What is it like starting something over, not once, not twice, but four times? I could be a complete negative Nancy and consider it the worst thing in the entire universe, while ignoring more serious issues in the world. I could clothe myself in non-socially acceptable attire, sit on the couch and collect my tears in a pan of brownies. I could throw in the towel. I could be all of these thing and so much less, but that’s not me. And here is my story.
I lived most of my life existing, not surviving. I let my taste buds make decisions. I ultimately decided to turn my life around in 2009, and I successfully lost 100 lbs after 1 year of fighting with my inner demons. I didn’t start running until long after I had lost the weight following a slew of bad situations. I battled with caloric restriction (800-900 calories per day and excessive exercise) despite losing 100 lbs the healthy way, causing me to lose an additional 24 lbs. I was terrified of returning to the body I once harbored. I was consumed by numbers, chained to the $20 scale in my bathroom. Running saved my life in that it has allowed me to find balance in all areas of my life. It helped me avoid a full blown eating disorder on the other end of the spectrum.
Running became my escape. Before I knew it, I was standing at the starting line of my first full marathon on May 6, 2012 – a race that changed my life forever. I felt invincible until my world suddenly came crashing down shortly after running the Marshall Mangler 50k. My running career came to a screeching halt in early 2013 after not being able to withstand another step. After 1 solid, incredibly long year of extensive testing and blood work, I finally had an answer. Lyme disease. I completely lost all hope in ever being able to run again, let alone feel normal. I muddled through each day trying to grasp onto any ounce of optimism I had left. I stared blankly as I self-administered antibiotics through my picc line. It felt pointless. And when my insurance decided I was “better,” it felt like my life was ripped out when my home nurse removed my picc line. I felt lost. I felt defeated.
Through my journey with Lyme disease, I lost a huge part of who I worked so hard to become. I felt like my life was over, and to be honest, I wanted my life to end. Dark thoughts visited my mind on a daily basis. Like magic, motivation struck me again in 2014, along with encouraging words from friends. I bit the bullet and signed up for a race. It was a 5k, but that day, it felt like a marathon. It was difficult, but I crossed that finish line and gained an entirely new outlook. I worked hard. Yes I did. The fears I had became a thing of the past. I rebuilt a solid mileage base with the help of my running family – Steel City Road Runners. They welcomed me back with open arms. New Year’s Day 2015 was a memorable one. I ran 10 miles, and with some convincing, I made an important decision.
I chose to give the whole marathon thing another try. And I did. It was my slowest marathon, but the most meaningful, even more meaningful than my first. My goal was to find the person that I lost, and I did. I crossed the finish line a blubbery mess. I felt like a born again marathoner. I’m 2 months away from completing my 7th marathon since my life flipped upside down, 9th marathon in total. I still suffer repercussions from the disease, and I’m forced to take medication to feel normal, but I no longer let that stop me from chasing fear. I’m living my life despite what my disease may throw at me, and the only hand I ever needed was my own. It took me a long time to realize it, but…
I AM MY OWN HERO.
1.) Heaviest weight (230+ lbs), ironically sitting under a “Lazy Days” poster.
2.) One year after starting my weight loss journey (130ish lbs, April 2010).
3.) Months after heading too far in the other direction (106 lbs, July 2010).
1.) After my 1st marathon (running saved me from disordered eating, 120 lbs, May 2012).
2.) A week before being told that I have Lyme disease (E.R. trip November 2013).
3.) 1st marathon post Lyme disease after 1+ years of not running (May 2014).