Monday, October 30, 2017

Stop Taking Your Health For Granted

Title is a little harsh, huh?

Let me start with the good – my ulcerative colitis SEEMS to be quieting down. I say seems because I could be jinxing it. The last two times I received Remicade they bumped me back up to the maximum allowed dosage and the plan is to stay there permanently (and fun fact my insurance has me currently owing $48K for those additional doses LOL). I think it is doing the trick but TBD when I do my next scope on the reality. 

The bad is that my rheumatologist was convinced that the arthritis was an offshoot of my UC flare but my joint flare ups are on the daily still even with the UC symptoms lessening. They started me on an additional medication but effectiveness can’t be determined for 1-3 months. YAY. Until then this is what you can expect my hands to be looking like most days. It hurts. A lot. 


Maybe harder to notice the puffy right knuckles
I worry that I am in my 30’s and keep seeing that the longer you have arthritis inflammation the more damage will be done to your joints. For vanity purposes, I have nice hands, I don’t want warped fingers any time soon. 

Now to the title. I go back and forth with being frustrated by being “sick”. I didn’t run my 50K on 10/1 because I was exhausted from work travel and my body just felt like crap. It was the right decision. But that doesn’t stop me from wanting to be able to do these things. I get so annoyed seeing people treat their bodies with no respect, be excessively overweight, smoke, eat like crap and yet they don’t suffer the same repercussions. 

I am still active in spite of my “disease". I’m still running 40ish miles a week. I’m going to bootcamp. Now joined OrangeTheory (#obsessed <— and yes I just hash tagged). But I don’t FEEL great the majority of the time. I do it because that is my definition of normal and what I enjoy. I will not sit on the couch and feel sorry for myself, ever.

I gave up meat and dairy from July until this week hoping for some magic pill. I wanted going plant based to have some sort of effect on me physically. It did not. (also once I am in remission I will probably try again because while it didn’t help my flare – I was so far gone and my deficiencies so bad it may not have been the best trial period).

I am slightly type A (okay 100%) and I want to be able to fix myself. 

When I was obese I had a come to Jesus moment and was like hey being young and fat is awful and I want to live a full life, so let’s get this under control. Boom, started counting calories and working out consistently and lost weight.

The UC, the arthritis, they are out of my hands and it annoys me to no end. I cannot fix myself no matter what I do. I am thankful for modern medicine but often will question the why. Why can’t someone who throws their health around and doesn’t take care of their body deal with this? Why does it have to be someone like me that wants to compete in endurance sports and push my boundaries physically? Why can’t it be the person not wanting to take care of themselves physically that has a chronic disease (x2)? 

That may sound god awful mean but that is what goes through my head when my feet hurt when I take that first step in the morning or it hurts to hold onto a dumbbell. 

So PSA be grateful for your health, please. If you are treating your body like crap and are “fine” count your blessings and pray that it doesn’t one day catch up with you. I alternate between wanting to be healthy into a ripe old age and worrying about how a chronic illness will play into living into said ripe old age. Unless they find a cure I don’t have the luxury of never having to worry about my health. 

Friday, September 15, 2017

Life Lately

And just like that we are about a week and a half away from fall! I feel like 2017 has been a blink and miss it kind of year. 

I just celebrated my year anniversary at Nickelodeon and it honestly feels like I started just yesterday, it has been a whirlwind! 

I am going to be EXTREMELY cheesy and proclaim that every year my life just gets better. My 30's are pretty awesome. Kind of makes me laugh at how so many people go into crisis mode at 29. The older you get the more things just make sense. Physically I am running stronger and getting stronger each year. Hopefully when I'm 50 or so this is still the case ;) but I have a while until I need to worry about that. 

That isn't to say it has been all rainbows and puppy dogs. 

The biggest obstacle as always has been dealing with my personal health. I continue to push through but about 3 months ago I felt remission slipping. I have been to the doctor more times than I can count. I have lost track of the number of remicade + iron infusions, scopes, and vials of blood drawn since June. I am sure my insurance is hating me right now (but also thank GOD for amazing insurance or I would be broke). 

My IBD has been categorized as ulcerative colitis instead of Crohn's. It really doesn't mean anything to be honest. In my world treatment will remain the same. They apparently just misdiagnosed based on an original colonoscopy and my first (lazy) GI (whom I would never recommend). 

The TMI portion = lots of blood in the bathroom (aka why I am anemic and needing iron infusions), runs with bathroom stops (often in bushes yay for trail running) and a lot of fatigue (but also about to run a 50K soon so hey I'm still going!).

