(This is a long one. You might want to go pee first, and get a cup of whatever it is you like to drink.)
So let's get this straight: I am not a runner!
And yet, somehow I have just completed my 2nd 5K since August 24. How the heck did that happen?!
Before the race on Saturday.
And after, posing with Amy (she's a knitter!), who I just met that day:
The trick is, I guess, if you are feeling great, you can do almost anything.
After so many years of trying to be a runner, and giving up every time because of various aches, pains, injuries, I-HATE-TO-RUN-I-AM-NOT-A-RUNNER, whatever-whatever, this past summer I finally did something that I highly recommend to you if you have a history of Hating To Run the way I did: I joined a running group and got some coaching.
The gym that I love, Artemis Fitness in South Burlington, VT, started a summer running group, with the goal of training for either the 5K or the 10K run in the Green Mountain Athletic Association's Round Church Women's Run. They hired a wonderful coach, Kris Gleason, from Fleet Feet Burlington. Over time, a few more great coaches joined in, because our group had a variety of running levels and personal goals, and they helped us each in our own way. (AWESOME.)
I signed up for the Tuesday night running group, but "NUH-UH, NO WAY AM I GOING TO RUN THE ACTUAL RACE! I'm just mixing up my workout routine, thankyouverymuch!"
And so I went to the first meeting, and that very first night, the coaching was worth its weight in gold. Life-changing, really. I'm not exaggerating one tiny bit. The dynamic warmups seriously changed my running life.
So then we get to Thing No. 2: Shoes. That first night, and maybe the next one or two, I still had one of the many pairs of hundreds of dollars' worth of running shoes that I have bought over the years which were THE WRONG SHOES for me.
I had done my research, or so I thought. I had tried the minimalist shoes, thinking that was The Thing for me, but we might or might not all remember how that ended up. I'd tried all kinds of various neutral, highly cushioned shoes. Blech, blech, blech. Nothing worked for me. I-HATE-RUNNING-I'M-NOT-A-RUNNER.
So anyway, back to this summer and the running group. I finally listened to what people were saying and went to a proper running shoe store (not the mall variety), and got properly assessed and fitted, and contrary to all the crap I'd read on the internet and in magazines (you know the one), and having done self-assessments about my high arches, and etcetera and so forth, I was told that I needed a HIGH-STABILITY shoe. Well, damn. What a revelation. If I say "life-changing" again, will that be too repetitive?
At this point, I need to back up. Now the numbering system in this post is going to get all out of whack, because BEFORE JOINING A RUNNING GROUP, here is what is even more important: As Kendra and Cate, the owners of my gym say, "People think they should run to get strong. But instead, you have to get strong in order to run."
Yes, yes, and yes. Say it with me: [chorus: life-changing!]. Strength training BEFORE running. Totally [chorus]
I celebrated my one-year anniversary with the gym by running our last 2.5 miles before the August race, in about 99 degrees F with my running group. We died from the heat, then went out for a celebratory dinner. Up to this point, we had never run a full 5K, or even that last 2.5 miles, without stopping. We had done run-walk intervals the entire time. Despite the training, I was unconvinced that I could run an entire 5K without stopping. I had had no proof that I could.
One night, though, none of the other 5K-ers showed up, and I joined the 10K group. We run-walked 6 miles that night, and I didn't actually die. But it sort of felt like it. The gym is not far from K-Mart, so that was my landmark, and I will tell you, I was never so glad to see a K-Mart in my life.
During the end-of-training-group celebratory dinner, I still believed in my head that I was not going to go to the race on that Saturday. I was going to just yes-yes everybody, and then crap out and simply not show up for the race, having some manufactured reason why not.
But instead, when Saturday morning came, I got up at nearly the crack of dawn so that I could eat, get ready, and drive the hour and a half to get to the race site by 7 a.m. After we had trained in high, high heat for the previous six weeks, it was ridiculously cold that morning, and I was not prepared with the proper clothing for that cold. Kris had an extra long-sleeve tech shirt in her car that she lent me to keep me from shivering too much before the race started. Still not convinced that I would make it through this thing, my only goal was to try to keep running for the whole thing. I did not believe I would be able to do that.
I was able to make it to the halfway point without stopping. And a sometimes coach for the summer and a friend were running with me. At the turnaround point, there was a hill. I stopped to walk for a few seconds, and I lost ground from my friends. I tried hard to catch up to them again, but never could. I got exhausted, started to flag, and looked like I was going to start walking again. A wonderful stranger (a slightly older woman, but a more experienced runner) started talking to me, and she egged me on. She ran the rest of the race with me, and we made it! She encouraged me to kick it up for a strong finish in the last 50 yards or so. And damn.
You can see the results here. In the overalls, look at #118, and in my age group (that would be 50-59) look at #14. For a confirmed NON-RUNNER, not too horrible at all!
I was seriously holding back barfing on the guy who was cutting the chip off my shoe. And I do mean SERIOUSLY.HOLDING.BACK. I was retching, and thought, Ohmygod, this is going to be bad. But I didn't do it. MAYBETHEREISAGOD, I didn't throw up on him. My legs were shaky then, but I recovered fairly well:
But then, back to this past weekend. No problemo! No training, either, really, although I did run 5K last Tuesday at home. I did have that barfy feeling just after crossing the finish line, but no sea legs, and I had a reserve in me at the end. In retrospect, I now know that I could have run faster. But I ran just about at the same pace as last time, which was comfortable, and one of my goals in this thing is to run uninjured. I'm not out to prove anything major here.
