Avid runner Brenda Mack was thrilled to complete the Detroit Free Press Half Marathon last month. It wasn’t the longest, but it still may be the most significant race she’s run.
This year’s race stepped off almost a year before she underwent back surgery at Henry Ford Health.
On Wednesday (Nov. 15), she handed her medal over to Dr. Muwaffak Abdulhak, the Henry Ford Health neurosurgeon who made that run possible.
It was an emotional exchange.
“I’m going to start crying because I am so thankful I can run again,” said Mack.
Mack says in September of 2022, she ran the Air Force Marathon.
“Two weeks later, I got out of bed and fell right to the floor,” Mack said.
Mack first called friend and neighbor Dr. Lisa Rogers, who ordered an MRI. She learned she had a pinched nerve and was referred to Dr. Abdulhak, who discovered the pinched nerve was the result of an unusual condition that required surgery to fix.
To heal, Mack was restricted from running. In fact, at first, she could only get around with a walker.
“As soon as the driveway was clear, I got my walker, and I was out doing the cul-de-sacs, I wasn’t wasting any time getting back,” Mack said.
As soon as registration opened for the Free Press Marathon in January, two months after her surgery, she signed up. Initially, she signed up to run the full marathon but decided to do the half instead since it would be her first big run postop.
“I would look at my timer and be like ‘Ugh,’ then I’d be like stop it, you are running, you have no pain,” Mack said. “People younger than you are behind you; they didn’t have back surgery.”
The 67-year-old says the surgery was life-changing, and she sees many more marathons in her future.