The wrench has been the severe joint pain. My knuckles, fingers, elbows, and balls of my feet have been swelling and painful and it just all around sucks. The swelling in my hand was so severe I couldn't make a fist or open a bottle of seltzer last weekend. My doctors have been working to diagnose (thinking rheumatoid arthritis) but are weary to say anything official. So TBD. It comes and goes. It will flare up for a week then poof go away with no rhyme or reason.

I have changed to a meat free and dairy free / anti inflammatory diet and that hasn't helped at all so I am just lost on what is going on (and dear everyone: please stop trying to tell me that diet will cure me, it won't).

I have had a couple moments of being upset. I feel like I literally do everything right. I eat well, I prioritize sleep, I am active, my blood panels for anything not related to my UC are stellar. But yet, I don't feel great. Luckily I have the running to keep me sane, because even when I feel like crap, lacing up and getting out there makes me feel like everything will be alright since I am still able. And honestly 75% of the time I feel "okay" I am definitely not in the throws of a flare to the same magnitude as 2015 (thank the lord). 

But enough of the downer stuff. Summer has also been pretty damn tremendous! Enough with the writing and now to some picture story telling.

Kicked off summer in Paris, as one should.

I became an Aunt and fell so in love

Treated myself to a car after 8 years without so I can go on adventures!

Spent a LOT of time with my bestie doing things like Kayaking around Bannerman Island

Hiking in the Shawangunks

Spending time at the beach house in Belmar

Running a 17.5 mile trail race in Ellenville 

Team Championships with my Q's!

Hiking around Lake Minnewaska 

First apple picking of the season!

And of course dates with the cutest nephew ever.

All in all, minus the never ending health drama, I cannot complain, I am (don't hate me) blessed to live the life I live.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Paris Running Tours

Hello friends!! 

Work has been so busy lately I haven’t found myself reading blogs much, let alone updating my own blog by any means (but let’s not kid ourselves I barely write any way). 

But I have been wanting to share one of my favorite parts of my trip to Paris I took at the end of May, my Paris Running Tour!

I got it in my head that I wanted to do a running tour while there and good old google led me to the site. Then as I was perusing I stumble across their blog reviews and see Ashley! I chatted with her and was sold. 

I booked the 9 mile tour to be able to see as much as possible. I believe there was actually one longer but I thought 9 miles would be plenty! 

While I was in Paris it was really warm - basically 90 and above the entire trip. The good news was the humidity wasn't high so while running was definitely a sweaty affair you didn't have to battle the humidity as well. 

Jean-Charles met me at my hotel at 8:30am and after a quick introduction and overview we were off! 

I must mention - he is quite the accomplished and speedy runner and almost felt bad at our trotting along :) 

Most importantly he is a HUGE wealth of knowledge on the history of Paris. I was trying to take in all the details and nuggets of information he had to share. I am a lover of history so I couldn't get enough. I especially enjoyed him showing me all the hidden/rediscovered Roman walls. I find it fascinating that today they are still finding remnants. 

We did a great loop of the city. And when done Jean-Charles left me with a booklet of information to refer back to. 

Since I had been in the city for a few days prior it was nice to have my bearings of where we were so I was able to really listen to the historical significance associated and also pick up the details that no guidebook would tell you! 

Another great thing - especially for the solo traveler is that Jean-Charles brings along a camera for you, is more than accommodating at taking photos at various sites and then shares all the photos via dropbox. 

Another really cool highlight was when he was giving me an overview on these chairs in the garden that have headphone jacks so you can plug in and hear music - and the artist creating them, was right there! 

Overall, it was a really unique experience and worth every single dollar spent. I am not one for paying for tours typically - but would hands down do it again. Although I might be running the Paris marathon after we spent so much time chatting about it (and due to the fact that I fell in love with Paris in general - it is a really lovely city). 

If you find yourself in Paris, 100% do it! It was also a lot of stopping vs continuous running - at least in my case because I was so interested in learning - so not an overly strenuous run even though we covered a good bit of distance. 

Some pictures from the day!

And now, this makes me want to head back to Paris right away! 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

TOL - Life Lately - Just Keep on Swimming

Happy Thursday!!! Linking up with Amanda per usual, thanks for hosting! I have been a day ahead all week in my thinking so glad that the end is almost near. Also if you make it through this entire, picture-less, long post, you are awesome. 

I feel like I am due for some life updates around here! Things have been a little…hard for lack of a better word lately. 

