My very first half marathon was in wine country.
Apparently I can be convinced to run if I know wine is waiting on me at the finish line.
I ran (and walked and trotted) the forever sold-out Napa to Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon, exactly one year ago from today’s date.
I was never a runner before this race- not even a little bit. Before Napa the greatest distance I had ever committed to was a 5K years before this race, and I distinctly remember walking alongside a participant who was drinking a beer between strides…if that tells you anything about my speed situation. I honestly just decided to start running, which is the best advice I can give to anyone who is thinking about running.
Just go for it!
Why now? I’m a Crohnie, and I needed to prove something to myself- I stumbled across the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation’s website after I discovered that my Crohn’s disease wasn’t going away, which took a couple of years for that sweet news to really sink in. I honestly didn’t realize there wasn’t a cure, and after nearly three years of on-again-off-again symptoms between infusions at the hospital every six to eight weeks, I was disgruntled and began searching for answers. That’s when I found Team Challenge.
(I know, this sounds like an infomercial. It’s not! Hang in there with me…)
Team Challenge is a fun-loving group of crohnies and/or caretakers or strangers who fundraise for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation and train together for half marathons near, far, and beyond (they also do triathlons, too!). The funds raised support patient programs, provide education to the public, and my personal favorite, fund research. The particular season that I joined happened to be training for Napa. Sign me up!
It was tough, especially balancing active Crohnie probs with running. But I was running with people who understood, or at least cared for someone who understood. Some mornings were amazeballs and I’d pump out a fast ten miles like it was nothing, but occasionally I’d have to cut a run short and sprint home to make it back in time to be sick. Other days I just couldn’t get out of bed, but beyond all the trials running changed me. Team Challenge changed me on a molecular level, and helped me accomplish more than I ever imagined for myself. Because of Team Challenge, I now identify as a runner (which in my mind sounds like I’m a little badass)
After the first couple of months of training, I actually began enjoying running. I even enjoyed early mornings (see? it changed me!)! Some runs were HARD, as in listening to the nike lady congratulate me through my headphones for my 12:30 pace hard. Others were amazeballs, and the good, brisk runs made me thankful for all the hard, terrible runs. Without perseverance through the hot, hard days of training, I wouldn’t have so many good runs. Every time I got a new PR, I cried happy tears- what a nice, normal sight for strangers to see. But I wasn’t in a hospital bed. I wasn’t in a fetal position on the bathroom floor. I wasn’t in my bed fatigued. I was defying sickness. I was testing the limits, and I was feeling truly alive.
Life is like that, too. Sometimes you wake up thinking, “How did this happen to me? How did I end up here?” Well. It’s not the end. You are going to be looking back one day thanking God and your lucky stars for keeping you through all the rough times, because they truly do make you stronger. Strength is something that’s hard to develop, but persevere. Reach, persist, believe, be determined, and stick it out. You will rise above. You’ll look back and marvel. And you’ll live to tell about it.
Lindsay greeted me at the finish line with the biggest smile and sweetest hug (even though I was sweaty)! I don’t know my time from this race, but it was something ridiculously slow. The point to me was to finish, and that I did! I ran up hills and down through valleys next to family-owned vineyards and past small children with lemonade stands. I ran in wine country, yall! And I did it for cures.
One year race-iversary, and I’m hooked. Never.looking.back.
Keep moving forward 🙂
P.S. I am tremendously grateful for each of you who supported me through prayer, good ju-ju, or straight up financially so that I could cross the finish line and raise hell on behalf of fellow Crohnies. Thank you for believing in me, and thank you for believing in cures! I am always thankful for you (Phil 1:3)!