So, I did a thing

Last year, when I signed up for the Hyner 25K Trail Race, I said to myself that I would  train for this race. Yes, ma’am, I would be a good little runner and be prepared for once. Before I signed up, I knew very well that Hyner was a beast. I mean, look at this elevation profile.

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A year went by, and I trained… but for the Pittsburgh marathon. I did some trail runs here and there, but absolutely nothing to really train for Hyner. I have been running four days a week and cross-training at least once a week, mostly two days a week. I’m in fairly decent shape and I thought maybe there’s a shot I can survive Hyner.

Barely survive, that’s what happened for me at Hyner.  Here are pictures from the time at Hyner 25K taken by friends of mine. I didn’t take any pictures along the way because I was too focused on not falling or hurting myself. Since it had rained pretty hard the day before the race, the conditions were less than ideal. The ground was ridiculously muddy, and the stream crossings were a little… intense.

I ended up spending the entire 16 mile trek with a new running friend. I honestly do not know if I would have finished without her. I could have mentally DNF’d at some of the aid stations, but I know she never would let me. If I hurt myself and had to drop out, that would have been one thing. Quitting – nope.  Amy would have pep-talked at me until I got back on the trail and gave it a shot.

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See the top there? I made it up there.

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My right calf seized up on me, and my right foot went numb around this time.

Hyner 25K caps at 1,000 registrants, and it has a 9 hour cut off. Out of the 1,000 registrants, there were 798 finishers, and I was motherfucking number 788. That’s right – I FINISHED.

This trail race was the most physically and mentally demanding feat I have ever voluntarily done. (Since I have gone through cancer treatment, that’s going to always take number one spot.)  Afterwards, I thought no way in hell do I want to do this again. A couple of days removed from the race, I’ve been thinking, maybe one more time.

My recent life motto has been this: “I don’t know if I can, but I will try.” I say it to the trainer I work with once a week whenever he has me try something new. Here, I looked up at Humble Hill and had no idea if I could do this. I tried, and look what happened. I finished.

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I am not a good sick person

Almost a month ago, I woke up with a fever and head congestion. I didn’t take any time off from work, nor did I go to the doctor for any medication. I worked from home that week, and I thought that was sufficient. I took a week off from running and honestly thought, “I’m okay.”

Soon after, evidence of my 1093908 sinus infection came around, and I continued to ignore it. Each morning, I enjoyed my hot steamy shower as it allowed me to clear my sinuses. Despite evidence to the contrary, I kept telling myself, “I’m okay.”

I continued to run 4 days a week and cross training 2 days a week. Last weekend, I did a 15 mile race and felt so terrible afterwards. Granted, it was cold and North Park isn’t the most forgiving. Still, I felt like I had been hit by a truck and had zero energy for the post-race festivities. I still thought, “I’m okay.”

For almost two weeks, I had obvious signs of a sinus infection, and I knew it was a sinus infection. I would hack up a lung every time I stopped running, plus I was fatigued. I knew I was sick, but I still thought, “I’m okay…. this will pass.”

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During work on Thursday, I started to feel an ache in my chest and began wheezing, and finally the rational part of my brain screamed, “Go see a frickin doctor, you dumb ass!” I still fought the urge, texting Best Boyfriend Ever that I was considering going to Urgent Care after work.

I was still ON THE FENCE because I didn’t want someone to tell me what I already knew: I had to stop running and rest. The Pittsburgh Marathon is my goal race, and The Race that I want to accomplish as my big fuck you to [Redacted]. I’m not trying to prove anything to anyone but myself, and I am trying to prove that I am more than my faulty genes.

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Best Boyfriend Ever responded, “Go to Urgent Care.”

At Urgent Care, the PA listened to me breathing and took a look at my nostrils, saying immediately, “Whoa there, you have quite the sinus infection.” (Sigh.)  She then told me that based on the wheezing she heard, I definitely had bronchitis, likely from the sinus infection traveling downward.

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When I went back to work yesterday, I saw my discharge paper from Urgent Care. I noticed that I came in with a slight fever: 99.7. I got so used to feeling under the weather for the past month that I didn’t even realize I was running a mild fever.

I’m not a good sick person. I can deal with a chronic condition like [redacted] like a champ, with slight hiccups along the way. But, apparently, faced with a temporary illness, the personality traits I don’t necessarily care about myself come to the front: stubbornness.

My anxiety also manifests itself as not liking to rest. I constantly feel like I have to be doing something or training. It’s why I love running so much – it quiets my anxiety.  My anxiety is telling me that if I rest too long, I’ll screw up my training for the Pittsburgh marathon, and maybe I’m not really an athlete. I’m just a sickie sick person who does nothing but get sick.

I know it’s not rational, but [redacted] has instilled a sense of panic in me. How much time do I have until [redacted] comes roaring back? I feel like I’m on borrowed good health time, and I want to enjoy it and take advantage of it while I can. This is what goes in the mind of someone who’s already had cancer twice, a [redacted] diagnosis, and generalized anxiety disorder.

It’s why I’m not a good sick person. I have so much I want to get done. Good health is a gift, and I don’t want to waste a second.