See the full article on Philly.com: Brain tumor survivor celebrates life at Philly Marathon

Alyssa Holland of Congers, NY, has always loved running and being in shape. As members of the Rockland Road Runners, she and her husband Gary enjoy running marathons together, going away for the weekend to run in different cities and then discussing their experiences afterwards.

By last summer, she had five marathons under her belt and was training to qualify for the Boston Marathon when the unthinkable happened.

At the end of June, while prepping for the Self-Transcendence Marathon in August where she hoped to earn a fast enough time to compete in the Boston Marathon, she started to feel sick.

“I threw up and started to have trouble running long distances,” Holland said. “And then there were the headaches. At first they were minor, but they grew worse every day.”

Soon she couldn’t even stand anymore. The diagnosis: Meningioma, a brain tumor. Fortunately, hers was benign. After surgery on July 3, she was hoping to have a quick recovery, but soon realized that she still had an uphill battle to endure. She was forced to cancel her plans to compete.

“The steroids made me dizzy and foggy in the head. Everything seemed fuzzy and I had difficulty walking in a straight line,” she explained.

When she started to run again, she found the hardest part was doing long distances. “My legs would tire easily so I couldn’t get the mileage up. It was hard because a month before I could do 4 or more miles.”

“Training was never easy, but it is a lot harder now. I was right on track before and now it is not so easy to get back to my original speed. I am not quite as fast as I used to be, but I will be. It will just take time.”

The Philadelphia Marathon this Sunday will be Holland’s first marathon since her surgery. She is registered to do the full marathon, but has decided to complete the half marathon instead. Her husband will still run the marathon.

“Recovery is taking longer than I expected. My legs are just not ready yet,” she said.

Doing the Philadelphia Marathon this year, even if it is just the half-marathon, means a lot to Holland. Besides it being her comeback run, the fact that it will take place in Philadelphia is special to her. “My father is the official scorekeeper of the Phillies and hopefully he will be there to cheer me on. That is why we chose this marathon.”

Holland hopes she will be fast enough to quality for the Boston Marathon in two years when she turns 40. Her husband has already qualified.

The GORE-TEX® Philadelphia Marathon and Half Marathon will be on Sunday, November 23 along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

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