Factory Reset, but first: St. George Marathon

    St. George Expo

    I had hoped St. George Marathon would be my first sub 3:00 marathon, but 2023 had other plans for me. Oftentimes, when we reflect on races, we remember the ones where we had race day magic, where we were butterflies taking flight effortlessly. But I think when a greater series of races have gone poorly, it is important to look for patterns. What I didn’t realize was the time I needed to spend as a caterpillar, refueling from 2022 and then how long I needed to stay in my chrysalis.

    So let’s begin with a fairly year long re-cap:

    • A year ago, I raced the Chicago Marathon with a sudden sciatic injury (sitting on flights ironically injures me easily), clocking a 3:04:05 marathon finishing time and a 4+ minute personal record.

    • Shortly after the marathon, my chiropractor and I worked to get my body back to performance readiness because my 3rd World Major Marathon of the year was only a month later: New York City. Mike’s and my plan was never to race it, but to enjoy it together. However, I developed cramps in my diaphragm with a couple miles to go that I would later learn were in part due to endometriosis lesions on my diaphragm. 

    • By this point, I was rolling into training for Hellgate 100K, looking for redemption there and to test road marathoning repeats up against the demands of ultramarathoning and trail terrain. This went really well, though my fueling plan lacked protein (Maurten was my safe food after a year of food sensitivity testing and diagnosed SIBO) and my stabilizing muscles/ligaments were shredded by the forever trail around mile 42. I set a new personal record for this race and distance (66.6 miles) of 13:48 from 14:03, also placing 4th female overall and finally scoring a puffy jacket.

    • I knew I needed to rest and heal, but I also wanted to race with my teammates. I accepted I wasn’t in race shape and still recovering in January, so instead of pushing pace in workouts, I delayed intense workouts and pursued the course record at the Holiday Lake 10K, which I lowered by close to 15 minutes. However, I severely strained the muscles in my left ankle at mile 4.5 and hobbled the race in. For months, I dealt with swelling and avoided the trails so it could heal. I’m coming back maybe in a couple of years for that sub 13:30 barring anything crazy with my body or the weather happens.

    • By March of 2023, I was in full swing of training and training hard, but maybe it was the fatigue of traveling over spring break and my race occurring on the back end of the break that my Shamrock Half Marathon was a bust. I ran out of steam fast and ran the same pace as my marathon personal record from October at Chicago.

    • In early April of 2023, Mike and I ran the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler as “fast runner” qualifiers, and while I raced pretty well, I again lacked the stamina I used to have.

    • I ended my season in late April after the Ukrops 10K, where the air quality was quite poor. The course and race itself was amazing, but I realized I’d been grinding long enough and dealing with the same issue of fatiguing faster than usual that it was time to end my season.

    • In early May, after traveling to Maryland to visit a pelvic pain specialist to address the menstrual pain and pelvic pressure that took me out of work for 1-2 days at a time, I returned for a laparoscopy, which confirmed that I did indeed have endometriosis in the following places: both fallopian tubes, ureter, broad and uterine ligaments, intestines, diaphragm, and liver. Biopsies also confirmed this, and the treatment recommendation was total hysterectomy with hormone replacement therapy. Not me. 

    • I continued pelvic floor therapy as I healed from surgery and did all I could to not rush my healing. Admittedly, this is very hard for me, and I also had a 40 miler in West Virginia that I needed to somewhat prepare for in the middle of June. My longest continuous road run was 8 miles, but I had a 20 mile hike/run and some other hike/runs where I used the mantra “as long as it takes”. I was seeded 3rd, but DNF’ed in 5th place at 36 miles because I got lost (loved the race, loved the directors, but the course was not well-marked). I just didn’t have it in me to persist.

    • In July, I ran the Hotter ‘N Hell 9 mile race and was 3rd overall female with a personal course record of 5 minutes. On the climbs I felt I had no power, but on the descents I could make up a lot of ground.

    • In May-June, we were also treating me for gut infections (Genova Diagnostics: GI Effects test) as well as relapsing EBV and a Lyme/Bartonella Flare. My body was really struggling with the host of internal challenges, but it’s really not in my nature to just not train. Throughout June and July, I received 3 Methylene Blue + NAD IVs to combat the stealth infections listed above.

    • Finally, in August, I DNF’ed the Jarmans Invitational Marathon a second time (I’ve finished it once). I’d hoped to have a solid training run before I started the challenging Dapsone + Methylene Blue protocol, and I did, it just wasn’t a finish. I still didn’t have any power. 

