Something Wild.

Something Wild. That’s how I’ve been feeling lately.

Something Wild is actually a song I’ve been listening to a lot lately. The lyrics inspire me, the melody awakens me, and the song makes me realize how much I’ve grown. Training for my 57 mile run is changing me. The long training runs give me time to look at myself in retrospect, to look at the broken path I’ve run down, and realize how I built the road before me with those pieces.

You had your maps drawn
You had other plans to hang your hopes on
Every road they let you down felt so wrong
So you found another way

Running helps define who I am and I don’t think it’s a bad thing.

My running career has been anything but simple. It’s been a rollercoaster ride. A hike with so many peaks and valleys I’ve lost count of the times I’ve stood triumphantly at the summit and felt lost in the low depressions, surrounded by seemingly unclimbable hills and towering pines. But still I run, blindly following where my feet guide me next.

Running brings peace and calmness to my life. When I’ve struggled in my personal life and/or professional life, running is what helped me disconnect from the madness. There are times where I felt so lost, I wasn’t sure if the path I was traveling down was the right one. Sometimes it was, sometimes it wasn’t. Sometimes the road cracked and crumbled beneath my feet. Sometimes I came to a dead end and couldn’t imagine turning around and going back down the twisted way I’d already stumbled through. But in these times I could always clear my mind with a run through the woods. And when I was injured, I visualized myself being back out there – breathing in and out, a methodical rhythm, one foot softly landing before the other across a leaf-strewn path.

And I found another way.

You’ve got a big heart
The way you see the world
It got you this far
You might have some bruises
And a few scars
But you know you’re gonna be okay

For as long as I can remember, I cared most about everyone but myself. Whether it was a boy, friend, family or boss, I was terrified of disappointing anyone in my life. I always put myself last in hopes it would mean I would never lose those people in my life. It worked for a little awhile, until the stress and anxiety caused me to disintegrate. Other than family, I lost those people anyways. It wasn’t until recently, as I was struggling to find my diagnosis with lyme, did I learn it’s okay to put myself first and take care of the pain I felt.

I do have many bruises and scars, and it’s okay. I used to be embarrassed of who I used to be and the things I did. By no means am I proud of myself in some of those instances, but I no longer feel the urgency to keep the “old me” locked away and secret, in fear of being judged. I don’t care if you judge me or see me in a different light. I don’t care if you know I struggled with depression, anxiety, and an eating disorder – I’ll put it out there bluntly for you because those things don’t define who I am anymore. They never did (as much as I thought so in the moment). It took me a really long time to realize this, and even though it’s been many years, I don’t think I could understand until I was truly okay.

And even though you’re scared
You’re stronger than you know

I’m not ashamed of the old me. The old me is one of the strongest people I know.

And I’ve only gotten stronger.

If you’re lost out where the lights are blinding
Caught in all, the stars are hiding
That’s when something wild calls you home, home
If you face the fear that keeps you frozen
Chase the sky into the ocean
That’s when something wild calls you home, home

Nature heals. And running allows me to experience the world in such unique fashion. There is an orchestral interlude during Something Wild where the violinist plays a folksy melody reminding me specifically of running through Ireland’s green countryside with my dad and Erin. We headed out early in the morning from our rental cottage near the sea, the salty air filling our lungs and hearts. The narrow roads were lined with large archaic-looking stones, and we hopped through them, onto a strait through the receded bay where herds of sheep grazed lazily, thinking nothing of the rising tide to come later. I don’t remember the conversations had (and it’s possible we ran mostly in silence, taking in the beautiful landscape around us) but I do remember the green, the crunch of gravel beneath our feet, and the languished squawks of seabirds above. I remember this lightness in my chest and calmness in my mind as we ran in a line toward the sea, and the sun rose higher above us. There was no other place we were supposed to be in that moment, experiencing the freedom and beauty of Ireland before most people were even awake.

