One of my friends on Instagram challenged me that the work and workouts I've been doing during pregnancy aren't fit"ish" pregnancy but is a "fit pregnancy"... and while I guess in the grand scheme of things that is probably true, I still struggle with the fact that I'm not running. Running is my absolute favorite form of fitness, it fulfills me more than anything else, but I just made a decision after I got covid that it really wasnt worth it to continue running. On the one hand, I do question how my legs would continue to do despite the fact that the botox is non-existent, but on the other hand I really don't want to find out... my legs feel totally fine just walking around and doing day to day tasks, don't ruin it! I don't know for sure but my theory is that if there is no botox, my legs will relearn and reverse all the progress made. The nurse at McGinleys said I can just keep with running if I want, but since I never fully was able to be rid of my symptoms, I know I still have some treatments to go. In the meantime I think it's healthiest for me to really truly embrace another form of movement. That felt like the worst thing in the world when I didn't know what was wrong but this time I do so it does feel a lot more positive than it did before. This week I did a little of everything, and it felt good to move.
January 2-January 8
Monday: Afternoon 30 minute walk, 1.7 miles: We took a walk as a family. I want to try to do the 1000 hours of outdoors. I think the girls can get to it without me and Matt, but I want to be part of it as much as I can.
Monday: Evening 20 minute Yoga: We lost power for about 4 hours JUST as I was in savasana, It worked out nicely for the ambiance but made the evening before returning to work a little bit more difficult. We made it work though!
Tuesday: 15 minute Upper Body Strength, 10 minute healthy back flow: I'm going to try to do a workout from the Peloton app every day just to have a way to easily follow workouts and I own a damn Peloton bike, I should probably at least do SOME of the programs. So I looked into Prenatal collections and found a good mix of strength, yoga and biking.
Wednesday: 20 Minute Full Body Strength
This class I did with Matt. While looking for more prenatal or quick "mom" workouts... I found an adaptive class. Matt is missing part of his arm and cant straighten it all the way and the Peloton instructor was completely missing from above the elbow down so it was cool to see some of the modifications
Thursday: 20 Minute chest and Back Strength
Another strength class. I find that (at least for now) I much prefer "non" prenatal classes. I find some of the cuing to be emotionally triggering in the prenatal classes. For example- when told we're not fragile "we're strong, our bodies are amazing"... I'm just not quite in a place where I feel that in this pregnancy yet. I think when I'm working out it's better for me to generally separate from being pregnant. Obviously I still have to take me core into account and watch for doming, coning and make sure I'm engaging the transverse abdominus, but a couple years of thinking my calf problems were pelvic floor related-- a lot of that comes naturally for me at this point... So I have liked "non" prenatal classes that I can just zone out and do the work.
Friday: 20 Minute mobility
Damn, Friday, It's snowing. Thank God it's Friday. Something super easy today because I just didn't have it. I had a doctors appointment. All is well. I had to get blood work and the flu shot. The blood work stresses me out. A LOT. and the flu shot definitely made my arm sore so just mobility is perfectly fine.
Saturday: 20 Minute Ride: 4.86 miles, average sped 14.6 mph
I was proud of myself for this one. I didn't feel super comfortable and will need better shorts to accommodate my bump already. Walking Running Yoga, my normal clothes are fine. But the position I'm in on the bike I just need more space... So I'll look into that. I wanted to go really hard today. I'm not great at this biking thing but I was happy with my effort and then was wiped later.
Sunday: 45 minutes of Prenatal Yoga
The Prenatal yoga classes I do actually like. I think a lot of yoga is laying down on your belly (downward dog into upward dog etc.) so it's kinda nice to have those accommodations. This was an intermediate class and it had some poses that I just always sucked at... (half moon especially!) but I just skipped those and went into downward dog and child's pose instead. It was nice to end the day with a good flow and to get a workout in every day this week.
Emotionally, I continue to struggle with trusting the pregnancy... and struggle even more with trusting doctors who tell me to trust the pregnancy... but I'm trying my best to just take it one day at a time. The workouts so far made this week go by much faster so I hope this trend continues.
In attempt to keep myself accountable and to keep moving throughout this pregnancy (despite the fact that I am not able to run the way I once was and that I've got depression and feelings of grief ebbing and flowing...) I'm going to attempt to get back to blogging week to week recaps the way I did with Maebels pregnancy. Shorter versions of updates will be shared on my instagram, but I figure there are still people that find this blog (and then find me on instagram) every day with questions about CECS and PAES, that I just want to keep it current and then hopefully.... on the other side of this pregnancy, I can have the most epic comeback story of all time... (though nothing may ever beat running Boston but TBD) So here is the First Trimester. All running miles have been done on the Lever System, the botox is not active anymore so Im just doing the best I can until I can get more botox.
Fit(ish) Pregnancy Week 1
Anyone that has been pregnant before knows that you get a few weeks free. The first two weeks you actually aren't pregnant yet however the my body has already started prepping for pregnancy... even though technically at this time I was miscarrying... my body had already recognized the drop in hormones and got my cycle right back on track preparing to release an egg. I ran during my June-August pregnancy... but then felt so fragile during the August-September Pregnancy... and then I miscarried. I decided that the next pregnancy I would get back to working out and would try to not worry as much. The worry part I failed at but the working out has gone pretty well. I didn't workout at all during Week 1 because I was unfortunately bleeding and still processing it all.
Fit(ish) Pregnancy, Week 2
Technically my week doesn't start on Monday, but I always log my workouts Monday through Sunday and babies never come exactly on time, so for the remainder of updates my weekly recaps will be off by a handful of days.
September 26-October 2
Tuesday- 3 miles/ 32:00
Wednesday-3 miles/ 31:00
Thursday- 3 miles/ 29:42
Friday- 3 miles/ 30:00
Saturday -3 miles/ 30:23
Total: 15 miles
Fit(ish) Pregnancy, Week 3
Increased the distance a bit this week, and this is the first time I've run 6 consecutive days since I was 37 weeks pregnant with Maebel (and the last)
October 3-October 9
Tuesday- 3.1 miles
Thursday- 3.1 miles
Friday- 3.2 miles
Saturday -3.2 miles
Total: 18.79 Miles
Fit(ish) Pregnancy, Week 4
Increased the distance a bit this week, and this is the first time I've run 6 consecutive days since I was 35 weeks pregnant with Maebel (and the last)
October 10-October 16
Tuesday- 3.2 miles
Thursday- 3.2 miles
Friday- 3.2 miles
Fit(ish) Pregnancy, Week 5
I stubbornly ran 6 days in a row just to see if I could. But it was clear that my legs were not going to continue to thrive or be tolerant to daily exercise if I didn't take a few days off so di just got back to that... but I did try to increase the mileage to "make up" for the day off. .
October 17-October 23
Monday- 3.4 miles
Tuesday- 3.6 miles
Thursday- 4 miles
Friday- 4 miles
Fit(ish) Pregnancy, Week 6
I increased miles run this week but added cycling since I got a Peloton. I know that as I get heavier I definitely wont be running (since I'm so dependent on the lever taking weight off and the botox is totally worn off now) that I know I need to work other exercises in.
October 24-October 30
Tuesday- 4 miles
Thursday- 4.4 miles
Sunday- 6.4 miles Spin
Total: Combining running and biking: 22.09
Fit(ish) Pregnancy, Week 7
Tried a new approach to see if running every other day I can still get in the same mileage of running but add in biking.
October 31- November 6
Monday- 4 miles Run
Tuesday- 10.2 Spin
Wednesday-4 miles Run
Thursday- 10.5 miles Spin
Friday- 6.6 miles Run
Sunday- 14 miles Spin
Total combined mileage: 49.51
Fit(ish) Pregnancy, Week 8
My husband was gone this entire week and I was trying to just do it all... and I succeeded! I ran I biked I cooked I cleaned. I got up early if I needed to... I did it all! It felt really good!
November 7-November 13
Monday- 5 miles Run
Tuesday- 11.3 miles Spin
Wednesday-3.5 miles Run
Thursday- 9 miles Spin
Friday- 6.6 miles Run
Total Combined Mileage: 35.46
Fit(ish) Pregnancy, Weeks 9-11
November 14-December 4
Matt came home this week and I was so tired I decided to take the week off... I was struggling to eat and I was a level of fatigue I had never quite felt. I didn't know at the time, but my daughter had Covid and though I had no symptoms, I think that the reason I was as tired as I was for week 9 was because I was already fighting it off.
Week 10, on my birthday, I tested positive and I needed to get Remdesivir to protect me from hospitalization... the first 5 days or so I wasn't so bad... and so I told Matt it was okay for him to go on a trip for work and he went... and then for week 11 I got Really sick. Both girls were now testing negative thought so I was driving to and from school every day (40 minutes one way) and doing all the school and dinner myself... it was TOUGH! I turned a corner and tested negative on December 3rd.
