Having never been a runner, one of the first questions I had was “What is a 5K?” Ha!
“The 5K run is a long-distance road running competition over a distance of five kilometres (3.1069 miles). Also referred to as the 5K road race, 5 km, or simply 5K, it is the shortest of the most common road running distances.” –Wikipedia
I know. It’s funny. I used to say the old phrase “If you see me running, you better run too because someone is probably chasing after me.” The last thing you want to do when you are swollen from primary bilateral Lymphedema of the lower extremity is walk a long distance, let alone run. It is a seemingly impossible task. At least at first.
You might remember my post about my inspiration for running coming from a friend named Karen. I began training in the fall after seeing her photos of doing a 5K for her school as a fundraiser.
I am happy to report that this personal bucket list item is completed. As of May 10, 2016, I have run 8 separate 5K races.
How did I start this crazy journey? I did the Insane Inflatable 5K on Nov 21, 2015 in the pouring rain and sliding mud. First 5K ever, in fact. Jogged almost the whole way and did every obstacle except one. I almost chickened out at the last minute, but I had a great time! A very dear friend from high school invited me to do it and with her encouragement I was able to succeed. I also had the support of the Lymphedema Inspiration Group members in my online Facebook group.
The second race was Commitment Day 5K New Year’s Day 2016. A 12 minute mile is just as far as a 6 minute mile. While most were sleeping in the morning after New Years Eve, I woke up at 5 am. I know! Crazy!
January 30, 2016 – My third race was the Choco Loco 5K in Uptown Park of Houston, TX. I ran for hot chocolate! Silly me, I know. Finished at a personal best of 36:17 that morning. Just for chocolate. Lol
February 6, 2016 – The fourth race was part of the annual Katy Half Marathon & 5K. This was a step up for me, because it was the first time I saw serious runners in action up close and personal. Something about the demeanor of the individuals picking up their race bib and tech shirts said that they were dead serious about running the race. I felt intimated but also intrigued. As a Lymphie, I reminded myself that the only competition I was worried about was against me, no one else.
It was also the first time that I decided to incorporate kinesiology tape under my compression to step up my compression game. This plan backfired on me! Not in the way that you think though. KT tape is supposed to mimic MLD when used properly. MLD causes the lymph to move faster than normal. As I was approaching the 3rd mile, I had the sudden urge to go to the restroom. The tape was working too well!! I could have kicked myself for not doing a test trial run first, but it was too late. I had to slow down and hold my bladder. Hilarious now but definitely not a situation you want to be in during a race. I finished in 37:30.
February 14, 2016 – Love The Lymphedema Treatment Act- Valentines Walk 2016 💝 Walked the first 5 minutes, then knocked out the 5K. Take that, Lymphedema❣👊🏽👊🏽 40:16
March 12, 2016 – Pi Day Virtual 5K for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education in 39:20. I personally hold a BS in Computer Science ’98. Shout out to STEM careers and my colleagues past and present.
My Null and Void
March 19, 2016 – The race that never was. I was 15 minute late to this race due to parking issues and was not allowed to participate. They still gave me a shirt and medal! Ha!! This lady asked me to take a picture of her, and she did the same in return for me. At least I had a healthy breakfast.
March 26, 2016 – Insane Inflatable 5K Houston – This was tough but FUN! The obstacles were bigger and higher this time. I had fiberglass on my hands and mud again on my shoes. Fell on my tush a couple of times. Wet grass and bouncers definitely were a challenge. 😂😂 All in good fun. 👍🏽
April 24, 2016 – Finally beat my personal best and finished at 34:42. The significance of this is in January 2015 I couldn’t do 1 mile in 35 minutes. Huge improvement. It took a lot of training, but I improved by 1 min 35 seconds over the previous personal best. Came in 310 out of 1,885 5K runners, and 55 out of 307 in my age group (40+).
Not bad for a primary bilateral leg and now trunk Lymphie with LE for 22 years. Um, the wrong clock is behind me in the photo. That was the 1/2 marathoners clock. Maybe I’ll get there one day. 💗
I also perfected my KT tape application for this race and wore Solaris high-waist shorts for my truncal Lymphedema. This enabled me to improve my performance with more support.
What does Stay Lymphie Strong mean? It means Standing up to Lymphedema with all of your faith, power, and might. It’s about that moment when you realize you have to take action. I hope this post demonstrates what you can achieve despite your illness. Let us be defined by our strength and courage against overwhelming odds, not by our illness.
In 2011, a doctor laughed in my face when I asked if I could run with bilateral leg LE. So did his CLT. They told me I couldn’t, and that’s why I did.
As I have said before, maybe LE will take me down one day. I want to be able to look back and say I gave it one hell of a fight.
Wishing you great lymphatic health,