On this same trip, I can also remember sitting in a small pub late at night with my family, as my parents sipped Guinness and we listened to a band playing traditional Irish jigs and reels. As we sat in the dim pub, my parents tapping their feet to the fast beat, I sat hunched over my notebook writing endlessly. Back then, I was in my early teens, I used to carry paper with my everywhere so I could write my stories whenever I had a chance. The music inspired me, and even though I never looked up from my paper, I felt as if I was experiencing that pub and music in the best way possible. At one point, the lead musician came over to my parents and commented he had been watching me the whole time during the set and noticed I hadn’t stopped writing once. My parents said, “she’s a writer,” and my heart swelled with pride. As I scribbled out my story the rest of the night, I thought of myself as a real writer, and imagined myself doing it as a profession.

These moments of clarity are living. These are the memories I hold nearest to my heart, and running has given many to me.

Lately, I am tired of feeling trapped, spinning in the same circle as I try to find the right balance between my responsibilities. For a long time, I forgot I am a writer, even though my younger self was so sure. I lost my writing after college to a high demand job, and then my brain fog from lyme took my vocabulary. And as it’s slowly coming back, I know I AM still a storyteller.

When I left my job in communications just about two years ago, I left for several reasons. I was sick, I was unhappy, and I wanted to bring back meaning to my life, which otherwise felt stale. I wanted to rediscover myself and see if it was possible for me to take part in my life again, instead of standing by and watching it whirl by in front of me. And while it was hard to let go of who I thought I was, it ended up being the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. Being a disappointment to family and friends has always been one of my greatest fears, but when I finally stood up to my fear and left the job to focus on finding what truly made me happy, I became an even better person. I learned it doesn’t matter what you think others think of you and the choices you make in your life, because ultimately it’s your life. And your happiness matters most. You don’t have to have a corporate job to be successful and respected by others. And I didn’t learn this until I let go of the standard we’re taught that without a corporate/professional job after college we are not successful.

There is not just one equation for success.

I believe happiness is the ultimate success.

Sometimes the past can
Make the ground beneath you feel like a quicksand
You don’t have to worry
You reach for my hand
Yeah I know you’re gonna be okay
You’re gonna be okay

When I envision myself running 57 miles I don’t think about being sick or past injuries I struggled through. No matter the injury or sickness I was dealing with, I always planned to get back to running. I was always hopeful and believed in my ability to get back to the roads and trails where I could be myself.

When I stress fractured my hip my senior year of high school it nearly broke me, but I persevered and ran a personal best in the 5k once healed. After my knee injury and surgery in college, a surgeon told me I should never run again, and certainly not long distance. But I believed in myself. And after I taught myself how to walk again, I taught myself how to run again. And I started slow and the process was painful and challenging, but it was all worth it when two years later I ran my first marathon. Giving up is something foreign to me. Don’t ever let someone else tell you what you can and cannot do.

I don’t let my past injuries and challenges in life define how I look at the future. 57 miles is the biggest challenge I’ve ever embarked on, and even though I have a past riddled with injuries it doesn’t mean I can’t do it. After being a competitive long distance runner for 18 years, I know my mind needs to be stronger than my body. And I’ve never been surer my positive mentality will carry me through. I couldn’t run for three weeks before my 50k this past April, but once I got out there on the trails I fell into the same mentality I always have during runs: a blank tranquility only focused on putting one foot in front of the other. Again and again.

So, I guess what the song helped me realize is it’s okay to take a different path than the one you always expected yourself to go down. It’s okay to have a complex past, to see yourself in different stages of life as different people who finally grew into the wonderful person you are today. Having the urge to be free from every day routines is natural. I know every once and awhile I need to immerse myself in nature, set myself loose into the wild.

Because the wild is home to me.

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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!

 

 

Fighting Self Doubt

I haven’t updated in awhile. Not my weekly training updates, not a fundraiser update…NOTHING. And I’m feeling a little guilty about it. Because when I’m hurting I have a habit of shutting myself off from the world.

For the past three-four weeks I’ve been battling a sprained ankle/peroneal tendonitis. I felt the first twinges in my peroneal the week leading up to the Tennessee Ultra Ragnar, but during the race only felt twinges of pain during my first leg. After ragnar, I took an easy week and didn’t think anything of it. But as I began building the next week I noticed my peroneal was increasingly tight. After I did my last 20 miler out on the flooded trail, I could hardly walk the day after. It’s then I knew I was in trouble.