Fit(ish) Pregnancy, Week 12-14ish
December 5-December 25
At this point I was still feeling pretty sick for about another week... so December 5-December 11 I didn't do anything and then by December 11 the Christmas crazies began so I just packed it in until Christmas. We had our Nt Ultrasound on December 22 and it was so nice to see everything! Hands feet, kicking, and so much movement! It felt really good. We were able to announce to our family (and our girls!) on Christmas morning. Initially it increased my anxiety, but it has been a relief.
Fit(ish) Pregnancy, Week 14ish
I'm confusing myself on the exact week count, (am I starting 14 or ending 14 or something in between) so trying to correct it a bit for the rest of my week by week recaps. Now that Christmas is over I got back to it but decided to eliminate running completely for now because I just can't deal with the anxiety of if my legs will cramp or "pull".
December 26- January 1
Wednesday-10 minute prenatal Strength
Friday- 15 minute Strength
Saturday -10 minute strength
Sunday- 3.8 mile spin
Stay tuned for more detailed week to week recaps to come and find me on instagram for more updates if I fall behind here.
Happy New Year!
Kicking this New Year off with a reflection on 2022 and looking forward to 2023 with hopefully a much much calmer year (weird to say that knowing that ideally I still will have 5-6 months of pregnancy and .... Labor... ) Lets hope the big events of 2023 are a bit more.... predictable.
Yesterday my husband and I talked about 2022 and despite the fact that he was along for the ride with me he and I did not seem like we had the same view! "Hear me out... but...2022 was actually a really good year for you"... Major eye roll.... His positivity is sometimes nauseating but given my natural pessimism ... or sarcastic "fake it till ya make it" positivity.... it's good to have him in my life. I knew exactly what he meant. Despite my complaining about 2022, I wouldn't call the year bad... I'm just still on the rollercoaster and can't really make an assessment about how I feel until it comes to a stop. The first half of year was a pretty positive upward trajectory! but In June of 2022 I got on a rollercoaster that I didn't want to be on that completely negated all of the progress made in the first half. Blindfolded without a seatbelt the ride just took off and I while I'm still trying to tighten the seatbelt, at least now... I feel somewhat more secure. Each passing week the ride gets a bit easier to tolerate and I feel a little safer on it... but... again... I wouldn't call it bad but I'm still on it, so my full assessment of 2022 is going to be postponed until the ride stops.
Backing up to appreciate the first half of 2022....
Then of course, in November of 2021, I had my brain and heart examined closer and there was no sign of a problem there... I was referred to a different Vascular doctor who specialized in FMD in Boston and he looked more carefully and said that the bulging in my arteries was "just" bulging... No twisting, no stenosis... no blood flow restrictions (**at rest**). He put fPAES back in the differential and wanted me to get all the testing done again but in a different clinic that was more for higher performing athletes... but Covid surged again and my appointment was pushed to May. In the meantime I found Doctor McGinley... who was able to explain the bulging (From what I understood, there's a mismatch of blood flow, arteries are bulging because the blood isn't moving efficiently in the popliteal fossa and it backs up in other areas)... and fortunately, he had a solution (that didn't involve multiple surgeries with giant scars and long recovery)
Back to believing that if I get my "too fit to get pregnant again" self back, I can **officially** close the chapter on having another baby. My first round of botox didn't go well. Second round devastating... As it turns out I likely had entrapped my nerves and they were just so hypersensitive that I'd have really bad pain even though nothing was entrapped anymore. The pain was real, the nerves responded and that effected my muscles... but they were responding (at least to my understanding) to memory of pain. I read it took up to a year for nerves to heal so I knew I needed to just keep getting the treatment to keep my nerves as chill as possible. A year after my first treatment, I ran the Boston Marathon. This was going to work. It was really going to work. Yes, I wanted another baby but I also really really wanted to be me again.... Overtime my desire for a baby weakened and I just made peace with how things went. Obviously I'd love to have it all but I have two beautiful kids and a husband that supported the most insane thing in the world without hesitation. We spent nearly $30,000 on my legs for just the McGinley stuff (hotels, flights, car rental etc. included) and who knows how much more leading up to it ($500 deductible here, $500 deductible there for all the previous diagnostics... Weekly to bi-weekly massages just to survive life... Every single recovery tool on the planet.... all which obviously failed. Alter G appointments, My own treadmill and body weight suspension system, orthotics,... all things that would never have been possible without Matt's really hard work...)
If you read Part 1 and Part 2 I got into a little bit of our previous financial crisis's from our first surprise pregnancy. Now we aren't "Rolling in it" right now... but we get approved for much better credit cards and loans these days and are actually able to *mostly* pay them off instead of just add more and more debt in order to eat. But I knew pretty early into training with my third botox treatment that I was going to need a 4th for optimal training (for day to day life I was significantly better!) and money was still tight. We still hadn't paid off the last two yet and I'm already needing another.... But I am sure this is going to work and at some point I wont need more. Now that my nerves aren't pissed, it's happening exactly as McGinley said it would... One more treatment might be all I need, but how?....... and then Matt got a huge promotion.
After Boston, having another baby was not even anywhere on my radar anymore. I wouldn't say I closed the door but I would say the door was naturally closing and if I just kept on the path I was on I would naturally come to the point of accepting our family as "complete"... something I always envied of other women.... Knowing that phase of their life was over. I never felt like I had closure. My desire to have a third baby never necessarily went away... but it was being out-competed. Our life with two school aged kids was just around the corner, they take their own baths and showers, can change themselves, make their own cereal and I can sleep in on the weekends... Soon I'll be able to run again, hike mountains again and they can do it too!... I was 37. I wasn't really thinking about another baby even though I hadn't ruled it out.......
June happened (I'm pregnant) , and then July happened (I'm miscarrying)... and then August happened (I'm pregnant again)... and then September happened (I'm miscarrying again).. and then October happened (I'm pregnant again...) ....
Lack of trust in what would happen next was an understatement... but fresh off two pregnancies and two losses I felt dangerously armed with information for better or worse... I had an appropriate therapist... I knew what triggered me last time so we could avoid those things as best we could... but my test lines off the bat were better so after a few days I told Matt to hide them on me. My first draw of HCG was much better than my first one with my previous loss and it was taken a few days earlier post ovulation so I was already feeling a little relief. Two days later it didn't double... it tripled! The anxiety relief I had hoped for when I checked my phone at the red light was happening this time. Don't get me wrong. My anxiety was dangerously bad but each step offered relief. I opted to not have HCG tracked further beyond those first two since the numbers were good. They needed me to do one though so that they could confirm that it had risen high enough to schedule an ultrasound... and my numbers were consistently on the higher end. Of course I googled that and hate myself for it "High HCG could be an indicator of Down Syndrome"... Back to locking my phone.
Of all the panicking I did during all of the the greatest panic came from ultrasounds. At this point I had only had negative experiences in recent memory. I was shaking in the waiting room, couldn't breathe... was going over all the possible outcomes and what they might mean "what if it has a heartbeat but it's slow (of course I already knew exactly what it should be)? What if it's measuring 4 or 5 days behind but still has a heartbeat? What then? I can't do this" But the measurements were perfect and to the exact day of gestation I expected (based on my ovulation) and heartbeat was perfect range... RELIEF! But only temporarily... because I got covid for the first time shortly after and I was sickkkk.... but then we had an appointment and heard the heartbeat... and then we had our NT to check for soft markers for Down Syndrome and it went perfect. No concerns so far…. so I'm trying not to worry about my dumb googling too much. Nothing we can do Anyway… I’m trying not to worry before there is a reason because so far Part 3 we have had relief every step of the way. The 13 week NT scan gave me enough confidence to finally share the news with friends and family. I was especially happy to finally share good news with the girls. Raea said "is it really growing?" and man did it feel good to say YES.
I'm 14.5 weeks today. I have an anterior placenta so I've been told I'll feel the baby a bit later... but I can literally feel the blood in my own veins at this point having been hyper analytical of every weird sensation in my body for years.. I'm quite certain I'm feeling the baby at this point. I wouldn't say I had bad morning sickness... but I would say I'm feeling better now, starting to workout again, but getting impatient for that "second trimester magic"... Hopefully soon.
So was 2022 bad? ...
No. But it was an unexpected rollercoaster... one that I buckled up for while it was already upside down and moving at full speed... and my adrenaline and cortisol is still through the roof. I'm still catching my breath straight into 2023 ... and it's terrifying.... But at the end of it all, I might end up with everything I wanted. Not only do I know what is wrong with my legs and feel confident in the solution (even if I can't access it again until after I'm done breastfeeding) I may also finally have that closure I never thought I'd get. I hesitate (out of fear) to say this but our family will finally be complete and I will, at least eventually, get to be *me* again.
If you didn't read Part 1, that is linked here. You can check that out. Trigger warning for both Part 1 and Part 2, Mention of Pregnancy loss, intrusive thoughts and suicidal ideations, and political views on abortion. Trigger warning for this whole post because this one is not fun. Has nothing to do with running (I didn't run at all) has nothing to do with PAES (don't give an F about it) and is really just me... getting it off my chest... and then maybe... finally?... moving on.... That seems important to do on this last day of 2022. Don't want to bring this story into the New Year. Also I'm not proof reading this. Don't want to. Just want to write it, get it off my chest even if it doesn't make sense... and close it. Happy New Year.
