Once Upon A Time I Was...

A runner. The last ten years I ran became increasingly difficult. Despite running several times a week, I was suddenly exhausted and finding it hard to complete my runs. Body parts kept giving out, mostly my low back and right hip. Eventually I was diagnosed with Sjogren's Syndrome, Lupus and RA--all autoimmune diseases that like to hang out together, and twist bones around that shouldn't be twisted. I loved running charity events. In fact, here is a photo of my last running 5k (I've had some walking 5ks since) where I ran for Paws Giving Independence in 2015 and I ran with our rescue pup, Reno, who is patient and calm and would have made an excellent service dog, had we not adopted him. He won the cutest puppy pirate contest that day, and we came home with lots of awesome goodies. One of which was a cute little girl dress for a chihuahua or pom puppy, so we gave the outfit to one of our friends who had a tiny girl dog (apparently the cutest puppy award usually goes to a frilly tiny girl doggo!).

Cutest puppy pirate ever--Reno! And Pirate Cherry.
Cutest puppy pirate ever--Reno! And Pirate Cherry.

(Yes, I did go red hair for a spell. I was still working full time, and I worked for a conservative corporate law firm, so the purple & blue I've been sporting lately would not have flown in Corporate America.)

Anyway, I have been hiking a handful of times this spring. Reno has something wrong with his paw, so only one time did I go hiking with my puppy boys so far this spring. (Reno sees the vet tomorrow on this matter...) Ever since I realized running was doing me more harm than good, I've been resisting that reality. In fact, I had already been told in this photo that running was going to put me in a wheelchair by the time I turned 50, so I knew that very day that it would be my last ever running race (so glad I got to run with such an amazing puppers!!). I'm 50 now...and I stopped running because the mobility I had taken for granted for over 45 years was starting to fail me.

I still love to hike, dance and walk. I can't do this all of the time, but I still do when health allows me to. So, whenever I'm healthy enough to hike, I get into the whole...what if I started to race-walk (speed walk, however you want to label it)? I could be fast enough to still come in during the allotted time period of most races, so I could still support my favorite charities...I knew this because one of my last races was horribly embarrassing. My back was out and I was excruciatingly slow. Race-walkers passed me in the last mile. I was horribly embarrassed by this, but it has also given me hope that I can maybe do it, too...

So, I'm doing the c25k plan, modified to support race-walking, and most of it on the treadmill, so if I am fatiguing more than anticipated, I can adapt or stop. I'm painfully slow, and it drives me nuts, but I seriously need to do a reality check. I'm no longer a spring chicken. I have a painful disease that makes moving, in general, difficult on even the best of days. My "speed walking" is not even considered speed walking, as my fastest training will be 4mph right now. Which is way slower than I used to walk when I was running on a regular basis. I keep reminding myself that I cannot compare my aging, diseased body to the younger, healthier version I used to be. I understand why people with lupus give up, and just maintain their mobility as best as they can...but I am a runner. My body can no longer run, but I am still a runner on the inside. I can't sit back and let this disease consume me without a fight.


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