I don’t throw my personal life too too out there, but at the beginning of March my dad had 3 minor and 1 major stroke. It was one of scariest times in my life, flying down to Florida (where they are for the winter) and seeing him that first time was pretty heartbreaking. I was down there for about a week (which coincidentally was the same week my BF and I were going down for Spring Training and Disney so…good timing?) and by the end he was a lot better which was comforting but it is going to be a long long road. 

He was released after 5 weeks to go home Friday, which was a very rough adjustment since he is not walking and has some other complications. Which lead to Monday a frantic text from Mom and he was back in the hospital. As I tried to navigate that at work I 100% couldn’t hold in my emotions and let’s just say open floor plans are not your friend in an emotional crisis. Thankfully I have a wonderful work team. He is now back home again and we have around the clock care which should hopefully help both him and my mom. 

In the midst of this I get my April rent bill and my rent went up by $109 a month mid lease (due to an MCI improvement which they are backdating payment for). No one was willing to discuss with me, and I may have pulled a very irrational and unusual move for me and I put in my notice to move. LOL. Luckily, I found an apartment immediately and am signing a lease this weekend! Two blocks away for $300 less per month, so take that WPH Apartments. They are the worst. But happy to pay less, even with a broker fee will save $2000 over the next 12 months so YAY. So not the most ideal situation but I couldn’t take it. My rent has gone up by $334 a month since December 2014. Ludicrous. 

So now I am moving! 

I am also getting my drivers license all over again. I let my NJ license lapse for years and now have to redo the whole process again in NY. I also needed a SS card which I have never had so put it off. Turns out getting a card is SO easy. 

So I took the permit test, passed, took the 5 hour class, and now am waiting to take the road test…and then should be getting a car! <— I cannot wait, I have really been dying to have one to make life easier for a while. 

A lot has been going on and that is without the aside of work which has been going well, I’ve been expanding my horizons on new projects in different areas which is fun! 

I am also working a freelance project on the side, which YAY extra money but also…extra work. Because I do not work enough as it is, right?

I had a Remicade appointment this week, and had to push it a week because I basically had the plague and they wouldn’t let me get it – and feel lucky enough that my health is in a good place where (knock on wood) I am okay waiting that week. 

And then there is running. I am still doing it. Still not “seriously” training. My 5K PR made me kind of want to gun it in the half but I just don’t feel like working hard. I have a half this Sunday which should be a good test of fitness but it is also going to be a high of 80 and I don’t think my body is adapted to run hard in the warm weather yet. I haven’t been running with my garmin lately just my fitbit – and I don’t look at paces until after and lately I have been overestimating my paces (ex. Thinking I am running a 10/mile and really running 9:20) so who knows what is possible. Would be happy just to be sub 2 and see if I can expand upon it. But also I kind of don’t care. I basically want to PR without REALLY having to do work. LOL. That’s how it works, right? 

And that is more or less life in a nutshell. 

Things I am looking forward to: Paris next month AND becoming and Aunt for the first time! So those are two VERY exciting things on the horizon. 

Sunday, March 26, 2017

BUS 6 Hour Night Crawler - Recap

While this race may not have been my brightest idea, in terms of where I am at in my training; it was most definitely a fun one!

Every time I think of training and running a road 26.2 I reject it. But ask me to do an ultra and apparently I am on board. Even though I am not really trained for one. 

I have been half-assing long running lately. While I do have a few LONG runs in - a 22 and an 18 miler fairly recently - other than that my runs have not been longer than I think 12 miles. 

My goal going into this race was simple, do whatever my body permits. I genuinely have no desire to injure myself and was willing to pull the plug on running if something didn't feel right or I was just shot. Walk if and when necessary, and also chill for a minute or so at the aide station each loop. 

The course itself was about 1.45 miles (love a good loop on a timed ultra) which meant you hit the aide station pretty frequently.

I didn't taper or anything since like I said, no goals and really didn't prep. Taking this seriously folks!

I liked that it was a night race. It began at 4pm and ended at 10pm, so I got a fantastic night of sleep, 10 HOURS, and also could be lazy ahead of time. A nice change of pace.

I got there and was happy to see a lot of familiar faces. This was my 4th event with the Broadway Ultra Society, and you walk up, they know your name, they know your race history and it is just a chill vibe. I debated what to wear - decided on a long sleeve under my team singlet, shorts and calf compression sleeves, and just hydrated a bit more and waited to begin.

I think there were about 50-60 or so participants. It is all very official in the beginning. Richie who runs BUS goes over the rules and the loops, lead us to the official start line and basically said, go! Brings joy to my heart how chill these events are. 

