Tuesday, November 13, 2012

26.2, Despite the Odds

I did it. I ran a marathon! 26.2 miles. The most difficult thing I have done, mentally and physically.

26.2, Despite the Odds | www.kettlercuisine.com

How did I do this? I trained very hard, kept a positive attitude and lived by Jimmy V's mentality, "don't give up, don't ever give up." Despite several odds against me, I did it.

The biggest "odd" against me...Crohn's

About three and half years ago, I was diagnosed with Ileitis Crohn's Disease. Crohn's is a form of IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) that is described as a chronic inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract). It is considered an autoimmune disease - meaning my immune system attacks the good bacteria in my body causing inflammation, which leads to many symptoms. Symptoms that I suffered through for a better part of a year.

Take Action

I was forced to make a decision, either sit and feel sorry for myself or take action and prove to myself that this disease didn't need to control my life. There was certainly a period where I did feel sorry for myself. I was constantly tired and sick, not wanting to go anywhere, afraid that I would get out and not feel well. It affected the relationships around me. My friends, my family and most significantly, my relationship with Ryan. Don't get me wrong, he was extremely supportive of everything, but there were months where I had no energy after work, couldn't eat anything without feeling sick and I never wanted to go anywhere. I let Crohn's take over my life.

26.2, Despite the Odds | www.kettlercuisine.com
My parents - part of my awesome support group!
I don't exactly remember the turning point, but at some point I decided there was a better way of living with Crohn's Disease. I started researching inspirational stories of IBD patients that battled their way back into remission. One such story was of a runner and then a friend convinced me to join a Running Start program to train for a 5K.

26.2, Despite the Odds | www.kettlercuisine.com
Good friend Dhruv! He got me into running. You can also see all the shadows of our families taking pictures of our accomplishment.

The small amounts of exercise slowly started to improve my health and energy levels. I then started playing around with different food combinations, keeping a food journal and cutting back on discovered "trigger" foods. 

The 5K came and went, then came the half marathon training program. I started a diligent routine, training not only my muscles and lungs, but my stomach as well. It was very important to watch my diet, especially around the longer runs. The half marathon came and went, several of them actually, but what was the next step? I was afraid to go on to a full marathon, scared that my body couldn't handle the intense, long workouts. Scared that I would be thrown back into a flare up from the exertion. 

The fear didn't last long, someone reminded me that life can be short. I wasn't going to let fear subside me again.

26.2, Despite the Odds | www.kettlercuisine.com
The Hubby figuratively and literally holds me up!
I signed up for the marathon! I signed up for 26.2 miles of running…what was I thinking?!?!?! It was tough, REALLY tough. There were moments where I wanted to give up, but I kept going knowing that my family was waiting for me at the end.

26.2, Despite the Odds | www.kettlercuisine.com
My training buddies, Shauna and Dhruv.
It took me a few years, but I went from a tired, pained, miserable Crohn's patient to a healthy, energetic, optimistic marathon runner! Who would have thought.

There are several people out there with conditions, even some in my family. I hope that these conditions don't stop you from doing the things you dream about. I am not telling you to go out and run a marathon, but certainly strive for your own greatness!

I leave you with Jim Valvano's inspirational speech from 1993, watch it!!

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