Something you’ve hopefully never had to experience is the confusion of coming to in a hospital bed, trying to remember how you got there or why you’re there. You start to notice the equipment around you; the beeps and hums of the machines become more pronounced like you just emerged from under the water. Then, when you can finally make sense of what’s going on, a doctor tells you that if you don’t make changes, you won’t have much longer to live.
I’ve been in the hospital a lot, but hearing that changed my life.
If you had told me ten years ago that one day I’d be running an ultra-marathon, I’d have said you were crazy. When I was diagnosed with bronchiectasis, a debilitating type of lung disease, I had already noticed a significant decline in my health. Running never would have crossed my mind since I could barely walk up the stairs without wheezing.
I Had to Start Making Significant Changes
With my life literally on the line, I had to start making significant changes. The problem with this mindset is it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. You feel like you have to make huge, sweeping changes as soon as possible. But that’s not a realistic or sustainable way to live. So, I made small changes — everything I did to improve was a small step. It’s cliché, but the saying “the journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step” is true. And in the case of running a marathon, even more so.
I started doing more activities outside, like hiking — little bits at a time, as much as my body could take. Then I got into rock climbing, something I still love to do. But even though I had to start out very small — and believe me, everything was a struggle that I constantly had to talk myself through — the little steps started adding up. Before I really took a minute to reflect on my progress, I was doing things I could have never dreamed of just a couple years prior.
Even though my health has greatly improved, I do still require a mediport, which allows for the delivery of IV medications into my chest when I need them. So as far as I had come along, marathoning wasn’t something that I really ever considered because of the length and endurance required. But one year my sister told me she wanted to run a half marathon for her birthday. Even though I’d never run more than three miles in my life, I agreed to run it with her.
I Completed My First Half-Marathon
After a lot of training — and suffering — I completed my first half-marathon. This was three years ago now. Even though it was such a physical drain on me, it built a lot of confidence in me, mentally. So, I decided to try another one and ran a half-marathon with my daughter in California a few months later.
Since then, I have completed four marathons and four half-marathons. I also attempted my first ultra-marathon in July, completing 47 out of 50 miles. That’s a distance I’m not sure I could’ve biked at one point in my life, let alone run it. And, in November of this year, I completed my first ultra-marathon. My sister and I ran 53 miles to complete the Deadman’s Peak race. I’ve had to push myself through a lot of hard times, whether I felt too sore, tired or just plain sick. But in the long run, it’s all been worth it. I’m happier and healthier than I’ve ever been, and I owe a lot of that to running and taking it upon myself to make small steps toward a healthier future. If I can make these changes, anyone can!
As difficult as these experiences were on my family and me, they are what made me decide that I wanted to help other people and become a health coach and personal trainer. I started Elevation Health + Wellness to try to make a difference in other’s lives. I believe my story can be an inspiration to others that think that they cannot achieve their dreams.
If you are struggling to make healthy changes in your life, I invite you to attend one of our health, wellness, and weight loss seminars.