I’m overwhelmed-in-a-good-way (and excited) about all the stories flooding in from those of you who want to share your experiences running (and I’m telling you, at the heart of it, it’s not just about running; reading through your experiences makes me realize this is bigger: it’s about overcoming challenges and setting goals and achieving what you never thought you could). Thank you! I can’t even begin to describe how motivated I feel after reading them. I plan to share them throughout the upcoming weeks.  If you want to share your story of running and setting goals (no matter how small) check out this post with details.

Today, it’s all about Rachael! I don’t know her personally but her story buoyed me up incredibly and made me feel like I can really do this (because I’ve had a few doubts this week). Thank you, Rachael! Read on, my friends (because if you’re like me, I know you’re curious about why she’s all bandaged up like that).
rachaels story featured image

My name is Rachael and I’m a 36 year old mom of 4 daughters. My running journey started after the birth of my last daughter 5 years ago, but it really got interesting last year. I’ve been about 30 lbs. overweight since having babies, and have tried many times, unsuccessfully, to lose the weight. Early last year some friends invited me to go mall walking with them. We live in chilly Chicago, so walking inside sounded perfect. I quickly realized that I was capable of a lot more than mall walking and I decided to return to the gym and train for a 10K. I had run 2 previously, but it had been a couple of years. I found a great training app and got going. About 3 weeks after I started my training a friend joined me, and we’ve been joined-at-the-hip training partners ever since. We successfully trained for, and completed, two 10K races in June of last year. During this time we both experienced significant trials in our families. In my case, my 11-year-old daughter was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in May 2014. Crohn’s disease is a little-known chronic autoimmune disease affecting the digestive tract. It has many negative side effects, and requires very serious and scary medications to bring it into remission. There is currently no cure for Crohn’s disease. This diagnosis rocked our worlds and brought a lot of stress and tumult to our lives. I truly believe that I was able to get through the initial shock of the diagnosis and the adjustments that followed because I was already in a good training pattern, and because of my almost daily chat sessions with my friend while we were running. Running allowed me to get the stress out and focus on something other than my fears over my daughters’ health, if even just for a short amount of time. It also gave me some time to do something for myself. I am certain that if I had not already developed the running habit before my daughter’s diagnosis, I certainly wouldn’t have been able to get going during that stressful time.

Anyway, after our 10K’s, we decided to go for a 1/2 marathon. Again, we found a great training app and got going. We trained together all summer, usually meeting well before 6:00am to run before our husbands left for work. I will always be grateful for that summer of running, and the way it got me through one of the hardest trials of my life. In September we completed our first 1/2 marathon. All was going well until mile 4 when I tripped and fell in a gravely, uneven area. My sunglasses lens popped out and cut my face, in addition to some other wounds. I was determined to finish the race, even though my friend was quite certain I’d need stitches. We talked the medical crew into just bandaging me up, and we finished the race. I went straight to the ER afterwards and got 9 stitches on my face, but I was too excited about finishing the race to really even care about that. I’d accomplished something I didn’t think I’d ever be able to do. All together last year I ran one 5K, two 10K’s, a 10-miler, and two 1/2 marathons. We are now training for a marathon in April 2015!

I am so grateful for running. It saved my life last year and has opened up a whole new world to me. I have learned what my body and mind are capable of. I have learned that I can be strong and finish what I’ve started. In addition to the emotional benefits, I was also able to lose 30 lbs! I barely even realized that it was happening, but as the weight came off and I got stronger and stronger, the running became less about the weight loss and more about my desire to push myself and to see what I was made off. Running is one of the greatest gifts in my life and I’m so grateful for all of the blessings that I’ve seen in my life because of it.

The attached picture is me with my children after my first 1/2 marathon, complete with the huge bandage on the side of my face from my injury 😉

rachaels story

Thank you, Rachael! You are amazing and I hope you rock that marathon this April. Good luck!

9 Responses to Rachael’s Story

  1. Tanya M. says:

    What a great, inspiring story Rachael! Thank you for sharing!! Many blessings to you and your beautiful family!!

  2. Heather bell says:

    What a great running story

  3. Mel says:

    Rachael – thank you for letting me share your story!

  4. barbara says:

    I have known Racheal since 1991…yep, she was pretty young then. She has always been, and still is, amazing…as a wife, mother, and friend. Much of her “amazingness” she gets from her Mom who is a very dear friend of mine As a person who has also struggled with weight most of my life (and I am a lot older) I know the discipline that it takes and the rewards that come from adding running to your life.

    Way to go, Rachael!

    • Mel says:

      Thank you for commenting, Barbara – very neat to hear from someone who knows and loves Rachael in real life. I can tell she is amazing!

  5. Shelly Burr says:

    What a beautiful story. Running has changed my life too. In 2012, my close friend very suddenly passed away from bacterial meningitis. She had a husband and 3 young children my kids’ age. She was a runner, and had recently ran a full marathon and was signed up for a 10 mile race. A group of friends from church decided to run the 10 miles in her honor. I fell in love with running and the friendships I built along the way. I ended up going on to run a half and then a full marathon about 8 months after I had first started running. A year later, I ran another full and raised money for a cause close to my heart, the Spina Bifida Association – my third child was born with SB and I had prenatal surgery with her. She is our miracle, and has taught us not to take the little things for granted. We ended up raising almost $25,000 for the SBA and had many people running in, “We Run For Kaitlyn,” shirts. This year, I’m running the same marathon again, raising money for our local SB chapter. We have raised almost $3,000. I love running, and it’s been really beautiful to see friends and family come together for a cause close to my heart. You are going to have a wonderful journey to that 13.1 Mel! Love the website.

    • Mel says:

      Shelly – thanks for sharing such a tender and moving story about your friend who passed away. I love what you said about the friendships you built while running and also for the insight into your child with Spina Bifida and your running to raise money for that association. That is remarkable the amount of money you raised! Good luck on your marathon this year! You have inspired me!

    • Rachael says:

      Shelly, I’m so inspired by your story as I’m very strongly considering doing a fundraising run with the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. Any advice on fundraising? I’m more scared of that than the running, that’s for sure!

      • Shelly says:

        Thanks Mel! Rachael – running with a cause is so meaningful, and it is heartening to see all the people from all parts of your life who come out to support you and donate. I have lots of advice! The thing that brought in the most $ for us, was printing shirts. We asked local businesses (chick Fil a, tutti frutti, etc.) to sponsor ($150-$250 each, but you could easily ask for more) the back of the shirts. Then, we took orders from all our friends and invited many of them to run with us – our event had a full, half, and relay marathon, and a 5k, so we got a ton of runners wearing the shirts at the race. We sold tech shirts and t-shirts about $4-5 over cost and donated all excess. We also had lots of fundraisers, restaurants donating percentages, donation jars that I put at local businesses, bake sales. But the shirts and sponsors and just emailing/FB reminders probably brought in the most. We are doing something much smaller this time around, just the shirts and FB/Instagram posts about it. it was much easier this time because of the contacts we had from last year. Best of luck to you!! Please feel free to email and I can help you out if you decide to fundraise. Shellyjburr@gmail.com

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