Tag Archives: volunteering

This is no fable

Often when you tell someone that you’re planning on running more than 13 miles, all at one time and within a few hour timeframe (after they’ve give you the “you’re crazy” look), they’ll say something like, “Wow, I could never do that. I can hardly make it a mile without running out of breath.“ Well, not too long ago, that we me. I had zero endurance and a pathetic amount of strength. But little-by-little, I increased my workouts from hardly being able to WALK a 5K to completing a half-marathon in right about 2 ½ hours.

As I’ve only done two races in my life, I do not pretend to be an expert by any means, but in my time spent as an endurance athlete, there’s one thing that sticks out to me as making the biggest difference in my training: PACING. To me, this applies both to your actual speed and also to your breathing. Once I got that down, I quickly went from only being able to make it .25 of a mile before having to slow down and walk to running 2 miles, and I went from not being able to swim 250 yards continuously to over 1000 yards without stopping.

And all I did was learn to regulate my breathing and find that right rhythm that worked for me. Once I found it, it felt like I could go on forever at that pace. And that’s basically what I did for the Vegas race.

It’s like the old Aesop Fable of the Tortoise and the Hare. Slow and steady wins the race. (And “slow” is a relative term here. By it I mean not going at your top speed for those first few miles, because you’ll never make it the rest of the race. However, I realize that some people’s “slow” is actually pretty darn fast.)

I am not good at pacing myself in my day-to-day life. I want to sprint to the end and leave that tortoise in the dust. And I’m not like the rabbit who just wants to show off… actually, scratch that, I AM like the rabbit and I AM trying to show off. However, it’s not trying to be arrogant, it’s more of showing off for myself and proving that I can do it all, despite the fact that Crohn’s has tried to slow me down and despite the fact that I no longer have a colon. I want to show that it’s not going to hold me back. I think I’ve always felt that way and sort of felt like I was compensating for something.

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That’s me, passed out in the bushes.

So once again, I have taken up too much on my plate, and I’m feeling the effects of it. I’m so far behind… in EVERYTHING. I’m not being able to run like I want to; I haven’t raised the money I need to raise; I’m behind on the plans for the Walk that’s just in a couple of weeks. I told myself after last year’s debaucle of trying to train for a half-marathon, raise $3500 and study for and actually do well on my GRE that I would not over-book myself again. Well… here we are!

June 1. That’s the date after which I am going to have to calm down. No more commitments. No more projects. I apologize, but if you have something you need for me to do, I’m going to have to say “no.” At that point, I only have two months left until I start grad school and I have a good bit of brushing up that I need to be doing between now and then. I am going to try to enjoy the summer without worrying about meetings and events and everything else that I have gotten myself caught up in over the past months.

And it’s not that I don’t enjoy what I’m doing. It’s just too much right now. I need to give myself a chance to catch my breath and find my rhythm.  Otherwise, I’m never going to finish this race.

The best part of Team Challenge

Stolen colon crohns ostomy blog ccfa team challenge half marathon colitis team challenge tuesdayThere are a lot of reasons that I have enjoyed being a part of Team Challenge. The running, the traveling, the goal, the finish line… But I have to say that perhaps the best part is the people. I have made some wonderful friends through this program and am looking forward to making even more this year.

This week has been really exciting because I have gotten the chance to meet some of my team members. Since the main group is based out of Charlotte, I think having that group aspect here in Raleigh is even more important. So far, I have two wonderful ladies on my team. One lives right here in the Triangle and I had the pleasure of sitting down with her for coffee. I really enjoyed getting to hear her story and how she has lived with IBD, as well, and now wants to do something that she’s really passionate about. I am definitely looking forward to running with her and getting to know her better.

The second girl is out of Pitt County, so while I haven’t been able to meet her in person yet, I’ve enjoyed speaking with her on the phone and hearing how she’ll be running for her father who was diagnosed with IBD just a couple of years ago. I’m hoping to have the opportunity to meet up with her soon and help make sure that she gets to enjoy this program just as much as the rest of us.

