Friday, December 29, 2017

LIFE ON LEFLUNOMIDE

Remember when I was getting PT for arthritis? Ha!
I'm writing this post mainly to help anybody out who might find this blog via searching for running with psoriatic arthritis while taking methotrexate or leflunomide, etc, etc. I can only share my experiences, but I did detail my journey with methotrexate pretty extensively and I feel like I've been ignoring this drug switch a little. Anyways, running wise there is nothing new, I am still running at least twice during the week and then a long run on the weekend, so full steam ahead there. It's very challenging to stay motivated with the cold and the dark but that's why a race like Miami is so beneficial. Gives me motivation to get out there!

Long story short, I am loving leflunomide so much more than methotrexate. Like orders of magnitude more. It's like one of those Magic Wave ovens... "set it and forget it!" Instead, in this case, it's "take it before bed and forget it!" With methotrexate I was always conscious about the fact I was on it and it was affecting my body. Now, in terms of symptom relief, it was amazing! Essentially full remission of psoriatic arthritis. The price I had to pay though was steep... feeling like shit one day a week after taking it, constant bruising, dreading the next dose and constantly thinking about it, ridiculously prone to sunburn, etc. The side effects weren't going down and the thought of taking that for decades to come was very depressing.

Also in the "try again!" hall of fame.
I'm so glad I made the switch. When I complained at my rheumatologist appointment she presented leflunomide as an alternative but really didn't expect me to agree to it so easily. She was basically like "You don't have to decide now, you can think about it and if at your next appointment you are still struggling with methotrexate, we can switch." And I was like "No, let's switch it now." Very glad I pulled the trigger, if I hadn't, I would still be taking methotrexate. Just writing this post and thinking about it is genuinely making me nauseous.

With leflunomide I just take my daily pill before bed. It's a very small pill and the only side effect sometimes is a rumbly tummy. Sometimes I don't even feel it. Sometimes it's annoying for about 15 minutes. Never is it too bad. Probably has something to do with the last time I ate. Other than that I have noticed zero side effects. The potential side effects are similar to methotrexate but I haven't experienced any of them. The sunburn one will have to wait, but otherwise I feel back to normal. When I was first taking methotrexate I had problems sleeping too, that is no issue here.

As for symptom relief... I would say it's almost on par with methotrexate. I don't think it's had a fair shake yet, right when I switched I got a little more serious about running to train for the Holiday Half and just now it has built up to near full efficacy. There also was a chance at a small flare as the methotrexate worn down and the leflunomide built up. I think I did experience this a little... I had some slight jaw and upper back pain a couple weeks ago. And my knees felt a little funny. It's hard to tell with them, whether or not they are just a little worn from a run or if they are feeling some inflammation... at super low levels it's tough to distinguish. Regardless, at this level it doesn't effect my ability to run or do anything at all.

Onward! My long awaited return to Corvallis this spring!
The jaw pain and back pain is basically gone again and my knees feel pretty good. I want to say maybe like 95% of the way to where they were with methotrexate, but that also might be me being picky and concentrating on them so much trying to compare and contrast. Regardless, in the grand scheme of things, they feel AMAZING compared to this time last year. I can run and maintain half marathon shape without a doubt. Pretty confident they can handle a full marathon too. I still don't know if there is a speed or distance barrier I am going to hit with them, but I'll just keep plugging along and see what happens.

Overall, I am thrilled with how things have turned out. It was the relief I was hoping for during 2016! As for my plans in 2018... a return to the marathon is in the cards! I already tried, and failed, to get into the Chicago Marathon. My next attempt will be the New York Marathon lottery in January (results in February). That has a < 20% acceptance rate, so probably not a good bet that I get in. I will then try the Marine Corp Marathon, which apparently has an ~85% acceptance rate. Should that fail, I'll just sign up for some less popular race, location TBD.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

CHRISTMAS UPDATE

This was unintentional, I swear. Although, I might have to expand (heh) on this in a later run...
Sorry for the lack of updates! The week after the Holiday Half I didn't accomplish very much. I took the beginning of the week off to recover and then felt under the weather toward the end of it. I did accomplish one run on Thursday and then was planning to do 8 miles or so on the weekend. By the time it rolled around the weather was terrible and I still didn't feel too well. So I just skipped it. No harm taking one week after the race a little easy.

I did make it a point to go out there and get it done this last week though. My "slacker" week almost tainted me to the point where I was going to be lazy and start skipping runs again. I could see it all snowballing downhill! I ran on Monday with Matt at PRC and my body felt really slow and lethargic. I felt run down most the week actually. It's been really cold too so it's been hard to be motivated to get out there. So much easier to just sit inside. A few weeks of slacking couldn't hurt, right?

Anyways, I was able to find some time on Wednesday during my lunch to do a short run. I decided I needed to kick things in gear, so I went out and did a tempo run. Now, my focus is just getting back to regular running, so I haven't been focused at all on speed work, but I figured now was a good time to challenge myself and see where I was at. I ran three miles and gave it 100%. 7:58, 8:06, 8:04. First mile under 8:00 since the arthritis diagnosis! Felt good too. Definitely a hard run, but not impossible, and my body responded really well. So that was encouraging.

Thursday it was so cold outside the thought of running through the dark was really bothering me. I have to get past that. Instead, I went to the gym and did four easy miles on the treadmill. Dramatic of me, but whatever, I got my run in. And then today I accidentally run a phallic shaped route of 10.5 miles. I went off on my own around 9am and let me tell you, convincing myself to get out of bed to do that should have earned me an Olympic medal. But I did it! And I ran 10.5 miles at 9:49/mile pace. And my body felt good.

So I feel strong again! It is still very hard to get motivated to go out in the cold. That will continue to be a struggle, but I have to just keep fighting through it. I want to continue to be in shape for Miami at the end of January. Everything arthritis wise still feels fine. The leflunomide appears to be keeping it at bay, which is awesome. No more nasty side effects and continued joint relief. Here's to an awesome year of running in 2018!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

2017 HOLIDAY HALF MARATHON RACE RECAP

Lined up with about a minute to go until the race. Beautiful weather!
My alarm went off at 6:30am Sunday for my own personal "Breaking2" attempt. I was out of the house by 7:00 and parked near the event at 7:30. I met up with Sunstone to take some pre-race photos. I wasn't really nervous at all this time around as I knew I was trained and I knew I could finish. While I really wanted a time below two hours it wasn't critical. Just the fact I would be out there running around two was a victory.

The weather when the race started was sunny and clear and 30 degrees. I wasn't too cold before the race as there were enough people to block the wind. My outfit was pretty warm too; I wore a beanie, warm gloves, a short sleeve tech shirt on top of a long sleeve tech shirt, long basketball shorts, and high black compression socks. It ended up being just about perfect... I took the beanie off about two miles in and then was comfortable the rest of the race. Not too hot, not too cold.

THE FIRST FIVE (8:45, 8:31, 8:50, 8:59, 8:51)

Before the race with Sunstone.
My goal pace going into the race was 8:55/mile. I was preparing for running a long course (which was good, as my watch clocked 13.2 miles) and the desire for a bit of a cushion at the end. To run a sub two half marathon you technically need a 9:09/mile pace, but you should always shave 5 seconds or so a mile for a long course. I then shaved another 10 seconds to have a two minute cushion to finish in 1:58 if I managed to hold pace.

