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Follow This Mother!

17th April 2013, By: Heather D.,
Melissa rocking the marathon.

Melissa rocking the marathon.

Melissa Kirkham, 39, didn’t take “no” for an answer, and she’s got a slew of training runs and races to her name to prove it. How’d this San Diego, Calif. mom of two teens stand up for herself exactly? She refused to follow her (former) doctor’s advice to stop running. Melissa, who has a full 2013 race calendar, is eager for what lies ahead: “I turn 40 this year—I can’t wait!”

Best recent run: I try to get my long runs in with my running group, but we’re all different paces and I often find I’m still running alone. Recently, another mother runner decided to run with me. There were some miles we chatted, other miles we ran in silence, lost in our own thoughts. Neither of our husbands run, so having someone to run with who knows the joy of the run, the hardship of training, and coming home to a house full of needs and other priorities was great. I was encouraged, pushed, and ran a minute per mile faster than usual!

Melissa with a few of her BRFs.

Melissa with a few of her BRFs.

Don’t tell her “You can’t”: Last summer I was having hip pain that my doctor couldn’t diagnose, hence her suggestion of not running. My initial reaction was, I could punch you in the face, that’s active, right? I’d already run my first 5K and signed up to run my first half-marathon. Between asthma, allergies, and anemia, I didn’t need more excuses—I needed to kill some goals. I switched doctors and found I had a labral tear in each hip, but both were clean tears and neither would be aggravated by running. I’ve since run eight half-marathons, one full, and have nine more half’s this year!

Marathon Mama: Being a new runner and training for a marathon was more than I bargained for. In spite of some injuries and training setbacks, the emotional stress was hard and unexpected. This was my goal; my non-running family was not against me, but not supportive. I relied heavily on the support from runners via social media. Most long runs were on my own, but that only strengthened my resolve to prove everyone wrong. Thirty-eight is not too old to start running. The run itself was an AMAZING experience. I finished a half-hour faster than I expected, and will definitely run another.

Can’t Run Without: My iPhone & Nuun. Mr. Running It [her husband] doesn’t like me running solo, I love my music, and I can be a bit picture happy on my runs. Having my iPhone with me solves most of those issues, and having Google maps handy doesn’t hurt as I can be directionally challenged. The first time I ran 10K in my neighborhood, I started too late in the day, it got hot, and I had no water. I asked a guy watering his lawn if I could have a drink from his hose. True story and totally not awkward!

The Kirkham family.

The Kirkham family.

Running for Health: I lost 20 pounds running. Everyone said I wasn’t fat to start with. Duh. We are quick to judge based on appearances. There’s a history of chronic diseases in my family, and while I wasn’t obese, my numbers were borderline high. A few years ago, I lost a friend to a massive coronary. In her early forties, she was thin, ate well, and looked healthy. She had undiagnosed heart disease. As mothers, we have a responsibility to educate our girls, not have pop culture define health and beauty. Healthy starts on the inside. Healthy self-image/worth translates into lifelong self-care.

Running Dreams & Plans: I’m working on getting my personal trainer certification this summer and I’m already working on next year’s race schedule (Ragnar 2014, anyone?). Through my ambassador roles with FitFluential, Girls Gone Sporty, and Fit Approach (Sweat Pink), I’ve had so many opportunities to share about my later-in-life running start and motivate other mothers who think it’s too late or they’re too busy to make health a priority. In my dream world, I would be writing and speaking, training, and teaching women to dig deep, no excuses!

Follow this Mother on Twitter, Instagram, and at her blog Melissa Running It.

 

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22 Responses to Follow This Mother!

  1. You look awesome Melissa — and most importantly — in great health. I have knee issues and it’s funny. When I had to take time off running because of a calf injury my knee pain actually got worse. Now I can’t log tons of miles all year but I definitely agree moving it some is better than not moving at all. (And try fish oil capsules if you’re not already.) I swear by them. Hope all your goals in 2014 come true.

  2. Shannon says:

    Melissa – this is such an inspiring story and I am so glad that I have been able to meet you.

  3. Sue says:

    Melissa, you are a ROCK STAR! Love your story, enthusiasm, and perspective. So glad we have this forum to hear each other’s stories. Your daughters are so fortunate to have a mom who demonstrates self-respect, health, wellness, and strength (inner and outer).