I took a week off. I didn’t do a damn thing except a few walks here and there and I could tell my peroneal was feeling much better. But when I went to run after a week of rest, the pain came right back. Once I finished my 10 miler on Good Friday I was in the same boat – I couldn’t walk right without pain. Immediately, I felt like a failure. I’ve been training for this 50k for so long, just to get injured in the final stage. So I shut down. I refused to leave the apartment all weekend except for work, and I disconnected from life. I had tunnel vision and I could only focus on how my 50k dreams were out the door.

This was about two weeks ago. and I’m doing much better. I started seeing a physical therapist, running on an underwater treadmill, and taking long walks to ease my anxiety and pent up energy. It’s hard to go from 50 miles a week to zero. But at some point between PT and waking up at the crack of dawn to run on the underwater treadmill, I started feeling better about my impeding 50k, even though my tendonitis still bothered me. I faced reality. My goal this year is my 57 miler in November – not the 50k, no matter how much I trained for it.

Once I stopped stressing, my body started recovering. The inflammation in my peroneal went down and I stopped having pain walking. This past week, after my last PT appointment, I made the decision to try and race. I went for a short jog on the treadmill and had no pain, so I decided I could at least start the race with the option of dropping out if the pain built up too much. I was nervous about toeing the line without any real training/running for three weeks prior, but I also trusted myself. As long as my peroneal didn’t hurt, I knew I could finish.

I’ll have a real race recap later on, but I made it and I am so happy! I couldn’t have done it without the constant support of my friends and family, and I can’t believe it’s already over. Once the race started, I was so excited to be out there running again nothing else mattered. I took in every little moment: the sunrise over the foggy Potomac, the determined forms of runners zig zagging up a steep hill before me, and the sound of my own breath breathing steadily in and out, in and out.

A little bit of ankle pain set in around mile 18 but I started incorporating more walking and the pain never got any worse. Honestly, the course was so muddy in the last 9 miles or so it was IMPOSSIBLE to run. Every person I saw who tried to run through on the trail wiped out in front of me, and I knew if I went down I’d probably have a real rough time getting back up and going with the pain. So I did some speed walking with super-duper short steps cursing the mud under my breath every time I felt my feet lose traction beneath me, causing my already-sore muscles to tense with the thought of falling down.

When the finish line was finally in sight, you couldn’t wipe the smile off my face if you tried. I was excited and so happy to finish with relatively little peroneal pain. It was 92 degrees out (seriously, what the HELL was up with this weekend’s weather?!) and I still felt relatively fine hydration/nutrition wise. The most painful part of the day was the two blisters I formed on my heels in the last 10 miles – probably from the slipping in the mud and friction caused. No lie – my heels are STILL pulsating and I’ve never had this problem with my shoes/socks before.

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So, now what? I saw my doctor the day before the 50k, and he checked my ankle/fibula for any stress fractures and I’m good. He recommended taking some down time after the race to let any inflammation in my peroneal to go down, and I’ll be starting more extensive PT tomorrow. I still have my eyes on my 57 mile charity run in November, and I’ll be starting training back up in June. This month, I’d like to get back into a routine of not only running, but cross training and strengthening CONSISTENTLY. If tendonitis has taught me anything, this diversity in my training is going to be vital. I’m also looking for a coach to help get me through this summer/fall healthy for my event. But I guess we’ll see. And of course (because I always say this), I’ll try to update my blog more regularly.

Look forward to my 50k race recap soon and once I begin training regularly again, I’ll try to post updates every week or so. For now, it’s rest and recover time. And believe me, my legs need it.

 

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!

Training Update: February 27-March 5

Gahhhhhh I can’t believe it’s already March. But here we are. I’m not even going to apologize for posting my training late because I’ve had so much on my plate lately, I can’t believe I actually have time to right this update at the moment. So, I’ll just dive right into it.