Before I officially start Part 2, let me back it up a bit. Obviously since I was miscarrying on Raeas birthday we didn't do too much of anything. We basically just put out a big balloon display out to make it feel really special, had pizza on our grill, and had a pinata in the backyard with just the four of us. Birthday's are a huge deal for Raea, but she understood what was happening and was really exceptional about it. When I found out I was pregnant that first time I was freaking out! She knows how to read covid tests so given that we've been insanely cautious with covid for these pandemic years, especially since Maebel still wasn't vaccinated, seeing me shaking and screaming and having a panic attack holding up a test with two lines to show Matt, Raea believed I had covid and became nervous and told Maebel that they needed to stay away from me! So even though Ideally my kids wouldn't need to learn about the fragility of life, I sat them down to explain to them what was going on.
It's weird because when I sat them down, I told them I was pregnant. They both know what that word means, in general... I was very frank that there might not be a baby. I grew up in an insanely conservative family handing out flyers of every single stage of pregnancy. I knew exactly when there was cardiac activity (detectable or undetectable by ultrasound wasn't relevant) I had two lines, conception... by some weird twist of fate, had already occurred, and life had already begun... but was it a baby? I remember when this happened when I was pregnant with Raea. I lived in an 1100 square foot apartment with 5 people total (Matt and I included). I remember Matt was in complete disbelief and taking test after test and he kept saying "well, it's not a baby yet." He had a close family member that experienced recurrent loss, at the time he had a perspective I never had so I was mad at this stance he had (thought I also think he was just in total shock and disbelief and terrified that we couldn't do this). But from my perspective?... My mom had 8 kids. Two lines meant a baby was coming no matter how faint or how early. But here I was about to say the same thing Matt said to me to my own kids. I hesitated to tell them what I had been taught because all those worst case scenario stories that flooded the internet... Maebel wanted another baby in the family so bad, and I couldn't bare to see their hearts break. It's like I already knew in that moment that there wouldn't be a baby... at least not this time. I told them that mommy's body is starting to make a baby, but we're not sure if it will grow so we're going to keep it a secret until we're sure it's growing . I'm so glad I told them this way because their expectations were that there might be a baby but might not. Like it was totally normal for it to not grow... and with miscarriages occurring in 1 in 4 pregnancies, it is actually normal. But it doesn't feel normal and it doesn't feel fair.
Maebels birthday was a bit more relaxing and since I was ovulating in general my mood was much better. I was looking forward to the future and feeling confident in a better result. While 1 in 4 pregnancies are miscarriages, 1 in 50 women experience 2 in a row... so I leaned into the statistics even though statistically I should have never been pregnant in the first place. But here we are, I couldn't see our family without another baby and though I had been singularly focused on figuring out why my legs were so painful for years, my focus quickly shifted to this and only this.
My whole entire summer was consumed by the stress of all of this. At the very end of the summer we went to the Cape and I was in what the Trying To Conceive (TCC) community calls the "Two Week Wait" (TWW)... I had confided in very few people but significantly in my sister who knew way more about this than I did with her own fertility struggles. She told me she loved the TWW because there was hope and nothing else you can do but relax. I really felt that sitting on the beach with my family. It was truly the highlight of the whole second half of the year.... Thank God I got this short breather, because rocky roads were up ahead.
Because I didn't have a Menstrual Period between pregnancies, I wanted to make sure I tracked every single thing so that I would never have to sit in another ultrasound room and question the conception date or implantation date etc. etc. So I started testing pretty early (two week wait was quickly a one week wait) and on 9 days post ovulation I had a faint line. It can take between 6 and 12 days for implantation to occur and for HCG to start producing but because I tested from 7 DPO (days post ovulation) on, I knew there was very small room for error in knowing my gestation.
Sadly I had become somewhat OCD peeing on a test every day because my lines were not really getting much darker... which isn't a good sign. HCG is ideally supposed to double every 48 hours, but lower than that is still considered normal. I called the doctor just before 4 weeks pregnant because I was making myself crazy with the slightest change in line progression that my sister though concrete data would be better but she also was kinda like "eh, could go either way though" having seen a million and one line progressions from friends in her support groups. She was even sending them mine and some had success stories with similar lines some had losses. The doctor sent me for serial HCG's and here's where things start to get pretty bad for me... the worst stretch of the year by far.
I honestly can't really write it out without reliving some level of panic, but my first HCG wasn't great. It was lower than normal for the days post ovulation but everyone is saying "it's the doubling that matters" but I knew. I knew exactly when my HCG started producing so I was doing math and it was hard for me to imagine it had been successfully doubling thus far and still be that low! I had panic attacks and suicidal ideation. I couldn't be near knives. When I had postpartum anxiety with Raea being around knives was super scary for me because I had really instrusive thoughts that I was going to drop her on the dishwasher with the knives face up (even though they were face down). For quite some time seeing knives on the counter left after cutting an apple always made me feel unsafe. No intention of doing anything with them but visions of bad things just go into my head because I have legitimate issues. So passing by the knife block I could only think about one thing... getting this out of me so I can stop being in such panic! Obviously my hormones have swung from one way to another and back again but I was not okay and this pregnancy felt like it could actually kill me. The doctor said even a 50% rise is still normal, so I started doing things to help myself. locked my phone, made sure Matt moved the knives, started doing puzzles and bought this "pregnancy after loss" book with a new exercise to do everyday (which was really good even though I was a psycho) and looking for a therapist for this exact issue. In the meantime I had more bloodwork to do. My second draw was BARELY a 100% rise. it was a 92% rise in 42 hours so it would have theoretically doubled in 48 hours... so I did think "Okay... maybe it will be okay..." They wanted to do one more... and so did I. One more decent draw would hopefully bring me out of this constant state of panic..... NOPE... now it was only a 72% rise. I had a panic attack every single day I had a blood draw and like an idiot I checked this one at a fucking red light driving home. I never do that but I was so desperate for some relief from the anxiety I thought for a second I'd get good news and it would be great but not even close. I had to pull over. I could barely drive. It was raining. I had to call a help line just to get me home.... They wanted to do another blood draw but I declined. I felt like I already knew what was happening but didn't want to conclude for sure or I was going to have to either watch the numbers slow down but continue going up until they stop (aka: watch the baby slowly die), or have to decide to abort, something I never thought I'd have to do, to save myself from the pain and from the literal danger I was in just existing in this space... So I just looked away and stopped tracking anything because I'd rather not know. I waited to start bleeding again... but two weeks past and I was still pregnant.
I didn't have much faith that this would be a good result. At this point I was googling too much and reading about low rising HCG that went into the second trimester could still result in loss. but since I had no more concrete evidence that the HCG didn't start to increase more ideally, I could at least convince myself of something positive to get through the day. At 6 weeks and 6 days, we went to stART on the street and there were food trucks and weird smells and it was hot and1 I felt pregnant. For the first time in months of being pregnant I actually felt it. When we got home I said to Matt "Maybe my HCG is increasing a lot. Maybe this will be good".... I started bleeding that night.
I was relived weirdly. Sad. Devastated. But simultaneously relived. Knowing how bad the start of this was, I feel like I would never ever trust this pregnancy and it would be 9 months of hell. I worried about everything. I couldn't live in this worry anymore. Back to the lab for more bloodwork. The HCG wasn't good. It was an estimated about a 23% increase every 48 hours across the last two weeks. Not good. In my mind I was sure it was starting to decrease at this point.... but I needed more bloodwork to confirm. We went for an ultrasound. I was measuring only 5 weeks and there was nothing visible on the screen. I was told again "It's too early" and because I had no LMP (Last Menstrual Period) the date I was giving didn't seem like it was good enough, but I was sure. The on call doctor came a bit over an hour wait later. I was sure I was miscarrying but until I got more bloodwork 48 hours later they wouldn't know for sure. Iw was told there's a chance I had a vanishing twin and that's why my HCG rose normal and then slowed down... and that a viable pregnancy was still possible... but not probable. I already knew but they just couldn't make the decision for me. I didn't have the luxury of summer vacation and waiting days and days for a spontaneous miscarriage this time so I once again opted for the Abortion pill. My chart for my first miscarriage says Spontaneous Abortion. My chart this time says Abortion. It really makes you question all those statistics they have on abortions.... They aren't accurate because I was very obviously miscarrying. There was no heartbeat, no embryo, just an empty sac... but on paper I aborted... and some pro-life activist somewhere is using statistics including me in their arguments against abortion. Don't get me wrong, I very obviously believe it is a life given the severe feelings of loss and grief... but there are a million ways to protect the unborn. Better access to healthcare for the mother, maternity leave, child tax credit, the pump act (fortunately passed a new version of this), access to contraception (even if it fails some of us)... long long long list of other things to do... but my experience leaves me unequivocally clear on where I stand politically on this issue. Do not fucking touch access to abortion care, because it's access to miscarriage management. Miscarriage, 1 in 4... I used a week of sick days (something maybe people don't have) because even with the Misoprostal it took a long time. I feel like my body was pretty resistant to it both times... My body wants to be pregnant... apparently... We had kept this one a secret from the girls. But I had to tell them since I was on the couch for a week and they recognized some things that they remembered from last time (pads in the trash, pregnancy tests tracking the fading line).... And I told them we tried again. I think Raea's curiosity and worry was worse than telling her the truth so I let them know and I cried a bit but they both were nonchalant about it and said "just try one more time and then that will be enough" ... Ugh! Try one more time! I was way more sad this time because it was just so scary to think about doing this again. It felt impossible. But I'm stubborn, so here we go.
