Just What I Needed

I’m typing this on a Sunday evening and I am really tired. Just, beat. That always scares me a little. Am I getting sick? Are things going south? I’ve not really been sick since this whole adventure started, except for a really bad cold and the fatigue I felt during the SCT process.

Then I have to remind myself. I forget sometimes. When you run 28 miles in two days, you might feel tired. I did a very hilly workout of 18 miles yesterday. Today I was assigned a fast 10. If coaching means tough love sometimes, all I can say is, my coach loves me a lot. He is having me do exactly what I need to do. And I am very grateful that I can do it. I had to push today. To run 8 of the 10 miles assigned at marathon pace when my legs had not yet recovered from yesterday was hard. But I LOVED it.

So back to Amyloid land, I had that silly (or maybe excruciatingly painful is the phrase I’m looking for) bone marrow biopsy on the 14th and I didn’t get the results until the 24th, which gave my mind lots of time to go to places it had no business going. However, by that Friday afternoon, I was ready to hear what it was. It was good. The measure of plasma cells in my marrow is still at 5% and that’s normal. Sigh of relief. That means that the main indicators of remission are still normal. The next step was going to be to see what my nephrologist was going to say.

I had to shift gears, though, because I was off to San Luis Obispo for a half marathon on Sunday. (That’s 13.1 miles if you are not a regular follower of running) The double life is alive and well! First, though, there was a musical at Ygnacio Valley High School I needed to attend. My daughter Rory, although suffering from a very bad sore throat, was one of the stars. The show had to go on, and it did. In typical YV fashion, it was a fantastic show. I’m proud of my girl. She did an amazing job.

Roryonstage

That’s my girl!

Saturday morning came a little too soon, so I shot out of bed to get a few pet sitting visits done, before doing a short “prep” run and getting on the road. It was about a 3 hour drive.

Then it hit me. This is a long way. About 240 miles, for a race.  What was I thinking?

I can tell you what I was thinking. It was a certified course (which matters if you are going to be submitting results to a race organization) and I had friends filming the race for an internet broadcast. So, it seemed like a good idea at the time. But I had started to worry about the hills on the course and that I just was not ready. My goal was to come in under 1:54. That was an 8:42 pace per mile, the time standard for guaranteed entry to the New York City marathon for my age group. A half time I had done once when I was 6 years younger, running faster 5k’s and not coming off a….ya know.

I was not feeling the love of racing on Saturday night. I could feel myself withdrawing from the lively conversation of my friends at dinner, and going to a dark place in the land of pre-race anxiety. My friends made it clear they believed in me. Why didn’t I ?

The alarm went off at 3:30 the next morning, and I went through the motions. The race started at 6:45. By the time I was lining up for the race, my feet seemed to know what they were there to do. The song played over the speakers right before the race was “I lived” by One Republic. I think that set me straight. I only had one choice I knew, to go out and do it.

And, as if by magic, everything went right. I got up those hills, and I let gravity carry me down. I stayed on pace. I knew coach Andy was at mile 7 and I couldn’t wait to get there and give him a big smile. I yelled to him that I was on pace. I kept it up. I got it done. With 14 seconds to spare, I came flying in to the best greeting ever…Pete and Erin filming the race at the finish line, and right there, available to give me the best hugs ever! What a sweet moment. I can’t imagine a better way to finish!

KImfinishing SLO

Pete managed to get this photo, as I kind of surprised them at the finish. My mouth is wide open, maybe gasping for air…but who cares?

I celebrated with a nice meal including a chocolate shake. Kim doesn’t let Kim have those very often.

When I got home, my new chicken harness had arrived in the mail.

Chickenharness

Pretty cool weekend, ha?

To say this was a confidence booster is putting it lightly. I really needed something like this. A concrete way to know that I was coming back. I’ve been doing far better at mental toughness, but I needed results. I know that running is not the most important thing in the world, but it is very special to me. And achieving something is a way to know that I’m back on track. There were many scary moments when I was first diagnosed. I thought my running life was over. But it’s not. I have cried a lot of tears of joy over this.

