Fighting against myself

I had a rough run this past week. It was a 10K here in Raleigh that I had signed up for a while ago. A man, was that a hard 6 miles.

It was my own fault; I fully admit that. I hadn’t trained well, I hadn’t been staying hydrated, I didn’t warm up a lot beforehand. I also spent the previous week at a trade show for work which meant three days of standing for eight hours straight in high heels. Not the ideal way to spend the week before a race. Plus, it was cold and rainy outside. Basically, it was the perfect storm of awfulness.

This was also my first 10K. Actually, it was my first race that was not a half-marathon. Half-marathons are all about pacing. 10Ks are a bit different. Too short to need to put as much focus on pace, but too long to just run all out. I had planned to try to focus on training on getting a little more speed. I was simply hoping to break the 1:00:00 mark. But a number of things going on in the past few weeks and months had gotten me out of the habit of running and training as I had planned.

10k race run stephanie hughes out of the bag colostomy ileostomy crohn's disease ulcerative colitis inflammatory bowel disease ibd ostomy blog stolen colon top 10 reasons to have an ostomy ileostomy colostomy urostomyAnd the moment I started running this race, I could tell it was not going well. My legs felt heavy and I was immediately exhausted. I also did not run with my phone, which I usually do. I got the new iPhone and it doesn’t fit in the pocket very well, so I figured I would just go for it without timing myself and see what happens. (Yah, I know, I need a watch.) I also somehow ended up at the front of the pack when the race started. It was a small race, only like 115 people, but still, I am not a front of the pack kind of runner. So I immediately got myself over to the side so the other faster people could pass, but then I realized just how depressing it is to see dozens of people passing you along the way.

I kept telling myself to just keep moving. It was hard. The course was very hilly, especially at the Start/Finish line area. I felt like I was moving at a snail’s pace. I kept trying to figure out in my head how long it was going to take me, since I didn’t have my phone to help me pace. I felt for sure that I was doing like a 13:00 mile, which is slower than I’ve run for all three of my half-marathons.

Much to my surprise, however, I ended up running across the finish line at 1:02:54. I was both excited that I was not running nearly as slow as I thought (It was actually a 10:08 pace), and also frustrated that I was so close to my goal and didn’t quite make it. I knew that if I had trained just a little better or if I had been pacing myself during the race, I probably could have cut off those 3 minutes. But of course, I can’t go back.

I am not fast and let’s be honest, no matter how hard I train, I will never be a race winner. I am just not built for it and I am fine admitting that. But I do at least want to feel like I am a competitor. As I was running and watching so many people pass by me and feeling sorry for myself, I had to keep reminding myself that I was not there to race anybody. I was only racing against myself. I was only fighting my own body.

And you know… isn’t that what we have spent so many years doing? Pushing ourselves… Moving on in spite of the pain… Searching frantically for the finish line… And that’s part of what I love about running. It’s such a great metaphor for our life and our journey through it. It’s not always easy, it’s not always fun, and sometimes it just downright sucks. But if we keep going and keep pushing ourselves to take that next step, we can get to where we’re going. And no ostomy or Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis can hold us back.

7 thoughts on “Fighting against myself

  1. Lisa

    Wow,that is awesome. I was so excited to find your site and read this story. I am also a runner. Actually I use to run half marathons, then developed ulcerative colitis and could finish the half so I was running a lot of 10k’s and 5k’s. My colitis has been so bad I have not run in about 3 weeks. I think Remicade, steroids, and all my symptoms have sucked everything out of me. I was referred to The Cleveland Clinic and am going to have my colon removed in 3 weeks. I’m very anxious about the surgery but also looking forward to some relief. I would love to begin running again. Is it difficult with your ileostomy? I am suppose to have one for 5 -6 months as they plan on doing the J pouch procedure. Thank you again for your motivation and hope that a normal life may be awaiting me soon!

    1. Lauri

      I found the initial shock of having my colon removed and seeing such a body change was tough in my 30’s, but after recovery from the surgery, the adjustment came quickly, as my life changed for the better. There wasn’t anything I couldn’t do athletically that I did before, and not having to “run” for the nearest bathroom was a huge relief. I am now gluten and dairy-free, and low sugar, which I think is a healthy diet for everyone. Keep an eye on what you eat, chew slowly and enjoy the freedom of a new life with an ostomy!

      1. Stephanie Hughes Post author

        All great advice! And yes, I’m much happier running for the finish line than running for the bathroom!

    2. Stephanie Hughes Post author

      Lisa, I hope your surgery went well! And I understand where you’ve been. Because of my Crohn’s, I was really never able to run at all. But since my surgery, I have done 3 half-marathons, a triathlon and lots of other running. It has not been difficult at all. I actually wrote a post specifically about running with an ostomy that you can read here:

  2. Kishor Badhe

    congraulations. it is great finishing. i am myself a distance runner up to 5 kms. i know how hard it is. You have done a nice job.
    i am in 60 and had my ileotomy 12 yrs back. today iam very happy and feel I hshould have got ti doen ten years earlier.
    those who are doubtful about surgery and ileostomy I think they will have very happy life afterwards


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