Anyways, as you can see, I didn't pace myself too great. It partially wasn't my fault though! After starting, the roads were very packed and it was hard to move. I wasn't quite able to get to the "under 9" corral so I was running with people who were going a little slower than I wanted. I ended up popping up onto a sidewalk and slowly passing a lot of people. Every time I looked at my watch I was going to fast. I'd slow to correct myself, but by the next time I checked my watch I was going too fast again. Probably letting the energy of the race get to me. My splits weren't tragically fast though so I wasn't too worried.

After those first miles that were too fast, I settled into the appropriate pace. It felt good - like an appropriate half marathon pace. I was able to enjoy the sights and sounds of the race. Lots of people dressed in wacky costumers, carolers along the course, residents with bluetooth speakers blasting Christmas music. It was good times! Like I mentioned, I had to take the beanie off, but otherwise my outfit was perfect for the cold but clear conditions. The sun was shining and it was just the perfect day for a race. This was a moment when I was so glad to be back running!

THE MIDDLE SPRINT (8:38, 8:34, 8:40, 8:45)

So, as you can see, I started to pick up my pace again? What happened? Well, I was feeling good. My body seemed to naturally keep going a little faster than the target. I didn't want to spend the whole race staring at my watch either, so I only checked it every so often. The pace felt perfect, like a half marathon should, so I wasn't too worried. I figured I might slow down a little at the end, but with the way I was feeling I knew I wouldn't blow up and now had a decent cushion on my two hour goal.

Another factor was some very gradual downhill. I figured I should take advantage of it a little bit, so when my times kept coming in under the 8:55 target I wasn't too upset. The course was very flat, much more so than I expected, so none of this was very significant. There were even some slight uphills portions here. I think even at times it might have looked downhill but was flat, or vice versa. Anyways, I was trucking along and felt good. I could tell my legs were tiring somewhat but with just four miles to go I knew I could survive.

HELLO NINE, MY OLD FRIEND (9:04, 9:11, 9:08, 9:18)

The only significant hill of the race was contained in that 9:04 mile ten. It was probably only about a city block in length and I didn't want to tucker myself out on it, so I took it easy. When I hit the top I resumed my 8:55 pace. When my watch beeped with a 9:04 mile I thought "Dang, that sucks. Would have been cool to have all my miles below nine." Ha. Little did I know, my miles would only get slower from that point.

I was working just as hard, but my pace seemed to naturally be 9:10ish now. I had experienced this before, especially in marathons. You feel like you are going just as fast, you are certainly working just as hard, but your pace drops. It sucks! It's because your legs are tiring and you aren't quite springing the same distance forward as before. Anyways, I knew at this point to speed up to try and chase a certain number would be a bad idea, so I just kept my effort consistent and knew the finish line wasn't too far away.

As you can see, my mile thirteen was the slowest. Oops. The too fast start was catching up with me. I wasn't in shape to run a half marathon at 8:40, which I apparently was attempting to do. Luckily, with a half, you can get away with it for the most part. Marathon would be a different story. But with a half, you just need to hang on for a few miles. I knew I had built up quite the cushion and that even 10:00/mile at this point would likely get me into the finish under two.

FINISH

A "flattering" shot of me right after finishing.
When we were just under a half mile away a woman saw me look at my watch and asked "How much further?" Haha. I feel you. I told her it was only fourth tenths more. We both agreed that was nothing and we would finish no problem. And it wasn't! In fact, I ran the final quarter mile at a 7:40 pace. So I wasn't completely clobbered. Felt good to sprint strong through the finish line. I knew I had gotten my goal but the 1:56 on my watch was a surprise. Didn't expect it to be quite that fast! Awesome!

After finishing I wandered around and got my food and beer. My legs were tired but not tragically so. I was still able to slowly climb stairs without too much effort. Unfortunately, the finish line was a crowded mess and I didn't spot any one I knew. So I chowed down on my free soup and beer and then headed home. A warm bath and day reclining and watching football was calling anyways.

Shaved another 25 minutes off my half time! Wohoo! Unfortunately, I am now at a pace were gains will be much harder to come by. But the journey of rapid improvement from 12s to 9s certainly was fun!

Official Chip Results: 1:56:34, 8:53/mile. 585/1846 overall, 324/674 male, 53/92 M30-34.

Friday, December 08, 2017

2017 HOLIDAY HALF RACE PREVIEW

Starts under the arch near Adidas USA headquarters.
This Sunday I'll be doing a race I've been eyeing for years... the Holiday Half! This race is notorious for shitty weather, which has been the main culprit scaring me away from it. I signed up a while back ready to embrace whatever Mother Nature had in store and luckily she has decided to be very gentle with me. So I'm excited! It's a race I've been meaning to do since I started running and now I'm finally doing it!

Before I get into the nitty gritty of the race preview, let's do a quick update with how things are with my body. Everything is still clear sailing on the psoriatic arthritis front. It's now been a full month since I stopped taking methotrexate and I still feel GREAT. Very encouraging. There are virtually no side effects I've noticed so far with leflunomide. A little rumbly tummy for a few minutes right when I take it (before bed) but that's it.

The verdict is still out on some of the other side effects that I had with methotrexate that I could have with leflunomide. Sunburning more easily will have to wait a while to be determined, along with my lips chapping ridiculously easily due to sun. One thing I can test out is how easily methotrexate made me bruise. Like a peach! Like I peach I tells ya! That seems to be gone with leflunomide. The other day at work I really whacked my arm and it for sure would have been an ugly bruise before. Now, not so much. I'm also not finding random bruises on my body which came from who knows where.

Rolling downhill toward the finish line on Greeley.
My legs did feel a little worn this week but it makes sense. Last week I ran four times for a grand total of 25.6 miles. Definitely the most since the onset of psoriatic arthritis. I only ran twice, 5.5 on Monday with PRC, and then 4 on Thursday with Sunstone. My legs felt a little worn but it was the normal worn, not "flare impending" worn. They should feel fresh enough and ready to go on Sunday for the half marathon. So I'm excited to get out there and give it my best shot!

As for the race! Expect temperatures around freezing with partly cloudy skies when the gun goes off at 8am. I remembered similar conditions for the Hot Buttered Half Marathon two years ago, so I double checked my outfit for that race. I plan on wearing a long sleeved shirt with gloves and a beanie. I can always roll up my sleeves and take my beanie off if I get too hot. I'll have a red/green color scheme going on to be festive. I am truly a hobby jogger now!

In regards to the course, it's pretty flat. Sure, nothing in Portland is truly flat except maybe Sauvie's Island, but in the grand scheme of things this one isn't very hilly. I have seen a couple of elevation charts that differ with each other, so I'm not sure quite what to expect. I think the area right near the start/finish will be hilly and then again near the turnaround point in St. John's. I know for a fact that Willamette Blvd, the bulk of the race, is very flat from many training runs and the Portland Marathon.

Luckily the race has an indoor area to hang out before and after the race. Thank goodness! I will know a number of people at the race so I'm hoping to bump into them. There is beer and chili and general festiveness after the race so it should be a good time. Will be nice to run a half marathon in half marathon shape again. It will be hard but the question of whether or not I can run 13 miles is not really a question at all!

GOALS:

"C" Goal: Beat my "post PsA" half marathon PR of 2:22. If all else fails, I need to at least beat that mark! This is 10:53/mile.

"B" Goal: Sub 2:10. This is the next step. Miami in January was around 12:00/mile. Boring was just under 11:00/mile. This would put me just under 10:00/mile and get my half marathon pace back into the 9s. Heck yeah!

