Posted on: November 16, 2022
Melissa Wu, MD ’92, is vice president for the UVA Medical School Foundation Board of Trustees and the Class of 1992 representative. She shared the following update in November 2022:
On November 6, 2022, I ran the New York City Marathon, my eighth marathon and first major. It was an incredibly challenging, but amazing, day: record high temperatures/humidity and early 5:30 a.m. transport of 50,000 runners, the National Anthem and cannon firing at the start of each wave, crossing the iconic ~2 mi long Verrazano Narrows bridge, seeing/hearing the throngs of enthusiastic New Yorkers along the 26.2 mi route through all five boroughs, 100+ cheering for me by name as if they were personal friends, urging me on during the final miles as I dealt with heat exhaustion, leg cramps, nausea and passed many runners lying on the ground being attended to by medical personnel. Such relief as I crossed the finish line and earned my finisher medal!
A self-proclaimed hater of running, I did not start until 2003 (age 37), inspired by my husband, Tyler Brannen, training for his first marathon in Baltimore and runners of all shapes/sizes/abilities that I saw while working in the Johns Hopkins ED medical tent at that marathon. My journey to my own first marathon took six years, plagued with injuries and setbacks, but finally occurred in 2009 (National in DC), and led to three more in the next few years. I took a seven-year hiatus from marathon running while being treated for breast cancer, shifted to the easier half marathon distance and set a new goal of completing one in all 50 states. I had just completed state #34 in March 2020, when travel came to a halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To stay healthy while continuing to care for patients completely in person (in an urgent care setting), especially during the early uncertain months of the pandemic when we had high mortality rates but no testing, vaccines, or treatments, I started a run/walk at least 1 mile/day streak with daily Facebook posts to keep friends/family updated and inspired (my running club, the Gate City Striders, recognized me with Runner of the Month and Healthcare Hero Awards). This streak, which I intended to last until the pandemic was over (now approaching 1,000 days), led to my resuming marathon training, running three marathons (2 in NH 2020, 2021; 1 in RI 2022), and then qualifying for NYC.