minute road cool down: 2.5 miles, 7:58 min/mile pace)

Thursday, January 26: Glutes still tight today, ha! I think the tightness really shows how badly I need to start doing strengthening on a more regular basis.

I woke up with the intention of getting my run in before work, but I just couldn’t get myself out the door. I was feeling very tired and achy, so I did some writing instead and tried to stretch a little bit.

My boss let me step off the floor a little early, with the caveat I had to go out and do my run if I was going to leave.  So I got dressed at the running store and headed out for my run (I knew if I went home I would just lay on the couch and do nothing). It was very windy, and no matter which direction I turned, I felt like there always was a headwind.

I also got some really weird pains shooting down my right leg. I was wearing compression socks, trying to help with blood flow in my legs after yesterday’s workout, but I feel like they may have been causing the pain? I honestly have no idea.  My right knee felt incredibly weak (this is the knee I have arthritis in and constant joint pain) and every once and a while I would take a step and it felt like fire was shooting down my lower leg from my knee.  Dislike. But I took it easy and finished the run.

I only needed 3-5 miles, but somehow got myself turned around in Old Town and ended up going 5.8 miles.  I stretched A LOT and iced after the run.

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I tried these after my run and they were actually pretty good!
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YASSSSSSS

Later in the night, I also did strengthening again!!! Stayed away from doing any leg work and really just focused on abs and some arm stuff.  After strengthening I stretched and rolled my legs out for a good 25 minutes.

(5.8 road miles, 8:10 min/mile pace)

Friday, January 27: So excited for this day! All week I planned on going to Fountainhead Regional Park to hit up the trails again for the first time in awhile.  My good friend joined me so I wouldn’t have to suffer alone, and I’m so happy I had her there with me on the trails.

I was a little nervous about my knee because of the pain from the day before, but I put on some supportive tights and a patella strap and decided to just go for it.

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This was my first time testing out my hoka speedgoats on an actual technical trail, and I thought they faired pretty well.  I, however, really need to get out on the trails more often. I felt like I was turning my ankles constantly, and I tripped twice (the second time was about .1 miles from finishing…so frustrating!).  But even with the turning of ankles and falling, I had an amazing run.  The hills definitely challenged me, but it was so nice to be out in nature again.

(8 trail miles, 9:51 min/mile pace)

 

Saturday, January 28: Long run day! I decided to head to Great Falls park because most of my 50k April race will be on some of the trails in this area.  I tested out my new Nathan Vaporairess Race Vest today and it was the first time I’ve ever run with a water pack before.  IT WAS AWESOME.  I definitely need to get used to drinking on the run and having the pack on me, but it didn’t bother me once throughout my entire run.  And that’s saying something.

I really wanted to go slow today and just focus on having an enjoyable run.  My ankles were super sore from turning them so many times at Fountainhead, but the rest of my legs felt surprisingly good.

I think today was the first run where I let myself walk when I needed to (up some of the steeper hills) and stop to enjoy the beautiful park and scenery.  I know I need to get used to power walking in long trail ultra races and I feel like today was the first time I told myself it was okay to take breaks.  And I really ended up enjoying my run, even though it was long and challenging, and I was absolutely exhausted at the end.

(12.6 trail miles, 9:07 min/mile pace)

Sunday, January 29: I meant to do some strengthening and some cross training today but it never happened.  I slept A LOT last night but I woke up still feeling exhausted, which is never a good sign for me.  I ended up taking the day as another rest day, but I was definitely hustling at work a bit, so my legs got to shake out some.  I do wish I could have done that strengthening…

JANUARY 23 – JANUARY 29 WEEKLY MILEAGE: 40.3 MILES!

NOTES ON THE WEEK: I am so happy with this training week. I can’t believe I finally hit 40 miles and felt pretty good doing it.  I did notice I’m feeling a lot of fatigue after my longer runs (I can’t seem to do anything but lay on the couch afterwards) so as the mileage ramps up in a few weeks, I’m going to pay really close attention to what my body is telling me.  I don’t think the fatigue is from being out of shape, it could be the lyme and overexerting myself, but I’m going to monitor it.

 

Weekly Training Update: Jan 16-Jan 22

Another week in the books! I continued with building mileage this week and it actually went pretty well for me.  Hoooorayyyyyyy.

Monday, January 16: My birthday! I tried to enjoy today as much as possible and the training plan called for a steady 4-5 miler. I hit the Mt. Vernon Trail for a nice run before work, which I knew was going to be incredibly busy with it being a federal holiday and all. It was nice to discover my soreness from last week was gone and I had no foot pain!
(5 miles outside – 7:55 min/mile pace)

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ALSO: look at these delicious vegan sloppy joes Dave made me for my birthday! NOM.