This was a recovery week and I NEEDED it. After hiking old rag and having two long runs back to back last week I definitely was hurting. My left achilles, especially.

Monday, February 27: Rest day! I welcomed this day so much because I was absolutely exhausted from the weekend. I did some stretching today and that was about it other than work. I definitely noticed a tightness in my achilles, which I blame on power-hiking Old Rag.

When I came home from work I did have a nice surprise because Dave made dinner and it was awesome. The recipe came from Blue Apron and they were curry veggie fritters. He used gluten-free mazto meal instead of the regular they provided, and it was still delicious!

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Rest Day.

Tuesday, February 28: Woke up bright and early today because I needed to go to a training session in DC with Brooks. The session was pretty cool,  but I didn’t take advantage of most of the experiences they had there because I was crunched for time.

By the time I got home I didn’t have much time before I had to go to work. I decided to go for a little run on the Mt. Vernon trail and immediately felt the tightness still in my calves.  Other than the tightness, the run was pretty good.

Because my car was already at work (I carpooled to the Brooks event), I decided to just walk the 2 miles to the store instead of Uber. It was a beautiful day and the walk helped stretch my legs out a little bit more.

When I got home from work I did a little bit of strengthening, maybe 15 minutes? I focused mainly on abs and some leg lifts, but because my calves and hips felt so tight I was afraid to worsen the pain and I skipped out on a lot of exercises.

I also made myself Daiya Mac and cheese because it’s amazing, especially after a long day. It’s gluten-free AND vegan…so winning?

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LOOK AT IT.

3.2 miles road miles – 7:58 min/mile pace
2.6 miles walk to work
15-20 minutes strengthening – abs, some leg lifts

Wednesday, March 1: Woke up still feeling pretty tired so decided today would be a cross training day.

Well, that never happened. I did, however, go for a nice little walk midday before work to try and work through the million thoughts in my head. I ended up walking for about 40 minutes with the intention of doing an hour of cross training after work on the bike. lol.

40 minute walk on Mt. Vernon Trail – 2.4 miles

Thursday, March 2: For whatever reason, I love going for a run after my Thursday work shift. It’s such a stress reliever after work, and I always end up running over to Gravelly point to watch the planes take off and land.

It was pretty windy today so watching the planes take off reminded me of my harrowing experience landing at DCA in the 70 mph wind gusts, but that’s another story. I only stopped for a minute or so and then headed home.  I went nice and easy and my legs felt pretty good, despite lingering tightness in my left achilles. I ran in compression socks and have been wearing them almost all week to help with blood flow and the tightness.

5 road miles – 7:50 min/mile pace

Friday, March 3: Friday morning I decided to head into Clarendon to do some writing in a cafe I used to always go to before work. I actually got a lot of writing done for a few hours, but by midday I was pretty restless and decided to go for a short run. I ditched my stuff in the Clarendon store and went for a quick run around the nearby neighborhoods.

It was another really windy day, which made it feel a lot colder than it really was outside. I felt good on the run, other than my left achilles really tightening up mid run. LOTS of stretching afterwards.

When I got home from Clarendon I decided to craft up a delicious dinner for Dave and I. I made a tomato sauce with some broccoli, fresh tomatoes, zucchini, vegan sausage and goveggie parm cheese over gluten free shells. SO YUM.

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3.3 road miles – 8:00 min/mile pace

Saturday, March 4: Great Falls day! I’ve really come to love running in this park and I couldn’t wait to get there and get to run short AND easy. Dave ran a little bit with me, but for the most part I was alone. I felt really strong on the uphills, despite my achilles still being a little bitch. It was also a beautiful, winter morning (the first it feels like in forever) so I was in such a wonderful mood to be out there in my tights and long sleeve. All this warm weather so early on makes me super nervous for this summer.

I ended with 6.1 miles in the bank but because I couldn’t find Dave, I ran back out along the trail looking for him. I ended up running an extra mile looking for him, when all along he was just a few minutes behind me to get to the car and I left too soon. Whoops!

