I spent the summer of 2012 training for my first half marathon and interning at a technology company forty miles from home. Originally I signed up for the Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon in Providence, Rhode Island to stay in shape for indoor track, but I fell in love with my weekend long runs. One year later, I completed my first full marathon in Corning, New York. It was my last race before my first major AS flare up.
For the next few years, I flitted in and out of doctor’s offices and subsequent work-out studios. One month I would be diagnosed with a “weak core” and found myself at a high-intensity training studio; the next month I was told I had uneven hips and yoga would be my savior. I went through brief periods of being able to run and other times where I was in too much pain to walk. My body no longer felt like my own – it changed without warning and resisted any attempts to appease it.
Finally I was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, but running long distances still wasn’t an option. My first rheumatologist was a “non-runner” and didn’t understand my desire to run – although to be honest, I don’t even think I know what I wanted to run. As a college runner, I’ve hated more runs that I loved, but running had become a symbol of the control I so desperately craved. It was representative of the person I was before the pain and I missed that person.
In the fall of 2015, I ended up in Atlanta with a new rheumatologist. I was put on Humira and my quality of life and mobility improved. .As I crossed the finish line of the Publix Half today, I couldn’t help but have a “weeping willow” moment. For so long, I was a prisoner to my body – it determined whether it was going to be a good day or a bad day – but today my body was my own.