Endometriosis Awareness Month

March is Endometriosis Awareness Month!

Endometriosis is a common health problem in women. It gets its name from the word, endometrium (en-doh-MEE-tree-um), the tissue that lines the uterus or womb. Endometriosis occurs when this tissue grows outside of the uterus on other organs or structures in the body. – Women’s Health.gov

Surgery, including hysterectomy, is usually the best choice for women with severe endometriosis.  One of my favorite hysterrunners, an ultrarunner and my professional mentor, suffered from severe endometriosis.

endometriosis ribbon

If you will be in the Washington, DC area on March 13th, consider joining the EndoMarch on the National Mall in support of women with the disease worldwide.

Post Surgery Progress Timeline

This past weekend I was talking to someone who had recently had a hysterectomy.  She was determined to start exercising immediately and excited to get her body back.  She is 6 weeks post-op and started full force with Shaun T and T25. It was a bit much for her even with the modifications.

I realized that it seems to some people that I went straight from post-op to running long distances.  Nothing could be farther than the truth.  So I decided to share my timeline back to fitness after my total abdominal hysterectomy.

Weeks 1-2: RECOVERY – I couldn’t do much more than get out of be, especially in the first 2 weeks.  I listened to the the doctor as far as how to slowly resume normal activities.  NO exercise whatsoever.

Week 3-5: WALKING – I walked short distances to get moving.  Around the block. To the Lake. I didn’t do more than a mile or so at a time the first time.  I also started upper body strength training during my 4th week using exercises designed for women who had just had hysterectomies or pelvic floor surgeries.  You can read about my progress at that point here.

Week 6: RUNNING – I had my first run exactly 6 weeks post-op. It wasn’t my best run but it felt great to be out there.  I still was following doctor’s orders.  I could only do 1-2 miles at a time for a while but I stuck with it.

What I’m trying to say is that you should listen to your body as you get back into the swing of things.  It has been more than a year since my surgery and I still have issues with my lower abs and core.  I work on it and remind myself that I am making progress each day.  You will too.

How long was it before you started exercising post-surgery?  Did you have any setbacks that caused you to have to build back up your fitness levels?

One Year as a Hysterrunner

But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” – Matthew 19:26

On September 20, 2012, one year ago today, I entered the hospital for a total abdominal hysterectomy.  I was nervous and scared to undergo the surgery.  I prayed to God that everything would be ok.  I am thankful that the tumors they found were benign.

After four weeks of primarily bed rest, I was able to start walking.  One of my walks was to cheer people on at the Baltimore Running Festival.  I was so exhausted afterwards that I couldn’t even get out of bed the next day.  On days like that I wondered if I really would be able to come back to running again.

One year later, I can definitely say that “with God all things are possible.”  I have not only come back to running but I am a full fledged hysterrunner.  I have run 11 races, including 3 ten milers and half marathons each.  Each and every day, I thank God for the chance to rebuild my body and treat it as a temple.  In a few weeks, I will be at the Baltimore Running Festival.  This year not with a cane chair to cheer but as a runner in the half marathon. 

Thank you, Father, for having created us and given us to each other in the human family. Thank you for being with us in all our joys and sorrows, for your comfort in our sadness, your companionship in our loneliness. Thank you for yesterday, today, tomorrow and for the whole of our lives. Thank you for friends, for health and for grace. May we live this and every day conscious of all that has been given to us.

From The Catholic Prayer Book, compiled by Msgr. Michael Buckley.

What are you thankful for today?  If you have had a hysterectomy or other injury that has kept you from running, tell me about your progress in the comments.

Look ma, no girdle!

When I first came back to the pavement post-hysterectomy, I went on a quest for compression tights which would hold my weak stomach muscles and swelly belly together while I ran.  I even wrote about my quest and several of the styles I tried.  As the weather began getting warm, I panicked.  There was no way I could afford to buy as many pairs of compression shorts as I would need to get through summer running.  Plus, I have so many pairs of running shorts and skirts that I would hate to have them sit around collecting dust.  So I did what any good frugal fastinista would do, I found a way to wear them.  My secret was to wear a panty girdle.  I had a few which I had purchased in the Fall so that I could wear real clothes again after the surgery.  I hadn’t worn them since.  So I started wearing them under my shorts and skirts to run.  I tested them out on my shorter weekly runs and then an 8 mile long run.  They worked perfectly! They held me in without discomfort as I was still rebuilding my core.  I wore one under my skirt at the Baltimore Ten Miler and even though it wasn’t my best race I couldn’t blame my belly.  For the Dreaded Druid Hills 10K, I wore the one pair of compression shorts which I did purchase.  I would have worn compression shorts regardless of being a hysterrunner because…well it’s the DREADED Druid HILLS! But then the inevitable happened, I needed to do laundry and didn’t have a clean panty girdle to wear.

laundry day at my house_exercise

Laundry day at my house. Seriously, this is what it feels like!

