BENEFITING: ARTHRITIS FOUNDATION INC
EVENT DATE: Oct 21, 2012
I will be tempting to run a marathon in October and see this as a blessing and an answered prayer for total health. In the meantime I am taking the opportunity to help raise money for the Arthritis Foundation to help support funding for the disease I have been fighting since 2006. This is my story with which I hope to inspire others.
In early 2006 I could hardly get out of bed. When I did get up it felt like I was walking on rocks even on carpet. Eventually the pain went up to my knees and even into my hands and elbows. I also felt very sick, like I had the flu, except my illness never ended.
Rheumatoid Arthritis is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects 1.3 million Americans, including 300,000 children, some as young as age 2. As with other autoimmune diseases, the immune system attacks healthy tissues and cells of the body damaging them and making one feel very sick. Rheumatoid targets the joints, but other organs of the body can also be affected. Damage to joints can start as soon as the first year or two of onset of symptoms.
I knew I had to get treatment as soon as possible to stop any progression of the disease. Since I was a young active person this was not easy. Despite feeling sick and in pain with every step I continued to run a few miles a day to keep in shape. I would have doctors tell me, if you can run, you are not bad enough for treatment. I became very frustrated because I was an active 32 year old, and did not want to feel sick, change my activity or risk joint damage.
Finally in May of 2007, I found a rheumatologist whom started me on a weekly injection that blocks the attack mechanism on healthy cells for treatment of Rheumatoid. Within a month I had my energy and health back. I could run and do normal activities without being in pain or physically exhausted. Prior to this, I could not even stand without my knees giving out. It was also at this time my husband and I began running 5K races. The competition of the races kept me running. I always wanted to place in my age group, and would train hard throughout the week on running the 3.1 miles as fast as I could.
It has not all been smooth sailing since May of 2007. After taking a year off of running for pregnancy in 2008, I knew it would not be easy starting back up again. Even though I gradually tried to start back with just my two-mile route my knees swelled up so bad I could hardly walk. I thought my running days had come to an end. All I wanted to do at this point was be able to run enough to keep in shape. With six weeks of physical therapy and cortisone shots in my knees I was able to start running again. It took me 4 months to run two miles again, and 6 months to run a 5K. I ended the year running several 5K’s again.
As long as I kept running on a routine basis I thought I would never have any problems. I was wrong. In the spring of 2010 I felt sick again. It seemed my medication was not working. I thought about stopping my medication and going with alternative therapies. Instead I turned to prayer and asked my Sunday School class at First Baptist church Festus/Crystal City to pray for my health also. All I wanted was my health back. I stayed on medication and in 2010 had my best running season yet, which included an overall female finish. My prayers were answered. I had my health back.
In 2011 I decided I wanted to try running for more distance. I debated this because sometimes I am still running in pain and did not know if could handle it. So without training I entered a 10K and half marathon. I had no problems with the 10K finishing in under an hour. The half marathon was a little different. I had planned on running more miles at home shortly before running it, but ended up getting sick and could not even run at all for a few weeks. I made it to mile 8 when my knees gave out. I could hardly walk when I stopped. I said a prayer and ended up doing short sprints the rest of the way to finish. I still finished in 2 hours and 9 minutes, which was not bad for a first timer. I thanked God for getting me through that race and swore I would never run that far again. Three weeks later I ran the Baja half marathon in Festus. There was a long hill halfway through the course which change my running motion just enough to keep the pressure off my knees. I finished without stopping and also figured out I can run distance if I keep shifting my balance.
Shortly thereafter I saw another half marathon advertised where we usually vacation in Apalachicola, Florida. It crosses a 6.6 K bridge over a bay to St. George Island. When I read on, only the marathon crosses the bridge. At that point I decided if I am going to run a marathon that is where I would want to do it. I had one year to train for this. The event “Running for the Bay Marathon”, takes place on 10/21/12 in Apalachicola, Florida. My husband will also be running with me. We will be supporting each other through the race.
Fortunately we had a mild winter and I have been adding up the miles at home. It is not easy running long distance in southern Jefferson County. There are hills everywhere you go. My husband and I also plan to run several half marathons this year prior to marathon as part of our training. Running distance has not been as hard as I thought on me. It has actually been better on my joints rather than the hard pounding of a fast pace. Though I am still in pain at times, running has helped keep me healthy and limber. If I take more than two days off from running I can hardly get up from a sitting position. Exercise is definitely the key to staying in shape for anyone. I feel better now than when I was 18.
There are still simple things I cannot do such as go barefoot or stand for long periods of time. Even on carpet I have to have shoes on or my feet will hurt. I probably could not play volleyball, basketball or softball anymore, but I can still run. God only knows why I can still run. Ironically I start my long runs off with Kid Rock’s song, “God Only Knows Why”, where the chorus repeats: God only knows why I keep moving on.
Please help me support the Arthritis Foundation. This organization provides support and research for Rheumatoid and other forms of arthritis. The medication to treat Rheumatoid can cost up to $1500 per month and the foundation can help support those who need financial help. Donations can be sent to:
Running for Rheumatoid
Attention: Kim Rosenthal, Director of Volunteer Services
9433 Olive Boulevard, #100
St. Louis, MO 63132