Tuesday, January 17: Today I was supposed to run 3 miles but I was not having a good day and I ended up skipping the run. I thought about doing some cross training or strengthening when I got home from work but it didn’t happen either. Sometimes these days happen for me, and I don’t expect my training to ever go perfectly. I had a migraine after waking up early and the day just wasn’t mine.
(rest day)

Wednesday, January 18: Workout day!!! I really love doing tempo workouts…but because I rocked myself so much last week I was hellbent on doing a better job of pacing this week. I used the treadmill again because it’s really hard for me to hit paces alone outside off of a track.

I did a 15 minute warm up then a 2, 4, 6, 4, 2 pyramid with equal rest.  My tempo paces were again between 6:30 – 6:00 min/mile pace but it felt much easier this time!
(15 minute warm up + entire tempo workout: 7 miles at 7:11 min/mile pace)
(15 minute cool down: 1.7 miles at 8:34 min/mile pace)

img_0682Happy Post-Workout!

Thursday, January 19: Today was supposed to be a rest or cross training day but I decided to make up my missed 3 mile run on Tuesday. I was nervous I’d be sore, but I actually felt fine taking it easy.

I also did a little bit of strength training. Nothing major, but at least it’s something. Focused on doing some squats, abs, calf raises, and some bicep/tricep stuff.  I didn’t do nearly as much as I should, but I’ll get there. I hope.
(3.1 miles at 8:04 min/mile pace)

Friday, January 20: So, ordinarily I like to go hit some trails on Friday but because of inauguration, I didn’t feel like dealing with weird traffic. I decided to do my long trail on the Mt. Vernon Trail and it was actually really nice. I’m pretty sure the pace was a little too fast for being my long run, but I’m not used to doing it on asphalt and zero hills. I got a little competitive with catching other runners ahead of me too…so there’s that.

Even though I wasn’t on a trail I really enjoyed this run. I made it to Roosevelt Island but didn’t really get to run around on it at all because I needed to turn around almost immediately. I feel like I did a good job fueling today and it was kinda cool to watch the city from afar and hear everything going on at the Pentagon as well.
(12.2 miles at 7:52 min/mile pace)

Saturday, January 21: Dave and I headed to Hershey, PA, on Friday so we could go to Troegs, so I woke up nice and early to get a good stretching in. I was definitely feeling sore from a lack of stretching the day before (I finished my long run, showered, ate and got right in the car to go to Hershey) so the soreness was all my fault. I stretched for a good half hour though and then Dave and I headed to a rail trail to get a little run in.

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I tested my new trail shoes (hoka speed goats) and I’m still undecided on them. Obviously a rail trail is not a vigorous trail so I’ll be interested in testing them out at Fountainhead and Great Falls, but they do fit my feet a little differently than most shoes. I think there’s a little bit of stability built into this model which I don’t really need (I’m a neutral runner) so we’ll see how my next few runs go in them.

I ended up going just about 6 miles on the rail trail. It was a beautifully foggy morning and so peaceful! My legs felt good in the first three miles but by the end the soreness and stiffness were back and I was really feeling it.  I was really glad to have this run over with at the end.
(5.9 miles at 8:09 min/mile pace)

So, the above beer was my first in 3 1/2 months. It took me an hour and half to drink it – ha! And on the right is the most delicious cabbage rolls EVER. Got them at the Hershey Hotel for dinner when Dave and I went out to celebrate my birthday.

Sunday, January 22: Dave and I drove back to VA early this morning so I would make it to work on time. I had plenty of time to squeeze in a little run before work, but honestly didn’t feel like dragging myself outside.

I didn’t end up running until 8:30 pm. I hit up the treadmill because it was only 2 miles and I didn’t feel like going out into the dark and rain. When I first started running, my knees felt HORRIBLE. They felt creaky and painful so I kept my stride super short and within .25 miles the pain dissipated. Sometimes this happens for me, especially in my right knee where I had a dreadful surgery.

I ended up going 3 miles nice and easy. Felt much better once I was done.
(3 miles at 8:00 min/mile pace).

JANUARY 16 – JANUARY 22 MILEAGE: 38 MILES (hooray!)

NOTES ON THE WEEK: I’m really happy with the weekly mileage BUT not so much with the strengthening and the cross training. I really, really really need to do more next week.  That’s the goal!

Weekly Training Update – Last Week

OK – Weekly update time!

I apologize for not getting to the update last week.  It was actually a HORRENDOUS weekend for me health-wise and I had no energy at all to update the blog.  I’ll recap some those training runs too.  It’s only fair.

I’ll start with last week because it was my first big week back off of a recovery week.  Then HOPEFULLY you’ll see another post this Sunday for this week.

This week I had SO MANY DELICIOUS vegan and vegetarian meals.  They had me feeling good and super excited for what other recipes I could try in the future.

