Maybelle Francisco Will Be "Running for Two" at the Mini
Together We Run: Stories of the NYRR New York Mini 10K
The 47th NYRR New York Mini 10K, set for June 9, empowers women of all ages and fitness levels to be active and feel great on the run. The world’s original women-only road race, the Mini has had nearly 200,000 finishers since its first running in 1972, representing a diverse range of ages, backgrounds, and abilities. Over the weeks leading up to race day we’ll get to know a handful of entrants in this year’s race.
Maybelle Francisco, 34, of Fair Lawn, NJ, will be running her first NYRR New York Mini 10K on June 9. She’s excited—the race will be her first-ever 10K and the farthest she’s ever run. And she’ll be “running for two” as she puts it—Maybelle will be 11 weeks pregnant on race day.
“I love running. It’s universal and it pushes me to do whatever it takes,” she says. Maybelle’s passion for running is inspiring, especially given that she has lipedema, a disease of irregular fat distribution, usually in the legs and buttocks, that can cause pain and circulatory problems.
“My legs are large compared to the rest of my body,” Maybelle says. “I’ve always been heavier on the bottom than on top—I thought it was just my body type and I just lived with it.” But during and after her second pregnancy several years ago she experienced heaviness, swelling, pain, tenderness, and easy bruising in her legs, and she sought medical attention.
“I was just told to lose weight,” she says—but even when she did, the symptoms continued. She finally received a diagnosis of lipedema last December and has had two surgeries to improve circulation and reduce the swelling in her legs. Her doctors encouraged her to exercise to help reduce inflammation, and she’s been cleared to continue exercising during pregnancy.
Maybelle had never heard of lipedema before her diagnosis and was shocked to learn that it affects 11% of American women. “It’s underrecognized and underdiagnosed,” she says. “Many doctors mistake it for obesity.” Weight loss can help reduce lipedema symptoms in some cases but it doesn’t decrease the fat deposits that the disease causes. “Women with lipedema should exercise if it improves their symptoms, as it does for me, but exercise will not make lipedema go away,” Maybelle says.
Until recently, Maybelle didn’t consider herself athletic—she remembers dropping her P.E. tennis course in college because she felt unable to perform. Now she’s committed to an active lifestyle, and she looks forward to running with thousands of women at the NYRR New York Mini 10K. “I’ll be running because it’s something I love, something that makes me feel good about myself and is good for me and the baby,” she says. Her husband, Christian, who often runs with her, will be cheering her on, along with their two sons, ages 3 and 8.
Maybelle hopes that her run will help draw attention to lipedema. “This disease exists and many women have it,” she says. “It’s not our fault—it’s a disease. I’m motivated to fight this disease, and to run more and further!”
Want to run with Maybelle and thousands of other women at the 47th NYRR New York Mini 10K? Register today.