Coming back from Run Rabbit Run 100 has been quite the journey to say the least. It took ending up in the hospital after running 107 miles, with a hemoglobin level low enough that should have required a blood transfusion to make me realize how unhealthy I was.
For women, the normal range for hemoglobin is 12.0 to 15.5 grams per deciliter. Mine was a 6. My stress fractures, insomnia, hair loss, high levels of anxiety, and every run (especially high altitude) feeling like I had never run a step in my life finally made sense. I had spent the entire year before that thinking and believing I wasn’t cut out to be a runner. I had my blood work rechecked 2 months later, and my hemoglobin was 11 gm/dL. Progress.
Running was rough and almost non-existent for a while. I dreaded it. 4 miles felt like 40. Slow. Lethargic. No matter what I did, where I ran, how consistent I tried to be, how much I slept, or what I ate. After incorporating meat back into my diet, taking an iron supplement, educating myself on how to maximize my iron absorption, mitigating stress, sleeping 8-10 hours a night – the fog started to fade around mid-March.
Starting to feel better, and wanting nothing more this year than to stay healthy I decided it was a good idea to commit to a running coach and started working with David Roche at the end of February. The Some Work and All Play Adventure Team is filled with incredible, talented and compassionate runners of all abilities, and I can’t say enough great things about and how in-tune the Roche’s are with their athletes. Things started off GREAT. I was stoked, and felt like I was finally coming around.
Then my Uncle Sam passed away. It wasn’t a secret that he wasn’t doing well, but I thought we had more time with him. We talked and texted everyday. I’m pretty sure if there were ever a Courtney Schwartz fan club – he would have been President. So encouraging, supportive, and proud. He was pretty distant for most of my life, but really came around and wanted to know our family the last few years, and that meant the world to all of us. I loved him so much. We all did. I was lucky enough (and so grateful) to be able to drive out to the PNW to visit him a few weeks before he passed away.
While not related to my hemoglobin levels, grief is also a stress to the body and I did not by any means handle it well. I cried on every run. Before I fell asleep. Driving to work. After every funny or cool thing I thought he would like that I took a photo of and then realized I could no longer send it to him. Grief is one of those feelings that you’re not sure is ever going to pass. How can you ever stop missing someone? Sure enough, time heals. It always does. You process, accept and with the help of family and friends – can move forward.
Needless to say the weeks (maybe month) following wasn’t my most consistent. When I finally got back into the groove of things, I developed a bit of a niggle in my quad (for some reason I was choosing to do most of my runs on the pavement) that I tried to hike through (as opposed to completely taking a week off like my coach recommended), that was resolved… when I finally took a week off, and decided not to run on pavement anymore.
Back on the horse in July, things started feeling good! I was feeling healthy AND happy. It wasn’t perfect, but it was more consistent. Sure, a rough/bailed on workout here and there, occasional missed run because I ate too many snacks after a long day of work and not eating lunch, the struggle of getting back into the groove of long runs. Towards the end of July I started feeling better, and was running stronger than I had in 2 years.
9 months after Run Rabbit Run I fully understand not only living with an attitude of gratitude, but the definition and process of where patience can lead you.