JANUARY 9th – today was just a regular ol’ steady state run.  It was SO COLD outside and I made the decision to go outside without my balaclava and I really regretted it.  The whole time I was running I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I never warmed up.  Also dealt with some of my mysterious foot pain.
(4 miles outside – 8:08 min/mile pace)

IMG_0607.JPG(Look at this delicious spicy Korean rice cake dinner with a soft boiled egg and veggies on top!!!)

JANUARY 10th – The training schedule didn’t call for cross training today but I moved some things around because I knew I would be traveling at the end of the week.  Decided to hit up my bike trainer for the first time in forever and it was tough going, even though I wasn’t cycling hard.  MUST GET BACK IN CROSS-TRAINING SHAPE!

I followed up the cycling with a 2 mile shake out.  Much warmer today and the brevity of the run made it quite enjoyable.
(45 minutes cycling on bike trainer.  2 miles outside – 8:10 min/mile pace)

JANUARY 11th – WORKOUT DAY!!! This week’s focus is SPEED, and because I do almost every run alone, I decided to use the treadmill so I could hit the paces I wanted.  I felt like the workout went fantastic – little to zero foot pain and I felt like I was flying at some points.

15 minute warm up, then pyramid workout. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 uptempo intervals with equal rest.  I was running the tempo portions anywhere between 6:30-6:00 min/mile pace.  I felt great.
(15 minute warm up + entire tempo workout: 8.7 miles at 7:08 min/mile pace)
(1.1 mile cool down at 9:05 min/mile pace)

(I had the best meals after my workout. Lunch was an epic salad from SweetGreen with so many delicious veggies, and dinner was vegan sweet potato quesadillas – NOM!)

JANUARY 12th – oh. my. god. SO SORE TODAY.  I headed out in the AM for a shake out run (the weather was absolutely beautiful – t-shirt and shorts kinda day IN THE MIDDLE OF JAN) and I felt like my legs were bricks! I SO wanted to enjoy this run but I felt miserable the whole time, like I was dragging my lower body.
(4.1 miles at 8:16 min/mile pace)

I drove to NJ this night after work so I also felt like the extended amount of time in the car did not do me any favors.

JANUARY 13th – AM: I went and saw my physical therapist who used to take care of me for all of my injuries.  Before I moved away to DC, I had been her patient for about 10 years – she saw me through my entire high school and collegiate running career.

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I had her look at my foot (I suspected the cuboid) and even though when she did the manipulation we heard some crackling down there, she told me the reason I was getting the foot pain is because my achilles is super tight.  And because the tendon is so tight, I’m not really getting any flex in my ankle and the pain is deferring down the side of my foot.  So, while I was there she really focused on stretching me out and urged me to start stretching regularly and making it a big part of my routine.

After seeing my PT, I spent most of my day outside picking up the yard of my childhood home.  When it came time to actually get my run in, I wasn’t super excited. I was definitely tired this day.  But I headed to Thompson Park (MY FAVORITE) and hit the trails.

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not even pick-up-sticks. try, enormous pieces of tree I must drag off the yard.
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Killin’ it.
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Thompson Park in all its glory.

The run went alright. I was still incredibly sore, but I felt this was okay because I usually feel my workout soreness two days later.  I didn’t hit any real technical trails because I was feeling so lethargic, but I tried to enjoy the few easy trails I shuffled along.
(5.6 miles at 8:43 min/mile pace).

JANUARY 14th – Long run day!!! Because I was coming off a recovery week, the long run for this week actually wasn’t too “long.” I decided I would head back to Thompson in the hopes I would enjoy it more than the day before, but I was still so. sore.  Pretty much realized I went way too fast during my Wednesday tempo workout and knew I was just going to have to gut it out through this run.

I was having some real bad stomach pains in the first few miles and felt sure I was going to have to cut the run short.  But after 4.5 miles, things sorta clicked for me and I went into my “long run mode.”  I remembered running through this park as just a kid, and I visited all the trails I used to run with my teammates: wooded single-track trails, big open paths through golden fields, and root-riddled forest trails.  I thought about how far I’ve come, and how lucky I was to even be out there running.  By the time I hit 10 miles, I was exhausted, but ecstatic!
(10 miles at 8:38 min/mile pace).

JANUARY 15th – Rest Day.  And boy oh boy did I need it.  I did not have a good night on the 14th (it ended with my going to bed at 3:45 AM in the morning) and I was exhausted.  I had to go to work, so I used my morning to relax, eat a big breakfast and take some time to myself before heading to the store. I knew it’d be busy with the holiday weekend…being at work all day was basically my workout.

JANUARY 9th – JANUARY 15th WEEKLY MILEAGE: 35.5 miles.
NOTES ON THE WEEK: I’m really happy with this! It’s been so long since my mileage has been in the 30s so I was incredibly proud of myself for getting out there and working through some lyme-related pain and then just general soreness.  The only thing that would have made this week better would be if I STRENGTH TRAINED.  I know if I don’t start strength training, I’m screwed. I really need help and motivation doing this.