Matt and I did have a little disagreement with what to do next, but ultimately he came around to "my body my choice"... The panic attacks and needing to hide knives from me was a lot from him. I get it. I'm a bit crazy... but I did find a therapist specifically for TTC and for Pregnancy after loss... and was less attached to the idea of a baby and more just wanting to make sure I follow all the way through. I had decided one more would be it. I thought one of two things will happen, one... I would miscarry again, but once I am 3 in a row they start referring me for all sorts of other things... at that point I would know we hit a dead end and it's back to botox I would go... Or two: By some miracle we take a baby home in 9 months. At this point the Doctors were just saying "bad luck" ... so I just wanted to follow through. I was 99.9% sure I could conceive again so here we go. Matt wasn't even home the day I ovulated and sure enough mid October .... two lines...
At this point my sister shared some information with me on hyper receptive uterine lining... which I guess is somewhat new research... basically my body accepts every single fertilized egg and is willing to give it a try even if it's a bad egg or combination. Many people who time things right, if the egg/sperm combination isn't right their lining just doesn't implant it.... whereas mine is like "eh, lets see what happens" so my odds of conceiving are super high (checks out) but so is my likelihood of miscarrying, especially since I'm a bit older. Obviously this information made me feel like there's an explanation...but did have me worried about what was to come.... but so far... damn. It's been much better.... more details in Part 3 which will come in 2023…. Time to put 2022 behind me.
I had put in a "Placeholder" post with the intention of moving on and getting back to weekly documenting of my training.... but that obviously didn't happen. With everything I had been through in the back half of the year, updating my training for the tiny audience of PAES suffers that find me through google or instagram just was not a worthwhile investment of my energy... BUT I would like to update to at least follow up on how the McGinley Method has continued to work and what my plans are now. Warning... There's a plot twist. Huge Trigger warning for mention of miscarriage, and political views on abortion...
Picking up where I left off in June...
On June 24, the day Roe V. Wade was overturned, I found out I was pregnant. This quite possibly, could be the absolute worst day on the planet to find out you are unexpectedly pregnant. If you've followed my blog for awhile you probably know I have pretty liberal political views, but primarily have remained conservative with my abortion views, I just always maintain that I do not believe it should be politicized and it is more of a personal moral issue for each individual. I do believe it's a life, and access to abortion care is never something I ever thought I'd even need to consider for myself. This unexpected situation did not (initially) change that at all... but still... I felt more empathetic to unplanned pregnancies (As two consenting and married adults, we still use recommended precautions to prevent an unwanted pregnancy, but here we were.... again....) I also felt pretty triggered by the amount of judgement passed on people who get pregnant without wanting to when this is my second rodeo here... like, Okay. It was also the absolute worst day to find out you are pregnant for other reasons... Why? Because every single possible horror story of wanted pregnancies gone wrong were blasted across the internet. Suddenly the fragility of it all hit me in a way I had never even considered before.... Little did I know that was just the start of becoming acutely aware of how fragile it all is.....
I really struggled with finding out I was pregnant for the first few weeks.... If I had a dollar for every time I said some version of "How the F did this happen... again!" followed up with ironic laughter and tears... I'd have enough money to take a reasonable maternity leave! This isn't the first time I have conceived with protection. Raea is that 1% on the back of the trojan box.... well of course I'd be the 1% again! PAES impacts less than 1% of people, I'm a lightning rod for rare and random things happening, apparently....
The tears were complicated.... On the one hand we just spent close to $30,000 on my legs and now I have to discontinue treatment until AFTER breastfeeding (which the recommendations were just switched to two years right before Roe V Wade overturned.) I'm already depressed over having lost myself in all the diagnostics and not being able to move and exercise the way I most enjoy... and I was finally starting to feel like I had a path forward...
On the other hand... I didn't feel pregnant. I didn't trust the pregnancy. I was full of anxiety and I couldn't pinpoint if it was my intuition preparing me for what was to come or if it was because so many reasons to worry were circulating the internet that I was just made to feel insecure about it all... I kept calling the doctors trying to get in to see them earlier... telling them I'm 37, and a grandma in baby making years, shouldn't I be monitored more? But nope. I had two previous uncomplicated pregnancies with the same partner, and no issues with fertility (unless you count getting pregnant with protection twice... which isn't necessarily a fertility issue, but later I learned could be a contributing factor to the events to follow).... "Call if there's cramping or bleeding"... cool... thanks for NOTHING! I had spent so many years advocating for my legs that I couldn't tell if my desire to keep badgering doctors to do more for me was reasonable or if I just have lost so much trust in the whole system that I can't stop making phone calls even when unnecessary. I had to talk myself off a ledge many times and convince myself to dial it back "be normal, Caitlyn... Try and trust this..."... And so I started to... Nothing would have made a difference anyway, but in hindsight my intuition absolutely knew something was wrong here... but I accepted that everything is fine until I have signs otherwise....
Matt was having trouble with this at first. We were DEAD BROKE when we had Raea (unplanned) and even though we were not much better a few years later, I wanted kids close in age so we put everything in our life on credit cards took a chance on a new company, and stretched ourselves insanely thin for years to live in a safe area and keep a roof over our head but... there's definitely some residual trauma that really makes Matt afraid to do it again even though our situation has drastically improved since Matt has had 5 promotions in the last 5 years and the company has skyrocketed. I actually remember he came in from a 2+ hour run right around when I was 7 weeks along saying that he was getting excited. I miss runs like that, where you process all the anxiety you've been harboring and come back free. His excitement made me feel excited, too. I was still feeling really uncomfortable... I had no food aversions, no sickness, no fatigue... but maybe after everything with my legs I'm catching a break and having an easy pregnancy. "Maybe it's a boy" ... I never experienced a boy pregnancy before? Everything I read said that chance of Miscarriage is a lot lower once there's a heartbeat. I had made it to 8 weeks and no bad signs yet, heart should be strong and things should be good. I started making plans to rearrange the house for a nursery, created a list of things we needed and an Amazon wishlist... I bought the girls some zipper up bunkbed bedding so they can be bunked again once we make it public... I also I bought some big sister t-shirts for the girls, a joke t-shirt "Oops we did it again" for me, and a "I'm the Last One... Seriously" onsie for the baby.
A few days later I started spotting. I never had that happen before, but lots of things were saying it still could be normal. We went to get an ultrasound and the baby was only measuring 5weeks an 6 days... I knew the moment I saw the ultrasound that it wasn't what it was supposed to look like at nearly 9 weeks. They told me "it's too early to know anything" because to them it was only 5weeks an 6 days... often too soon to detect a heartbeat... but I knew all the possible dates of conception and knew when I most likely ovulated, and though I tried to convince myself I got something wrong, I was already bleeding. I went home and waited for the cramping and bleeding to intensify. It took a while.... but eventually, on Raea's birthday, I had early to mid labor cramps and miscarried at home. I returned to the doctor a few days later (still bleeding) to confirm and unfortunately I was retaining tissue and needed intervention. Abortion care.
I did have the option to wait it out... but at this point I was already trying to figure out when I could next conceive. Yes it was an unplanned pregnancy, but I couldn't see our family without a baby now and having been barely dipping my toes out of the world of depression just before pregnancy, I was hitting some new lows. Though Matt was completely fine with our family being complete as is, he understood this was something that I needed to feel whole again. So I opted for the "abortion pill" to complete my miscarriage so that my HCG could return low enough for my cycle to reboot. The first round of Misoprostol unfortunately barely did anything... so then I'm getting second script over the phone just a few days after the first. The OB is letting me know that in Massachusetts it's rare, but since the overturning of Roe V. Wade they have had complaints regarding some pharmacies giving people a hard time. I was coached on what to do if that happened to me (it didn't, fortunately). Given that I was getting my second in a row I couldn't help but think of what it would be like to live in Texas going through this. Insult to injury, for sure. I have never been more pro-abortion access in my life. Fortunately round 2 worked. I was given a series of blood draws to make sure my HCG was dropping. I could tell from signs from my body that my cycle had restarted before my HCG was even below 100, and I could conceive again soon, I continued to take pregnancy tests every few days to make sure my line was fading until it was gone. My last HCG draw was 5.2 and I ovulated the next day, Maebels birthday.