The course was comprised of 2 loops - a lower and an upper. It had one killer incline, which I walked each time, which then was a killer decline on the way back, plus one other pretty good decline. Other than that mostly flat with little bits of elevation. The park itself was nice and only a few miles from home so I am going to plan some long runs around it this spring for sure!

My race strategy was to just go at "all day pace". For me that means maintaining conversational pace and low heart rate. For reference my average heart rate for this was 127 bpm. 

I started running and got in a zone. For me with these timed events I feel like the most mentally challenging part is getting past the first couple hours. When you know you have a timed end vs a distance end, it is ticking down the hours along with miles. 

I felt good. As the miles went on I will say I was waiting for my body to just say no. When I hit a half marathon I was surprised I didn't feel fatigued. But again I was running really slow. From there on out I took it loop by loop. At 16 I started thinking that a marathon was doable. By 20 I knew there was no stopping, that no matter what I would make it to 26.2 even if I walked. 

It had also rained a bit on and off and was starting to get colder and windier - they had soup at the aide station and that was basically my motivation the last 10K to keep moving. 

The scoring volunteers are also your biggest support. Each lap they are routing you on and as I got closer to the marathon they were counting down the laps for me (18 was a marathon).

The last loop I did start to feel some aches and was thankful that I was just about done. I was definitely thinking, is this normal marathon aches or is something hurt, trying to keep myself honest. 

And then, loop 18 was DONE and a marathon was in the bag! In a not too shabby time if I do say so myself. In general this isn't a worst marathon time for me when I have been TRAINED. And I walked. And stopped. And was genuinely running slow. ALMOST tempts me to train to PR a marathon (mine is 4:26) but pretty sure I won't lol. 

I then stopped an got my very looked forward to chicken noodle soup with LOTs of noodles. Oh the salty goodness. I sat and stretched for a little while and then decided I would just walk in the remainder to keep moving for the 6 hours. 

I wound up finishing with a couple more loops for about 29 or so miles. We then headed for a little pizza and awards party after, and were able to warm up a bit. 

I would like to say that there are some AMAZING runners you are in company of in these events. The top male ran 49.5 miles. Let that sink in. A 7:15 or so pace for almost 50 miles. 

The top female I believe had 43 or so miles. So while I totally impressed myself with what I was able to do, there are some very awesome ultra runners out there. 

Two of my new teammates did it as well, running about 38 and 32 miles respectively. 

The aftermath? A solid 8 hours of sleep later and I woke up not feeling too bad. I am going to definitely spend the day not too anything more than some walking since sitting too long will make me stiff but not worse for the wear going beyond what I have done lately. 

What works for me is clearly not any sort of suggestion for what works for others. I am not injury prone, I have maintained a base for years. I literally have not had to "restart" training in several years. I have a great cardio level of fitness - this is not to sound like bragging but the fact that I was able to run for several hours, all at low heart rate, speaks to my current level of fitness. 

I genuinely think that one day I may wind up fully immersed in the ultra world. I think that I am totally made for long and slow running and enjoy it as well as the camaraderie. But I'm not ready to give up on my speed yet, and if I have learned anything it is that for me, when I start to focus on long I sacrifice speed. 

This probably will not be the last time I jump into a distance race without focusing on training for it. 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

NYRR Washington Heights Salsa, Blues and Shamrock 5K - Recap

I've been forgetting to write recaps lately but I just happened to fold my shirt from this race and figured no time better than the present!

I have never run this race for a couple of reasons - it is pretty far from me, which makes it inconvenient to travel to - especially for a 5K and it is a notoriously hilly course - which also doesn't make for a great 5K. 

This year however, I am running for a team, Quicksilver Striders and this was the first points race of the year for NYRR so, obligations drove me to it!

I literally didn't have expectations. In fact the day before I took a bootcamp class and then ran 10.5 miles - so was thinking it would be painful. 

The morning was so so cold. So cold that I wore pants. Not quite sure who I am. Since I didn't have plans of "racing" I didn't warm up either (sorry coach!). My warmup was a half assed jog to my coral. 

My pace with NYRR (8:26) put me in coral F which would prove to be frustrating for a 5K but a bit of a blessing. 

The race began in waves which meant more cold waiting; and when we finally crossed the start I found myself having to weave and try to run to the outside to try and actually run. 

I haven't been running with my Garmin much but did throw it on for this race. I felt pretty good and thought I was running in the low 8's but honestly wasn't paying much attention and just tried to get to that sustainable hard 5K pace. 

