Why do I race??

Everyone on a regular basis jokes around with me about my racing and how often and how much I do it.   Which is fine by me.   Recently though this got me thinking about the reason behind why I do this.   It isn’t always easy to put into words how sick and in pain I was when my lupus and RA were at it’s worst.   To correlate lets imagine you ran a 100 mile race and everything hurts, your body is exhausted, and you don’t want to move.   Imagine living that way every single day.

I would wake up in pain and exhausted even though I slept a solid 8 hours the night before.   Getting dressed was painful.  Putting on a bra hurt, some days I couldn’t even move my arms and body to do it.   At this point in my life, it didn’t necessarily help that I had people telling me “Its in your head”.  That my disease wasn’t real.   I was making it up.   So in pain, I continued to try and live my life without showing how much I hurt.   I was embarrassed.   I had to my handicapped placard because I could barely walk.   Grocery shopping was an exercise in itself.   Every movement hurt.   Walking up stairs was a whole other story but I didn’t want people to see me taking the elevator, so I painfully would slowly make my way up the stairs.   I will never forget at probably my sickest time, a classmate, while I was in college for Electrical Engineering, told me go home and sleep you look like a zombie.   Funny thing was I have slept, but no matter how much I would sleep, the disease was in full on war mode.   My doctors didn’t help my case, telling me this something I needed to get used to.  In the back of my head I continued to contemplate how in the hell does someone get used to life of daily pain.  Pain that never goes away truly, that’s always there?  I know I was depresssed.  I tried not to show that fact but looking back now I realize that those 5 years were miserable.   I know I had a great support system.  My Aunt Cheryl, my mom, Nikki, and Kristy.   I will never remember one time calling Kristy crying like no other, and asking her to come pick me up and take me to the hospital because I was in so much pain.  The front door of my apartment(an old Victorian house), was a glass door that locked, she had to watch from the outside as I painfully sat on the steps and basically scooted my way down the stairs.  The staff at the hospital knew me after awhile and knew what was happening, and what needed to be done.   Recently however, I hate the fact that I am treated like I am a druggie.   You see my pain tolerance after all these years is very high.  So when I admit that I am in pain or hurt, its probably worse than most people can handle.   I get treated like I am out looking for drugs, to get a fix, as I lay there crying and frustrated that some people just don’t understand.   I guess I can’t expect you to understand unless you have walked a mile or two in my shoes during that time.

All of this I know happens for a reason however, as mad and angry at the world as I had been.  I was very angry inside about this disease.  Why did I have it?  Why was mine so terrible ?  Why am I having to be put through this much pain?  I still occasionally will ask myself these questions, as to truly find an understanding.  When I moved to Denver four years ago, I realized that 26 years old I couldn’t keep living like this.   I was miserable and in pain.  The medicine the doctors were giving me wasn’t working, hell the side effects made everything worse.   I had lost all my hair, I had prednisone chipmunk face.  I was dying slowly, and painfully.

That’s were racing comes into play.   I ran my first ever OCR, Tough Mudder, not truly realizing what I was getting into.   Everyone thought I was crazy.  I thought I was crazy, how in the hell is someone who can barely walk going to run a race?!?!?!  That race that day was the most humbling experience ever.   My little brother was with me the whole way, and still to this day I get teared up about the whole situation.   By the end of the race, I could barely move or walk.   I didn’t honestly think I could finish.   My knees looked like my thighs, they were so swollen.   Shannon and my little brother encouraged me that I needed to do this.  I needed to finish.  And now looking back I realize that they were right.   I had to.   That race made me realize I need to start working out and being more active; although sometimes painful because of the stupid lupus, it had to be done.

Running and racing saved my life.  I know I may ramble about this sometimes but its fact.   I don’t even want to imagine where I would be had I not signed up and ran that race.   Working out and changing my lifestyle to be more natural and healthy completely changed what the disease was doing to me. I eat a more paleo lifestyle now.  I am not on the 30 different pills I used to be on daily but am down to two.   Its crazy to see the progression of where I once was and where I am today.

So I have to race.   I have to prove to myself and others, that this disease won’t win and I am sure as hell not giving up anytime soon.   I also race to share my story.  After overcoming the idea that I used to be embarrassed by the disease I now realize that I can help others.  I can encourage those people who were once intimated or afraid to work out and race.  I think this means the most to me.  I turned everything around so that I may be able to do what I love and share that passion with others.

So yes, I do run quite a bit, and am crazy and will go run a race on little to no notice.   I have my reasons for running and to put it simply is that I want to continue living my life.  Enjoying my life.   I have found my passion and it’s not going anywhere.

This past weekend made me realize how much I have changed.   I ran a Spartan Beast, and not once did I feel the pain I inevitably always feel after running or racing.  The lupus fighting back and trying to win.   I won that race, no I didn’t place by any means, but you see I beat the disease that I will always have.  It didn’t win, it didn’t even come close to winning on that day.

The comparison below is last years Spartan Beast in Utah, doing the bucket carry.  Then there is a photo of me from Saturday in Temecula, California.   I look so happy in that picture on Saturday.  This was five miles in for both pictures.   Last year I didn’t think my body could handle a Spartan Race, and now I am itching for more.   My body doesn’t hurt, I recovered quickly.   Have I finally won?  I don’t know but I do know that racing will never stop for me, I will be the little 80 year old out on the course still running and smiling because you know what, I want to live my life!


Modified copy of IMG_4557 image1


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