Sunday, December 20, 2009



Obviously it's been a long time since I last posted on this blog.  In the past few months I've gone back and forth over whether I should explain or just let it go since this blog isn't private.  I keep coming back to this part of this post, still waffling over what to say.  So, I'll just spit it out in the hopes that maybe sometime, somewhere, this blog can help someone like me. 

On April 20, 2009, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  I found a lump in the shower in March, had ultrasounds and mammograms and biopsies, was diagnosed in April, had surgery in May, started chemo in July, and finished chemo in October.  The important thing is that I'm fine now and my body tolerated chemo very well, compared to what other people sometimes go through.  I didn't have to take time off school and although I didn't accomplish everything I wanted to this semester I actually was pretty productive, thinking back on it.

For the most part, I was able to run through treatment, but my motivation took a big hit.  Finally, in August, chemo just got to me and I couldn't run anymore.  I did manage to continue bike commuting until mid-October, which is something I'm proud of (and looking forward to getting back to, when the snow and ice is gone). 

There.  Now you're up to speed and we can move on.

Thinking back, this blog has really been a few different blogs under one address.  When I first started writing, I didn't really have a direction and just sort of wrote about whatever came to mind.  Then, I decided to really focus on improving my running and the blog became somewhat of a journal about that with other random information thrown in as well.  Now we're moving into version 3, I guess.  Starting over, almost from scratch.

I ended 2008 with a post reviewing the year.  I'm not going to do exactly that this year, but here's a short review of my running in 2009:

Goals for the year, at the beginning of the year:
-- run 1200 miles
--sub-22 min 5k in the summer
--my first full marathon in Detroit in October.

Snow, snow, and more snow.  The consistency I developed in 2008 started to suffer as my body learned to deal with running on snow.  Near the beginning of the month I started having what I thought was piriformis pain that turned out to be a minor disc injury at L3 and possibly S1.  I also found out that I have a minor leg-length discrepancy and started running with a OTC cushioning insole in my left shoe to even things out.  That turned out not to be a good idea.  Anyway.  I took a good bit of time off at the beginning of the month trying to deal with all that. 
Total: 45.4 miles

The snow continued and we got out to cross-country ski a few times.  I so love that sport and cannot wait to get started again!  My back acted up off and on, but for the most part this was a relatively healthy month.  On February 13th I did a VO2max test in my nutrition class, maxing out at about 47 ml/kg/min.  An improvement over the previous summer, but I sort of wish I had known what it was in November of 2008.
Total: 59.6 miles

Started the month off sick (running logs are so helpful - I don't remember any of this!).  This was seriously the sinus infection from hell.  I spent the second week of the month in NC on Spring Break - it was fabulous, except that I was sick the whole time.  I only ran 3 times from 3/1 - 3/14 and was finally able to start back up in earnest on 3/15.  The stress of my medical issues started to hit at the end of the month and just spiraled downhill from there.
Total: 37.75 miles

Yeah, this month wasn't good.  Running really can be such a mental sport sometimes and my mind just wasn't in it.  I took a few days off after my biopsy but when the results came back, I dealt with it by running.  At least at first.  The day after I found out, I took Kona for a run on the trails at the lake and just pounded those miles out. By the end of that week I was overwhelmed and terrified and it showed when I ran the Race for the Cure a mere 6 days after diagnosis.  Talk about a mental battle.  That was my slowest 5k in two years at 28:34.
Total: 32.25 miles

I'm not even going to bother reviewing my running from May through October.  During that time, I ran a total of 70.5 with at least 2.5 (yep, 2.5) every month except October, when I didn't run any.  By the end of chemo my hemoglobin was down almost to the level where they would have tranfused a "non-athlete" (according to my PA) and the chemo drug I was on was causing a lot of joint pain.  My last treatment was 10/23 and on Nov 1, I started running again.  So:

This was a difficult month to try to get back into it.  How is it that every semester we manage to forget how hard those last 6 weeks or so are?  During chemo I napped a lot.  At the very least, I got a short nap nearly every day - some days I napped for 3-4 hours.  When it was all over, I somehow expected to just be better.  Immediately.  Um, not exactly.  But anyway, this is supposed to be about running. 
I started back with a loose run/walk program, starting with 1 min running/1 min walking.  Each day, I increased the run interval by 30 sec to 1 min, depending on how I felt I was progressing.  The goal was to get out there every other day and sometimes that worked out.  It became clear pretty quickly that full days on campus didn't leave me with enough energy to run well so I started doing most of my running on the days I could stay home from campus, and there weren't many of those.
Total: 29.2 miles

It doesn't really seem fair to write about December since it isn't over yet, but that's ok.  The first couple weeks were really tough and the amount of work I did really put that last, hellish semester of my masters to shame.  Aside from the days that I just didn't have the energy to get out there, this has been a good month so far.  At the beginning of the month I was up to 8:00 Run/1:00 walk.  That run interval increased gradually until 12/16 when I felt great and decided to just keep going - for 2 miles in 19:33.  That's the same day I found out that my hemoglobin is back up to normal (basically, 11.9) - placebo effect, anyone?  Yesterday's run was an incredibly fun adventure on snowy trails with Kona - easily one of my favorite runs of all time. 
Total (so far): 25.3 miles with about 2 weeks (OF VACATION!!!) to go.

So, bring on 2010.  I'm ready to put 2009 behind me and to come back stronger.  At the risk of sounding overly cheesy, I'm going to beat cancer by becoming stronger than I've ever been.  Goals for 2010 are still being developed so there will be a post about those later, but at the very least I'm going to spend the winter getting my consistency back with my eye on the Dances With Dirt Half Marathon in July (in WI).