"A" Goal: Sub 2:00. The old "sub two hour" marathon goal. I am now a proud member of this club. I think if I'm feeling good and run a good race my time could realistically be anywhere from 1:57-2:03. I could run my best and not get this. But there's a chance! I'm going to start the race by pacing myself to this time and we'll see if I can hold on!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

LEFLUNOMIDE UPDATE

From last Tuesday's Sunstone run (Indy Mini hat!)
I've now been on leflunomide for two weeks. The first week has a half dose and I've been doing the full dose for seven days now. The verdict? Still nothing on the side effects front. That's good news! I feel like if the medicine was going to cause fatigue, nausea, or gastrointestinal issues I would have felt them by now. Knock on wood, but zip, zero, nada for side effects, which is encouraging. I suppose I could still see my hair fall out...

So half of the puzzle is working out well. Side effects wise this stuff is SO MUCH BETTER for me than methotrexate. It's a non factor, whereas I was dreading my weekly dose of methotrexate practically all week. Symptom wise I am still symptom free! My knees and other affected joints feel great. The methotrexate is still somewhat in my system and the leflunomide is building, so we'll see if there is a point where I have a flair in the transition. However, so far so good. Let's hope once I am solely on the leflunomide I still have complete symptom relief. That would be the dream!

On the running front I am continuing to get better slowly. I was pretty pleased with the 10k turkey trot on Thanksgiving. Because I didn't want to push anything, I didn't go to any group run on Saturday morning. I didn't want to put 10 or more miles on my legs that close after a race - even though they felt pretty good. I figured I'd go out for a long run Sunday, maybe 8 miles, but by the time Sunday rolled around it was cold and rainy and I just couldn't motivate myself. So I had three days of rest in a row, which hasn't happened in a while.

Anyways, to somewhat make up for that, I am going to try running four days this week, up one from my usual three. I already have two down, Monday at PRC and Tuesday with Sunstone. I'll run with Sunstone again Thursday and then join their long run on Saturday. This weekend is actually the last weekend before the Holiday Half. Yikes! I'm going to extend the 10 miler with Sunstone on Saturday to 12 miles by running a couple extra after we are back. I could do 13 easy right now, but I think it would give me a little piece of mind to get those extra couple in just to be sure.

Later gators.

Friday, November 24, 2017

2017 GIVE N' GOBBLE RACE REPORT

Give N' Gobble post race 2013 (left) vs 2017 (right). Remind me not to do time comparison photos anymore, ugh.
I woke up around 7:45 for an 8am departure to this race. I purposefully recreated my outfit from 2013 when I last ran this race for fun. Nothing like neon orange on top of powder blue. I hopped in my car with the rain coming down hard. I was a bit afraid it would be a wet one, but the rain stopped right before the race started and didn't return until after the run was complete. So good timing there.

For some reason, out of the blue on the way to the race, I began to question if I had even signed up. I had planned on going for a long time, and signed up for a lot of races (my bank account felt it), but I had a creeping suspicion that I forgot to register for this one. Once I parked at the race I tried to find my registration confirmation in my email. No dice. Uh oh. When I went to the table to pick up my bib they couldn't find me. Fuck. This race didn't have day of registration either!

Luckily, the woman attempting to check me in was very nice. She said I could just run the race. They have a policy of letting people do that if they try to sign up on the day of or make a mistake and forgot to register, etc. When I was like "Are you sure?" she was like "Absolutely! It's not for profit, just for fun, you just won't have an official time." I still felt weird about it. I went back to my car to contemplate. I figured I could just go home and run my own 10k. Eventually though since the race itself didn't seem to care, I decided just to go for it. So my first "bandit" race, even if it was sanctioned, haha.

MILE ONE (8:38)

I lined up toward the back of the pack and waited for the gun to go off. It went off right on time at 9:05am. Unfortunately, since I was toward the back, I was stuck going at a slower pace than I wanted. I had to shuffle about a block before I could pop up on a sidewalk and run the pace I wanted. Throughout this first mile there was some more dodging around, I figure I lost about 20 seconds to all of it. Maybe it was good though, start me out a little slower and ease into the race. As planned, I didn't really look at my watch and just settled into what a 10k should feel like.

MILE TWO (8:20)

Holy shit this race is hilly. This wasn't a race with half flat, half rolling hills. It was rolling almost the entire time. It seemed like you were always going up or down. Annoying at times, but honestly I don't think it impacted my time too much other than the mostly uphill mile five. It's definitely NOT a PR course, I think I could shave 10 seconds a mile on something flatter, but it wasn't tragically hilly I guess. Still, it kept you on your toes, you couldn't really zone out and settle into a rhythm like some races.

It was also during this mile I was passed by a young woman that looked like an old neighbor of mine. It wasn't her, but she looked very similar. I could hear her breathing heavy behind me and eventually she overtook me. Once she passed me she seemed to slow down and then just settle 15 feet in front of me. Almost like she made it a point to be ahead of me. Now, I had to run my own race, but if I could beat this look-a-like, it would be a cherry on top. You use anything you can for motivation during the race.

MILE THREE (8:22)

During this mile I was beginning to have some doubts about whether or not I was going too fast. My lungs in particular were screaming, as they should in a shorter distance race. However, I wasn't entirely sure I would be able to maintain the pace the entire length of the course. I knew by my mile splits how fast I was going, which was a little faster than I expected. Regardless, I just decided to keep going at my "10k pace" and see what happened. If I misjudged things, then so be it. This mile included some country roads and nice scenery as we left the suburban homes and started running on a narrow two lane road by some farms.

MILE FOUR (8:25)

Just chugging along. I knew eventually the course would enter the city again and there would be a mostly uphill mile. I couldn't remember if it was mile four or five and about halfway through this mile I figured it was the next one. The look-a-like girl was now a solid 30 yards in front of me. I was maintaining visual contact but she was slowly pulling away. Dammit. Oh well, just focus on my race.  As you can see, my split times were remarkably consistent, especially when you consider the extra 15-20 seconds I gained on the first mile due to congestion. My "by feel" pacing was leading to some pretty even splits and by the time this mile was over I was thinking I could probably hold it through the finish. Only twenty more minutes.

MILE FIVE (8:53)

If you didn't guess it already, this was the uphill mile. The uphill wasn't visually impressive... it was just one of those relentlessly gradually uphill type deals. The uphill was enough to really slow the pace though. There was a short downhill break in the middle but then it was right back uphill again. I was slowly gaining on my target as well. By the end of the mile I was probably within 20 yards; close, but still a ways to go. Eventually toward the mile marker the course switched back to up and down rollers and dumped us onto a nice walking path through some woods.

MILE SIX (8:20)

Right back to my pace. Really happy with my pacing by feel in this sucker! The race was starting to catch up with me but I knew I could maintain through the finish line. Just like a 10k should be! In addition, I was starting to pass a few other 10k people who were running out of steam. I was slowly rolling in the look alike too. By the end of this mile I was a mere 10 feet behind her. I was determined to finish hard. I remembered from four years ago that you came out of the wooded portion and the high school was right there in front of you, it was only a few hundred feet at this point.

Eventually the high school comes into sight. I'm five feet behind the target at this point. She's sensed my presence and picked her pace up accordingly. We turn toward the school. She runs a really bad tangent. I run the correct tangent and take the lead. At this point I begin a sprint for the final two hundred feet or so. I can hear her sprinting behind me as well. That was all the motivation I needed. I went into a high gear and flew through the finish line steps ahead. Phew!