6.1 trail miles – 8:46 min/mile pace
1 mile through parking lots – 8:11 min/mile pace

Sunday, March 5: Originally this was going to be my second rest day of the week, but because I took Wednesday off, I wanted to cross train. I waited allllll morning and even though I had plenty of time before work I decided not to do it. Big mistake.

Work was super busy so by the time I got home I was exhausted. Decided not to get on my bike again and I took an extra rest day. Not mad about it, but seriously I SUCK at cross training and doing strengthening.

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my best friends this week: feetures compression socks!!!

Rest Day.

WEEKLY MILEAGE: 21.3 miles. Right on target for a recovery week!

NOTES ON WEEK: Not so bad. The not cross training and strengthening is really beginning to eat away at me but I have no one to blame but myself. I feel like I wouldn’t be struggling with my achilles if I was doing strengthening all along, but I’m trying not to get too hung up about it. I only have time and energy for so much.

I also was very careful with what I was eating this week, and I’ve noticed I really do feel 10X better when I avoid dairy. I’ve been doing well with being gluten-free (except I did start having a few beers here and there on the weekend with friends if I’m feeling ok) and I’ve been vegetarian now since January.  I’d really like to make the full commitment of being vegan because I find I feel SO much better, but I always find dairy sneaking into some of the snacks I eat.

So that’s about it. I always wish I felt a little bit better during recovery weeks but I think the point is to work out all those blah feelings in the legs and mind. I’m going to really be focusing on stretching and keeping my achilles pain under control this coming week… Ragnar is only a few weeks away!!! AHHHH.

Weekly Update: February 13 – February 19

Little late with the weekly update, I know! I’ve been super busy these past few days working at the running store because of the holiday weekend, and holy hell did it take ALL my energy. But here we are.  Definitely been struggling with some knee pain lately and it’s most likely the increased mileage and lack of strengthening. I really, really need to get on top of this.

Monday, February 13: Rest day. My knee was feeling a little creaky from the half marathon the day before, and my body was EXHAUSTED from the harrowing flight the night before. I let myself sleep in a little today and tried not to do anything stressful.  Wasn’t feeling sore at all from the half marathon, but I wasn’t expecting to either with the pace we ran it at.

My Whoop heart rate monitor arrived today! I am super excited about this piece of equipment and I’m really hoping it’s going to help me keep on track with my training, rest days, etc. When I get excited, I have a tendency to over do it. This monitor allows me to track my sleep, workouts and recovery based off HRV and my heart rate.  Excited!!!

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My new Whoop HRV monitor!

Rest Day

Tuesday, February 14: I had a meeting in Clarendon this morning so I decided to get my run in before I headed back home. After the meeting I ran from the Clarendon store to the Custis trail and did 5 easy miles. I always forget how hilly this trail is, but the hills were a nice little wake up call to my legs. It was a beautiful morning – it actually started flurrying once I finished up the run.

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gray morning pre snow flurries on the Custis Trail

I totally forgot it was Valentines Day, so I’m happy I got my run in before work, because Dave surprised me with a vegan dinner creation when I got home from closing up the store. It was delicious!

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vegan sweet potato fajitas for dinner!

5.1 miles outside – 8:08 min/mile pace

Wednesday, February 15: Treadmill workout today! I wanted to get a little tempo work in so I headed to the gym. After a 15 minute warm up I wasn’t really feeling the greatest but decided to try the workout anyways. I ended up doing 6X5 minute repeats uptempo and my pace was anywhere in between 6:25-6:00 min/mile pace.  So not bad!

I cooled down outside on the Mt. Vernon trail for 15 minutes.

15 minute w.u., 6X5 min uptempo, 1 min recovery – 7.4 miles, 6:52 min/mile pace.
15 minute c.d – 1.8 miles, 8:29 min/mile pace
(9.2 miles for the day)

Thursday, February 16: NOT feeling good today. Even though my knee didn’t hurt at all yesterday, it was killing me when I woke up this morning. I struggle with the pain on and off all the time because of the arthritis, but I could definitely feel some swelling in there. I put on some anti-inflammatory cream and a compression sleeve for the whole day before I decided to try and run after work at 9:00 pm.

