A Big Dream Deferred: Some Things Really Are More Important Than Running

Last you heard from me I was training for and planning to run across America!
Last you heard from me I was training for and planning to run across America!

Hi. It’s Cilantro. I know you must be wondering where I’ve been. My answer to you is where do you want me to start?

While grad school has actually been kicking my butt, that’s not my main excuse. No, something much bigger has been standing in my way. The last you knew, I was ramping up to run across America for sexual violence awareness and prevention. While money and sponsors hadn’t been exactly rushing in (and I had to postpone the run for a year to allow for extra time to raise that money and train), it seemed to be moving forward. I had awesome new coaches and some exciting (and big) new potential sponsors.  And just when it seemed like I was on the verge of accomplishing this big dream of mine, the bottom fell out.

Running started to get progressively harder.  And I was getting slow.  Not just my normal ultra runner slow, but barely able to maintain an 11-minute mile pace.  My sleep was suffering and I could barely make it up the stairs to my apartment without being completely out of breath.  The final straw was the beginning of horrible pain in my abdomen on my right side.  It got so bad that I went to the university clinic, where they drew some blood and found that my hemoglobin was so low that they had to send me to the hospital immediately.  I was hospitalized with severe abdominal pain, anemia, and internal bleeding. During my visit, they had to give me a blood transfusion, and iron infusions have continued since that visit.

Since the initial hospital visit in March, the symptoms have continued but, unfortunately, doctors have not been able to find the cause. I spent a week at the Mayo Clinic, and while we are hopeful that some of the tests that I took this week will lead towards a diagnosis, the reality is that even if there is a diagnosis my recovery will be lengthy. It was and is unclear if I will ever be able to resume the level of training I need to run across America, let alone when that will be. I also know that having the run pending may lead me to run or start training before my body is ready for that level, further prolonging my recovery. It is because of that I made the difficult decision to cancel my Run Across America.

However, because of awesome support from runners everywhere, I was able to donate $1,391 to RAINN. That donation and the public support said that we think sexual violence needs to stop, so while I did not get to raise awareness on a day-to-day basis, I still felt like a part of my efforts had been a success.

The good news is that I’m back up and running!

As of today, my blood levels are at low normal, although the iron deficiency continues as does the pain.  Frankly, we still do not know what is happening, and I am in a “wait and see” stage in the medical process, as doctors monitor my blood levels and conduct regular tests (ouch!) to see how my body is responding to a change in diet (and if I become severely anemic again).  On the bright side, I have been approved to train, although not at the intensity I was training before.  In fact, I’ve even been cleared to run a 100M in July (Burning River), as long as I can do it on 3 days of running weekly.  So, how am I going to do that?

I guess you’ll have to read my next post to find out!

But first, I want to say thank you to the entire Salty community for their support of my run.  While it wasn’t the success I had envisioned, your support said to the world that sexual violence awareness is an important issue and that we all need to work towards making changes that address a society that still falls back to victim blaming more often than it should.  The donation to RAINN will help victims and an awareness campaign, and I hope that we will all continue this conversation!

Have you ever had to reassess your big running dreams?

Ultrarunner, yoga teacher, academic, and feminist. I write about ultrarunning, feminism, and the intersection of running and life.

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2 comments

    1. Hey there! Glad you found me here! We think the dr’s are closer to an answer now, and I am feeling good! How are you doing?