Thank goodness, Shot #4 was painless like #1 and #2. I made sure that I was completely relaxed, and other than the pinch of the initial stick, it was pain-free. Ginger blamed #3 on herself, but I told her I was certain that it was my fault for being tense.
The timing of the shot sucked, though…I had a 5K planned for two days later, and if you’ll recall from my list of side effects that suck, I’m usually in for three days of joint aches that make any kind of high-impact activity pretty painful. But I’d already paid my $35, so I was going to do this 5K, even if I had to crawl across the finish line in agony.
I was nervous, because Friday was a rough day. My hips and knees ached badly, and ibuprofen was only taking the edge off. On a side note, the sadness/weepiness and anxiety have been getting progressively worse with every shot. It’s still bearable, so I’m not waving a white flag, but I’m finding myself crying a lot more and getting overwhelmed by small things/worrying about huge things that I can’t control (getting older, job stress, the never-ending passage of time, etc). Joey has been an absolute rock through all of this; I have no idea what I’d do without him.
I was also seriously nervous about this 5K, because it was the first one I was going to do without Joey. I was running it with my best friend Katie, but she had her own goal pace (which was a good bit faster than mine), so I was going to be doing this on my own (although it was encouraging to know she’d be waiting for me at the finish line). Would I push myself hard enough, or would I just give up without Joey encouraging me to run a little bit more? Plus, this was going to be the biggest 5K I’d ever done. It was put on by the Carolina Panthers’ Keep Pounding Charity, to benefit the Levine Cancer Center. This wasn’t just some local 5K with a few hundred participants. Nope, we’re talking thousands. Would I get stuck in a pack of people? Would I be in the way, an obstacle for the “real” runners? Would I get lost and end up in another part of downtown Charlotte entirely?
I woke up on Saturday morning feeling better than Friday; my legs weren’t hurting as badly, so I took 3 ibuprofen and hoped that’d hold me through the race. Joey made me an egg over toast and a cup of coffee and I triple/quadruple/quintuple checked to make sure I had everything I needed in my race belt, that I had Katie’s shirt and bib, and that my playlist was all set and downloaded (Thank you, Amazon Prime Music!). I headed her way and we were off!
We arrived (with only a minor snafu getting to the parking deck) in plenty of time to get a shot in front of the stadium before being shuttled to the starting line at the Levine Cancer Center.
We stood around and stretched (and I agonized over being nervous), and then I noticed SIR PURR! Not only am I a huge Carolina Panthers fan, but (as you already know), I’m a huge cat fan in general, so I was super-psyched. I actually dressed as Sir Purr a couple of years ago for Halloween. I yelled “OMG, SIR PURR!!” and he ran right over for a pic. Forgive the blurriness…Katie had picture-taking anxiety.
The course itself was brutal; we started at the Levine Cancer center and ran all the way up Morehead street to the stadium. The race organizer playfully called it “Mount Morehead,” but he wasn’t kidding; it was almost entirely uphill. When we reached the stadium, we ran a lap around the outside, up the stairs, and into the north gate entrance. Once inside, we ran a lap around the ground level concourse and then up the ramps to the 500-level (holy crap). Then we went a short distance around the upper concourse and back down another set of ramps, out the players’ chute and through the finish line on the 50-yard line. So, as you can see, the bulk of the course was uphill (especially those ramps).
It was SUPER crowded at the start line, which was overwhelming. I kept freaking out and Katie kept telling me, “We’ve got this.” She was a little nervous too, but kept it together and kept encouraging me. Before we knew it, a horn sounded to start the race. I do wish they’d told the walkers to make their way toward the back, because we had to do a lot of dodging people and running out into the road to get around walkers. I kept up with Katie for two or three minutes, and I made it almost all the way through my first song before I had to take a walking break. I tried to stay to the right whenever I walked so I wouldn’t be an obstacle to folks who were running.
I started to get discouraged right away, which sucked. Normally, I would’ve had Joey there to say something at just the right time or to suggest that we run to some point up ahead and get my mind off the negative thoughts. But it was up to me this time.
