Category Archives: DC/MD/VA Events

And a Partridge in a Pear Tree

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Today was the inaugural run of the Jingle Bell 5K for Arthritis in Arlington, VA. While they’ve held the event in a number of other locations, this was the first time in the Metro DC area. They expected to get about 500 people to sign up to run; in the end more than 1,000 folks showed up dawned in their holiday hats and attire. Our team, And a Partridge in a Pear Tree, was 12 members strong. As such, we each chose to dress up as one of the 12 days of Christmas. My assignment was the partridge in a pear tree. With Andrew’s and his friend, Mike’s, help, we fashioned a pear tree out of a brown onesie (the one I used to be Scrappy Doo for Halloween), some leaf garlands from the craft store, some fake pears, and of course, a sort of partridge-looking bird. I did try to order a stuffed partridge but it appears as though they are all sold out of them this time of year… so instead, we found the most partridge-looking bird that Michael’s Arts and Crafts had to offer and that sealed the deal. We ended up removing fake bunches of grapes from the vine garlands and hot-gluing pears on in their places. The costume turned out beautifully. Andrew also contributed the sign at right… I ❤ it! And in the end, our combined group of 12 days WON THE COSTUME CONTEST! Eternal Pride. And the knowledge that we won the contest for the inaugural race. Needless to say, we have something to defend now and we can’t wait!

All in all the 5K went really well. I didn’t run, but I did have a great deal of walkers with me and it was awesome to get the support. Yet another huge thanks goes out to my friend, Rachel Worthington, for helping to pull this all together! And of course, a huge thanks to her fiance, Jason, for pulling back the reins and walking along with us (well, leaping… he was the lord of leaping after all). After the 5K, we all went out to brunch at Rio– Mexican and pretty delicious too!

So, how am I feeling now… about 10 hours later. Well, my ankles are done. I had a sore achilles on my right foot before I even started the walk and it seems to have exacerbated it… along with that, I’ve got a sore throat and some swollen glands along with a fever. I’ve noticed that I’ve been getting low grade fevers more often lately. Very strange- will have to ask my Rheumy about that at the next appointment. I think I will probably make a doctor’s appointment with either a general practitioner (I need a steady one) or my orthopedist just get my ankles and throat checked out. Can’t hurt, right? My rheumy has been pretty helpful but he focuses on my back only- which makes sense, as I have AS. However, I get the really bad joint pain in other locations, as I’ve mentioned before– I think I’d feel better if he’d address those too, but I’m not sure what else he could do- I’m on 750mg of Nambumetone twice a day along with my Enbrel… still, it can’t hurt to get a second opinion- make sure there’s nothing wrong from another perspective. So, given the sort of crapiness that I am feeling now, if I had it to do over, would I still do the Jingle Bell 5k? HECK YEAH, I WOULD!!

 

 

 

 

The day was wonderful and I had a great time with great people!

 

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My First Month of Ankylosing Spondylitis

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A month ago, I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis. It’s amazing how much your life can change in the blink of an eye. One day I was recovering from what I thought was some stupid injury I got from pushing getting back into running too hard and the next day I was diagnosed with an incurable auto-immune disease. I went from RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) to injections, pills, creams, and sprays. I went from “just take a week off” to this is how it’s going to be forever- we will work to find a way to manage the pain. Amazing. Just completely unreal. I went from I can do anything to you may not be able to do everything. Well, I’m sorry but I just won’t take that for an answer.

I am unique. I am individualistic, I love with passion, I work with desire, and I have an insatiable need to try new things, explore the world, and live my life as an adventure. I refuse to let AS define me. It may be a part of me, but it will only make me stronger and more motivated to prove to it who really is the boss.

I may need to give myself refrigerated injections once a week that sting like hell. I may need to carry three bottles of pills around in my purse at all times, and I may need to be armed with Benadryl spray and hand sanitizer, but so what? You may see them as weights dragging me down and holding me back but I see them as a way to get through the day the way I want to get through it- with vigor and vengeance.

On December 3, I will be walking the Jingle Bell 5K with my one of my best high school friends and a bunch of other Arthritis Foundation supporters. You can donate to or join our team here.

Next February, I will be running. Yes, I said running, the Pasadena Half Marathon. It begins and ends at the Rose Bowl- that imaginary place on the west coast that I grew up watching football games and parades near as a kid in Pennsylvania. In February 2012, I will be running 13.1 miles. It’s not too late to sign up here!

Next May, I will be biking from New York City to the capital in Washington, DC. It will be 300 miles over 5 days, camping and biking as part of the Climate Ride. I will be supporting environmental causes and bike safety. Help me raise enough to cover my expenses here or join Team SFS!

And that’s just the beginning. I look forward to sharing with you the trials and tribulations of Ankylosing Spondylitis as I take the world by storm. Living my life, the way I want to live it rather than the way AS tells me I should live it. I will not let AS define me.

Jingle Bell 5K and a Hell of a Great Friend

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Last year, Andrew and I decided to run the Jingle Bell 5K in Baltimore, MD.

The event, in which you tie jingle bells to your shoes was developed as a way to raise awareness and funds for the Arthritis Foundation. Last year, we signed up because it sounded fun and because Andrew’s sister-in-law, Mariah, has Rheumatoid Arthritis and we wanted to support her. With the help of a few friends, we raised about $200 or so, dawned our greatest holiday costumes (we went as trees), my friend, Rachel and her boyfriend went as elves, and ran the Jingle Bell 5K in Baltimore, MD. We had a fantastic time and couldn’t wait to do it again this year.