So for the BWC, I wore my skirt and regular undergarments & I was fine.  I think between my core work over the past few months and recovery in general I can safely say I don’t need the extra support in my midsection when I run.  However, I do like compression garments for support and recovery of muscles during and after intense workouts.  So I will probably continue wearing compression tights or shorts on long runs.

Do you wear compression gear?  What is your go to gear for intense workouts?

Being a Hysterrunner is What’s Beautiful

Last night as I have for most Tuesday nights of the past year, I ran with Twilight Tuesday’s Baltimore Black Girls Run group.  After the run, I led our brief ab workout which we started doing in May.  When I was cleared to go back to doing core work in March, I could barely do 10 crunches.  They were brutal.  When I planked with my husband in Brooklyn the week before the Cherry Blossom, my abs were sore for days.  Now I can do several types of crunches in sets of 1 minute several times a week.  I also can get through Bikram yoga and other core work in ways I wasn’t able to before.  I may not have a flat stomach or be an elite runner, but I truly can say that I have grown as a hysterrunner.  I have embraced the mantra of NO UTERUS, NO PROBLEM and it’s been beautiful learning about myself in this way.

Last night, I was reminded that there are other hysterrunners out there and others who one day may be hysterrunners or hysteryogis or anything.  You never know when someone may need to hear your story or in this case, my story.

One of the newbies to our group joined us last night.  She has been training for the BWC using the Couch to 5K and attending their sessions.  She made it through 2.5 miles with us in 35 minutes.  It was the furthest she had gone.  She then stayed for the ab work.  When we were done, she mentioned that she was so glad that she had come out because she had begun to get discouraged with her progress.  I shared my story with her which prompted her to tell hers.  She has had some health scares, including a hysterectomy in 2011.  She then proceeded to say that some days she feels as if her body belongs to an 80 year old woman.  Dawn & I talked with her at length about how with exercise and proper nutrition she can begin to feel better.  She was so happy to have found a group of supportive women that she almost cried.  I was glad that she was able to feel supported and hope she returns.

You see when I realized that my hysterectomy was inevitable, I searched for information about fitness and exercise post-hysterectomy.  I barely found anything.  I decided to start this blog because I knew there were others like me who needed to hear that it was possible to become fit and come back to your best self even if you weren’t the fittest chick before surgery.  It is my hope that my little blog can reach someone and support them in the way that meeting the newbie last night and sharing my story in person did.  I am still on this journey and I invite you to continue to join me.  I know that I am what’s beautiful.  I thank Under Armour for reminding women of that with their challenges.  But I also know that there are so many other women who are not a part of the Under Armour women community who need to be reminded that they are what’s beautiful.  For my hysterrunners out there, remember…

No uterus, no problem!

No uterus, no problem!

What A Difference A Year Makes…

Today is National Running Day 2013!

natl running day

Last year, after my high blood pressure scare, I was cleared to run on May 30th.  My first run with Black Girls Run was the next day – June 1, 2012.  It was a celebration run as BGR: Baltimore was celebrating its one-year anniversary with a fun run hosted by Charm City Run.  It also coincided with National Running Day.  I was just excited to be running again.  I did my first 3 miles using the Galloway method that day.  Two weeks later I ran my first 5K at the Baltimore Women’s Classic.

Today, I ran just under 3 miles in less than 40 minutes which after the year I’ve had is incredible.  I may have been sidelined by health issues but I have come back.  Throughout my recovery, running has been key.  Whether I run 1/4 mile or 13.1, I am a runner.  Running has helped me to stay sane despite my health challenges and to become healthier in the process.  I am several pounds lighter and my HBP is under control.

2013-06-05 21.58.09

The pic on the left is from 6/1/2012; on the right is from 6/5/2013.

To celebrate National Running Day, besides my run, I registered for the Rock N Roll Half Marathon in Philadelphia.  Last year, I would have never thought anything longer than a 5K was possible for myself.  This year, I have already run 6 races out of my #13in2013 goal, including 2 10-milers and 2 half marathons.