The difference in this run was though the course was flat, it was somewhat difficult. We were running on loose gravel and/or wet grass for the first 2 miles, and then thank goodness, pavement for the last mile. If I were not in good overall condition, or if I had my old low-stability shoes, I could easily imagine a twisted ankle or knee or some such.
Amy and I ran together, and we kept each other going. We talked about knitting(!) and we were a great mini-team. For the bigger picture, I was a part of a small fundraising team that looked like this on race day:
were valuable members of our team. Hee.
You can see the results of the race here, where you will see that I came in 283rd overall, and Amy was right behind me. Thanks so much to Kris G., who graciously invited me to join in the fun! I'm so glad I did.
So now, I have mentioned the dietary changes I've made, and some people want details. It's quite simple, really: In an effort to determine what foods I might be allergic to, I am following an elimination diet.
Some ugly symptoms reared their ugly head like they did in late September 2011 and the coincidence was just too great. The timing was almost exactly at the same time of year (and thank GOODNESS for the blog, for being able to sleuth out the date), and the symptoms were exactly the same. I thought I was dying. And it turns out I almost was. Again. (Although I avoided a hospitalization this time.)
So I asked myself, "What is different about this time of year?!"
And I came up with the answer:
And my first reaction was: PLEASE DON'T LET IT BE TOMATOES!!!! They are my favorite food in the whole wide world. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don't let it be tomatoes. I want to DIE if I can't have tomatoes.
But hang on.
I had thought I had leukemia or something.
So let's weigh this:
Possibly no more tomatoes vs. Leukemia
Or sudden death.
I'm pretty sure I can live with no more tomatoes.
But in any event, I got myself to a naturopathic physician, because let's face it -- no offense to all the doctors I adore -- but regular doctors are clueless. And the last time, once they ruled out that I had had a heart attack, they shrugged their collective shoulders and said, "Carry on. We don't know what it was. It may just be one of those things we'll never know." And the cardiologist said, "I don't know what you had, but I know it wasn't your ticker."
And then it was all like, "Call us the next time you almost die."
And then last year I had a bad tomato crop, so I didn't eat as many. But this year it was a banner year again. And so there I was, right back where I was two years ago. And when I thought back, there were other episodes in my life that were very similar, one of which is when the doctors put me on a beta blocker.
I think the writing is on the wall here.
So anyway. I am currently on what is known as an elimination diet. Many people seem to misunderstand me when I say that -- they think it is some sort of a cleanse, as in, I'm eliminating toxins from my body. Well, I am, for sure. But the term "elimination diet" has a different meaning.
And that's what I've been doing for about a month now, and WHAT.A.DIFFERENCE. Can I hear another LIFE-CHANGING?!
All of my inflammation is GONE GONE GONE. You know that chronic tendinitis? GONE. The painful, sticky fascia? Smooth and elastic again. The muscles that were hard and painful like rigor mortis? Soft and pliable again. It's like a frickin' miracle, I tell ya. [chorus! chorus!]
So much so that I can honestly say I ALMOST DON'T miss my favorite foods in the whole wide world, and I almost don't see a reason to go the next step in this regimen, which is to reintroduce the foods one at a time to see what effect each has on me. I'm doing so well, I really don't see any reason not to continue indefinitely on this path.
In a nutshell, I am simply not consuming the following:
- nightshade vegetables (I believe this is the biggest culprit)
- dairy (this is a close second)
- wheat (this is tied for second) and most other grains except quinoa, gluten-free oats, and brown rice
- soy (not sure this is a factor, because I never consumed much soy except when I was a vegan and then I pretty much hated it, so it's dead to me anyway.)
- eggs (this one might or might not be an issue)
- chocolate (I think this is a problem for me. Kill me now -- except. Thinking I'm dying of leukemia? Or no chocolate. Yeah. I can live with it.)
- coffee (I actually wake UP when I get out of bed now, rather than needing an hour to sip my coffee before I begin to feel and act like a person. I do still consume some caffeine, in the form of green tea)
And I think there are more things on the verboten list, but I choose to focus on the "include" list:
- meats, poultry, fish (organic, grass fed, and uncured as much as possible)
- all vegetables except nightshades
- all fruits
- most nuts
- gluten-free oats, quinoa, rice
I feel 99% better. I would say 100, but I might have one more food that should be eliminated, because I have a new symptom: a bothersome itchy scalp and a couple itchy, irritated places on my skin. I'm suspecting either coconut or a certain kind of nuts (perhaps cashews). My intention was to eliminate nuts and coconut from my diet starting today, but despite my best intentions, I ate both of those things. Maybe tomorrow.
Losing the nuts on top of everything else makes getting through the day a bit harder for me. Meal planning is not difficult as long as I have plenty of food in the house and as long as I'm home. Going out is a bit tricky, particularly since a) chefs LIE (they do!) and b) even at my healthiest fallback places to eat, just when I think, "I can eat that!" I read the ingredients and it has red pepper flakes in it, or paprika all over it. I definitely have reactions to those two things. So yeah. Pretty sure it's the nightshades.
But still. I don't have leukemia, and I just rocked my second 5K.
I got this.
And a parting shot to the regular M.D.s: I WISH YOU'D GET A FRICKIN' CLUE about this stuff.
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”