Strava Marathon (Bellingham, MA)
Finish Time: 3:48
Temp: 73 degrees
Run For: Shawn
Associated Virtual Marathon: Baystate Marathon (Lowell, MA)
Today’s marathon was run for my friend Shawn. I first met Shawn at a group training session one winter a few years back, when he came to run with us and check out what Team Challenge was all about. Shawn had never run long distances before and the idea of running a half marathon and raising money and awareness for the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation peaked his interest. I remember running and talking with him that first day, finding out he was a patient, hearing about his struggle and eventual surgery, so the idea of doing this with Team Challenge had a deeper meaning for him. I would later find out some of his family members also suffer from IBD so I knew embarking on the Team Challenge journey would be beneficial to someone like him.
After that group training, and most group runs, we get together at a local coffee shop and it was at this particular one where Shawn met the rest of the team and witnessed TC as it really is. For those who are a part of the TC family, you know how these group get togethers go. Conversation is relaxed and comfortable with any and all IBD related topics openly discussed. There is no shame or embarrassment here and if you are having a tough day or not feeling your best, you can open up, talk about anything because this is your place, these are your people.
I’ve always felt the Team Challenge family, and experience is more therapeutic for participants who are patients. It almost does more and means more to the mind than it does for the body, exercise related. Yes, we run and walk raising money and awareness for the cause, but seeing patients have a group of people that they can relate to, who have been through what they have, a place where they feel safe to talk and open up, that’s what TC is all about.
Shawn quickly joined our team; I think he even confirmed he’d be joining us at that gathering after his first group run. Over the next couple months, I could see Shawn become even more comfortable around his teammates, he fit right in with this group pretty much from day one. Having someone like Shawn, who didn’t have many conversations about his disease with family members or other friends, join this group and get the chance to talk about things only helped his situation. He mentions in his story how he now has had more conversations about IBD and I’m so happy his Team Challenge experience helped facilitate that. He is not the first person I know where this has been the result of joining Team Challenge and I know he won’t be the last. You will hear many participants say that joining Team Challenge has changed their life. It is so true and on so many levels, and Shawn’s experience is proof of this. Team Challenge is all about helping and supporting each other and our TC family is second to none!
Running outside for this marathon today was amazing! With temps in the mid-70s it felt more like summer than it did late fall. The whole weekend was just really nice so running in the warm sun made for an easy time. Like some previous marathons, I went into this one looking and trying to find some roads that had a little incline to them. There are no steep roads near where I live so trying to get in some elevation on my runs usually involves hill repeats and a lot of out and backs on the inclines I do find. I tend to run the same hills once I find them and today I did hit some familiar ones as well as a couple new ones.
That being said, I have always enjoyed running hills and being able to incorporate them into these marathons is something I enjoy doing. Every runner is different and I know a lot of TC runners like to keep things as flat as possible so I guess I’ll run the hills for all of us.
Despite all the hills today’s run felt good and my legs felt fresh. Running is always a great stress reliever for me and with all the craziness still going on with the pandemic I feel like running is still my normal. I can get out there and run, away from others, and still do what I’ve done for years. Running hasn’t changed for me and I appreciate that and have since this all started in early March. The one thing I do miss is racing and races in general. I love the running community and not being able to race the big marathons and even the smaller local ones has been hard. Running solo is fun but races are exciting so I’m hopeful this time next year things will be different and we can get back to running with others.
Just like the previous few marathons, I broke this one up into two parts, the first taking place outside and the second being done inside on the treadmill. I’m continuing to work on getting in distance on the treadmill and easing my way into getting comfortable and more importantly getting my body adjusted to being on the treadmill for longer periods of time. As with most things when it comes to running, a slow progression and easing into change will allow your body to adjust and stay safe while continuing to feel good. The treadmill part of this marathon felt good and my legs benefited for sure from the lack of elevation.
Marathon 43 is now complete and I couldn’t have asked for a better day. Just 7 more marathons remaining now. A huge thank you to Shawn for allowing me to share his story and to run a marathon for you. I’m glad you took a chance and came to that first group training and eventually became a member of our TC family. Your story is an important one to share and I’m honored to be able to do so with this marathon journey. This 26.2 was for you!