POST RACE

It took a minute or so to wind down from the race. I walked around with my hands behind my head gasping for air. Eventually my senses came back and I headed toward the car. I was very hungry and thirsty. I forgot to eat my Clif Bar on the way over and then refused to take any water or snacks from the race out of principle, so I needed to get home for some liquids and grub. I did stop really quick and try to recreate the photo from four years ago... didn't do a great job but I didn't try that hard.

Anyways, overall, I was very pleased with the effort. On a flat course I think I hit the pace from the 5k I ran about a month ago. So that's definite improvement! It felt good to let things fly and have everything respond appropriately. I'm slowly improving and thinking back to the Boring Half Marathon in September it's amazing how car I've come in just a couple months!

Unofficial Results: 52:19, 8:24/mile. 90/345 overall, 61/160 male, 10/23 M30-34.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

2017 GIVE N' GOBBLE RACE PREVIEW

From 2013. Might have to recreate this outfit.
So, I'm running a 10k tomorrow! This one kind of snuck up on me but I always like to do a turkey trot on Thanksgiving so I'm glad I signed up. I ran this one four years ago and set a PR (at the time) at it. You can read that preview here. The course is still the same... although the goals have changed! Ha.

Anyways, I remember this course being hillier than I expected or wanted last time. It wasn't a fast, flat course - it had some rolling hills and a decent sized incline toward the end. I've gotten some of my hill shape back... the rollercoaster route two weeks ago went pretty well and on runs with Sunstone I'm able to plow up the hills without too much issue. They slow me down for sure, but they don't kill me physically. Plus, my goal right now it to just get in decent all around shape, so I welcome the hills. Would rather have this course than something pancake flat.

As for goals, I am not having a particular time goal. I'm still not sure on my abilities enough at this point to set something appropriate. I'd hate to set a target pace, hit that, and then realize I had more in me. Or set a pace, struggle to maintain it, and then blow up at mile four. So the goal is just to run a 10k pace. I remember what a 10k should feel like. I used this same strategy at the 5k a few weeks ago and it was pretty successful. So my goal is just to run a 10k pace and challenge myself that way.

Since I don't have a specific time goal and will be running on feel, I don't plan or want to look at my watch much. I don't want to look and think I'm running too fast or too slow. So I'll probably just put it on the time of day screen and ignore it for the most part. I probably won't be able to resist looking at the mile splits though. I am a runner after all!

In other news, I am one week into my leflunomide treatment. I have yet to have any negative side effects. The first six days I was on a half dose though, so I've only had one full dose. Kind of ease my body into it. I already like it a lot more! The only side effect, if anything, is a slight rumbly tummy right when I take it. It's gone pretty quickly though. So much better so far than methotrexate in those terms. Hopefully that will continue with the full dose. The big question remains though... will it be able to achieve the same symptom relief that methotrexate did? TBD. Joints still feel dandy but the methotrexate is still in there working for a few weeks. It's got a long half life.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

MIXING IT UP

Everything is still full steam ahead on the running front. I'm keeping up with the two weekday runs and a weekend long run very nicely. Just finished my fastest training run since all this arthritis crap happened. Didn't really plan on it, but I was running with Sunstone and decided to press myself a little. Anything under 10 was good so I started with a 9:51 first mile. When a 9:22 followed, I figured I might as well try to run a progression, so that's what I did. 9:13 third mile followed by a 8:57 fourth mile. The final .35 I ran at 7:35 pace.

Overall it was only 9:12 but still, that's my fastest training run in a very long time. It felt good too! I was actually having fun doing it. Toward the end when I was really going I felt strong and like I was flying. Knees were a complete non-issue. They really haven't been since early summer. My psoriatic arthritis has retreated and is trembling in fear. Just kidding. It's just biding its time. But hey, make hay while you got it, right?

Since everything is working so well I figured I might as well switch medications and fuck this good thing up. Why not? Seriously though... I saw my doctor today. And while the arthritis has become a non-factor (yay!) the methotrexate was really cramping my style. Thursdays were garbage and I felt awful. The side effects weren't going away. I started to dread Thursdays and it would be in the back of my mind on Tuesday and Wednesday. It just wasn't the greatest. It was better than non-treatment, but it still wasn't ideal.

With that expressed to my doctor, she said it might be worth it to try another drug. There are really two "entry level" drugs for psoriatic arthritis, methotrexate and leflunomide. Here in the good ol' US of A we typically try methotrexate first. Other countries do leflunomide first. They are basically like Tylenol and Advil for headaches. Achieve the same outcome through different means. When someone isn't tolerating the methotrexate well, they switch them to leflunomide. Everyone's body is different, so some people having trouble with one might just tolerate the other one perfectly fine.

Please don't make my hair fall out any faster please, kthx.
So, as of last Wednesday, I took my last dose of methotrexate (yay!). For now at least. If this doesn't work, or the side effects from leflunomide are just as bad, we can always go back to what was working. However, it's worth a shot to see if I can get relief and not write off an entire day of the week every week. And dread that day for days in advance.

One of the potential side effects is hair loss. She said 5-15% of people might experience that. If that happens, I'm going to have to nope out. Haha. But, she said generally it is actually slightly easier on the body. You also take one pill every day, instead of a bunch of pills or an injection once a week. I'm hoping the smaller doses will help me tolerate it better. We'll see.

Anyways, I really hope I can keep running without issue. Everything is feeling so good down there (#) I'd hate to screw it up. She said there might be a small window in the transition between the two drugs where I get a little flare, so I'll have to monitor that. The leflunomide takes time to build up just like methotrexate. Hopefully though, when all is said and done, I'll still be relatively symptom free and not feeling like crap half the time.

Onward!

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

TWO MONTHS STRONG

Saturday's Coach Jim run.
Well, I've been running pretty consistently for about two months now. If you go into the graphs and stats on my RunningAhead account you can really see the uptick in activity. While I was very cautious at first about it being sustainable, I'm beginning to think it may actually end up proving to be so. I've been running three times a week consistently and going anywhere from 15-22 miles without an issue. So that is very encouraging.

On Saturday I went to a Coach Jim run, my first since nearly two years ago. It is always hard to get motivated to go at 8am, especially when it is still dark at 7:20am when you wake up and cold and foggy outside. However, I forced myself to go out there and was so glad I did it and got it out of the way. We ran from the Cedar Hill Foot Traffic store and it was a really good 10 mile route. Two loops that kind of made a figure eight shape.

I think I'll do most my long runs on the weekend with Sunstone still though. Coach Jim is a marathon training group and I'm not training for a marathon. He always does his run in two loops, which is nice, but once each loop is 7 or 8 miles it becomes a bit awkward. Because I'd want to run more than one loop but not the full two loops. So you'd have to abandon the group and turn around. It'll remain a good backup option, but Sunstone runs a solid ten and you can always tack on a couple miles extra if you need to once you're back without it being awkward (people do that all the time).

Another run of note was last night. I ran the rollercoaster route at PRC for the first time in almost 21 months. It was really enjoyable! I was a bit hesitant to do so... my legs were a little worn from Saturday still, the Coach Jim run was a bit hilly, so when Matt suggested we run it I was a little scared. But I've been really babying my legs so I figured it was a good time to test it out. So off we went on the 7.2 mile hilly route. Felt great! We even managed 9:51/mile, much quicker than I thought. Today my legs feel just fine. So that was super encouraging!



