As long as I can remember, I have been a runner. I started running in high school. Running was my life. Running was my first love, my second love was my husband. I met him in high school track in 1992. I am like Forrest Gump, if I go anywhere I was running.
In High School and college, I discovered running was something that I was good at. I was competitive. I won several races. My mile PR was 5:40 minutes. I won “Most Improved,” and an academic award for maintaining above a 3.75 GPA my senior year.
In 1996, I ran my first marathon. It was Grandma’s Marathon, and I ended up with a torn mensicus. I had to stop running, and have arthoscopic knee surgery in 1999. After my knee surgery, I stopped running for a time, but it didn’t last long. As soon as I was cleared by the Physical Therapist to run, I was running again. I trained as a member of the 2001 Minot AFB marathon team, and completed the Trestle Valley Half Marathon.
In 2002, I started to try to have children, and was told that running was stopping my regular cycle, and in order to ovulate, I had to stop running temporarily. As soon as I got pregnant with my son, I started running again. I only ran short distances, and continued running until I developed severe pre-eclampsia in 2003. In January 2004, my son was born, and 6 weeks post-partum, I was running again. Ryan was bundled up and snuggled in a jogging stroller. Throughout 2004, I ran a few 5Ks, and 10Ks, but nothing regular.
I got pregnant again in 2004. My son was beginning to develop symptoms of autism. I started to eat my pain. After my daughter was born, I had ballooned to 240 pounds. I was winded when I went up and down stairs, walking to the mailbox. My husband was running and qualifying for Boston. I missed the feeling I had while I was running. In 2008, my dad had a massive heart attack. He had an infection in his heart brought on by diabetes. I had a doctor tell me that I was destined to be like my dad if I didn’t changed something soon. I decided at 180 pounds to start running again. I started running 1 minute while walking 40 minutes. I continued to do this until I was running 3 miles at a time. Then I started to train for longer periods of time. Eventually, I worked my way up to a half marathon. I ran my first half marathon since 2003 in 2007. It was the Bismarck Half. I had gone from 240 to 145 pounds. I was losing more and more weight, the longer I was running.
Eventually, I signed up for and ran another half in Virginia. I finished in 2:10 hours. I signed up for my first marathon since 1996 in 2008. I ran the OBX marathon in 5:12 hours. After that I ran more and more marathons. One marathon turned to two marathons, and two marathons turned into a Goofy Challenge in 2013. Finally, just two weeks ago, I finished my 10th marathon in New York City. As I was running New York City, I knew that there was something wrong. 5 weeks before the marathon I felt pain in my back and hip. I just shrugged it off as a minor inconvenience. I was going to run New York City Marathon no matter what.
I went to the doctor post-marathon, and today was informed that I will likely never run another marathon again. I suppose I should be thrilled that I have been able to not only run 1 marathon, but run 10 marathons. I have done two Disney Marathons, I have run in one of the most premier events. Instead I am crying almost as much as I was when I found out my son had autism. You see running is much more than just a hobby for me. Running has been my therapy since 1992.
In high school, running helped me meet my husband, the love of my life. Running proved to me that I was good at something other than academics. It helped me tone my body, and made me feel good about myself, when I was at the lowest point. In the late-1990s, and early-2000s, running helped me cope with being geographically separated from my husband for 3 years. It made it worthwhile. In 2006, when my son was diagnosed with autism, running saved me. It saved me from the utter hopelessness that I experienced with an autism diagnosis. To this day it gives me something to look forward to– my races, the trips to see cool parts of the world, and the experiences I will never, ever forget (like running through Cinderella’s Castle at Disney World).
Today I found out that it may be all over. I have been diagnosed with degenerative disk disease. I will be seeing a surgeon for a bulging and herneated disk. I may never be able to run again. I will have to find something else other than running to keep me in shape. I will probably be in some form of pain the rest of my life. I will start hearing the “I-told-you-so’s” from those that have never experienced the thrill of crossing the finish line. Today, the doctor telling me that I might never run again, was like someone reaching into my chest and ripping my heart out and stomping on it front of me. The one thing that had kept me vital and the one thing I was good at is over. The dreams I had of running until the day I die are now put on hold. The only effective therapy for my autism symptoms is now gone. Today, the doctor stole my soul…