Tag Archives: Virginia

Half-marathon #2: Take that Crohn’s!

Where to even start on this race recap… I suppose I’ll start at 3:30 a.m. because that is when I got up this morning. It really wasn’t that bad. When it’s race day, it’s usually fairly easy to wake up team challenge group cheer carolinas stephanie hughes stolen colon crohn's ostomy blogbecause your adrenaline is already pumping. The morning was uneventful as we got ready, grabbed all of our stuff and got some quick oatmeal for breakfast. The team got together for a quick group picture and we were off! (Pardon the blurriosity.)

We took the bus over to the vineyard, and set up to wait for the start of the race. This was a great part of the day because I got the chance to meet someone who I’ve been looking forward to seeing for a while. Rebecca, who is the lovely lady behind Caring for Crohn’s, and I started chatting a few months rebecca kaplan caring for crohns team challenge race morning half marathon stephanie hughes stolen colon ostomy blogback. We discovered that we were both bloggers who would be heading to Virginia for this race, so we’ve been keeping in touch and looking forward to officially meeting. She is doing Team Challenge for her husband, Dan, who was diagnosed with Crohn’s six years ago. It was great to catch up with both of them before the race and a perfect way to start the morning.

The race was set to start at 7 a.m., but buses were still pulling up at that time bringing runners, so they delayed the start for a little bit. I think we got underway around 7:20 a.m. I started the race off with Bret, another one of the mentors with the Carolina team, but he had a shoe issue about a half-mile in, so I took off ahead of him.

The run started off great. My hips weren’t hurting and I was keeping a good pace. I ran the whole first mile and after that I tried to keep a 4-minute run and 1-minute walk. That worked really well for me. I also decided to walk through all of the water stops and that was definitely a good idea, especially since it got up to the low-80s by the time we finished.

Around the 4 mile marker, I started chatting with another lady from Team Challenge who was keeping a similar pace to me. We stayed together for probably 5 or so miles and I found out that she was running for her daughter who has Crohn’s and was diagnosed at age 8. Her daughter, who is now 14, just had surgery to get an ileostomy in February. I told her about my surgery and what a difference it has made in my life. It was such a great connection to make and to assure her that her daughter would still have a full, beautiful life.

We split up around mile 9 and I took off on my own. I started getting chills, which worried me a little, so I slowed up a bit and did a lot more walking on those final 4 miles, which was fine to me. I got a chance to take in some of the beautiful scenery around me. I finally made it to the final corner, which was about the final 0.1 of the race, and I had just enough energy left for a sprint to the finish!

run half marathon virginia wine country stephanie hughes stats stolen colon crohns ostomy blogMy official running time was 02:34:08, which is about an 11:41 pace. I am so excited about that! When I think back to how difficult things were for me in March and how just 3 weeks ago I could hardly walk across the room, and to be able to come within a few minutes of my Vegas time… I don’t even know how to express how amazing that feels. And I should never have expected to PR today with the heat and humidity that we were dealing with.

But I came across that finish line strong and proud of myself for making it there again. I’m still very sore sitting here writing this, but that’s OK. I consider being sore after a race a badge of honor and I don’t mind it one bit.

And a big shout out to everyone who participated today with Team Challenge! You all are awesome and it was an honor to run with all of you!

Hello, Team Challenge! (Day 1 in Virginia)

I survived the 4 1/2 hour drive up from Raleigh to Leesburg, VA, today! I think that’s the farthest I’ve ever driven by myself. And honestly, it wasn’t that bad. Jarrod and I got up early to get me over to the rental car company. (We realized it would actually be cheaper to rent a car with good gas mileage to drive than it would be to drive the Tahoe.) I set off at 7:20 a.m. and got here just before noon. It was an uneventful trip, which is always best.

leesburg virginia team challenge view scenic stephanie hughes stolen colon crohns ostomy blogI went immediately in search of food and stopped for a turkey sandwich and salad. I tried the hotel while over there and they told me that my room was already available even though check in wasn’t for another few hours. I went ahead and got settled into the room and made my way over to the race expo to get my race bib and sign in. I was pretty tired by this point and didn’t feel like doing much, so I watched a little TV and relaxed for a little bit. Then got up for a shower and made myself presentable right about the time everyone else was arriving.

We had a group meeting earlier and it was great to finally get to sit down with everyone who’s a part of this. A couple of people I had never even met. We went through all of the details we will need for the race tomorrow and made sure we all know where we’re supposed to be and when. The coach talked a lot about the weather for tomorrow and said that no one should be trying to PR tomorrow (race speak for setting your personal record.) This actually made me feel a little better. I was never going for my best time, but I still felt that I should be improving and not doing worse than my last race. Because of the heat, she said you should plan to add at least 10 or maybe 20 minutes onto your expected time. It could be a long day…

team challenge pasta party virginia spirit lineAnd I just got back from the day before the race pasta party. This part is, to me, the most important part of this whole thing. It’s where everyone comes together and cheers each other on and knows that we are all there for the same reason. The run is kind of secondary to that. It was a great night of hearing inspiring stories and learning that, as a group, the Virginia runners have raised over $950,000! That’s just amazing and I’m so proud to be a part of it.

But I need to sign off now. The race starts in less than 10 hours and I’ll be waking up in less than 7. I’ll be back after those 13.1 miles!