Well, obviously a lot has happened in the past few weeks and I have to admit, my thoughts about the Jingle Bell 5K were there but in the back of my mind. I thought, well, my Rheumy told me I can’t run and Andrew has to have surgery. Maybe we’ll just take a year off and do it next year. That’s where, my aforementioned friend (and one of my bests from High School) showed up. She emailed me asking if we were going to do it again, stating that she was ready to. Her email rejuvenated me and I thought, well, if I can’t run, I’ll walk. At least I’m doing something. Plus, it’s for a great cause. I expected, as last year, for a handful of folks (maybe 4 of us) to sign up. Well, here it is, still 1.5 months out and we have 10 people signed up for our team, “And a Partridge in a Pear Tree.” Not only that, but the team has raised $825 so far! And all because of Miss. Rachel Worthington.

So, while I may not be able to run this year, I will walk my heart out and when I figure out a treatment that works and keeps the AS at bay, you bet your butt I’ll be back on the start line and running. So this is a MASSIVE shout out and a heartfelt thank you to Rachel for pulling this together and re-motivating me to get out there and do something.

So, for those of you reading this, I encourage you to get out there and sign up for your area’s Jingle Bell 5K. It’s not just about running or walking or tying bells to your shoes, it’s about people coming together for a few hours to show Arthritis who is boss, to stare it in the face and say, today, I win. So get out there and walk or run or hop, skip, or jump. Or donate a few dollars to “And a Partridge in a Pear Tree” (Arlington, VA) or Team Z (Denver, CO).

Team And a Partridge in a Pear Tree  (we’re currently in 3rd place for teams)

Team Z  (Look under Team Rank for Team Z, currently in 3rd place)

Thanks again, Rachel, for being one hell of a friend! :0)

18.51 Miles; Brunch with Friends and Solar Decathlon

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Today was just epic. It’s been so long since we’ve trained for anything, let alone biked more than say, 6 or 7 miles together. Today we blew it out of the water! 18.51 miles roundtrip and we got in a nice little tour of DC too. Even though the weather was forcasted to be rainy and cold, we decided that we would still bike because we’ve made enough excuses about not working out :0). So, we packed up our bags with ponchos and wallets and cameras and hopped on our bikes. Our first stop was by Eastern Market. We met up with two of Andrew’s Cornell friends, Stephanie and Kelsey, and Stephanie’s husband, Nick. Kelsey just moved down to DC for work and Stephanie and Nick were in town to celebrate their 1 year anniversary! Our ride to Eastern Market wasn’t too bad; the weather was chilly but there was only a light rain so no need for heat-intensive ponchos. We road through four mile run park, on mount vernon trail, and over 14th Street Bridge where we saw runners in the Woodrow Wilson Half Marathon completed a portion of their race. Just as we hit the other side of the bridge (and landed ourselves in DC) a massive perfect rainbow appeared and just framed the bridge perfectly. Not a shabby way to start the day.

We met up with the crew at Ted’s Bulletin (near Eastern Market). If you’ve never been, I suggest you try it out; delicious brunch and friendly waitstaff. The menus are designed like old black and white newspapers and there’s a big screen tv that was playing, The Three Stooges on it for the duration of our meal. Oh, by the way, we found some bike racks right out front! I ended up with my traditional veggie omelet, and Andrew got a breakfast platter that came with a homemade pop tart! No really, they have a whole slew of pop tart types; Andrew’s was filled with Apple Butter. After breakfast, we said goodbye to friends and headed off down Pennsylvania and along the National Mall to the Solar Decathlon.

Welcome to the Solar Decathlon! It’s basically a competition each year  to build energy efficient homes; a lot of schools participate and there usually a few international entries as well. This year, Maryland was the overall winner. There are a whole bunch of awards categories, however; some based on architectural appeal, some on people’s choice, some on market appeal. Historically the Solar Decathlon has been on the main part of the mall, but this year it moved down near to where the new MLK monument was put in. The one nice thing about an energy efficiency competition? Ample bike parking… they had TONS of bike racks!

We spent a good deal of time walking around and checking out the different homes that were there and talking with some of the students about their designs. We also got to see one of Andrew’s brothers friends from college (and he was at their Wedding this past May)! He was out from a school in California; one of two master construction leads on their home. It was a pretty far out design. It sounds like they did really well in some categories and not so well in categories like market appeal. Try to figure out why…

I like to call it the squishy house :0). The idea is “outsulation.” Basically, rather than the usual design of putting insulation between wood boards to create the walls, they created the walls and then wrapped the whole house in the insulation… it’s actually a pretty cool concept and honestly, this was the warmest house we went inside! The inside was super cool; the top part, where you see the glass, is where the bedroom was located, then the kitchen table actually cranked out and into place or could crank back and be put away to help manage space. Then the lower portion of the house was the living room. Some of their Engineers on crew also hooked up their Xbox Kinect so that it could learn to recognize your human movement and you could point to the different lights to turn them on or off. Awesome. The house also came complete with a deck on the back :0). What house is complete without a deck, afterall? Oh, and solar panels on top. Turns out the supplier of the solar panels also bought this house to use as a demonstration house. Not too shabby.

After spending some time walking around the Decathlon, we headed back to our apartment in Virginia. The ride back was a little slower than the ride out but it felt sooo good when we pulled our bikes into the parking garage under our building. We’ve been all smiles since… just a fantastically wonderful day.

We topped it off with homemade burgers from our farmshare beef, some smashed twice baked potatoes, and corn on the cob. We even packed lunches tonight… instead of waiting until tomorrow. Starting this week off on the right foot!

What did you do this weekend?