Monday, May 4, 2009

Mile 5 of my Cancer Marathon

Onto mile 5…

During a race you can have moments of brilliance, and of course its counterpoint, periods of darkness.

During the brilliant moments your body feels good and your mind is content. You can’t help but think ahead to the finish and extrapolate what your time will be if you keep the pace. It’s not quite a runner’s high but it is a satisfying feeling. These moments are what makes running so enjoyable and addictive.

I’ll save an explanation of the dark periods for another mile :)

Last 3 week cycle was pretty tough as I was sick from various illnesses and very tired. I started this cycle off pretty tired as well but started feeling much better into the second week. It helps I didn’t come down with any illnesses this go round. Of course, I’ve had several people (those with a sick sense of humor) ask me if I’ve come down with Swine Flu yet since I’ve managed to catch just about everything else these past two months!

I mustered up enough energy to start exercising regularly which made me feel amazing, both physically and mentally. After a month and a half of being a couch potato it was nice to feel like a human being again.

I started out with Pilates. After my bone biopsy surgery I lost a lot of range of motion in my left leg which made it difficult for me to do any sort of activity. My orthopedist wanted me to see a physical therapist to work on regaining it. However, due to scheduling I couldn’t get a PT appointment until after my first chemo treatment.

Incredibly, at my first chemo appointment the drugs went to work on my leg immediately. My leg started feeling looser while I was still sitting there with the drip in my arm. By the time I got home that night I had a lot of my range of motion back and by the next day I had full range of motion back.

I still went to the PT appointment the next week. My physical therapist confirmed what I already knew – my range of motion was fine and I didn’t need to be there. Coincidently, my therapist ran distance at a rival college and we competed against each other back then. She’s a marathoner so she totally understood when I told her the PT exercises she gave me for strengthening my leg were lame. So she said it was fine for me to do pilates as long as it wasn’t weight bearing.

So I started doing 20 minutes of Pilates every day I felt up to it. But of course that was not enough…

I got the nurse at my orthopedist’s office to agree to swimming. But I first had to run it by my oncologist. He said that he’s never actually had a patient swim during treatments but he saw no medical reason why not. So off to the YMCA I was!

I started out slowly with a 12 minute swim. I quickly worked up to swimming 30 minutes straight. I’m no Michael Phelps so 30 minutes straight is huge for me, cancer or no cancer. I felt great in the water but was definitely tired later in the day. But it was so worth it. At minimum, just to see the faces on people as I hobbled into the pool on crutches with my bald head. LOL.

Shortly after I was diagnosed I contacted the Leukamia and Lymphoma Society to see if I could get involved with Team in Training. TNT is basically a fund raising vehicle for the LLS. In return for raising money for blood cancer research you get free coaching to complete your first marathon, triathlon or century bike ride.

They asked if I would be an “Honored Hero”, i.e. someone would do their marathon in honor of me. Or so I thought. I went to the TNT kick-off last week and found out that ALL (not just one) the TNT runners for Akron Marathon would be running in honor of me. Talk about pressure! Now I can’t be a whiny wimp about cancer because 30 or 40 people are running 26.2 miles for me! :)

Seriously, it’s a very cool thing and I am honored that I get to share such a personal experience as a marathon with them. I told them to keep me updated via email about how their training is going. I hope they do so!

This past weekend my husband and I headed down to Cincinnati for the Flying Pig Marathon. This was the marathon I was training for when I found out I had cancer. So it was a little weird to be there as a spectator instead of a competitor.

My husband and my two friends from college all did the half marathon. It was fun getting together and I loved watching them race. They all tore it up out there despite a challenging course and some rain. I was so proud of them! My husband hasn’t had much time to train and my friends are both working moms so for all of them to finish so well is quite the accomplishment.

For as much excitement I had for my husband and friends, I have to admit I had a little bit of bitterness for the other competitors. I guess since I didn’t know them, it was easy to project my anger at the cancer on them. As the strangers ran by I couldn’t help but wonder if they were truly appreciating the fact that they could run and compete. I’m sure they did but I couldn’t help being a little resentful.

Nevertheless, being at the marathon totally inspired me and I started making a mental list of the races I want to do when I get better. Just daydreaming of running makes my heart race and my legs tingle! I can’t wait to kick cancer’s ass and get back on with my life!

I’ll leave you with a saying that was on one of our cross-country team t-shirts during college: “I like to run, it makes me smile. I think I'll run another mile.”


Anonymous said...


I have several comments.

#1 - LOVE that you told your PT that the leg exercises were lame!

#2 - I don't take for granted that I am able to run. I want you to know that I've added you (and your inspiration, determination and guts) to my list of who I run every mile for.

#3 - I'm impressed and in awe that the TNT Akron team is running for YOU. Not surprised in the slightest. But impressed!

#4 - I think it's got to be ok that you were bitter watching some of the folks run the Pig. YOU were supposed to be running that race. Just sit with those feelings and don't shove them. It has to be part of the process, right?

Marilyn said...

I spent most of the day feeling a bit sorry for myself because of a foot problem and resultant poor running. So now I've made this deal with myself: If "Back from Baby (and Cancer)" can be optimistic and look forward to kicking cancer's ass, then I am not allowed to dwell on my stupid foot! Seriously, I think of you often, and I only wish I could join the TNT Akron group.