Thought I would share my story about a recent severe sunburn to impart on others just how important it is to wear sunscreen and protective clothing. I know it's pretty obvious to wear sunscreen - but sometimes we get caught up in the moment and forget to reapply, or take proper steps for sun protection. Hope my story helps reinforce the importance of skin protection from the sun!
So, for the last 4 months, I trained for the San Diego rock'n'roll marathon! Running anywhere from 20-40 miles per week in prep for the 26.2 mile run in beautiful and sunny San Diego. I trained in Phoenix - so my runs were either VERY early in the morning or after dark to avoid the hot temps and unforgiving sun. Well, anyone that has ever trained for a marathon or long-distance runs/events, you have to run with the gear you want to wear on race day, so you can test out shoes, water belts, different shorts or shirts that are comfortable (or not), and be prepared with familiar and functional gear for race day. Well, because I trained early in the mornings and at night, a hat never crossed my mind. I was so caught up making sure I could run the distance and get my body used to the pounding of a 5hour run, that sunscreen and sun protection was the last thing on my mind.
Fast forward to earlier this month, and it was race day! I was so excited that I had made it through training relatively injury free, and felt strong and ready to run! I put on my sunscreen the morning of the race (as I do everyday before I head out), and didn't even think twice about having to reapply. My focus was on the 26.2 miles that lay ahead.
Throughout the course, i was sweating (obviously) and frequently pouring water over my head and shoulders to cool off. I never once thought about reapplying sunscreen or even wearing a running visor on the course. I was thinking about the finish line. And, I finished!! It was such an amazing feeling. I didn't notice the sunburn right away, it took a few hours to fully show. But I was literally "torched" as I like to describe it.
2nd degree burns on my face, blisters, peeling, the whole nine yards. My face was swollen for about a week. My lips even blistered over. It took about a week and a half to heal completely. Well, just when I thought the worst was over - not so much. My shoulder started peeling from the severe burn as well. Only this time, I wasn't so lucky to just have a good peel and be done with it. Because my skin was severely burn and "compromised" according to the doctor, I developed a mild skin infection on my shoulders that required antibiotics to get under control and prevent from turning into a more severe infection like staph.
Because I damaged my skin so intensely with this burn, my skin is now even more susceptible to burns and now will have to watch even more closely for skin cancer developments.
So, bottom line, lesson learned. ALWAYS apply and reapply sunscreen. No matter if you are out gardening or running a marathon. Take the time to reapply - and wear protective clothing. Like a hat!! I am never running without a visor again... and next time I do another marathon, I am carrying mini-packets of sunscreen so I can reapply every hour or so just in case!
Hope my story helps reinforce the importance of sun protection!!