Strava Marathon (Bellingham, MA)
Finish Time: 3:34
Temp: 58 degrees
Run For: Jen
Associated Virtual Marathon: North Olympic Discovery Marathon (Port Angeles, WA)
It’s only fitting to run a marathon and share the story of someone battling IBD during Crohn’s & Colitis Awareness Week. Crohn’s & Colitis Awareness Week was created in 2011 by U.S. Senate Resolution 199, “A resolution supporting the goals and ideals of Crohn’s & Colitis Awareness Week, December 1-7.” Crohn’s & Colitis Awareness Week is designed to bring together the IBD community around a shared goal – to raise awareness and educate the public about IBD as part of the foundations mission to see a future free of Crohn’s and colitis. There is always a large social media campaign during this week every year where many post to help raise awareness during the first week in December. If you have friends or family who have IBD or are involved with Team Challenge or the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation you’ve undoubtedly seen a lot about Crohn’s & Colitis Awareness Week.
Jen isn’t on Facebook, but to still be able to share her story on there is important, especially for those who follow along with 26.2 For You through social media. I know she can feel the love and support from all of you who have commented and appreciate her for sharing her story.
I first met Jen, when she signed up to run her very first half marathon with Team Challenge. She joined our Saturday morning group trainings and met so many participants and fellow IBD warriors. Being somewhat recently diagnosed with Crohn’s disease she was able to talk with others who have been through similar situations and, like what has been mentioned before, people who just “get it.” It’s one of the things I love about Team Challenge, seeing those who have IBD get immersed in a community of people who do get it, who have been through the same stuff and can relate. There is a special quality about a Team Challenge participant; it’s how much they care. They are there for each other because they just know; they do understand how hard it can be to deal with all that comes along with IBD. So seeing people like Jen join this group, I knew she was going to get so much more out of it, besides running a half marathon while fundraising for the program. She was going to meet a bunch of amazing people and gain so many new and lifelong friends. She’s basically getting a new TC family who are always going to be here for her. It’s by far one of the best things about Team Challenge.
As far as the marathon goes, this one was done entirely on the treadmill today, yes, the entire 26.2 miles! I knew this day was coming at some point and I’m actually surprised it didn’t happen sooner. Weather in New England is more often than not unpredictable, and always changing. One day it can be in the 70’s and feel like summer, then the next thing you know, it’ll drop 40 degrees and we will have a snow storm the very next day. November was actually very mild weather wise with decent temperatures along with most weekends turning out to be favorable for running outside, despite the lack of sunlight in the afternoon. Today, the first weekend in December, was a different story as we got a storm that came in Friday night and lasted the entire day today. It was cold, windy with a lot of rain falling, which later turned into snow during the afternoon and night. Ultimately with this forecast, I decided that today was the day to just stay inside and hammer out 26.2 miles on the treadmill, being smart and staying safe.
Jen mentions in her story the Finish term, sisu, which I’ve actually heard before. We ended up talking a lot about this term and what it means during the time we spent running together on those Saturday morning group training runs. Jen has an attitude, a drive, that exemplifies this term, sisu! Jen has determination, a grit and that never-give-up attitude. She definitely has a resilience to meet and exceed life’s tough challenges. Now, when I hear the word sisu I think of Jen and if I was asked to describe what sisu means, I’d just say look at her. She is the perfect definition of sisu!
Running 26.2 miles on the treadmill is hard, but I think it’s more mentally challenging than it is physically. Don’t get me wrong, running 26.2 miles, outside or inside is definitely hard physically, but having control over the environment, like running inside on a treadmill helps with that. Mentally trying to stay in one spot for hours without any outside distractions is hard and makes the time pass incredibly slow. Knowing today’s marathon was going to be done all inside; I really had to channel my inner sisu, or as I described earlier, my inner Jen. With the right, positive mindset you can accomplish anything, I honestly believe that. Going into this marathon, I wrapped my head around staying consistent, being patient, and pushing through one mile at a time, no matter how hard or challenging it got.
At times, I did listen to music to help distract me during the middle portion of this marathon. Other times I tried to think about friends, like Jen, who are battling these diseases and how their “challenging treadmill marathon” doesn’t end once they hit a certain distance. Each day is a new day which holds the chance of a flare, a new symptom, a reaction to a medication, or the realization of even something major like a surgery. Once I hit 26.2 miles, my challenge, my struggle, it ends. I simply push the stop button then I can relax and recover and immediately end my running battle. There is no stop button for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. There is no cure, only treatments which work for some but not for all, but it’s still only temporary, more like a pause button. I’m running 26.2 miles and sharing these stories because we need that stop button. I know way too many people that desperately need to push stop so they can finally be done with their struggle, their battle that has gone on way too long already.
This weekend is the end of Crohn’s & Colitis Awareness Week, but not for those who have IBD. They are aware every week and every single day of the year. I believe awareness is important and will lead us to getting those cures we need for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. We need that stop button and I’m not stopping until we get it and I’ve got a lot of people who are fighting alongside right here with me. 26.2 For You is for raising awareness, not just this important week, but every week.
I’d like to thank Jen, for allowing me to share her story and run a marathon for her. I’m so grateful for her friendship and for the support she’s shown me from the day I met her. She is a true IBD warrior and great advocate for Team Challenge and the cause. It was my honor to run for you during Crohn’s & Colitis Awareness Week. This 26.2 was for you Jen. 26.2 For You!