    • By the end of August, my body was so depleted from the Dapsone + MB protocol that I had to have an iron transfusion and a second High Dose Vitamin C, and after much inner turmoil, I deferred my Rim to River 100 to 2024.

    • That still leaves the marathon tomorrow. Here we are, the day before and my recovery times for all training have me at 0% when in the past I’d be fine. My body is simply put, working with less power and metabolic rigor. I’ve had some good workouts and some really bad ones. Neither is predictable, and so I’m ready to hit the factory reset to allow my body the rest it needed in January and start training in December.


    Typing all of this out has me thinking,”Wow, Nelle, that’s a lot. What a year. Why don’t you rest?” I will say that most runners use their running as a healing tool, and I am no different. I have run my way through my father’s death, postpartum of my second child, separation and divorce of my first husband, and through Lyme treatment. Running grounds me to the earth. When I worry about other things but then go for a run, that worry almost always dissolves in a way. While running tires me in some ways, it breathes life into me in others. The challenge with racing is that it often requires lots of advance planning. Lotteries, Sell-Out races, and race-timing are all things that (should) influence our decisions of what to race and when, but it's impossible to anticipate exactly how the body is going to respond to racing and training, especially when this isn't my full-time job (training myself). I can be a product of my product, but not always. External factors absolutely do impact our training!


    I am now going to share my plan for tomorrow’s marathon as well as my looming “factory reset”.

    • My watch is predicting 3:38 for my finishing time, which is an 8:19 pace. I am honestly not sure what I am capable of, but I think it will be safe to begin at that pace and attune to what my body is saying in the time that follows.

    • I am carrying a 20 oz bottle of LMNT on course and 5 Maurten Gels + 1 package of Honey Stinger gummies.

    • I will wear my headphones and listen to Milky Chance, Taylor Swift, and then my Race Playlist because that makes me happy! 

    • I am going to enjoy the views because this race is incredibly scenic, descending through several State parks before entering the city of St. George for the finish.

    • I am not going to worry about what my heart rate says in the coming hours, nor what my body battery level is. I can’t control that. 

    • I can control my hydration and fueling behaviors between now and the race.

    • I can control my mindset, which will include mantras like “One mile at a time”, "Attune", “You are strong”, and “You can do hard things.”

    • I am going to smile and be grateful because I get to do this, and I am ABLE to do this. Last month I couldn’t walk the damn dog because I was so sick from treatment. My husband stated it was the worst he’d ever seen me. The cumulative effects of this medication were hellacious and excruciating.


    This has been a hard year for me, but I have uncovered so many answers, and they will be worth it. In the past several months following the treatments I’ve undergone, I am not experiencing menstrual pain or pelvic pressure at near the intensity I was before. I've gotten a "0" for active replicating EBV and a negative Lyme test for Band 23 for the first time ever. I can go about my day. I have also quit drinking alcohol entirely. While I do fatigue very quickly right now, I also know that my body is rebuilding and restructuring to be stronger and more capable than before. In the next couple of months to come, I will be resetting and coaching myself the way I would an athlete who is novice or returning from a physical injury. I will be sharing about that, because I think being patient with yourself is more impactful than what your performance shows. I’m not here to prove anything to anyone but to ensure my longevity is retained in this sport and leads by example. Health first, performance from health.


    Ultimately, I know my constitution overcompensates for my composition, and on the other side of this finish is a respite for my natural inclination to grind and overcome. I recognize that with each year, I take on new challenges and must adjust accordingly to honor my body’s needs in the present. This is messy work.


    I hope this piece of writing is impactful to my readers. What is important to note is that Chronic Lyme + Coinfections is a highly complex disease, the aim for which is remission, but at this time, there is no cure. Dapsone, when taken properly, is looking as a potential cure, but like chemotherapy, it can be extremely tricky to tolerate and requires expert and involved medical care. Endometriosis and Epstein Barr Virus are also systemic diseases called inflammation. Root cause diagnosis and gut health are essential pieces. If your gut has increased permeability, you can bet your abdominal cavity will be a breeding ground for bacteria, fungi, parasites, and endometrial cells that retroactively flow during menstruation into the abdomen. It is extremely difficult to find a doctor who can first acknowledge, understand, and treat them integratively. Most people with chronic illness end up learning more than their own medical doctor in layman's terms as a result.

    Bryce Canyon


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