Today’s guest blog post is from Lisa at Early Morning Run. I asked her to share her inspiring story while I spend a few days wedding dress shopping with our Lean Girl & Bride Kara. While I’d run on the treadmill regularly, Lisa is the reason I started running. She is who I blame thank for encouraging me to run races, and ultimately inspired me to run the NYC Marathon in 2009. I don’t know anyone else who loves running as much as Lisa does or anyone who is as big of a fighter as she is. Here’s her story.
First, I want to thank Grace for inviting me to write a post for this amazing blog – Lean Girls Club. I love reading this blog and am incredibly blessed to be able to call Grace a friend. She is such an inspiration and incredibly supportive, I don’t know what I’d do without her!
One thing I love (and sometimes hate) about running is that you can’t cheat. I’m training for a half marathon on October 16th and one thing about training for a race, be it a 5k or a marathon, is that if you cheat, the only person you hurt is yourself. You can’t go out and run 10 miles on a 12 mile day and tell people you did the 12 miles. I mean, you could, and maybe those people will think you’re hard core, but you’ll know when you get to the starting line that you didn’t do all you could have done to prepare. Running should be something you do for yourself, not to impress others.
But, let’s back up a little.
I’ve been running for about six years now. I started because I needed to lose weight, get in shape, and push myself to reach new goals. I needed to do something for myself that I could be really proud of. Sure, a part of me wanted to impress others, but mostly it was for me. I moved to NYC a year after I graduated from college not knowing more than a handful of people, and they were all people I was going to be working with. I left family and friends in Michigan and my sweet tooth got the best of me. I gained weight and was not feeling good. I started working out at the gym, walking to and from work and joined New York Road Runners so I could get a few bucks off my race entries (let’s just say money is one of my motivators. If I spend it, I’m going to get the most out of it I can!). I fell in love with running.
Fast forward through a few training runs and races, my Love had moved to NYC from Michigan, and we had gotten married. I ran my 9 qualifying races, volunteered for another, and I committed to running the NYC Marathon in 2009. Then, after a lot of tests, doctors appointments and medical bills, I was diagnosed with Cushing’s Disease; a rare condition where my body was producing way too much cortisol (a stress hormone) due to a benign tumor on my pituitary gland. I found out just before Thanksgiving that come the New Year, I’d be having brain surgery.
I had the surgery, was in the hospital for five days, came home for a few days and then one morning I started to hemorrhage. Thankfully my Dad had switched places with my Mom when she had to go back to Michigan and he was there to get me to the emergency room. It was the most frightening thing I have ever been through. I literally asked my doctor (who was called out of surgery to help me) several times if I was going to die. It took a while before he told me I wouldn’t. It was a long road after that to recover, at least it felt like it. But in reality, as soon as my doctor told me it was okay, I was back at the gym and then started running again. I was still determined to run the marathon.
With the support of family (especially my husband who put up with my crazy long training runs taking over our weekends) and great friends like Grace, I ran the marathon on November 1st. It wasn’t easy and wasn’t pretty. I fractured my foot somewhere along the 26.2 mile route and that was just the start of long road of injuries for me, unfortunately.
I had hoped this year would be my comeback year filled with fun races and a few half marathons. It hasn’t quite turned out that way as I’ve had to make tough decisions and pull out of races because I knew I wouldn’t be ready. I don’t know for certain, but looking back I probably would have been better off if I had deferred the marathon and ran in 2010 instead. At that time, I was determined to do it no matter what; I wanted to prove to others, just as much as myself, that I could do it. Yeah, I crossed the finish line but at a pretty high cost.
I love running. Not everyone gets injured like I do, so please don’t let my story scare you. This morning, I ran 12 miles – my longest training run of this cycle before my race – and it was amazing. I was able to daydream, clear my head, enjoy the beautiful weather, enjoy seeing tons of other people out enjoying the day too, and take in the fresh air. My legs started getting pretty tired on that last mile, but overall it was a great. When I finished, I felt so accomplished and proud of myself. Even on a 3 mile day, it feels great going to work knowing I’ve gotten out there and done something good for my body and my soul. While some people may like touting that they’ve run long or fast miles, now, my running is for me and only me.
I run my run at my own pace for my life, because I can, and because it makes me a better person. Whether you find joy in running or in tennis, or cooking or teaching or whatever it may be, I hope you’re finding joy for the right reasons and because it makes you a better person and appreciate all you have. We only have one life to live, so live it well!
For more on Lisa, check out Early Morning Run or Follow her on Twitter @earlymorningrun