I haven’t written in a very long time. It’s not that I’ve had nothing to say, but I’ve been very unmotivated to do so. I don’t know if this is a re-start, or just the need to get something out on paper in this moment, but I feel the need to share.
During the height of my mother’s illness, with my 40th birthday fast approaching, I decided that I needed to do something for myself to mark this milestone birthday. I decided that I wanted to run a half marathon, and that I wanted to go on a vacation to do it. I started researching marathons near my birth date and found the Rock N Roll Savannah Half and Full Marathon on November 7th. It was one week after my 40th birthday. I had friends who were living in Savannah. There was a registration special going on for $49 only until midnight. The stars seemed to have aligned, but I spent hours going back and forth over whether or not I should pursue this. My coach assured me that I could be ready for a half marathon in 11 months. I bit the bullet and registered.
The year leading up to this race really was a whirlwind. We lost mom on April 29th. I lost 14 pounds in the 2 weeks that she was in the hospital. I didn’t think it was possible, but I was more of a caregiver to my family after my mother had passed, than I was when I was actually caring for her. I again put myself on the backburner (a running theme in my life), and used all my energy on everyone else. I did continue to run during this time but not with any real focus or commitment. I was dealing with members of my family who were not adjusting well to the loss of my mother, which created more challenges for us all. I gained the 14 pounds back, plus another 10.
I can’t even say I’ve had an opportunity to grieve the loss of my mother because of the turmoil that has been going on. However, there is a distinct possibility that I did the majority of my grieving while mom was still here. Who knows? I’m contemplating seeing a therapist. Maybe they’ll help me figure it out.
So, to keep me motivated to train for this half marathon, I hooked up with LungStrong, which is a local non-profit that provides funding for lung cancer research at Massachusetts General Hospital and Dana Farber Cancer Institute. I decided that I wanted to raise money for research and that I wanted that money to be used locally. I set a goal of $100 per mile ($1310), set up an online fundraising web page, Melissa’s 13.1 to Support LungStrong, and, I’m happy to report, I’ve raised over $1400 to date.
I started to add mileage to my training, and, got up to a 9 mile run/walk on the Windham rail trail. That ended up being my final long run before the half marathon – Three weeks before the race. It proved to be a disaster. I had no idea how long it took me (because I couldn’t find my garmin). I started having terrible back and hip pain. I have uterine fibroids (fiberous non-cancerous tumors on my uterus) that can cause abnormal bleeding , which I’ve been managing with medication. However, the stress of running long distances can (and did) cause problems. Problems severe enough that my coach advised me that if bleeding issues weren’t resolved by the next week (2 weeks before race) she was advising me to not attempt to race. I was only concerned with the logistics of running for 4 hours with this issue. She, very smartly, reminded me of the high chance of anemia and the stress that would put on my body even before I started. I was frustrated. She was right. Thankfully, it resolved itself within the week.
As a side note, I decided not to see my OB/GYN to address this issue. This is mainly because she told me that this was a possibility, and to keep running as long as I am comfortable doing so. She also told me that once I can’t control my symptoms medically anymore, the next step is surgery, and there was no way in hell I was going to schedule any surgery before this race.
Three days after that long run, I attempted to go to track. We were running 1000s (meters). Before I could even complete my first 1000, I got a sharp pain in my right hip – very similar to what happened 2 years before on my left hip. I walked for the remaining 45 minutes of track, feeling a pulling sensation the whole time.
I saw my orthopedist two days later, who confirmed IT band syndrome resulting in bursitis. She understood I was going to attempt a half marathon in three weeks and she pushed me to get into PT immediately and that if I didn’t see any improvement in a week and a half, she was going to do a cortisone shot. I didn’t want ANY of that, so I made an appointment with the PT who treated me previously.
In the meantime, my coach had me cross training on the bike and elliptical machine to mimic running as my long runs on the weekend. During the week, I rested. PT was aggressive because I didn’t have a lot of time. I noticed improvement almost immediately. I completed my last long workout (4 hours in the gym – 2 hours elliptical and 2 hours bike) and I felt, for the first time, that I could really do this and physically feel good doing it.
I got to run 2 miles on October 31 during a Halloween race. I did better than I thought I would. It was the first time I ran in almost 3 weeks, and it would be the last time I ran before the race.
Coming up, the Rock N Roll Savannah Half Marathon Race Report…