Tuesday, October 31, 2017

HALLOWEEN REFLECTIONS

11 miler w/ Sunstone Saturday. Piece of cake!
Happy Halloween everyone! I just got done hoofing it up and down the stairs of my townhome passing out candy and it reminded me of last year. One year ago today I was wearing my two shiny new knee braces. The operating theory at the time was I had irritated meniscus behind my kneecap that was causing the inflammation. So I got a couple fancy knee braces and was told to go hobble around and see if it got better.

I had a big flare up right after Halloween. While I wasn't sure of the source, the only thing it could have been was going up and down the stairs a bunch to pass out candy - and I was wearing my braces! So that was very frustrating at the time. It was pretty clear the braces were not going to be the solution. I started keeping a "knee log" and soon discovered there was no real pattern to anything, the flare ups seemed to be completely random.

Fortunately, I was near the end of the long road to my psoriatic arthritis diagnosis. By early December I self diagnosed myself with it on WebMD. Unfortunately, I couldn't get into a rhuematologist until early February, so I spent the next couple of months trying to stave off any bad flares. I did manage to run a half marathon during that time too, despite practically no training.

Anyways, a year after that Halloween flare up and things are looking up! My symptoms are practically gone. The only time I really feel anything is if I require a lot of power from my knee. Hiking up an incline is a good example. In those cases I can still feel some lingering inflammation and lack of power. But it is SO much better than it was. Running feels 100% like it did before and my knees have yet to react negatively to it. I'm slowly getting back into decent shape. I could run a half marathon right now no problem. Very encouraging!

The only bummer is I'm still having some side effects from the medication. The day after treatment is not fun, I feel fatigued and crummy. Just a day, but it sucks. Because of this, my body has developed a strong reaction to the process of giving myself the medication, it makes me nauseous. I can't stand the smell of the alcohol wipes in particular. Ugh. It's a mental block I have to get over though.

Oh, and why can't ghosts have babies? Because they have hallow weenies.

Monday, October 23, 2017

2017 REGATTA RUN 5K RACE REPORT

Reenacting the Iwo Jima flag planting, part of the pre-race festivities.
I signed up for this race just about a week before it took place. Now that I am back running semi-regularly again I felt the need to do a race and get that energy going again. So this run fit the bill. A 5k that honored a fallen classmate of mine that wasn't too expensive. Sign me up! When I signed up it showed it dumping buckets on race day and sure enough, on race day, it was expected to dump buckets. Fortunately, the bulk of the rain held off and it was mostly just showers.

The race started at 9am in Tualatin, so it wasn't a terribly early wake up call. Anything before 11 on a weekend is not preferred, but I can't complain. The alarm went off at 7:45 and I was there in plenty of time to pick up my packet. The race has a definite military theme, so the junior ROTC was there and there were a number of things before the start. Reenactment of Iwo Jima, some Marine reciting, pledge of allegiance, national anthem, etc. Once those were done it was off to the races!

MILE ONE (8:21)

This whole race was going to be kind of weird and a learning experience. I hadn't run a 5k in some time, since before my arthritis really flared. Since then, ironically, I've only done longer stuff that I wasn't trained for. So it was kind of odd to be doing only 5k and something that was totally doable that I was ready for. Because of that, I knew I needed to set some sort of goal. I had two goals... first and foremost, I needed to get below 30 minutes. Secondly, the "stretch goal" was to beat my first 5k time of 28:01. That was 9:07/mile and a good target for my current fitness.

The start line (can't find a picture of myself).
Anyways, I mostly went with feel during the race. I did check my watch from time to time but since I don't really know my paces anymore, I just needed to run on feel. That's what I used to do before I had a GPS watch and just had to wing all the races. So it was back to the basics there. I just needed to listen to my body and push to an appropriate 5k pace. I remembered what that felt like, so I just tried to achieve that old feeling.

The race day adrenaline definitely caught up with me at the beginning of the race. I looked at my watch at one point because it was feeling too hard and I was doing 7:35. So I throttled it back a bit. I was able to do the rest of the mile just fine, I knew my pace was somewhere in the mid 8's, and while I didn't know if that was sustainable, it felt good for the time being. I could always slow it down if I needed.

MILE TWO (8:16)

This course was really flat, so hills were not an issue at all. The biggest hill was just over the pedestrian bridge across the Tualatin River at the beginning of the race. Otherwise we just ran through Durham and Cook Parks, and all the flat parts of those parks. So easy peasy route wise. As you can see, I sped up a little. I was feeling good! I was in a groove and it seemed like an appropriate pace. I was working hard but confident I could keep it up for three miles.

Somewhere along this mile a man in all black passed me. He was going just a tiny bit faster than me and I decided to use him as my bunny. So I started to follow him and match his pace. I kind of feel like he slowed down to my pace as soon as he passed me though. So I'm not sure if I was going any faster, but I could just brainlessly follow him. During this mile I went back and forth with a few others. I'm not sure which of us wasn't maintaining a steady pace!

MILE THREE (8:11)

Getting even faster! Alright! During the race I had no idea I was running negative splits. I missed my watch beeping at miles two and three. I didn't feel like I was speeding up and the increase was small enough that it makes sense I wouldn't really pick up on it. But good none the less! By the last mile we were sharing the path with people going the other way, the course is a big out and back pretty much, so it was fun to see all the other people.

This guy won it (let's pretend it's me!).
I started stepping on the gas with about a half mile to go. I felt good and I knew I could maintain through the finish so off I went. I overtook black and ended up chasing a 10(?) year old to the finish. Never could catch the little fucker, I got close, but he looked back, saw me, and stepped on the gas. Oh well, haha. Anyways, I did manage to catch some people, so it felt good to finish strong. I almost thought I started the push too early but right when I was getting tired I made visual contact with the finish line and that was enough to get me through it.

The final .11 was at 7:30/mile pace, so I definitely had sped up! I flew through the finish and saw my time of 25:21. Awesome! Phew! I took a few seconds to catch my breath and then went in search of water and food. Got some water and a banana and called it good. I cheered people finishing for the next ten minutes or so then got into my car to leave. I was hoping to see some people I knew there but I didn't see anybody.

REFLECTIONS

I came into this race honestly not sure if I could run 28:01, so to smash that was very encouraging. I thought there was no way I could get an average pace of 8:11/mile. I hadn't run a single mile that quickly since Blooms to Brews in April 2016, let alone three in a row. That was was super awesome and encouraging! Hell, I hadn't run a SINGLE mile under 9:00 since July 2016. And I just ran three!

At the end I even felt like I could have gone a little harder too. I don't really have a good gauge of my fitness right now, so maybe I held back a little in fear of blowing up. That's good news though, I smashed what I thought I could do and still felt like maybe I could have done better! Awesome.

All in all it was pretty encouraging. My next race will be the Give N' Gobble 10k on Thanksgiving. That course is definitely hillier than this one, and double the length, so that will be a good challenge.

Official Results: 25:21, 8:11/mile. 57/429, 46/188 male, 5/24 M30-34.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

2017 WARRIOR DASH "RACE" REPORT

Before the race. Unfortunately, no after photos as I understandably did not have my phone with me.
Well, after five years away I finally went back and did the Warrior Dash! I remember after doing the first one back in 2012 Brandon mentioning how much he wanted to do it. At the time, the minimum age was 14, so I told him I would do it with him when he was 14. So true to my word, once he was of age I signed us up! Turns out the minimum age is now 10... don't know when that changed, but oh well! While I enjoyed it the first time, I wasn't really jonesin' to do it again until this year with Brandon.

