Physical Strength is defined as a state of health that allows a person to do daily tasks. Physical strength is generated through muscles, the skeleton, tendons and ligaments all working together. The amount of physical strength you have depends on how well they interact with one another. In my case my physical strength has been inconsistent and I was not sure how my joints were going to interact with my other parts of my body Saturday morning of the Asbury Park Half Marathon. Getting to the starting line was the easy part, but to finish I knew it was going to have to take more than just physical strength this time around.
I have ran a half marathon in the past and 2 New York City full marathons. BUT, this one was different. For the first time I was going to run a half marathon without meds. On top of being off meds, the run was happening in the morning. This is when I experience the most pain with inflammation, flares and having difficulty to fully function.
In order to best prepare, the night before, Chris and I made sure to have a hearty pasta dinner (all compliant to the elimination diet, so it was brown rice pasta). The morning of the run I woke up extra early to make sure I got in a lot of stretching, ate breakfast and tried to ease into my morning stiffness and pain as much as I could before it was go time. I could not help but feel excited as I put on my Racing for a Cure jersey and bracelet. I completed my running apparel with a compilation of Wonder Woman paraphernalia that included earrings, a bandanna and my leggings that I also wore in my first New York City Marathon. I definitely looked like I meant business.
We got to the starting line and waited with our friend Brian aka “Dude” who was also running the half marathon. I was all smiles on the outside and ready to go, but would be completely lying if I did not mention what was going through my head on the inside. I was nervous. I am definitely my own worst enemy; both literally and figuratively. Literally -my body attacks itself as part of my autoimmune disease. Figuratively – I am very hard on myself if I do not achieve a goal or meet my own expectations. Ultimately I did not want them both to collide. I was fearful that my body was going to interfere with my goal of finishing.
PHYSICAL STRENGTH. What brought me to the starting line. The 13.1 miles between the start and the finish was much more than physical strength though. SUPPORT. We
were so lucky to have friends and family who came to the run to help cheer us on along the way. Their cheers, the signs they made and seeing their smiling faces were all so rewarding to help carry us through the next part of the run. Thanks to them we have some great pictures and videos of us running together as well. RACING FOR A CURE. Another huge thank you to everyone who donated. Everyone who donated were my extra motivators to keep me moving forward (my extra spoons) and I thought of you every step along the way. . It meant so much to me that you took the time to donate to a
cause where scientists are studying all forms of arthritis which includes osteoarthritis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile arthritis, gout, ankylosing spondylitis and psoriatic arthritis. As I ran I thought about all the many people I was running for that also hope and pray to see a cure one day. MY HUSBAND. Who was right there next to me every step along the way. Even though he hates long distance running, he ran the run to support me and I could not be more proud.
SUPPORT, RACING FOR A CURE, and my HUSBAND were all big factors that helped me from mile point to mile point on the course. These were all part of my MENTAL TOUGHNESS that guided me to the finish line. There was a part of the course that challenged me the hardest. This part was on the older section of the boardwalk. The boards were uneven and my feet had to work extra hard to grip the boards. This is where I felt the pain kick in. My feet felt like they were throbbing through my sneakers. Over and over I kept thinking about my friends, family, racing for a cure, my husband next to me. My joints did not care about what I was thinking though. My toes felt like they were cracking with pain every time they stepped down onto the uneven boards. I knew
though I was finishing no matter what. When we hit mile 12 and only had 1.1 miles to go, we were at the home stretch. Fighting through the pain, I was all smiles and focused. For the last mile, I knew this was my husband’s longest run he has done so far. I kept saying out loud positive and motivational words. “We got this!” “Every step is one step closer to the finish and we did it together!” There even was a guy on his balcony blasting out of two huge speakers Rocky theme music. So naturally I started pumping my fist and singing along, “It’s the eye of the tiger. It’s the thrill of the fight. Rising up to the challenge of our rival.” (I might have just cheated now and google searched the lyrics. Anyone who knows me I am the worst at lyrics and I definitely made up my own words the day of the run besides the eye of the tiger part.) It was not long until we saw the finish line, the crowd screaming, the cheers of our friends again. Chris and I crossed the finish line holding hands up in the air. WE DID IT! WE FINISHED TOGETHER!
As soon as we finished, I felt an overwhelming feeling of emotion rush over me. For the
first time after a run I felt my eyes swell up with tears. I knew that my time was nowhere near my best, something that mattered to me at first. BUT, what mattered the most and what mattered at that instant was I finished. I finished with my husband by my side, with not being on medication, Racing for a Cure and had my friends and family there who cheered us on! I almost did not share this on my blog. It is extremely hard for me to be vulnerable and show moments of weakness. BUT looking back at it and reflecting on this moment, it was not weakness. At that moment, the medal around my neck meant more to me than just a medal. It meant my mental toughness was greater than my physical strength. (Not to mention Chris also realized the medal has a multiple use of a bottle opener.)
That night we enjoyed a rewarding post marathon steak dinner. Corn was the next food group we had to reintroduce to the elimination diet that day. We picked up some fresh corn and enjoyed a side of corn on the cob. Dinner hit the spot! Just like we ran through the finish line of the half marathon together, we are coming up to the last stretch of finishing the elimination diet. The last food groups include soy, eggs, dairy, yeast, gluten and wheat. These are key food groups that can possibly cause triggers. I am definitely curious to see if my body responds any differently to them and if I come to any realizations. Stay tuned for next blog where I focus on crossing the finish line with the elimination diet. Looking forward to answering questions such as was the elimination diet (ED) worth it? What did I learn and take away from doing the ED? Were there any triggers? What I would recommend to others? So many questions and with every answer or knowledge I come across is one step closer to……..