Members of Team SJS just minutes before the start of the 2010 Fox Cities Half Marathon!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Moving forward!

I have to say that earlier this week, I was very apprehensive about my scheduled 10 mile run today. My continued stomach and intestinal problems have weighed heavily on my mind and the question of if I should even attempt the half marathon popped into my head. It was kind of an ugly start to the week.

And then, without warning, I received a message from a friend of a friend who said that he wanted to help me if he could. I had already talked to dozens of people about my hydration issues and thought that it was probably going to be repetitive information of what had worked for him, what works for most runners, blah, blah, blah. All I could think of was that I was not like other runners and I had survived an illness he had probably never even heard of. Really, what could he do?

But then I thought about it and realized that I have a lot to learn and who am I to not even listen? So I sent him a message back and all of a sudden I felt a new sense of hope that this might actually be the thing that helps me conquer those 13.1 miles! Rob and I spoke over the phone, he lives in Hawaii and I am oh so jealous! He listened to my concerns, asked me tons of questions, told me he couldn't promise anything, but said he would do what he could to help get me ready for that looming race day in 4 weeks.

I learned that although I had lost 30 lbs during this process, my body was still adjusting to my new weight and probably functioning as though I hadn't lost it at all. Rob reiterated for me that my internal thermostat is still not functioning properly and overheating in our hot and humid Midwest summers is highly likely, which then leads to a large loss of fluids and electrolytes. He told me what foods to avoid three days before my long runs and those to avoid the night before. We talked about how to get hydrated and then how to keep it that way! As I listened and took notes, I realized how running is so much more than mapping my route and strapping on my old shoes! Sure, that had worked for me before, but it wasn't working for this old body anymore and not at these distances.

So I avoided dairy the rest of the night, ate a plain old chicken breast and a few green beans, drank Gatorade and water until I thought I would explode, felt a sense of pride when I peed the correct shade of clear, and then crawled into bed memorizing my route for the next morning. I woke up early and started the rest of my new pre-run regimen. I ate a quarter of a plain bagel with peanut butter and sipped some water, got my fuel belt ready and headed out the door.

The sun was out, but the temperature was cool and the humidity farely low. I knew it would gradually get warmer as my run progressed, but for the first few miles I wasn't bothered by it. I concentrated on my breathing, taking long strides instead of short ones and sipped at my gatorade every mile. After an hour of running, I decided to try a salt tablet and followed it up with water. As the blocks turned into miles I didn't feel the need to mentally segment my route, and I wasn't praying for the end to come. I felt strong and comfortable and I settled into what I was doing without a problem.

A half hour later, I took another salt tablet and pushed on to finish the last 3 miles. Hoping to finish with a 13:00 pace, I was amazed to see that I had done even better than that! I finished my 10 mile run feeling strong and better than I have felt in months in 2:02:41! I checked my watch twice to make sure I had read it correctly, and I had!! It was a GREAT feeling!

For the first time in a long time, I finally had some confidence in myself that I was going to be able to run this race. People may believe that my body isn't ready for this race, that I am overdoing it, that this is too much for a "beginner," that I need more time to heal and recover. But I will tell you that in my heart and soul, I know that I can do this and I can do it well. I am ready! I am a mother, a wife, a friend, a daughter, an advocate, a counselor, a fighter, and a survivor. Maybe I am starting from a place that most have not had to start from, with atrophied muscles and nerve damaged feet. Maybe I do have sight in only one eye and skin that is scarred and damaged. But I have something that not everyone has, and that's the belief in myself that I am worth the time, the energy, the effort and the discomfort to reach a goal. And now I know that I am yet another label to add to my laundry list; a runner. Yep, I am a runner!


  1. What a true inspiration you are! I've enjoyed reading your blog, and already know that I am blessed to have "met you" on Daily Mile. You are ready for this race - you are ready for anything!

    Diane V.

  2. Sometimes opportunity knocks in the most unexpected ways. I'm glad--for your sake--that you opened the door. Happy running!

    - Brian S.