First obstacle. The pond was probably 55F.
Our start time wasn't until 2:15pm, so we had plenty of time to get ready before the race. I forgot what a winding road it was into Horning's Hideout - gravel too! At one point as we were driving in it started dumping rain. Not a good sign as the weather was supposed to be mostly sunny! Luckily by the time Brandon and I picked up our bibs and the race started it was dry and at times sunny.

We lined up in the corral and tried to get to the front, knowing what a logjam can form at a race like this with people of all paces going onto a small trail. So when the race kicked off we didn't have to weave too much. So that was a good decision. Although in the end it really didn't matter. I'll get to that in a second. Brandon and I ran most of the trail during the whole race, only walking select uphills. I wasn't quite sprinting like in 2012, but I was giving it a legitimate effort.

The course was pretty much the same path as last time. Run around through the woods for about a mile and then encounter the first obstacle, one that requires you to swim to it in a pond. In 2012 at no point in the course did I hit a logjam, I was able to do each obstacle as soon as I hit it. Here, Brandon and I waited a good 15 minutes to enter the lake. Not cool! It was a theme though, lots of waiting. A good 50 minutes at least.

Mud everywhere! Also barbed wire.
Anyways, once we waited our turn we hopped in the lake and HOLY SHIT IT WAS COLD. In 2012 the event took place in early September, this was early OCTOBER. The water was really cold. It took my breath away. I almost started to panic (a number of people did - it was legit dangerous). So I composed myself and then started to walk in the water toward the obstacle. You just basically had to climb out of the water onto a floating dock, run along it, and then jump back in.

Eventually the water was too deep to walk and I just had to swim. Much colder swimming than walking with your arms out of the water. But oh well. I swam as fast as I could and scrambled up the dock. I turned around to check if Brandon was still alive and spotted him, waiting in a long time to get on the obstacle without having to swim (one side you could walk all the way to it, probably four feet deep at most). On the other side of the dock I jumped back in, not realizing I couldn't touch on the other side. So I wasn't ready and got a bunch of muddy water up my nose and choked a little. Gross. I swam as fast as I could and climbed out of the pond. It was so cold. When I got out my whole body was stinging and numb. Crazy.

Sliding down the mud hill in style.
Brandon finished that obstacle a few minutes after me. After getting out he required a few more minutes to recompose himself. This race wasn't fucking around. After some encouragement we started running again. Brandon never quite warmed up, remaining cold the rest of the race. I was pretty much okay a few minutes after getting out of the lake. The adrenaline and running warmed me right back up. Only once while waiting in the shade with some wind did I get chilled.

As for the rest of the race, it was more run of the mill Warrior Dash stuff. Brandon and I did all the obstacles quickly and ran to and from each. So we did really well. We just kept having to wait. Some obstacles had no line, others had 10-15 minute lines. So it was a matter of design and placement. Oh well. They don't even time you at the race anymore so it really didn't matter.

A lot more mud this time. Last time there wasn't real mud until the finish line, this year there were at least three or four dedicated mud hazards. So that was fun. Brandon and I both wore old pairs of my running shoes we scrapped at the end. Memorable obstacles included climbing up a giant net and then sliding down into deep, muddy water, jumping over fire, swinging across water on palettes tied to bungee cords, sliding down a giant muddy hill, and crawling upside down through a rope tunnel.

I got a similar amount of air. *cough*
I will say the obstacles this year were way better than 2012. I thought they half assed a lot of them back then. I swear one was just a bunch of tires they randomly scattered on the ground. So props to the 2017 version for having some really good obstacles. Otherwise, I think 2012 was superior though... no wait times (smaller corrals because it was over two days?), race photos, and chip timing. While there were a few photographers on the course, they were few and far between and seemed to be just snapping some for Facebook. So that was a bummer, but I included a couple to give you a feel for things.

To make a long story short, Brandon and I raced hard and finished in 1:35. Over an hour more than last time, haha. Although, if we didn't have to wait, it would have probably been about 40 or 45 minutes. We were through most obstacles in a minute once we started them. The only one that took longer than that was the first one in the cold pond.

Once we were done we washed off the in another, smaller pond (just like 2012) and then headed back home. I think it was harder than Brandon thought it would be. He had fun though. He really disliked the pond at the beginning but the rest he really enjoyed. I said maybe we'd do it again in a couple years and he agreed. Fun from time to time but every year would probably be a bit much.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

EATING THAT MANGO

For the first time in a very long time I feel like I am truly back. And that's exciting! I've been running regularly since coming back from my broken toes on August 23rd. Eighty three miles later, I still feel fine! My knees haven't been an issue at all. The psoriatic arthritis definitely seems like it is in remission and my body has eased back into running successfully. Now, there is still a lot of caution with that optimism, I've been burned too many times before. We'll see if these results can hold, but I feel confident enough now to sign up for races and get excited about them again.

I would also like to brag about two of my most recent runs. Now, the focus has been to just get back to running, regardless of the times. And I'm still mostly in that mindset. However, on Thursday night I decided I was going to push a little. Just a little. The last time I had run a training run under 10:00/mile was May 2016. So SIXTEEN months before this. And let's be honest, most weren't even close. So what did I average on Thursday? Oh, you know, just 9:24. On my hilly course near my house that includes a 200 foot climb up Sexton Mountain. No big deal. It was a challenge, definitely a tempo run for me at this point, but it felt good. Legs responded great the next day too.

That was very encouraging. It gave me confidence to go for ten miles on Sunday. Remember, before the half marathon two weeks ago my longest run since May 2016 (again) was six miles. The weekend after the half I did eight. Not a big issue, definitely tired, but fine. So on Saturday I set off for ten miles. Not only was I able to do the ten miles without issue (spare getting stung by a bee randomly while running), I did them averaging 9:49/mile. Huh? Two weeks ago I did the half at 10:53 and now I'm doing 10 miles at 9:49? I don't know! I wasn't even trying to go that fast. It just sort of happened. It felt good and I went with it.

Anyways, after both runs my legs and everything felt fine. Like legs should! So that is hugely encouraging! I don't want to suddenly put pressure on myself to go under 10:00 all the time either. I think my "easy" pace is still a tick above that. However, I am getting a little speed back, which is nice.

Friday, September 22, 2017

LOOKING AHEAD

So, here I am five days out from the half marathon. How did my legs do? Great! They were sore for a few days but yesterday I felt good enough to go out and do another run. Katie and I went to Sunstone and did a hilly 4.5 miler with them. Sore from that today, but again, normal sore. Just got to get my body back in shape. Altogether I'm feeling pretty good and I'm ready to set my sights on what's next.

The goal moving forward I think is to run three times a week. Two on the weekdays and one on the weekend. Even when I was training for marathons I only ran four days a week, so I think three is a good number to keep a baseline of fitness. The run on the weekend will ideally be a long run... somewhere between 8-12 miles to hopefully build up and maintain the ability to run a half marathon. I have the Miami Half Marathon again in January and it would be nice to be ready for that this year.

Otherwise, I've been looking to add races to the schedule. Now that I feel "back" I'm excited to get out there again! The race this last weekend reminded me how much I enjoy racing. It felt good to go out there and challenge myself and test my ability. Very satisfying! Plus, the pizza afterward without guilt was pretty cool too!