During most of this pregnancy I did continue to workout... And I did actually document that in my previous post where I foolishly thought I could find some sort of balance in this rollercoaster I was on. I made that post thinking it would be the start of documenting workouts for my second pregnancy.... but as I'll write in part 2, that was short lived. I was running about 20 miles a week and was lifting. But I started getting treated by the chiropractor for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome since my left shoulder had been numb for months. They thought this could maybe be a sign of ectopic pregnancy, thankfully it was not that. I was sure that I had this numbness before I got pregnant so I wasn't too worried... but certainly it opened the door to one more thing to worry about in future pregnancies. More to come in Part 2.... If I ever get around to it... The big take away for PAES followers or people who stumble here due to PAES symptoms is that I did not discontinue botox for anything related to symptoms... My symptoms were getting worse but predictably and gradually so. I have no concerns about if the treatment is working, I just simply couldn't get it again when I needed to. I considered going back to get a treatment between this loss and another pregnancy, but part of me really worried that the 10 CTA's I had in the last year had something to do with the miscarriage. I have since been informed that there's no way and have since regained confidence that this was not the cause... but at the time a. I couldn't risk it and b. didn't want to wait the advised 3 months in between treatment to try again.... SO we just tried again right away and surprise to absolutely no one that knows my fertility history, we were pregnant again.
I haven’t updated in a while…. Generally when that happens it’s not a good sign for my running, and this time that’s only somewhat the case. The truth is running hasn’t been my top priority, but it’s going! And going well, dare I say!
I’m looking forward to doing an update at the end of this week on how running has been going… but I couldn’t bring myself to update when it would only be half truths. I’m still processing and working out how exactly… and even if I can share what’s transpired… but I’m just not there yet. I’m working hard in therapy and writing really can be helpful… but the words just aren’t coming out and so I’m putting a placeholder here for when I’m ready to share. I’ll come back and link the update here so it’s all in sequence, but I truly can’t move on with posting about my legs without holding sone space for everything else.
I hope to find the words soon… but for now I really would like to move forward, so at the end of this week I’ll get back to writing training posts… and hopefully fill in the void in the future.
I guess it's much easier to find balance when you are in a more predictable routine. I went back to work this week (students don't come until next week) so I front loaded my training to accommodate the stress that would come at the end of the week. I think the key to success when you aren't running every day is to really look ahead and make sure you are planning out the most effective way to fit things in. I did pretty well with that this week.
Monday: 7 miles, 1:05 9:20/mi.
I set out to run 3-4 miles today but wasn't going to rule out doing more since I didn't run at all over the weekend. I started and was so bored I thought for sure I'd hop off at 3 miles, but then little by little I just stayed on and cut myself off at 7 miles. I felt totally fine and was happy to have no weird twinging or symptoms while I was on the Lever.
I did two strength exercises after: Squats and hip thrusts. 3 rounds of 12. I'm going to try to just do a couple exercises after each run. It makes it much more manageable to just tack it onto a run rather than set aside a longer chunk of time. I'm way more likely to get a run in than an independent lift... and way more likely to skip a longer lift session after a run... so just putting a few exercises doesn't overwhelm me.
My TOS is getting much better. the chiropractor is definitely working for this but I'll be excited to have it fully better so that I can *actually* lift again and not just do body weight
Tuesday: 4 miles 37 mins 9:15/mi
I haven't done many back to back days but for some reason I thought I'd rather run today than Wednesday. My justification was that I wanted the day before the first day of school off so that in case I had some bad symptoms I would have a day to recover. I pretty much did laundry all day after this. Lots of up and down the stairs and walking around putting chunks of clothing in bedrooms... Trying to get those NEAT moments in.
Man, Good thing I didn't run the day before work because I was THROBBING today. I'm pretty certain the botox has worn off completely... The polarization between how I was just a few weeks ago and now is so glaring. I can't believe I legitimately lived like this and thought it was normal. In a perfect world I could high-tail it to Wyoming for another round ASAP, but there's a lot going on preventing me from being able to drop what I'm doing and head out there, so.... Just gotta deal with it... But holy hell I can't believe this was my old life! Kinda reminds me just how much progress has been made. Sometimes you need to go back to baseline to see that clearly.
Thursday: OFF- First day of school
I planned to take today off because it was my first day of School. I BARELY slept the night before. Legs were THROBBBBINNNGGGGG... In part because I didn't sleep. I think the two days in a row probably wasn't the best move plus I'm back on the concrete floors so... la-la-la- it is what it is. But again. Holy Hell. It's like sticking my legs in lava. It doesn't help that I also actually had a sunburn healing on my shins so it was also itchy. First day wasn't so bad. It was hard because I very much pictured it different, but since the summer didn't go super well for me that "how was your summer" question is always tricky. What can ya do? Things are definitely looking up, just wish I still had a month of vacation since I feel like I missed a month!
I originally planned on going home and running but I literally couldn't believe how bad my legs were. Jeeze. I know I can't go to Wyoming anytime soon but I really wish I could manage the situation. I'm thinking I'll adapt. Probably wont do many 1 hour runs anymore and might have to ..... blahhhhh... Learn to walk. Maybe once school really gets in a groove I can do swimming or something, but right now I'm just too far away from a pool and my kids are starting school so I can't plan anything but a workout at home.
I did use the Air Relax and that may or may not have helped but gave me some relieve temporarily.
Saturday: 5 miles- 46:49, 9:21/mi
Another "planned to do 3 ended up staying on longer"... These will probably bite me in the butt... or the shins... or the calves... but one day at a time. It was a really beautiful day and I was sad to be on the treadmill but happy to be running at all. I missed my chiropractor by accident because I went back to school shopping with the girls. Kill me. haha. Anyway. I tried to put my legs up right after the run to get the blood moving and draining. Just going to play around with different strategies to manage pain because I didn't know what my diagnosis was and what caused my pain in the past so the strategies I used weren't necessarily specific to my needs. At least now I know whats up. Gotta avoid that plantar flexion and get that blood back where it needs to go.
Sunday: Short Walk
Last day before the school year officially starts, and after Matts long run we went to Treehouse Brewery to eat from the food trucks, go for a short hike, and have some ice cream. The walk went great and overall I felt good and hopeful that I can maintain some sort of movement while I wait for the opportunity to get another treatment. We had a great time! Unfortunately, afterwards I was sitting down and had some of those really old lightning sensations in the left calf. This had me bummed out at first but its so different this time around because I know this is to be expected. I'm 8 months out from my last treatment... and if I could just fly to Wyoming and get the injections I would, but I can't... and it is out of my control... so I'm really going to have to get creative for the next several months. We will see how it all shakes out... but for now... it's looking like running might be off the table... so who knows what I'll be blogging about next. I'm proud of the risks I've taken and the commitment I've made so far... Time to figure out a new plan. Again.
Summary: 16 miles, 1 chiropractic adjustment, 2 mini strength sessions
Not such a bad week overall, but kinda a bummer at the end! I wish I didn't know for certainty that this pain in my legs wont go away until I can get more botox, but... ya know... it's pretty much a guarantee I'm not going to improve from here on out it's just a matter of how long until I get botox again. So I guess I'll be documenting how to cope with the pain in between treatments... I'm pretty happy overall with how far I've come and know I have a lifetime left to live. Just hope it doesn't impact me too badly and I can get through this school year in one piece please!
I don't really know what to call my training right now, but Finding Balance feels right. Prior to having PAES my entire life was consumed by running and improving by the tiniest of margins in races ranging from the mile to the 10k. Then after college while working a full time I still managed to be even more committed to the sport increasing the distance I pursued. hoping to qualify for the Olympic Trials.... Obviously that requires significant commitment, but what I didn't expect is that running would somehow require EVEN MORE COMMITMENT when I couldn't do it anymore. Only those who have had a rare or difficult to diagnose condition understand just how much work goes into getting it all figured out. I swear I spent more time and money on this phase of *not running* than I ever did to actually run. If only I could have applied this level of commitment earlier. haha! Anyway.... I guess now that that phase of my life is over, and running seems like a thing I can never quite have in the same capacity (which is OKAY!) I have to try to find balance. Even though I spent the last few years unable to actually run, running was still the focus. It was a weird paradox because it was everything and nothing at the same time. Now, after this whole summer (see previous entry) I was pingponging between this all or nothing mentality and the goal is Balance. So... "Finding Balance: Week 1" it is... at least until I find a better name for it. ;)
This week went well! I initially thought I'd run 5 days a week but I did 3 instead. We headed down to Falmouth for the big Road Race this weekend, and even though the Lever is quite portable, dragging it with me somehow felt unnatural and unbalanced. It felt like "serious runner" type of behavior so Instead I just ran a few times before we left and called it a week.
MONDAY- 4 miles, Chiropractor.
