Life: The Ultimate Endurance Race

Today was my first day back on the trail since the epic TransRockies Run in August. Sure, I’ve been running short distances on the pavement, but it was nice to be back out in nature–just me and the lizards. I find it beyond therapeutic and it was especially so today.

See, I’ve been running an endurance race this past year that is tougher than anything I’ve ever done. It’s called Life. It’s one of those endurance races that keeps getting tougher as it goes. Much like TransRockies, every time you think you’ve reached the top of the hill and couldn’t possibly take another step, you’re presented with another, bigger hill.

The gun went off last summer and the first challenge was a doozy. It was my marriage – or the end of it. It was probably THE most difficult decision I have ever made, but so far, I’ve passed. I’m on my own and for the most part, really liking it. For probably the first time in my life, I only answer to me.

But, that first challenge presents even more challenges. It means I’m on my own financially too. And, wouldn’t you know, exactly every month this past year, something in the house has broken and required fixing–sometimes small things like the hinges holding my patio shades, and sometimes big things like the pool cover motor which cost $1400 to fix. I constantly joked about what the next month would bring and sure enough, it did.

Also this year, some interesting health issues cropped up. First, a scare about some unknown “thing” living in my uterus. Apparently, uterine issues are more common in women who have taken Tamoxifen after breast cancer, which I did from 2004-2009. I guess the drug reduces the risk of cancer occurrence above the waist but actually increases the chance below the waist. Don’t remember knowing that before.

At the same time, I found two lumps under my arm on the same side as my previous breast cancer. Really? WTH? So, the doc said let’s do a D&C and find out about the thing in your uterus and then let’s do a biopsy on the lumps under your arm. I had them done the Friday and following Wednesday after TransRockies.

About the time I got my results, I learned my dad was seriously ill. He had severe back pain and was becoming quite forgetful. This is the guy who just last summer had been hiking and backpacking. Fortunately, my results were negative. Unfortunately, his were not. He has a cancer of the blood called multiple myeloma.

The trail, still going uphill, took another unexpected turn. My youngest finds out she is pregnant at 23 years old and not married. Good news is, she is in a steady relationship and I like the guy. But really? Not what you want or expect for your kids.

Just when you think, “OK, I can do this. These things suck but we’ll get through them,” another hill. Just this week, my dad’s diagnosis was changed from medium risk to high risk. He’s now going through weekly chemo treatments and a continual battery of tests.

So, today’s trail run felt like an aid station. It replenished my soul. Where will this race go next? When do I get to my favorite part, the downhill? Only the universe knows. Just hope it really is making me stronger.

Terri Rylander

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