And finally, I just found out this week that my GI doctor for the past four years is going to be running, too! The girl who leads the Carolina’s Team Challenge group just told me last week that he spoke at one of their events and made a challenge of his own: if three people in attendance signed up, he’d run, as well. So I just found out that those three people did sign up, so he’s jumping on board. He actually ran with Team Challenge a couple of years ago. He made me laugh this week when he sent me an email saying that he general runs four times and week and at least one of those is around 10 miles. Then he said that he knew he wouldn’t be able to keep up with us young people. I laughed out loud at my computer as I replied that he would be leaving all of us in the dust. But I’m very excited about this opportunity to work with him where I’m not just sitting there telling him how things really aren’t any better. This will actually be the first time I’ve seen him since just about a month after my surgery.

This Sunday we’re all planning on having our first group run, so I’m really hoping I can get everything coordinated with every one. I’m ready to really get this season rolling!

(And hey! If you’re in the Raleigh-area and want to come run with us, just send me a message. We’d love to have you!)

Working on the Walk

For years, I knew I wanted to do something to make a difference in the IBD world. I thought about what options there are out there, but I soon found that there aren’t a lot of them. Let’s be honest here, I’m not a doctor and I’m not a nurse. I have some good friends who have gone into the nursing field, and I have so much respect for them, but in my experience has a hospital patient, I’ve realized that it’s not the path for me.

Then there’s the pharmaceutical path, where you are doing drug tests or promoting new medications. But I’m not a science person. I am a writer and I enjoy creativity and projects. I knew I would not be happy in this type of position.

So I’m left with the question: how can I help? That’s what lead me to get involved with the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America. I have been a supporter of the CCFA for a long time and have attended several events, but I had never actually gotten involved in a volunteer capacity. Last year, when the realization of how sick I was truly manifested in front of me, I decided to get involved.

I was a last-minute addition to the Triangle Take Steps Walk last April (and I wrote about it in one of my very first blog posts on The Stolen Colon: Taking steps). I did a couple of other events, as well, last year and ultimately got involved in Team Challenge, but I wanted to do more. So I signed up to be a part of this year’s Take Steps Walk committee.

We’ve had a couple of meetings, so far, and just had another last night. This is a really great group of people who I am so excited to work with. Some have done a number of walks in the past, others are brand new like me. But I am looking forward to getting to know all of them and helping put on this year’s walk. I was also named the Publicity Chair, which means that I get to work with the media stations and newspapers and write press releases and interest pieces. I’m doing what I love and doing it for a cause I believe in! I can’t ask for anything more.

A humbling proposal

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It’s Team Challenge Tuesday again and if I am going to be completely honest, this was not my week for training. I had a hard time getting out of bed each morning and sticking to a decent length workout. I have a goal to workout 5 times a week for 45 minutes. I started at 35 minutes and have been raising it by 5 minutes each week.

Now that I have my cast off, I was able to go for an actual outdoor run this week. I also realized how much harder it is to run outdoors than it is to run indoors! Holy moly, I didn’t even make it for a half an hour! I was so exhausted and out of breath by that point. On top of that, my calf muscles have been really tight this week and I have no idea why. I didn’t do anything differently, but they’ve been very sore and have been making running a bit more difficult. I stopped early and spent some time stretching. They’re feeling better, but still sore.

Back to my point, now. For any of you who are training for a race: Get Outside! There is such a difference in your endurance and that’s where you really learn how to breathe through your workout. For me, breathing has been such an essential part of the whole equation. Once I figured out how to breathe correctly, I moved very quickly from having to stop every mile or so to making it through the full 13 miles.

Working out in the gym definitely has it’s place and perhaps the bulk of your workouts may still take place there, but try to get outside once a week. That’s probably more plausible at this point since it’s so cold and you can do the outside workout on the weekend.

On a different note, I received a very humbling request this week. Every year, each Team Challenge chapter has a team honoree whose life has been directly impacted by Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. Many people who get involved with Team Challenge may not have a direct connection to IBD. The basic role of the honoree is to be someone that the participants can connect with and to share their story for those who don’t have or don’t know someone who has IBD.

Well this year, I am very honored to have been asked to be the team honoree. I am excited to have the opportunity to share my story with those who will be training with us and raising money for Crohn’s and colitis research. I am looking forward to meeting everyone who will be involved and I am working on putting together a short video that can be shared at any group meetings that I won’t be able to attend. (Perhaps I’ll even post it on here once it’s done.) I am very proud to be a representative of the IBD community for this group. The hardest part is trying to fit my story into a 3 minute segment!