I was consistently passing people the ENTIRE race which was a first for me. I felt really strong and with the hills was trying to make sure that I didn't kill myself too early on. 

The good thing about an out and back course like this is that you know exactly what is waiting for you when you turn around - so I made a mental note of that lovely down hill early on that we would be going back up it.

At the turn around I looked down at my watch and realized I might be running myself to a PR. Not going to lie, I was now motivated times 10 to keep up the pace. I kept on passing people and then the final hill came. It definitely slowed me down but at the same time I knew there was a downhill to the finish. 

As we crested the hill I just focused on making sure my breathing was under control and then gunned it again. I passed my coach about .5 from the finish and was able to yell out a greeting and was now motivated to move my legs as quick as possible. 

I crossed the finish line amazed, PR city! 

Garmin stats: 8:05, 7:37, 7:36, 6:54 (<--kick!)

I'm not going to lie, I was shocked. This is NOT a PR course. I was not rested. Technically my legs were shot. But I did it! AND with a negative split (not sure if I have ever negative split a 5K before).

That first slow mile was perhaps a blessing that held me back from going out too fast but I am thinking give me a flat course, smaller crowd and I can probably shave at least 30 seconds off of it. Coach said after that I looked really in control (and I felt it as well towards the end) and thinks I can run a 23 flat... I am not saying no but that's fast!

I still have shock as a former fat girl - and still not lean - that my 160ish pound body can run that fast. Breaking the 8 min/mile barrier has been HUGE for me, both mentally and physically. 

I do feel like I continually prove to myself that I know my body and what training works for me. I don't do mile repeats, specific intervals etc. I find the more structured I make training the worse off my results and the more in my head I am. That is not to say I do not do work, I just run by feel. My favorite hard workouts are long tempos (7-8 mile runs with 5ish at tempo) and fartlek runs. 

Also bootcamp. 2 -3 hours of bootcamp a week consistently for about 6 months now have paid HUGE dividends. The strength I felt going uphill made me thank all the trainers in my head during the race! 

I would be lying if I said I didn't plug in the results to see what they translate to for a half marathon (1:51 and my PR is 1:53). While I am 100% not in shape enough for a PR half - that does make me think that I shouldn't discount the idea of running a fast one this spring. If I can get back to 1:55 for spring to bounce off of I will keep my eyes on it for the fall! 

But then again, who knows. If the stars align and I have a good day, anything can happen!

Oh AND new NYRR pace, 8:09!! Woo hoo!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Winter Running Favorites

I think everyone has written this post but figured why not give my two cents! I have invested in the pieces and am running 30ish miles a week outside and loving it so why not share what has benefited me?! I have not wussed out from any weather conditions yet and am actually embracing winter to the fullest.

Case and point.

First I will say that I have come to love a new to me brand. Just like I had an epiphany finally trying Lululemon last year and falling in love with shorts/tanks/sports bras; the same happened for winter running with Athleta. 

It all began with the hunt for tights that had side pockets. The speed tight from lulu had poor reviews (which I thought I would wind up with since I am obsessed with the speed track short) but I wasn't sold on shelling out that money for a product that people were trashing the quality and sustainability of. 

Which lead me to Athleta. The only issue that I have with them is that their clothing sizes kind of throw me off. I find their tights are bigger and some tops smaller - where the necessity to figure out which is which is kind of annoying. Luckily the quality of their items and the fact that they deliver on performance outweigh that. 

Powerlift Tight 2.0 - these are WARM (I have both black and gray below). I've only actually worn them a couple times because winter has been fairly mild - but they should be of use in Iceland in a couple weeks as well! Fleece, wicking, zip pocket, wore them in a snow storm and they did splendidly. Note these are snugger though but I was still good with a medium.

Rock Springs Vest - not bulky, zoned insulation, great side pockets and wind resistent equals a great piece. I don't like to run in jackets and vests are my jam - I have gotten a LOT of use out of this one! I sized up to a large for some extra room.

Fastest Track top - have bought a bunch of these in both long and SHOCK short sleeve. The material is so lush and it is made with "stink proof" technology (which seriously works! I gave it a very good go with two runs before washing to test and it was fine - and I am a sweaty person)

Run With Me Ear Warmer II - lulu did have to make an appearance! Love this headband.

Run With Me Gloves - tech friendly, they have a snap so you don't love one and keep the pair together, plus my hands always feel "itchy" in gloves when running and do not in these 

So there you have it, head to toe, the gear that is keeping me warm for 5 runs a week this winter! Bonus - end of season is happening so especially the Athleta stuff, is on sale. I have to stop myself from purchasing anything new!