just a mom figuring it out one day at a time

Running with a Migraine

The sun was starting to come up and I could feel the morning, thick with humidity, gather on my skin. My feet kept hitting the pavement, in time with my stride and the music playing in my head. With each breath I felt more and more alive. Connected. Connected to the space and world around me. Running house by house, I inhaled the smell of grass and blooming flowers. That was mid last week on my morning run… what a contrast to Sunday.

Late Saturday I started to feel the rumblings of a horrible headache, which evolved into a full blown migraine by Sunday morning. So much so that I went to bed before 9 in the hopes I would feel better before the ten mile race on Sunday. Not a fast runner, I just go for the experience. Running for me is a time to rediscover myself, the world around me, and to observe everything around me-including other runners during races. Running is one of those sports where population is so varied that you are bound to see all types of runners from the sixty something runner wearing his thread barren running shorts and sweaty headband, to beauty queen racer whose runny makeup almost gives her a clown like appearance by the end of the race.

Waking up Sunday morning I could barely open my eyes. Stumbling into the bathroom at 5 am I was bathed in the bright lights and did a fantastic vampire impersonation as I buried my face into the crook of my arm. Not good. Sooo not good. But I had to run that day. Why? I am just now figuring that out.

My so very supportive husband (who only runs when chased) drove me and the two kids an hour away to the run where we met up with his cousins, who were also running. From the time we left the house until we arrived, I sat there with sunglasses on trying not to move. The mantra, “I will not throw up. I will not throw up” playing in my head. I kept thinking it is only a headache, I can do this. Mind over matter.

The race began and I started to run. This time with each step it felt like a boulder was hitting the ground. About a couple of miles in I began to feel really odd. Dizzy, my vision blurred and just plain awful. However, I wasn’t breathing hard and my muscles felt fine. The only issue was my head. Again, I kept thinking mind over matter I can do this. At the four mile mark, I saw one of the cousins walking back. She had hurt her knee and was stopping before doing further damage. At that moment I contemplated doing the same but figured I would try and tough it out some more. Even going so far as resigning myself to walking whatever portion I had to. I just wanted to finish because my rotator cuff surgery is scheduled for Friday and I knew that would be the end of a lot of activity for 6 weeks. I should have turned around.

With each step the pain worsened and at some point I recognized my headache for what it was, a full blown migraine. The pain, dizziness and blurred vision continued. So not good. Not having had one for a long time, I guess it took my longer to put it all together…or perhaps it was just plain denial. Ultimately I ended up walking a good deal of the remaining race. Tears welled up in my eyes as I saw the race official telling me that they were getting ready to close the course. But I pushed on and ran a bit more. I just wanted to finish, not only for me but for my kids that I knew were waiting at the finish line. I didn’t care about the time, I just didn’t want them to not see me finish.

In the end I did finish. It was the worst run I have ever had, training or otherwise. But I did it. Looking back though I realize in some ways just how stupid I was, and how lucky. I was brought up to believe if I worked hard enough I could do anything. To never give up. However as I have gotten older I have learned to respect my own limitations. There is a lot of wisdom in sometimes choosing not to continue with something rather than to push through. And looking back, this is what I struggle with.

My two children have very different personalities. CJ is more tentative, so for him I would want to show that sometimes it is worth it to just push forward because even when you have lost all hope, you can do it. With KC, she is fearless and would push herself beyond all limits- often at the risk of sometimes hurting herself. Having pushed through and finished, I was able to show CJ the value of putting your mind to something. However, I am just very thankful that I did not hurt myself. Had I done so, it would have been traumatic for my kids and I would have felt horrible about it because I knew better.

The reality is, I should have stopped and let it be a lesson for KC and ultimately for myself. I can’t change what happened, but looking back on it I realize just how poor of a choice I made and am so grateful that my guardian angels were looking out for me on Sunday and nothing worse happened. Another lesson learned, only this one was ultimately for me…not for my kids.

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