RnR half natl running day

I am truly proud of how far I have come.  I am looking forward to continuing to become that fit chick!  I love being a hysterrunner!

Did you go for a run for National Running Day?  How has your running progressed in the last year?  Share your responses in the comments.

New Goals–What’s Beautiful?

Thanks to Mother Nature, I barely ran this past week.  Tuesday evening was stormy – thunder, lightning…so Twilight Tuesday was cancelled.  However, I found a TV exercise game online.  I did the exercises during Dancing with the Stars The Results show. 

I did get to Bikram Yoga on my lunch time on Wednesday.  I followed that up with a 2 mile run on Thursday morning before work.  All in all, not bad for someone who completed 2 half marathons in 8 days.  I probably needed the rest more than I realized.

Next week, I will be building back up my miles and beginning speedwork in preparation for my next challenge. Thanks to the encouragement of the wonderful Dr Shauna Harrison, I have signed up for the Under Armour What’s Beautiful competition.  If you don’t know, Under Armour Women “are redefining the female athlete by setting epic goals and pushing past where we’ve ever been and where we thought we could go.”  As a part of the challenge, you set goals for yourself with the hopes of crushing them.

I had already set a challenge for myself for 2013.  I planned to run 13 races in 2013, including my first half marathon.  Well, in the past few months, I have blown through more than half of my goals.  At this point,month 5, I have already run 6 races including 2 half marathons!!!  So for my challenge, I have upped the ante so to speak.  I am aiming for a sub-three hour half marathon! Yes, that means I will be running at least one more this year!  My specific goal is:

I Will run 13 races in 2013 including a sub-3 hour half marathon and rebuild my core.

I’m still working on my Summer/Fall race schedule.  However, I’m thinking Rock N Roll Philly and/or the Baltimore Running Festival will probably be on it.  One of those two will be my goal race.  This will mean running and training strong this summer to be ready to blow through this next goal. 

Classes are done for this school year so I get my Thursday evenings back.  That means 3-4 runs and 2-3 crosstraining sessions are back in the schedule.  Woohoo!  This week’s schedule looks like this:

Monday – Bikram Yoga

Tuesday – Twilight Tuesday Tempo Run 3-4 miles

Wednesday – ?

Thursday – Speedwork

Friday – Bikram Yoga

Saturday – Long Run 6-8 miles

Let’s see how I do this week!

What are your goals for this week?  Are any of you doing the Under Armour What’s Beautiful challenge?  Is anyone else sick of this crazy weather?

My Medical Progress & Monthly Goals

I haven’t written official monthly goals in a few months.  But, it’s May, the month for mothers, especially mother runners Smile! So I ‘m writing them down.

I still have some twinges of pain in my incision from time to time, especially with extra exertion, like in a race.  In fact, after I was finished with the Iron Girl, it throbbed for a while to a beat which felt like my run pace.  I spoke to my Gynecologist at my follow-up appointment last week about this.  He said that I should expect to feel throbbing for up to a year.  He said it would be ok if I worked on abdominal work, though.  I had been trying it intermittently, with the exception of Bikram Yoga, because it hurts.  The night before my surgery I did 175 different types of crunches because I could.  Now I can barely do 10.  However, I have no adhesions and have healed well so I can focus on building back up my abs. Woohoo!

I had my follow-up general practitioner doctor appointment on Monday, the day after the Iron Girl.  I wore my medal to the appointment, of course.  My BP is down to 120/80!!! We were both very excited to see those numbers.  I still need to stay on the single medication for now but we will be reassessing in 4 months.  My task until then is to take my pressure before and after a few runs as well as to do a few test days without medication and take my pressure on each of them.  The research scientist in me is looking forward to collecting this data. LOL!!!

Now that I have a clean bill of health, here are my goals for this month.

Running – Frederick Half Marathon on May 5th ~ Race 6 of #13in2013 then to maintain my distance and do some speedwork to be prepared for the Baltimore Ten Miler in June.

Abdominal Work – I’ll be adding 15-30 minutes of ab exercises to our post-Twilight Tuesday runs starting in May.  Looking forward to working with my sole sisters of BGR on a common goal.

Bikram Yoga – Get in at least 3 sessions this month.  I love Bikram.  It helps me to be more flexible and I always feel centered after these sweat pink sessions Winking smile!