I set a simple strategy; run as much as possible through each song on my playlist, run through each mile-marker sign, and run through each intersection so I didn’t have to have a cop holding traffic for me while I wheezed my way across the road. The scenery was pretty, and the day was PERFECT…maybe 60 degrees, a little breezy, and sunny.
I also made a commitment not to fall behind the folks around me; I focused in on a red-haired girl who appeared to be about my same fitness level and was run/walking as well. It worked like a charm.
Until we got to the ramps inside the stadium. I had to walk up all of them. Plus, I had only been in the stadium once before, so I didn’t realize that there were two ramps per level. I got up the fourth ramp and thought I was done, and then I saw the door leading inside and it said “300 Level.” Shit, I thought. Shit, shit, shit, I’m never going to make this. But I kept on walking and tried my best to keep up with the cadence of the music. I finally hit the top and I picked up running again.
I REALLY wanted to walk back down some of the ramps, but I told myself I wasn’t going to waste any downhill portions of the race (especially since there were so few), and I kept running. Toward the bottom, my earbuds fell out for good (I’ve got to get some new ones), so I just took them out altogether. Before I knew it, I saw daylight ahead and was running out the player’s entrance. WHAT a rush that was…the same entrance that Steve Smith ran through, DeAngelo Williams, Cam Newton…there I was…dodging some lady and her toddler, but running through nonetheless. I revelled in the moment for just a second, and then started scanning the line of cheerers for Katie. I heard her screaming “look at the clock!!” and I looked up and it said 44:20. WHAT?!! I spent the entire race feeling like I was going to fail again at my goal (being under 46). But here I was just a few yards from the finish line, and I was going to end up beating my goal by over a minute!
Katie snapped a pic of me:
I was shocked and thrilled and exhausted. My official time was 44:35. Katie made her goal too (under 39). And I ran over half of the race (at least). Four months ago, I would never have believed I could’ve done that. According to many of the online accounts I’ve read of women who’ve taken Lupron, I shouldn’t have been able to do that. But I did.
Katie and I snapped a selfie, got our official times, snagged water and protein bars, and then sat in the parking deck for 40 minutes trying to get back out to come home. I also found that red-haired girl and told her I’d been trying to keep up with her, and that she did awesome. Everyone needs to hear when they’ve done a great job.
The ibuprofen worked like a charm…not one bit of joint pain during the run, and I haven’t had any since, either. I even went with Joey and Indy on a celebratory lap around the neighborhood after I got back home.
On the technical front, I need new earphones and a new running belt. I don’t have enough room in the one I currently have for my phone, ID and keys. My driver’s license fell out on the field while we were getting our official times. I saw it happen, so I was able to pick it up quickly, but there’s always the chance that it could happen and I wouldn’t catch it. I’m thinking of getting a Flip Belt; a couple of people had them at the race and they looked comfortable and secure.
On the “what’s next” front, I’m going to focus on endurance for the next couple of weeks rather than speed, because we’ve got two hikes planned over Memorial Day weekend (both in the mountains). Our next scheduled 5K is July 4th, and I’d like to finish it in under 44 minutes.
I’m proud. I’m proud that I managed all by myself. Katie even offered to give up her goal and run with me, and I told her not to. I’m proud that I picked up and ran again every time I felt exhausted. I’m proud that I didn’t give up. I’m proud that I’m not using Lupron as an excuse to stay on the couch, even when I don’t feel the best. Endometriosis isn’t going to win this. It’s not going to beat me, and it doesn’t have to beat you either.
Here’s my playlist in case you’d like to use it:
- Tik Tok – Ke$ha
- Turn Down for What – DJ Snake & Lil Jon
- Lips are Movin – Meghan Trainor
- Boom Boom Pow – The Black Eyed Peas
- Hey Mama – The Black Eyed Peas
- Toxic – Britney Spears
- Lose Yourself – Eminem
- Word Crimes – Weird Al
- Chariots of Fire – London Philharmonic Orchestra
- Can’t Hold Us – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
- Bring Me to Life – Evanescence
- Eye of the Tiger – Survivor
- Wannabe – Spice Girls (I finished the race before this one started, thankfully!)