Monday, December 17, 2012

Janky Feet & Spastic Colon. // Jen J.

Running is a privilege for me.

The short version of the story is that I have janky feet and a spastic colon.  Thus, the title, duh!

I could end this post right here - but, I'm not.  I know you are just dying to learn the deets on my feet and colon.  That and I'm greedy - perhaps someone will read this and have a suggestion for me.

I will get to my ailments.  But first I begin the story of how I fell in love with running.

I graduated from college in July 2002.  I was fat when I moved to the metropolitan Washington DC area for  my first big girl job.  I was leaving late night Taco Bell runs, cheap beer, and all day Lifetime movie marathons behind for the glitz and glam of the big city.  The big city came with style and fashion.  I finally had a pay check and great stores so I really started to care about what I looked like.

In January 2003, I joined Weight Watchers.  I followed the program and for some reason I decided I wanted to start running.  I lost 30 pounds and for the first time in a long while was feeling good about myself.

I started running with just the mindset that I wanted to burn some calories.  Somewhere along the way, I decided that I wanted to run a 5k.  To train I just started running until I was tired and then I stopped and walked. Eventually, I got up to the point where I could run the 3 miles so I signed up for my first 5k.  I did it, loved it and decided to up the bar.  I put my sights on the Army 10-miler and registered to run it in October 2004.

I trained for it but not properly.  At the time I just didn't know there were the running resources available.  I was too broke for the Internet, so it wasn't like I could just google that shit.  I have no idea how far I ran before the actual race but my best guess would be 6 - 7 miles.  This was before the days of my beloved Map My Run app.

I will add that I never stretched.

I did it all wrong.

Despite improperly training, I ran it and ran it pretty well.  My time was 1:31:24.

I'm to the right, in the orange, stopping my watch.
This is the only picture I have from that day (the times don't match up because the time in the photo is based on the time the first runners crossed the start line).  It is a picture of a computer printout.  I was too cheap to purchase the professional photo so I jimmy-rigged this photo from the website.  I've carried it with me through the years.  It means that much to me.  And of course, I now wish I hadn't been such a tightwad.  

It was an awesome and moving experience.  Not only to accomplish a goal of mine but to do it in a race that is so military centric.  I was hooked.  I wanted to do it again.  That is until reality set in. 

The day after the race, I could barely walk.  My feet ached and they have never been the same. Obviously, I can walk now - but after eight effing years they are still eff'd up.

When people ask what is wrong, I describe my pain like this:  after standing still for 10 to 15 minutes they feel like I've been walking around Disney World all. damn. day.  They do not hurt at rest, they don't hurt when I am running.  But they hurt when I am standing in line waiting to vote or to ride a roller coaster.  If I do a lot of walking/running they get irritated and I always have to wear good shoes.  But my biggest issues is just standing still. 

I've been to countless doctors and have have tried a number of things over the years.  Desperate people do desperate things.

I've been to a podiatrist, neurologist, and chiropractor.  I've had custom orthotics, cortisone shots, nerve testing, physical therapy, endoscopy, acupuncture, x-rays, MRIs, prayed, and slept wearing a boot.  You named it, I've tried it.  My feet are still janky.

In an effort to not cause additional damage I really cut back on running and focused on lower impact activities.  I was one sad panda for a long time.  And my weight started to creep back up.

Then in 2008, my colon decided to turn on me too.  Very, very sad panda.

[Turn your head away now if you get grossed out easily.]

Bloody number twos and bathroom emergencies became common place.  I was in denial for a while, but finally I got the courage to go see a gastroenterologist.  I mean, who really wants to have their butt examined?  A colonoscopy later - (OH. MY. GEE. the prep is the worst!!!!!) - I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, which is an autoimmune disease that causes ulcers in the colon.

The disease is terrible.  Humiliating is an understatement.  And as you runners know (or hopefully you don't know) running sometimes gives you the runners trots.  Well imagine running for someone who has a spastic colon.

I tried to push past my feet and colon issues and occasionally run. But countless times it did not end well.  I've had to dodge into the woods and cornfields to GO.  And yes, I've shit my pants.  There, I said it.....I know you were wondering.

Humiliating.  Effing humiliating. 

It has brought me to my knees bawling.  There's been countless breakdowns. 

It took me three years (and multiple colonoscopies) of working with my doctor to find a treatment that works for me.  Three long years of being afraid of being active.  Last summer, I finally got relief from a drug that requires me to go to the hospital for an infusion every eight weeks.  The treatment has been a miracle and I am now in remission.
My magic juice.

No more bathroom emergencies for me!  My feet still bother me but I feel like running is such a blessing so I do it anyway.  Last December, I ran my first race, a 5k, since 2004.  I followed that up this year with two more 5ks and running 4.7 miles as a member of a relay team for the Pittsburgh Marathon.  It feels so good. 

My sister and I at the Pittsburgh Marathon.  She ran the whole 26.2 miles.

I want to do more though.  Sometimes I get so jealous of you broads training for your half marathons.  I want to do 13.1 miles.  I could do it and I know I could do it decently.  But after the trauma on my feet from those 10 miles, I am scared.  I try to talk myself down from the ledge of jealousy.  There is no point in it.  Because the moral of the story should be how far I've come.  I fought back and the only person I need to be in competition with is myself.  And the same goes for you - YOU are your only competition.  We are individuals with unique strengths and weaknesses.  We all have our own hurdles that we must overcome.  That said our victory laps may look differently but it's sure as hell still a victory.



  1. These were the health issues I was talking about, you had mentioned them before. I believe in holistic medicine, only because my mother has been off all of her post-cancer meds because of it.. I know it sounds crazy but look it up - the eyes are a clock to your body- iridology and naturopathy!

  2. Thanks for posting, this was really informative. I have janky feet too, maybe not as bad, but janky none the less.

  3. Thanks for sharing and for rallying all of us all of the time. Sorry for your troubles. I am proud of you for not letting them completely excuse you from life. My hubby also has UC. Luckily his responded better to earlier treatment. I am glad you found something that keeps things under control. There are only so many Sh*t jokes a girl can tell. Ok, they are infinite, but at some point Sh*t is not funny when you have UC.

  4. You always have been, and continue to be a source of inspiration for me. You can post videos telling us that you feel like a fraud, but you are human, you are real, and you do what you can with what you've got. I sometimes try and compare myself to those out there doing half marathons, or burning 1000 calories at spinning class, but the reality of it is, I have to do the best with what Ive got. I can not compare myself to others, all I can do is try to be better than I was yesterday. My victory lap, and your victory lap are different, but they are still victory laps for us both, and we all should be damn proud of what we can do with what we've got! <3

  5. I feel lucky to have found real people that talk about real stuff and not dance around it. Thank you for sharing. If you got over hurdle number 2 (Yuk, yuk), surely you can find it for the feet too!

  6. Thank you for sharing sometime so personal! I'm glad you've found sometime that works for you!

  7. Thanks for this post. I too have a lot of stomach and emergency bathroom issues, Ill have to mention ulcerative collitis to my docs. It is so hard to be healthy and active when you feel like shit all the time.


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