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Marathon Challenge

Team NOVA

Melissa

Melissa White 35
University Fundraiser

Summer 2006 Profile

Like others on the team, Melissa juggles a lot in her life. She's the mom of two young kids and is working to support her husband through law school. But one thing sets Melissa apart: She has Type 1 Diabetes and wears an insulin pump. She says, "It's not just the 26.2-mile course that seems overwhelming. It's managing the effects of such extreme exercise on diabetes, having the courage to attempt something that feels so undoable, and balancing the training commitment with my professional and personal responsibilities."

Melissa's Race Results & Update

Injuries forced Melissa to stop training with Team NOVA.

Looking back at the experience
My decision to join the NOVA Marathon team meant making a commitment to tackle personal and physical obstacles to achieve what seemed impossible…. I never imagined that I would be diagnosed with an injury that would take me "out of the running" so early on.

Before joining the NOVA marathon team, I had never run more than one and a half miles. During the light training runs that I did to prepare for the project, I began to feel pain in both shins. As a non-runner, I somehow believed that the pain was normal and would subside as I got into better shape. I was wrong.

Nick Mitropolous, a Tufts trainer, examined my legs and began to think that I might have a stress fracture. The pain was very isolated—I could pinpoint the exact spot of the pain—and that seemed to be a clear indicator. He told me to stop running completely and to use crutches to reduce the pressure on my shin. When the pain continued, I saw an orthopedist and had an MRI done. The results showed stress fractures in both legs.

I stopped running and began a no-impact program at the gym. I used an elliptical machine, rode a bike, and began a weight-lifting program. My goal was to get into shape so that I could join the team in January when I was allowed to return to running. It was hard to stay motivated, but I really hoped that the fractures would heal and even if I was behind in my training, I would still be able to prepare for—and get through—the marathon. Unfortunately, I was wrong again. After my first gentle run, the pain was back.

I had a full body bone scan done, and the results were clear: I had three stress fractures—they had not healed.

Despite visits to several types of doctors, no one has been able to discover the reason my legs will not heal. There is, however, a general consensus that my diabetes may be a contributing factor. After 25+ years of diabetes, it is likely that I have impaired circulation in the microscopic blood vessels, especially in the lower extremities. This poor circulation could impair the healing of my bones.

The good news is that my participation in this program has gotten me into a regular exercise program that is far greater than anything I had done previously. I watched spectacular teammates overcome their own challenges to finish the grueling 26.2-mile course—nothing could be more inspiring than that.

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