Rachael’s Story

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).
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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!