I recently ran the Chicago Marathon with my dearest friend. We were randomly paired together as freshmen year roommates by the computer system at Northwestern University. Apparently it knew something we didn’t, because we have been best friends ever since. We couldn’t be more different in many ways but found a deep friendship by appreciating and respecting those differences.
I was recently reviewing the photos from our 26.2 mile run and started laughing at the shocking difference in how we were dressed. Her: sexy little shorts and a tiny tank. Me: my trusty Athleta running capri’s (UPF 50+) and another Athleta long-sleeved running top (UPF 50+).
The shocking difference in bare skin might make one ask “was she cold or was I hot?” The answer… neither. We were both dressed exactly right for our bodies, our mental strength and the temperature.
The advancement in UPF 50+ materials has made it 100% possible to do all types of outdoor sports in all climates and still protect your skin from UVA and UVB rays. I knew that if I had to spend four hours in the sun I mentally and physically needed to be covered. Mentally because I have panic attacks now when I run in direct sun and know I’m not protected. I spend all of my energy thinking through how to find shade, when I last applied sunscreen, is the sunscreen working, etc. That mental energy needs to be focused on success and motivation during a marathon. Physically, I knew that the streets of Chicago weren’t going to offer much by way of shade, so it was up to me to be safe and prepared through my attire.
I did re-apply sunscreen at 2 hours to my face, neck and hands. With this strategy, I only had to carry one small, disposable sample of sunscreen (request them from your dermatologist the next time you visit) vs. create another solution or worry through the second half of the marathon.
Ultimately we both finished with a great time, had a ton of fun throughout and checked it off the bucket list. While my preparation and needs along the race course might have been a bit more involved, I would have never gone down this path without the impact of melanoma in my life.