I was originally going to try to do just 3 miles but it felt so good to run again (on the lever offloading as much as possible, 45lbs) Those first few weeks were hard and this week was really a good turning point where I can focus forward. I just set the treadmill to 10:00 pace and left it there the whole time. Nothing spectacular, but I need to try to be okay with this. Not picking up the pace, just doing something little every day until it is habitual again. Even though I spent the last few years focused on running I wasn't actually running. My habits are all mixed up from what I'd like them to be so the focus is on habit building not on results or mileage or speed... Just.... Doing it.
I wish I could be lifting, but I was actually diagnosed with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome so I'm regularly seeing the chiropractor and until I no longer have numb left hand, I'm avoiding lifting. I was given some additional stretches though. For my PAES people, this is actually a similar condition to PAES and treated with botox if more conservative care doesn't work. Not sure if there's a link but when I use my legs I got PAES and now I switched to climbing and lifting and got TOS so who knows. Outcomes across the board are better than with PAES though and I don't want to get Botox because I gotta save all my injections for my legs... but the chiropractor is working well for this so far so we'll see. I just want to be able to add lifting in to my "balanced life" so we'll see how long until I can do that.
Tuesday: 4 miles 9:21 pace.
Ran a bit faster today. Not on purpose just one of the buttons on the treadmill automatically goes to this pace. The owners before us must have set it up, but I just hit the button and go. Legs felt totally fine. Just another day of habit stacking. It was Maebels Birthday so I got this in early. We kept the day low key since Raeas was low key and this weekend we're going to just have a fun mini vacation
Initially I was going to try to run every day, but I had some other plans on this day and I felt like "balance" probably wasn't going from 2 weeks of nothing to running every day. I tried to just be overall more active with non-exercise activity thermogenesis (or whatever) One thing I learned during covid and during my massive weight gain, is the thing that really did me in was working remotely when my job was very physical. So, just being more intentional and "getting things done" at home seems like a fine "balanced" form of exercise.
Thursday 4 miles, 9:22 pace
Same shit, different day. I ran in the morning (running means on the lever fully off loading until further notice), cleaned the house, then went to get my hair done. I wanted to get it done before school and get something much more subtle and lower maintenance in terms of color. The appointment was supposed to be 3 hours so I was supposed to meet Matt after and we'd all head to the Cape for his even with On Sponsored athlete Ben Flanagan, But my hair is a monster and took 4.5 hours so I drove down by myself and met him there. It was fun to chat with a pro athlete and his coach. Ya know, race jitter days were fun, but also fun is not having to stress about it all!
Friday: Beach Day!
Wow, equilibrium restored today!
I am not a "beach" person, but today could have converted me. It's nice the girls are at an age where it's much easier to watch them. Just sitting and relaxing was great. Matt took a few work calls while we were there but he didn't have another even until Saturday so we just relaxed today. We met up with Lisa from Sneakerama for the beach and then again with her and Steve for dinner. much more relaxing than the last time we saw them on Falmouth when I ran in 2019 (right before the marathon I BQ'd at). We were going to leave early Saturday morning since we had two cars, but we stayed an extra day because we were enjoying our time so much! We were supposed to take a vacation in early August, but family circumstances had us stuck at home so this was making up for it (even though matt was working)
Saturday: Pool Day and Mini Golf!
I spent 3 hours at the outdoor pool at the hotel with the girls while Matt went to work. Another good mix of relaxing and movement. We played "fishy fishy cross my ocean" a bunch of times. The water was so warm we literally could have stayed in it all day! We went back to our hotel room once they were tired from the sun and that gave us a few hours before Matt got home. I did my coaching while they played with their little LOL mini toys.
Mini Golf was pretty fun. It was a little hot and Maebel hit me in the head with a club... But I got a hole in one and Matt won overall... so we both got a win and the girls had fun finally giving it a try. The hotel was a bit rough tonight (previous nights were really good, but always gotta be one "overtired" night of silliness... Happy to return home tomorrow!)
Sunday: Drive Home
One thing I wish was that we took our bikes because Matt had a long run and he did it on the Nationally Ranked Cape Cod Bike Path. There's no way the girls could ride with him for his whole long run but we could ride slowly way behind him.... Maybe next time! Instead we got Breakfast and watched the Road Race streaming online. We didn't head into the race because we aren't idiots. There's only one way off the Cape and it's the worst traffic. So we avoided that. Since we had two cars and the kids were overly silly the night before we separated them for the ride home. It was kind of nice to have 1:1 time with Maebel. My goal was to get over the bridge away from the Cape ASAP and then stop for lunch after.
Well, I'm posting on time, So that's probably enough to say this week was a relative success in terms of trying to find balance. I ran 12 miles total and three weekly runs which is about all I probably should do after 2 weeks off and a bit of a "Paes Scare" Next week I go back to work so TBD how I do once things pick up again. It might be better because I'll have a natural routine from work, but it might be worse because I'll have less time on my hands... The good thing about balance is that I don't need to knock it out of the park every time. I'll be on my feet more next week because of work anyway so that's going to count for something.
It's been about 4 months since the Boston Marathon came and went... a lot has changed and nothing has changed at the same time. On a personal note, both the Principal and Assistant Principal resigned from their positions at my school which has given me a significant amount of anxiety leading into the next school year... From meeting both of their replacements, it seems like everything will be okay, but it still will be a huge change for me. My legs began impacting my performance at work and having two administrators who understood my level of commitment to my health and the complexity of the diagnosis and treatment gave me comfort and now I'm a little stressed about how that will be in the next year.... not to mention the fact that my daughters will also be attending the school for the first time and praying their behavior doesn't give a bad first impression or reflect poorly on me as an educator... they haven't been in a structured "school-like" environment since Daycare closed in March of 2020... who knows what they will be like! Sigghhh... time will tell... but my life has shifted a lot from prioritizing my legs to accepting the progress I've made so far for at least a little while until I have the flexibility and financial stability to go back out to Wyoming for another treatment. In the mean time, here's a short update on how things have gone broken down by month.
April: Boston Marathon on- 26.2 miles-Like everyone else, after the Boston marathon was complete, I took some much needed down time. I mean, I was on my feet in a race for 5.5 hours for the first time... EVER... and had this race hanging over my head since 2019 (or 2013... whatever...)... I needed a physical AND Mental break.... Plus my husband had a Marathon on May 1st so we shifted to focusing on that.
May- 13.6 recorded miles
May was weird.
After processing the Boston Marathon and the training that led up to it, I determined that the best way for me to proceed with this botox process was to work on speed and generating power with my "new" muscle patterns. SO instead of focusing on daily runs and increasing mileage I put my focus on increasing intensity and keeping mileage low. I knew that my weight gain would add extra strain and be problematic for compensating muscles taking on an increased load so I purchased the Lever Running System to allow myself to have a bodyweight suspension system similar to the Alter-G and we also got a treadmill on Craigslist for a great price to allow me to have access to this technology whenever I wanted. HOWEVER... I toyed around with speed and strides on the treadmill before the Lever was delivered and "Womp Womp" pulled my calf (none of those miles logged).
I essentially traded one problem for another. Instead of PAES symptoms causing me to halt running, it was normal "overtraining" symptoms that caused it. On paper I'm not even close to overtraining... but if you think of it in terms of weight lifting and strength to weight ratio, I essentially increased my weight (due to weight gain) while simultaneously decreasing my strength (muscle paralysis from Xeomin), and that's just not something you should ever do with progressive overload... so... My lack of patience waiting for the Lever confirmed for me that I do, in fact, NEED the lever to take off some load and gradually add it back on. It took a few weeks for my calf to be ready for any running, but once I got started with the Lever at the end of May, man... WHAT A JOY!!! I was able to log 13.6 miles across three different runs just before June
June 85 Miles:
June was the best stretch of running I've had and probably will have in a long time. Since I set the goal to get faster, I joined my friend Laurens 5k summer training group so that I could have a little guidance. It's easy for me to overthink or get in my head about everything so having someone else was helpful. It wasn't full 1:1 coaching where I felt like I needed to hash out details of my legs... I figure on the Lever, I could just do all the training and use my own knowledge to adjust if needed. I was consistently running 3 days a week, two workouts and a longer run (got up to 10 miles)... and the last week of June I ran a 5k "race" on the lever in 21:56!
My initial goal with this program was to break 25 minutes on the ground, but my goal shifted with that to maybe legitimately breaking 22. Usually with running when you race and you make a big measurable jump in fitness, you change training paces... but for me I decided instead of changing paces I'd just add more weight (aka: not offload as much) for my training. My shins were a little sore here and there so I suspected I'd need more botox by August, but hoped I'd get through this program and then take August off to go to Wyoming. June really had me excited for training. It was the only thing on my mind for the path ahead was to get fit again... be myself again... maybe even compete and set goals again. Ahhhh... What a FUCKING dream! I was so excited! .... until July....