Strength Training – Help! I need to figure something out that is consistent.  This is my weakest link!  My goal this month is to figure out how to be strong.

Do you set fitness goals?  Have you dealt with coming back from illness?  Share your experiences in the comments.

I am an IRON GIRL!!!

I am truly humbled by my journey over the past 8 months.  When I got the idea for this blog.  I was still on bed rest post-surgery.  In fact, when I decided to run a half marathon, I was in the middle of a hormonally charged crying jag and in extreme pain.  During the ugly cry, I was babbling about never being able to run again. My husband convinced me to take my pain meds which I was afraid of taking by assuring me that not only could I run but I would be able to run longer distances than before. (Long story short – I’m allergic to a lot of meds and am leery of them as a result.) Being that I had been hemorrhaging for the better part of the previous 5 months, I had been limited to 3-4 mile runs.

When my hormones started to return to normal and the pain subsided a few weeks later, I decided to run one 5K a month for 2013.  Then, I heard about the Iron Girl and the #13in2013 challenge and decided to go a bit farther.  I would run 13 races, including my first half marathon.  I planned my earlier races for the year to gradually build up to this distance.  The Cherry Blossom Ten Miler was actually my second peak long run for the training period.

So to recap a wonderful weekend…

Saturday morning, I was up at the crack of dawn not to head out for a long run but to take the mini to a Boy Scout STEM event which was actually held 20 minutes away from the start of the race.  I made sure to bring my water with me to stay hydrated.  When they broke for lunch, I left to pick up my race packet and hit the Expo.  I learned my lesson from the Cherry Blossom Expo and limited my time there to only about 45 minutes.  I picked up a magnet for my car and some cool arm sleeves. On my way back to base to pick up the mini, I ran 2 quick errands, including picking up some coconut water to aid in my continued hydrating, as well as to be prepared for post-race hydrating.  We headed home where I put my feet up for a few before heading to my girlfriend Betsey’s house.  She lives in Columbia so I stayed at her place to make race morning a bit smoother.  After pasta at Bertucci’s, we headed home and I prepared for a good night’s sleep.  Before going to bed, I posted the following tweet.

night before ig

Race morning, April 28, 2013 – I woke up, got dressed, and had oatmeal for breakfast. I hit the bathroom before leaving.  After a slight detour, I got to the start and needed to use the bathroom again.  I spent the next 20 minutes on line to use the Port-A-Janes and missed all BGR pre-race pics in the process.  I lined up with some friends in the 12-minute pace group just to chat but fell back to my 13-minute mile pace right as we exited the parking lot. My long slow distance runs were at a 14-minute pace with the intention of running at 13-minutes for race pace.  I was confident that this was pretty doable.  With the rolling hills of Columbia to slow me down at some points, I figured I could be done in about 3 hours.  I finished the first 5K and developed a slight stitch in my side, something that happened in longer runs during training so I was expecting it.  I lifted my arms and took deep breaths to get past it while I kept going.  At the 10K split, I was at 1:35 on point with pace and feeling pretty good.  Then came the serious hill.  Even though I trained on hills all winter, it was still hard.  The downhill had me staying in control but picking up the pace to make up for slowing down a bit earlier.  However, I run/walk on a 1:1 ratio and it was 3 intervals before I could stop running and walk.  You get to the bottom of the hill, turn the corner and have to go up a steep hill.  Most of us walked up that sucker!  The rest of the course was pretty much average rolling hills but my effort on those two steep ones definitely had me feeling the burn.  That being said, I finished strong with a final time of 3:06.12 just over my estimate but still a PR!!! LOL!!!

PhotoGrid_1367186831479

Thirteen point freaking one baby! & yes, that’s a #RunChat tattoo on my shoulder!

Have you ever challenged yourself to do something new?  Have you ever run a half marathon?  Tell me about your experiences in the comments.

Faith & Fitness Friday

Hebrews 12:1

Hebrews 12:1

As I prepare for my first big race ever, this Scripture phrase is becoming more and more of a friend to me.

My hysterectomy and the events leading up to it and recovering from it was a race which I have already endured.  I know that running a foot race is possible.  I know that God has strengthened me in every way to prepare me for this race.  I just need to put my training – physical, mental, and spiritual – into practice.

Good luck to everyone running races this weekend! No matter what kind.

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Rock N Roll Philly Half Marathon

Race # 10September 15th, 2013
Aiming for a PR!