I ran on the treadmill and there was a decent amount of pain. Decided to cut the run short and hit up the treadmill for a little bit instead to take some impact off the joint.  Once I finished up the treadmill/elliptical, I headed back up to my apartment to do some strengthening.  I didn’t do anything strenuous since I was already sore – some abs, leg lifts and push ups.

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I iced and stretched A LOT afterward.

3 treadmill miles – 8:16 min/mile pace
15 minutes elliptical
20-30 minutes strengthening

Friday, February 17: I woke up feeling a little apprehensive about trying to go for a longer run because of the knee pain. Decided to go for it anyways and head to Great Falls Park, reasoning if I couldn’t run, at least I could hike around instead and enjoy the beautiful day.

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According to Whoop, I nailed my sleep recovery goal! 

I ended up getting a fantastic run in! I did have knee pain but as I ran, it loosened up a little. I took it nice and slow on the trails and it was such a beautiful day I ended up forgetting all about my knee. I love challenging myself on the hills back there.

After my run I walked around the park for another mile or so just enjoying the day and letting my legs/body cool down.

At the end of the day, I decided to run again with Dave when he got home from work. Since I need to be getting ready for the Ragnar in a month, I didn’t see any problem going out for 3 more slow miles with Dave to round out the day. We ran along the Mt. Vernon trail together and my legs felt absolutely fine. I wore my patella knee strap to give a little more support for my knee and didn’t really notice it after the first minute or so of running.

9 trail miles – AM – 8:59 min/mile pace
3 road miles – PM – 8:36 min/mile pace

Saturday, February 18: Long run day! I had so much fun at Great Falls the day before, I decided to head back. Since it was a holiday weekend and it was going to be like 70 degrees, I headed out early because I knew the park was going to get mobbed.

I had some knee pain as I started the run but it dissipated over the next couple of miles. I ran with my Nathan hydration vest and I seriously love having my water and nutrition right at my fingertips.

I went farther out on the Potomac Heritage trail than I’ve ever gone before and it was kinda creepy out there. I ended up playing some music via my phone’s speaker on the way back to civilization just because it was SO QUIET and I’m honestly not used to it. The music helped motivate me to make it back to Great Falls though, especially the last 3 miles or so when I was really starting to feel my knee pain come back.  The trail was a little muddy too, so I really had to slow down at a lot of points so I wouldn’t wipe out in the slick mud.

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All in all, I made it 14 miles on the trail and I was so happy when I finished. And when I was leaving the park – totally right about it getting mobbed. The entire parking lot was full, and there was a line of cars all along the road leading into the park as cars waited to get in. Happy with my decision to get my butt in gear a little earlier today.

I iced and stretched and wore my compression sleeve for the rest of the day and actually, my knee didn’t feel too bad!

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post long run noms = deliciousness

14 trail miles – 9:02 min/mile

Sunday, February 19: Today called for 6 miles but I knew I was going to cut it short the moment I woke up. I could feel some stiffness in my knee so I really didn’t want to push it too much, and instead went out for a short run with Dave before work. We ran along the Mt. Vernon trail nice and slow and even though my knee didn’t feel too bad, I stopped after 2.6 miles.

I had the intentions of getting on the bike trainer in the evening after work but it was SO CRAZY at work with the sale, all I could do was collapse on my couch when I got home. No strengthening, no cross training, no nothing.  You win some, you lose some.

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me and my icing buddy 🙂

2.6 road miles – 8:32 min/mile

 

WEEKLY MILEAGE TOTAL: 45.9 miles.  Ahhhhh the .9 kills me (why couldn’t I of ran .1 more miles?!) but that’s okay.  I’m not going to lie, I wanted a little bit more mileage for this week, but given the knee pain – I’ll take it.

NOTES ON THE WEEK: I keep disappointing myself with my lack of strengthening and cross training but I’m really trying not to beat myself up too much about it. I’m on my feet all day, working two jobs AND trying to train for an ultra marathon so I only have so much time. I know the strengthening will help me so I really need to get to it though.

gahhhhhhhhh.

Hoping the knee starts to feel better soon!

 

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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