Anyways, here is the lineup of races I am thinking:

10/21/2017 - Regatta Run 5k - This is a race in my hometown of Tualatin. It honors a former classmate of mine who died in Afghanistan in 2009. I've been meaning to do it before, it just is always conflicting with a football game or is right after the Portland Marathon and I don't want to do a 5k then. But this year - it works pretty well. Haven't signed up yet but seriously considering it!

11/23/2017 - Give n' Gobble 10k - I did this race a few years ago and had a good time. The course is a little hilly but I'm not running any PRs these days, so who cares. It is a large event that is pretty cheap and lets you eat Thanksgiving guilt free. Sign me up!

12/6/2017 - Operation Jack Northwest Run  - I would do the half marathon in this race. A fellow PRCer is the race director of this race and while it isn't a traditional half marathon, it goes toward a good cause and it is always a fun time. I hung around and cheered a few years back. I would consider the Holiday Half as well, but that is very expensive. I like the more basic events these days spare once or twice a year.

1/28/2018 - Miami Half Marathon - Yes, Miami again. Will be my fifth in a row. Really love this tradition! Already signed up, so this one is locked in. The last few years the weather has been really comfortable, unlike my first year when it was unbearably hot.

2/4/2018 - Zena Road Run 15k - This would be my fourth year of running this race after running it in 2013, 2015, and 2016. A definite favorite of mine, a great atmosphere, great course, good support, and none of the worthless frills I don't want to pay extra for. No shirt, no medal... perfect!

3/18/2018 - Shamrock Run 15k - Back to the 15k at Shamrock! Love this race! While the course has changed (boo) it is still the largest run in Portland and the official kickoff into the race season here in the area. This will be my seventh straight year at Shamrock and I've already signed up so I'm locked and loaded!

So that's the tentative schedule. I've only signed up for Miami and Shamrock, so everything else isn't for sure, but I hope to get back to about one event per month. We'll see how the body holds up, but I'm feeling good about it for the first time in a long while!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

2017 HALF BORING HALF MARATHON RACE REPORT

Start of the marathon at 6:30am.
I've known that I would be running this race for some time. While in Miami this year two of my friends decided to come out and visit me to do a race. The logic was that we'd continue training all year if we had races spaced approximately six months apart, instead of trying to cram for Miami every year (them every year, me this last year due to my unknown at the time condition). Anyways, it was decided that the "Half Boring Half Marathon" in Boring, OR was the winner! And while one friend had to back out, one was still coming, so like it or not, I was doing a race!

I hadn't ran more than six miles consecutively since... May 21st, 2016 at the Rum Run. So SIXTEEN months ago. I did run the Miami Half Marathon earlier this year, but at no point during that race did I run for six miles without stopping. Four at best maybe. So while I was feeling much better and had recently completed a six mile run without stopping, I wasn't expecting to run the whole thing. My goal was to get to the turnaround at 6.55 without walking and then just play it by ear. I figured I could get to nine miles or so before I needed to walk and jog it in.

So it was back to an early wake up call. I don't miss those at all, but this one at 5:15am was surprisingly not too painful. We had some oatmeal and bananas before heading toward Boring. Along the way we stopped at McDonald's and each got a medium sized coffee. More on that to come! We arrived around 6:25am for the 7:00am race. So we had plenty of time to get our packets and get ready before the race started. The whole race would be an out and back along the Springwater Trail. My arch nemesis. To be honest though, I had only ran this part of the trail once so I wasn't dreading it too much!

THE FIRST FIVE (10:49, 10:34, 11:11, 10:55, 10:43)

Only picture I could find of me! At the start.
My goal for this race was to pace myself around 10:45-11:00/mile and just ride that as long as I could. My friend was in agreement with this pace so we ran together with me checking the watch every so often to make sure we were hitting our target. The 11:11 mile was mile three, where I had to stop to pee. I felt the coffee hitting me before the race but the port-a-potties had long line so I decided to just wait until I saw something along the path. Luckily around 2.5 miles in there was a single unoccupied potty. Knowing it would be dumb to try and make up the time, I just let the mile be a little slower with the pee time.

Otherwise, the race was going pretty well. Those first few miles had a surprising amount of people still bunched together, so you never felt lonely. I could tell my friend was laboring a bit more than me but he was still doing awesome. Overall I was feeling pretty great. Legs felt good and cardio wise the pace seemed sustainable. The miles didn't take too long to come at this point of the race. There was an aid station at mile two and another at mile three. I drank a cup of water and a cup of Gatorade at each. The second aid station also had gummy bears. I took a handful of these and man were they delicious! Altogether it was a good start to the race. I knew the end might be a challenge but so far so good!

THE NEXT FIVE (10:25, 10:59, 11:51, 10:55, 11:12)

This race was a bit unique because there weren't a lot of very memorable points. The course didn't change all that much (out and back along a trail) so until "body" events started happening everything just kind of blurred together. I was pleasantly surprised when mile seven rolled by and I still felt really good. I hadn't ran more than six in forever but I was able to break that number without issue. The 11:51 mile was another pee mile. I think there was also an aid station in there too. Like usual, I was walking through the aid stations. Even running my PR times I would always briskly walk the aid stations so I could actually drink and chew. Well worth it and not "walking" in terms of the race in my head.

Anyways, my watch was matching the mile markers almost exactly so I knew whatever my watch was calculating would be very accurate. Unfortunately, my friend had to drop off around mile 8.5, which was much longer than I was expecting him to hang on. So bravo to him! I was determined to try and run the whole thing by that point and he seemed cool with me moving onward, so I slowly pulled away as he started a few walk breaks. Altogether he ran must of it and only finished 7.5 minutes behind me and set a new PR by 9 minutes. So he did awesome!

Typical scene along the course.
Once on my own I just tried to keep up the pace around 11:00/mile. My legs were starting to tire and hurt a bit but nothing that would affect my race too much. I know what mile 24 of a marathon feels like and we were a far ways from that. I could tell my IT band was a little sore but at a low level, I didn't think it would be an issue getting to 13, and it wasn't. Altogether I was feeling pretty good. Tired, but good. When I hit mile 10 it was almost like hitting mile 20 in a marathon. Double digits! Gives you a short little boost knowing you hit a milestone and are getting close. I tried to pep talk myself, even letting a "let's fucking go!" out at one point.

THE FINAL THREE (11:16, 10:33, 10:19)

I was for sure starting to tire at this point. I believed I could make it to the finish without walking, but it was a matter of how much my legs were going to hate me. I had a third (and final!) pee break at some point in there. When I hit mile 11 I knew for sure I could do it. Only twenty more minutes!  It was at this point I decided I was going to finish strong and just go for it. So I kicked up the pace a gear and surprisingly my legs felt great. The slightly faster pace meant I was using some muscles that hadn't be used quite as much. Cardio wise I was still completely fine. I was honestly surprised at how good my cardio felt, likely due to my correct pacing. It felt good for more than 13 miles to be honest!

Apparently the last couple of miles were uphill, and I remember them being downhill on the way out, but I honestly didn't even notice it. I was determined and rolling. They looked downhill to me! Once I was on the mission to finish hard my body responded. So these last couple of miles weren't even that bad. I was passing a few people here and there and it just felt so good to be out there racing like a normal person again. By the final mile I was rolling. 10:19 thirteenth mile, the quickest of the day. It felt like I was flying, funny that used to be my recovery jog pace, but whatever the case, it felt good.

