Running brings adventure. Karine Nadeau shows inspiring and exceptional determination.
The protagonist of this story deserves great admiration.
In 2002, Karine Nadeau lived in Alberta with her husband. “We moved out west for work as well as for our love of the outdoors. For hiking and mountain enthusiasts like us, it was heaven. It was just perfect.”
Unfortunately, things did not go as planned. “I was only 29 years old and I began having weird pains in my shoulders. No matter how many treatments I received from chiropractors and physiotherapists, nothing was helping. Something was off.”
If you are among our faithful readers, you will know exactly where this is going… Karine was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. The pain in her shoulders spread to her elbows and wrists and, soon after, to her knees and hips.
Her painful flares sometimes lasted for over 24 hours, a frightful scenario that forced the couple to return to Quebec, much to their displeasure.
“It was so hard for me. For years, I couldn’t bear looking at photos from out west. The loss of my favorite sports was too painful.”
Nevertheless, Karine was well taken care of. Taking methotrexate helped relieve her pain enormously. Her symptoms subsided thanks to the medication, and the future seemed brighter. The couple gave birth to their first child in 2003 and had three more between 2007 and 2012. The pregnancies went well, but were still a headache for the young mother as the medication, pregnancies and breastfeeding did not mix well.
In 2010, the tide turned. After many years of suffering from weight issues due to a lack of exercise, Karine decided to start running. “I started slowly, running for 2-minute stretches, and increased my distance each time. At the beginning, running in the streets made me shy.”
Over the years, she became a seasoned runner. A few kilometers turned into half marathons and in 2015, Karine crossed the finish line of her first full marathon. She felt exhilarated!
We could very well end the story here, and the reader would be left inspired by Karine’s determination.
But her journey wasn’t over yet.
Determined, invigorated, ambitious and wanting to constantly push herself, Karine began talus running. In the mountains, the trails are staggering, and she completed distances of 65 km and 125 km, breaking her endurance record each time.
Finally, in August 2019, Karine and her husband took on the Ultra Trail Mont-Blanc (UTMB), a mountainous 170 km trail over an ascending elevation of 10,000 meters!
This run is reserved for select enthusiasts and professionals, and simply being allowed to participate is quite the accomplishment. It took Karine 45 hours to get from the start line to the finish line. She would only stop at the filling stations for an average of 5 to 30 minutes to take care of her blisters, close her eyes and nourish herself.
At a certain point, the race became a psychological challenge rather than a physical one. When her body became sore and no longer wanted to keep up, crying out for her to stop, Karine demonstrated her iron will and unwavering focus, completing the next kilometer, then the next one, up until the finish line.
Karine faces her arthritis pain in the day-to-day the same way she deals with the pain during her remarkable races.
“My pain is not a part of me. It’s external. I do visualization and breathing exercises that help me during difficult times. The pain comes and goes.”
Despite having accepted her condition, she has learned how to practice humility, ask for help and open up to others. You might have guessed that a woman as strong as her takes life by the horns.
Thanks to her family and friends, her disease will not stop her. Far from it. Some might even say it has made her stronger.