  4. Becky says:

    While I appreciate your enthusiasm I really was turned off by your comment about hitting your doctor!! I’m biting my tongue in cyberspace here, but have to say please don’t advocate violence and ignorance. Doctors are incredibly time-crunched and one person cannot be expected to be expert at everything, but docs do want what’s best for patients. Second opinions, referrals, all good. Bad-mouthing a person because you didn’t get her to understand your goals is unfair. Best wishes for a long running life!

    • Shannon says:

      I don’t think she was advocating violence at all by that remarked. I actually chuckled at that comment because I know the feeling of wanting to punch someone in the face because they gave you news you didn’t want to hear.

      • Becky says:

        I know she wasn’t saying to actually hit someone. Re-reading my post , it looks more harsh than I meant. The day I read her story it just hit to close to home and I guess I was crabby! (I’ll go running and feel better)

  5. louisa Johnosn says:

    that’s awesome! I’m 44 and started running again in November of last yr after taking off a couple a yrs. I ran my first half in March ( 2:07) and my first full will be in Dec. I’m running in a Ragnar relay in Oct and i’m so excited!

  6. Hope says:

    Your story is so inspiring. I just started running and I love it. My goal is to do Ragnar 2014 too :)

  7. FSD says:

    I’m so glad you found another doctor, Melissa. I get a little anxious at the thought of going to a health professional for a concern because of not wanting to hear “Don’t run” if the health professional is at a loss to help. Have a great racing year!

    • You and me both!! Along the way, I learned to be an advocate for myself. I’m part of an HMO which typically isn’t very helpful, so I went on a (Google) hunt to find a primary care doc that specialized in sports medicine. Then the clouds parted ;)

      Now I only see him as needed, but get regular treatments from a running doc that’s also a chiropractor. He’s great for telling me what’s wrong, what I should do, then treats me according to what he knows I’ll do – keep running!

  8. Cyndie says:

    GO Melissa!!!! This was ME! I can so relate to your journey. I, too, turn 40 this year, and am celebrating my running my first 26.2! WAHOO!

    • WOO HOO! I just checked out your last post and love your race schedule. You’re going to have an amazing run at Eugene, I would love to get to your speed for sure!! Super excited for you to run your first full in October – let’s make 40 look easy :)

  9. martha says:

    never too soon to start! way to go! i am 57 and just started running, love it! kudos to you!

  10. Kim A. says:

    I agree, 38 is not too old to start running!

    Good for you, finding another Doctor. You have to be in charge of your own health.

    And I love, “Healthy starts on the inside.” Great quote.

  11. JGP says:

    Love your triumphant attitude. You reminded me of the first time I hit 11 miles. It was hot, I was dehydrated and had no water, but I wouldn’t let the number go. I stood in a farmer’s sprinkler system for his strawberry patch on the last half mile. Greatful it was on…and I started caring water packs and hiding waters for long runs.

    • Haha, yes, I had to write a whole post about it and even took a picture with the kind guy. He was much nicer than the two men sitting on their front lawn with beer cans having a yard sale. They actually told me there was NO water in the house.

  12. The Mommy says:

    Great, great post! I started running at 38 (just a few months shy of 39) and I’m running my first half in a few weeks (I’ll be 41 by race day). Thanks for being an inspiration! My mom recently started telling me how thin I am. She said, “Do you think it’s all the running?” And my response was, “Duh! 10 miles is REALLY far!”

    • Love it! I know we’ve all heard it, but trust your training and enjoy the experience. There’s nothing like finishing your first half (it’s seriously addicting!).

      Funny, your mom. I remember telling my husband I had a 12 mile run in the morning. His response: “All at once?”

  13. Katie Harrison says:

    I have just been diagnosed with a labrum tear– you didn’t have the surgery? I would LOVE to hear from you!! My PT is telling me to get the surgery or face possible hip replacement years from now.

    • At Katie, feel free to email me at melissarunningit [at] gmail [dot] com. I’m not at all a medically trained, licensed, or anything professional, but would love to tell you more about my experience and how I came to my decision.

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