The final tenth of a mile was run at 9:00/mile pace. I breezed through the finish with a little fist pump. 2:22! It was over! I did it! I ran the whole fucking thing and even felt strong at the end! My legs were a little trashed, but that's what happens in a race where you give it your all! I drank a water and waited for my friend to finish. He wasn't too far behind. Once he recovered we got some food and then hung around to watch the kids and goats (no joke) race. Good times. Eventually it was back to the car for a lazy day and a lot of pizza.

REFLECTIONS


My secret goal was sub 2:30 so I was thrilled with the 2:22. I figured I'd need some walking breaks toward the end but it ended up I didn't need any! My legs were definitely trashed afterward, stairs were painful, IT band was slightly angry, but nothing tragic. They held up well during the race and that's the important part. Today, the next day, they are sore but overall feeling good. They are normal sore, like they used to be. Knees themselves feel 100% fine, not even sore, just my muscles. So very positive news there!

The difference between this race and the one in January in Miami couldn't be any more different. That race was a struggle of epic proportions. I am super proud I went out there and did it. 2:39 was honestly just about the best time I could have gotten. At the time I still didn't have a diagnosis and was struggling with inflammation. So to even complete it was a huge victory. However, the final miles of that race were torture. I was done as soon as we hit the Venetian Islands. The last few miles were a desperate slog akin to the 20s of many of my marathons.

Overall, I am very proud of my race! Under 11:00/mile for 13 straight miles... awesome! I hope I can continue running and slowly get better again. I'm pretty sure I'll never get back to my old speed, I don't think I even have the desire to, but it is nice to be able to run and do races and feel like a normal person again. This one gets chalked up as a huge victory!

Official Results: 2:22:45, 10:53/mile. 91/147, 50/65 male, 11/14 M3039.

Friday, September 08, 2017

BACK IN ACTION

All my runs after getting back from the broken toes.
For the first time in a very long time I feel like I am back running without issue. It is exciting! The whole toe situation has dissolved into a non-factor. The swelling in the toes is continuing to go down, and while they aren't quite all the way back, they don't bother me in the least. So that worry is completely over and I'm sure within a month all the swelling will be gone and I'll basically be as good as new.

As for the knees, they feel fantastic too! Almost ready to declare them a non-factor. Now I have to pay attention to whether any "not so fresh" feeling in them is just caused by fatigue or a case of my arthritis flaring up. I went back to running pretty quick and the response so far has been great. After my five mile run they did feel tired... that was my longest run since the Miami Half Marathon in January. For a second I was like "oh no" when my knees started to fatigue but then I realized the sensation wasn't the inflammation I was used to, it was the "tired" feeling I was used to back when I was actually running. The feeling that got better the next day and didn't cause a flare up. And sure enough I bounced back.

So everything is feeling almost back to normal. It's kind of weird. Battling shit and starting and stopping has been the status quo for almost two years. I almost want to swing a hammer into my calf or something just to keep that going. Kidding. Anyways, like I said, it feels good. I've built up enough fitness now I can actually go on enjoyable "easy" runs again. I can sign up for races. I can go to my running groups and see people on the regular. All exciting things!

My next race is the Boring Half Marathon is just over a week. I'm going to run six miles this weekend in preparation for that. I figured if I can get almost halfway there then I can bullshit the other half on race day. And then the next race after that is the Warrior Dash 5k with Brandon in early October. I'm excited for that now that I can actually run, jump, climb, etc! Although it will give me ample opportunities to hurt myself and start the cycle over, so I'll have to watch out for that, hah! First time doing that race since 2012. I really enjoyed it the first time and always wanted to do it again, so here I am five years later.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

FINAL AT 30

Four weeks later. Assured by doctor this was normal, the
new bone is so light it barely shows up. Healing correctly!
Well tonight I ran for the final time as a thirty year old. Thirty was definitely was worst year running since I started, but it was mostly due to things out of my control. Namely, my psoriatic arthritis diagnosis that took far too long to get. Once I was being treated, it was another couple of months before the treatment really kicked in.

Looking toward 31, I think it will be a much better year. Since giving the methotrexate injections a couple of months to build my arthritis is feeling much better. Almost to the point of being gone. It hasn't been an issue once in the last two months. I can go on four mile runs now and my knees don't feel a thing. Before, during, or after. Earlier on the blog I was giving my knee pain a score out of 10, at worst now it is 1/10. And frankly it almost feels 0/10. So that's super encouraging! That is what I was hoping for! The next step will be to see if it is sustainable. And can I ramp up to a modest amount of activity while keeping those same results?

So that will be the question moving forward. I actually have a half marathon in two and a half weeks. Yikes! It is the Boring Half Marathon. I agreed to do it with a friend a few months back and didn't imagine taking a month off to deal with my broken toes. So I am not quite where I want to be fitness wise. The goal will to be something like Miami earlier this year... run most of the first five or six miles and then try to jog/walk it in. Somewhere around 2:45 time wise. Assuming all goes well with that, my next major race would be Miami in January 2018. Assuming I'm feeling good, maybe I could try to run that entire one slowly. We'll see.

But yes, tonight I did run. It was my fourth run back from my broken toes. Fourth run in eight days. And my body is feeling pretty good! I'm surprised my cardio held up as well as it did... the first run back was definitely a challenge, but I feel much better a few runs in. Was able to run an 11:00 pace for four miles tonight without stopping and it wasn't even much of a challenge. Not a walk in the park but not super easy either. I'm just slowly trying to build up mileage. My runs back have been 3, 3, 4, and 4 miles. Hoping to one six mile run under my belt at least before the half. However, I'm going to be cautious and ramp up slowly.

My toes feel great! Nary a compliant during or after the run. Seems to not really affect them. One toe is still swollen but I think it's slowly going down. So really they are a non-issue, which is great. The IT band thing that was challenging me early in the year is still there. It hasn't really struck yet, but I can feel it lurking. I think it may have to do with my pace. It is so much slower than usual and I remember trying to run this pace when I was in shape would really hurt my knees. So I almost wonder if it is related. If it fades as I get faster, that would be awesome. Best case! If not, maybe I invest in one of those IT band straps. Who knows.

That ended up being quite the ramble. My birthday is tomorrow and I turn 31. I remember an unspoken (I believe) goal of doing a 50k (31 miles) when I was 31. That ain't happening, lol. Maybe I'll do a 5k and just enjoy it 10x as much?

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

WARNING: GROSS FOOT PICTURES

Clockwise from top left: Two days after, one week after,
two weeks after, and three weeks after.
Thought I'd give a little update on how my foot recovery is going. Pretty well! Day by day it gets better but it is slower than one would like. Now that I am able to wear normal shoes and walk without a limp you'd think I'd be almost back to normal. Not the case though... any prolonged walking, jumping, weird toe bends, etc. and my foot is not happy. My toes are still decently swollen, especially the one next to the pinky toe. It is still a Vienna sausage pretty much.

Hey, remember those earthquake kits we made in elementary school? Mine always had Vienna sausages. It was fun at the end of the year when you got it back and could eat the stuff. I don't remember those in middle school at all. Was it just a ploy to teach us about earthquakes or a legitimate strategy to survive if a big one hit when we were at school? Do they do it now? So many questions.

Anyways, I think in about a week I'll be able to walk for fitness again. A few miles at a normal pace. Nothing crazy. And then hopefully slowly start jogging again toward Labor Day. I think in about two or three weeks my toes will be almost back to normal... too much bending or stubbing them will be bad, but otherwise fairly functional. So the 4-6 week timeframe is looking about right assuming the progress I've been seeing continues.