July- 54.2 miles
Well, July started off with a really big shift in my priorities. Just as I was starting to make plans to put running goals back in focus, we had some personal events that made me realize that was going to need to be put on hold. Confusion doesn't even begin to encapsulate my emotions... Especially from where I sit now... but it was still a hopeful time, just had me looking elsewhere for once. It gave me time to reevaluate what I have been after. Primarily my goal was to get back to fitness in general however with having that Boston Qualifier and then running Boston I still harbored some delusions about the running I had in front of me. I had to put those delusions to rest again and I devised a plan that put Botox treatments on hold... even though at the time I really didn't want to do that at all... my reality did not agree with what I wanted, but sometimes that's life. I did keep things in perspective though, a year ago when my legs were in such pain I couldn't function... the improvements I've made thus far have definitely given me enough of my life back that I don't need to rush right into another treatment... but I really wanted to. It was a tough reality to process...
I ran quite a bit in early July knowing my legs were a ticking time bomb.... symptoms did start to show up and I was confused if it was from offloading less or if it was because the Botox was wearing off or what... Either way I was able to still proceed as long as I kept it really slow and offloaded as much weight as possible. I dropped out of the 5k training group and decided to just focus on easy runs for overall health. Additionally I had this numbness in my left arm for over a month so I couldn't lift and that was limiting my exercise even more.... and then, just at the end of July, I had another personal event occur which confused things even more, and as I sit here mid August I'm still working out my emotions around it all. In June I was sky high and to summarize July, it was free falling without a parachute......
August 1- August 15- 0 miles
Still free falling from July, August was off to a rough start.... Which is tough because both my daughters have birthdays in August... Raeas is August 1st and it was one of the worst days for me... ever.... so I felt bad. I tried my best to show up for her, which is all I can do. I think there are two types of free-falling you can experience... The free falling where you willingly jump; a leap of faith... and the free falling where someone pushes you off a cliff. I'm the second one. Somehow when I hit, once again, a NEW rock bottom (really hoping to stop finding new lows), I still have been bouncing back alright... much better than expected. I think its all sort of hinging on how the rest of the year goes, but for now I'm doing okay. This had nothing to do with running but yet, running being such a forefront of my life for so long everything in my life is somehow connected to it and vice-versa. It's crazy that even with as little running that I have done in the last 3 years, this is still true... but anyway....
This has been a lot harder stretch than I thought it would be. Not at all the summer we wanted... and even though in the beginning of July I expected things to be difficult for a while, it's actually been beyond what we originally expected. I left social media to guard myself a little because when I shared that my legs were still bothering me, I got some feedback that made me realize sometimes I just want to grieve alone. I didn't realize how deep the grief in front of me would get... and I'm grateful my intuition led me to get off the internet before the events of July occurred. I've always been an open book and oversharer... sharing usually feels good... But then I can't take back what I've put out there. Stepping away from social media has allowed me to process my feelings more slowly and "absorb the impact" before I write a narrative that may change in a week or two... and hopefully this time away from the daily sharing and "content creation" has detoxed me from this thought that I need to keep engaging and keep posting whatever the new trend is. Not to say I'm off public social media completely, but the time away has certainly given me time to see what things are worth sharing and what things I'd rather keep to myself or to a smaller audience. Honestly, I'm tired of my own sadness and my own story ... So... That's as much as I'll give here, but I will say things are looking more hopeful, at least for now, in the weirdest ways... I'm not all "everything happens for a reason" ... But I am finding some light in all the darkness.
August 15 and on
I want tomorrow to mark a new day for me... which is why I wanted to finally follow up on the blog today... I don't have a clue what is going on with my personal life for a long stretch of time... but I do know that I have to get back up and keep going. I've decided I need to run or walk every day or at least 5-6 days a week for 30 minutes or more indefinitely. I'm going to attempt to get back on the lever tomorrow and see how that goes, even if I have to walk... I just need to figure out a way to not fall back into a really depressed state. I can't afford that right now, so I'm trying to revive the weekly recap blog even if the recap never the running I envisioned I could get back to.
For my PAES people, this has nothing to do with the McGinley method "not working"... I absolutely have 100% faith that it is and will continue to work for me when I continue the treatment... I just have to put it on the back burner for now. So please don't read this as me giving up... it's much more complicated than that, as anyone with PAES knows- it's not a straight line and while we're out there battling doctors for a diagnosis and tests, and treatments... Life goes on... and so while I'd love to just get a new injection ASAP, there are limitations I'm up against, and life goes on....
So tomorrow is a new day... Where I just try to play the cards I've been dealt and see where the chips fall. I spent all the time since the Boston Marathon being pushed and pulled in a million different directions and trying to fight the current.... But I'm just going to accept where I am, and get up and rise for and go another round.
It was early June when I started this and mid July when I finished and I still feel like I remember every detail. I remember distinct faces along the course, and prominent dips it the road... It's taken me a while to sit down and write this post. Maybe it's because I've spent the last 10 years trying to get to the Boston Finish Line that now that it's over I need a break from it... Or maybe it's that I've been waiting for another set back to write it so I can remind myself how far I've come... Or maybe I've just been busy AF and haven't had a chance. Whatever... I'm here now... Lets recap this thing!
Spoiler Alert! I FINISHED!!! I could write an entire post on the pre-race marathon (AKA waiting for the bus from the common to the start, the lines to the bathroom, the walk from the ahtletes village to the starting line... more bathroom lines... the walk up the hill to the starting line.... etc etc.) But aint nobody got time to read that. I was with my friend Linda and we went for the whole experience and lets just say... we GOT THAT. So I'll start my official recap from after the last bathroom stop....
One thing I always knew about the Boston Marathon was that it isn't a PR experience. There's so much energy centered around getting to the starting line of this point to point that it's in most peoples best interest to train for the best, but keep in mind theres energy being expended at every turn for hours before you even get on the line. For me, I was going to need every bit of energy I had since I anticipated taking as long as 8 hours. Of course I hoped it didn't come to walking the whole thing... All those weird cramping things I had occur leading up to the race had me nervous. Linda and I were seeded in the second to last and last corral of the second wave so we sort of took our time getting to the start. Its a chip timed event and I wasn't interested in being in the crowds and Linda wanted to get everything right before she started so when we got to the start it was incredibly anticlimactic. Everyone just ran to the start and kept going... Except me. I walked.
The start to -3.1 I had a list of checkpoints I made for myself based on what I was able to (or unable to) accomplish in the last few years. Although I only planned to drop out if I was dehydrated or hypothermic, I still had checkpoints I created for the journey to make it a little bit more enticing to just make it a little bit further to your next checkpoint. Check point number one was to make it to the start. I didn't mean to get emotional but I teared up. "Goal one complete" as I walked over the starting line nearly by myself.
It was quiet. I was nervous. I tried to calm my heartrate that was easily elevated by the stress and fear of something going wrong. I knew I couldn't walk the whole thing and eventually was going to have to get up the courage to run so after a few minutes of walking I did just that... and after just a few more minutes of running I chickened out and walked again. Theres a teeny tiny little incline just at 1k, and I was like "NOPE! Can't do that yet" This was my PTSD talking and it wasn't an enjoyable start... I committed to a 5 minute run 2 minute walk and went on with this pattern for some time. Before I knew it At this point a boy on crutches and I were back and fourth. When I walked he'd pass me then I'd run and pass him. This went on for what felt like forever. I was completely convinced I'd be with him forever but before I knew it... the sound of his crutches were overtaken by the sound of footsteps from the third wave.
Mile 3.2-9 miles
I had been dealing with a bit of imposter syndrome the whole weekend and in athletes village. As most people know Boston separates out waves by colors. If you've got your name on your bib, you've made it. You're elite status... But those red bibs are quite sought after... the white bibs too. You can feel people sizing you up based on bib and I had a decently middle of the pack white bib but here I was hoping to finish before dark. It felt weird.. But when those blue bibs caught up the imposter syndrome faded and I thought about all those unused red bibs I had in my drawer at home. The Wave 3 passing me was HARD! It wasn't hard in a humbling way it was hard in a traffic-jam sort of way. I was walk/running so I was putting up my hand and yelling "about to stop!" but everyone has headphones on, no one is looking, everyone is stressed... and I didn't have time to worry about my legs because I was just trying not to get stepped on. I had one guy tell me to "move" and "get out of the way" and thats when I really didn't feel like an imposter any more. I was like "now wait a minute! I earned my spot on this road the same as everyone else! Just because I'm walking at mile 4 doesn't mean you have to be so rude!" ... I did mentally prepare myself for this feeling so it didn't come as a surprise... it actually served more as a distraction because before I knew it I was at the 10k mark. I thought I heard my mom cheering but never saw her... later found out she was there.
I knew there were a lot of people tracking me… either to see me fail, out of curiosity, or because they were unwaveringly supportive. What I didn’t learn until later is my tracker glitched at 10k, so people thought that was it for me… but I assure you I was moving right along. Framingham was probably the most boring stretch of the course. This is about where all the blue bibs settled in and were running a similar enough pace to me (when I was running) that there was a natural flow.. and it was also where a couple yellow bibs caught up. Likely charity make runners who were running their first marathon but were actually quite good. It didn’t take long for me to be in recognizable territory. I had done a handful of training runs on the course starting in various locations, I had run through Framingham before and remember my husband handing me water near the train station. Long way to go before I saw him this time (around 30k) but it made me smile. My next “checkpoint” was mile 9. The furthest I’ve run since I qualified in 2019… I oddly don’t remember hitting this milestone exactly… But instead I remember getting to Natick and then the 15k mat and I knew I had surpassed my checkpoint.