Back to the real world, I did see my nephrologist a few days after the race. She is concerned about my protein levels and asked me a lot of questions about medications and diet. With nothing to pin this on, she is considering another kidney biopsy to see if I have any other type of kidney disease…like I have  time for that! She will check with the pathologists who did the original one in 2013 to see if there was anything else they saw. I think that’s unlikely since I was told they had exhausted all possibilities before looking for Amyloid. We have tentatively planned the biopsy for June 1st. She understands that I have a marathon on May 24th. It will mean a night in the hospital and a week off running, and I can’t lose a week right now.  After my appointment, I got a call from the nurse asking about how to contact my doctors at Stanford, so it looks look she will consult with them, the Amyloid experts. How common is steadily increasing proteinuria two years into treatment? I don’t know, but I am sure I will hear from them soon, and that will probably determine whether or not I am headed for another kidney biopsy.

All I know is, I’m not going to let anything get in my way. I’m running well. I’m happy. I’m starting to believe in myself again. And it’s the best feeling ever!

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No more ‘Mrs. Nice Girl’

It’s been a while since my last post. I started a new one last week. It’s a curse being as technologically illiterate as I am. I can’t get my phone to send photos now. By the time I finally managed to get an image from my phone to my iPad, my blog post of 500 words had disappeared. I got a little mad at wordpress and it has taken all week for me to get over it. 🙂

I’ve had some time now to analyze that marathon I ran last month and for once, my talent of over thinking things may have paid off. I’ve come to some conclusions about how I might have done better. I’m not sure I was quite ready to run my goal that day. I do know, I could have done better.

During my long training runs, I developed a little habit. It didn’t happen every time, but often enough to interfere with developing the mental toughness I needed for 26.2 miles. Some times, I just stopped. I stopped and thought for a moment. “I don’t want to run anymore.” “I need a break”. “I’m not having fun”. “This is awful.” “This isn’t race day, I don’t really have to do this today.” I would force myself to get started again, and sometimes I could regain my normal pace, but the damage was done. I was giving into feelings that I wouldn’t have time to feel during a race.

I thought that the adrenaline of race day would take care of things. I know now when the time came that I needed to be really tough, I wasn’t able to do it. I may not have been able to do it in any case. It might not have been my day. But I do know that I had not practiced what I needed to do. When push to shove,  I didn’t push.

Looking back, I think I know where this mindset was created. When I first started running after the transplant, it was really hard. I had posted here that I knew I needed to be nice to myself. I tried to stay positive and not beat myself up, because I was really slow and it would have been easy to give up. That was a good way to be at the time. Then I came back. I started running more like I used to. I started seriously training again. And I needed a little meanness back. Sometimes, you have to push yourself. And you can’t always be nice and forgiving. Sometimes the Kim who wants to achieve things has to yell at the Kim who wants to take it easy.

I’ve talked to my coach about this. It’s about figuring out what I want and why I’m out there,  about being prepared to answer back with the right answer when your body and mind are questioning what you are doing.

So, for the last several weeks, I have been answering the question, whatever it may be, with “Hell yeah, I want this!” There has not been any stopping, other than for a traffic light, or to retie my shoe. I’ve been focused and driven. It may still take time to get to where I need to be. I have two upcoming races and I can’t honestly say I will be exactly where I need to be. If I am not there, however, it won’t be because I stopped on the trail and had to talk myself into running again.

Me Tahoe

(Above: Recovering after completing a 13 mile run at Lake Tahoe, 6200 ft of elevation, where I did not give in to those wimpy feelings even with a 300 ft climb in the last mile)

In other news, because this blog started as a way for me to balance my medical adventures with the rest of my life, I have an update. It’s my hope this is nothing more than a little blip on the radar, but I have another bone marrow biopsy coming up. I had what I was hoping was a routine check up with my oncologist last week, where he would throw me out of the office, saying, “Don’t come back for three months!” But that wasn’t the case. We discussed the fact that lab values indicating the protein being leaked from my kidneys is at an all time high. This doesn’t indicate that I’m not in remission anymore, but he does want to pursue some more testing to see where we are. I have an appointment to see my nephrologist, that’s the kidney specialist, on the 29th. And that bone marrow biopsy, that’s Tuesday the 14th. Not my favorite procedure, but it’s what I signed up for when I picked this disease. Silly me.

I am confident all will be well. But if it’s not, I’ll deal with whatever comes. There is an opportunity for good in everything. If it’s another opportunity to develop mental toughness, then I’ll just have to take that and run with it. Literally. 🙂