Running with Joy!

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I ran my first 5K!!

Why is this particularity fantastic? Well, if you know of my health journey over the years, you will understand. As a kid I was generally healthy, loved to be outdoors, and even played a few sports. I was never very good at those sports, but I was still able to run around and have fun. However, when I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at age 16, things changed. I was sick a lot of the time. I struggled with anemia and tired very easily. I didn’t like to run or jog or do anything that involved a bouncing motion, due to the nature of my autoimmune disease.

The idea of becoming unfit and unable to do things never sat well with me, so I did what I could. I played volleyball in high school. I hiked gorgeous mountain trails in college. I followed a fitness routine that involved the standard pushups and sit-ups. I strove to do anything that everyone else was doing, but I was never where I wanted to be. Whenever I felt like I was actually accomplishing something, another flare would set me back. The Drs would raise my dosage of prednisone and it would always look like I had gained weight in my face. Each new flare meant a loss of blood and a lot of rest to allow my body to recover.

Needless to say, this never helped my body image, even though I was 5’10” and weighed 120lbs. Yes, I was tall and thin. But I was never HEALTHY.

As time went on I learned that it was OK to rest or to let others lift the heavy stuff for me. I had to learn that it wasn’t my fault I was sick, and it was OK to sit down when standing was too much to handle. I had to learn that my body’s definition of being healthy was different from other people’s. Pushing myself to keep up with everyone at the gym left me exhausted and feeling sick instead of healthy, not to mention comparing myself with others was never good for my mental health. Instead, I learned that the healthiest things I could do for my body included walking outside every day and taking naps in the afternoon. At first I had to push past the idea that I was being lazy. I thank God for my wonderful husband who encouraged me to rest even when there were dishes to be done or when dinner was not made! Eventually those walks turned into short runs, and the naps became less frequent.

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Fitness is not an immediate thing, and we need to be careful not to push for instant results in a culture that strives for instant gratification. Fast results often mean you are doing long term damage to your body. It takes weeks, months and years to become healthy, and a lifetime to stay healthy. Realizing this obvious secret has given me incredible freedom from comparison and the feeling of never being good enough. Working at the pace my body needs allowed me to train for my first 5K in a healthy way that did not cause me to flare up due to unnecessary physical stress on my body. I’ve had an amazing network of support through family and friends, cheering me on through resting and running. When I heard the Color Me Rad run was coming to town, I invited some of these amazing ladies to share my joy and run with me.

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These are the gals who have prayed for me and listened to me voice my fears and frustrations. They have let me cry on their shoulders, and they have brought me meals when I couldn’t handle being in the kitchen anymore. They are amazing, and I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate than to run with them.

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I ran for so many reasons that day!

I ran thanking God for these ladies.

I ran because I was physically able to, and wanted to celebrate my health.

I ran for all the times I have been sick in bed unable to walk without pain.

I ran for all the times I needed help in everyday physical activities.

I ran knowing my condition is still present, but that it can be handled well and lived with in grace.

I ran praising Him for the abundance he has given me in friendships, resources, knowledge of my condition, and recovering health.

I ran with joy!

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