15k to 13.1
My next checkpoint is Half Marathon. This next stretch was so hype I just really enjoyed it all. Natick and Wellesley are probably the area I trained the most so I felt even more familiarity. I remember doing a training run years ago on this part of the course. I stopped SOOO many times in the first 4 miles because my “shoes were tied too tight” (code for my feet were going numb) I had a big workout I had to do for the hill sections so I was trying to ensure I got my shoes just right before the workout began. EVERYTIME I’d retie my shoes my feet felt less numb and so It reinforced this idea that it was my shoelaces being too tight… but really, in hindsight, I now know that stopping made it so my calves weren’t repeatedly flexing and compressing my arteries and nerves… so while I retied my shoes feeling returned to my feet. Then a few minutes later I’d be numb again and loosen my shoes even more, than retighten them since they were too loose then loosen again because my feet would be numb. I ran a 21 miler averaging 7:20ish pace where my pickup sections were in the low 6:00’s like this. For the workout portion I’d ignore the numbness as much as I could but then if it turned to pain I’d stop and retie between pickups. … … so as I ran through these sections, I’d have flashbacks of where I’d stop to tie my shoes and kind of laugh at how silly all that was. Man… the length O went to believe the problems in my legs and feet were within my control is so crazy in hindsight. I’d get emotional thinking about it while I was out there.
Wellesley is LONG. When I first got there I was underwhelmed but man it just went on forever…and in a good way. My splits were getting faster. My run sections were sub 11 minute pace for 7 minutes and my walks were only 2 minutes long. So my average pace each mile had gone from mid 13s, to high 12’s to low 12’s to sub 12’s…. Doesn’t seem like a big deal when you consider my race history, but Sub 6 hours was 13:40s so I’ve got pretty good momentum at this point. From a strategic perspective… there was never a “pace yourself the race is long” approach, that’s why I incorporated walks to begin with. I knew that no matter how smart I ran the beginning, In the end it wouldn’t matter. With my lifetime experiences, my natural cardiovascular fitness was way ahead of what my legs could do… so Pace wasn’t going to be the factor that breaks me, if it wasn’t my calves, it was going to be the length of time I was out there. I had no doubt that after a certain amount of “time on feet” I was going to struggle. My goal at this point was to be as close to the finish line as possible when that happened. This was a “bank time” situation… The “faster” (relatively and within reason) I could go in the beginning the closer I’d be to the finish when I hit the “time on feet” wall. Time on feet, time in the sun, time not having real food…. All of those factors were going to get to me in a way that just has never mattered before. It would be uncharted territory… but making it to the halfway mark still feeling good was beyond anything I imagined. The way my legs had been cramping and needing walks, cramping and needing walks across the last few runs leading up to the race… I really expected to be cramping and walking the whole way…. But by this point the crowds were insane, I had momentum… the few early “scares” with my legs I worked through and felt like I understood and could keep that issue at bay. At this point I felt truly free. I was running so free from worry in a way I hadn’t for almost 7 years. I just no longer felt like my calves would be an issue… and … I HAD FUN. I Cried because I WAS HAVING FUN…. RUNNING. I never thought….NEVER thought …. I could experience that again.
13.1 - My husband
My next checkpoint was my husband-somewhere in the 30k mark… but I also had smaller less concrete checkpoint of longest time running, which was my qualifying time of 3:23ish. When I hit that I wasn’t quite at the hills yet but close. I took out my phone to document and checked my texts. I only allowed texts from my siblings and husband to get through and my brother and sister were tracking me and were in a group chat so i just let them know as I approached the hills that I always intended to walk the hills- don’t be alarmed when it slows down a lot! I took advil hoping that that would push back fatigue a bit as my knees were starting to hurt, and then I continued on. So many memories on the hills but what I didn’t remember was how much of it is actually flat! So I mostly walked the hills but whenever the hill felt like it evened out even just a little I’d run. So at this point my intervals were 5 minutes run, 5 minute walk, 3 minute run, 2 minute walk, 1 minute run, 5 minute walk…. Really random…. At this point… I just knew I was having a great day and nothing could take that away. I couldn’t wait to see Matt to just say “I’m doing so good!” And so Even though I planned to walk the hills I ran where I could without much additional effort and got to Matt as quick as I could!
It was really nice to see the whole on tent stand when I came, but honestly I didn’t stop long. I was up against “Time on Feet” and standing chatting counts as time on feet. On to the next checkpoint!
To Heartbreak to BC.
After I passed Matt, I will say the crowds thinned. I’ve spent so many years spectating in this area that I was aware many people had left… and now I’m realizing how close I am but yet how far. I was getting in my head a bit but heading into heartbreak I saw one of my friends and one of my coworkers. It really made me feel better! Once I got to heartbreak hill I decided to walk the whole thing and just chill out. I was approaching my last check mark before the finish and felt like I needed to regroup because the next mikes weren’t going to be as methodical as everything behind me. I allowed myself to walk and work on self talk. I noticed walking that people passing me were only making small ground on me but expending more energy so Ibfekt good about my decision to walk. The people running around me now we’re mostly charity runners with names of loved ones and pictures on their back. They were all doing this for something bigger than themself, and I pulled from that for my own journey. I had connected with so many young people with fpaes that really couldn’t see a path forward; one thing I’ve been grateful for is that this condition didn’t get too bad for me until I was at an age where I realized there was more for me no matter what happened… but the youth paes impacted (usually people are between 15-22 year old, I’m a bit of an outlier) . I felt like finishing could really bring hope…. It took me a little over 7 minutes to walk i heartbreak and at this point I knew any running I could do was better than walking since there weren’t anymore hills. BC WAS CRAZY… I ran my longest interval down the hill through the BC crowd (8 minutes) and it was the last interval of 7 minutes I could run. This is when it started getting tricky.
This wasn’t a checkpoint… but this was by far the hardest part for me…. From BC to the finish I mainly remember this one really hard section after BC that my mother later pointed out is known as “the graveyard”…. There’s a cemetery, a small hill that feels like a mountain, not a lot of crowd support because the green line is right on the course so it’s not a great place to spectate, kinda smelly, legs too dead to dodge the bumps in the road and not trip on the railroad tracks… try as I May it was here that I realized I needed a new walk/run plan or I’d be walking far more than running. My new plan was to hit split… run for as long as o could tolerate, check my watch and see if I could pick myself to the nearest round number, then walk a minimum of half the time I ran. That was the plan. Once I turned left over the railroad tracks and away from the graveyard I felt a bit better having a plan.
CITGO to Brookline to Boylston
Technically I had no more checkpoints after BC, just wanted to get to the finish… but a few other places jump out at me. From the citgo sign on it was just insane crowd support and insane will power. I mostly stick to my plan to walk only half the time I ran but I broke that a few times for photo opps and i did check my phone and text my family. All I remember is a blur of absolute happiness and absolute grittiness. Every tenth of a mile felt HUGE and insurmountable. I remember running under the bridge right before Hereford and thinking about my husband getting pulled off the course for dangerous dehydration that year it was 90s… and it made me realize what a feat this was. I didn’t train at all and I’m about to finish this shit actually feeling pretty good! My legs weren’t sore necessarily… just so tired. My heartrate was insanely high because at this point i was just so so tired. But I felt no specific pain point which was just so amazing. Seeing Hereford was just unreal. It surprisingly came up quicker than I thought… maybe because Boylston is so long, but WHAT A RUSH! …
Boylston to the finish
At this point the competitor in me wanted to keep the pedal to the medal and run the entire Boylston street… but it’s SO FAR! Could I have done it? Probably! but the person that struggled to even run for a minute felt like I should soak it in, enjoy, and celebrate… so I took out my phone, videoed, walked with my hands up, cheered, and just celebrated! Holy shit I made it!
It took me forever to write this, I’m still in absolute shock that this happened… but life has twists and turns and surprises at every corner. I’m looking forward to getting this blog more current and sharing where I’m at now (mid July! 😅), but for now I’m just trying to appreciate how far I’ve come and accept every next challenge head on like I always have.
Welcome to my blog! I've been blogging for a long time on various platforms. My intention has never been to reach the masses, but rather to give myself a chance to reflect and journal. I feel it at least challenges me to be somewhat coherent, however you can expect ramblings and grammatical incorrectness here!
I've recently been diagnosed with CECS and fPAES and had it treated with BOTOX of all things... So I suspect to see more and more people looking for answers with that in the future and hope to continue blogging so there will be easy to access follow-ups as that was helpful for me.
NOTE: Apologies that some of the pictures incorrectly load sometimes. I try to keep up with the glitches, but can't always! Hope it doesn't impact the blog experience for all the PAES visitors.