Back in freshmen year of high school, I decided it'd be a great idea to join the cross country team at my school. I wanted to be different from my sisters/friends, and for some reason (I'll never know), I felt that running 2 1/2 mile races and training my butt off everyday after school would be a good way to do that...
God is funny, though. He has a way of revealing passions to us that we never really knew existed. I truly believe joining that team was the best decision I ever made for myself and my health... Even though the immediate effect of it wasn't ideal.
You can read my full story here, but long story short, halfway through that season, I began to have heat strokes during/after my races. Following those fainting spells and trips to the ER for severe dehydration, I'd spend days/WEEKS in bed praying for the migraines to go away. I was absolutely miserable, popping Advil every hour possible, and no one could tell us what was wrong.
I ended my season early and basically stopped all physical activity at that point. My symptoms began to pile on... My joints were always very hot and red, I was awfully nauseous, and I'd get terrible back and side pain at night. Low-grade fevers would pass by morning and certain pain would disappear by numbing areas with ice packs. I started skipping a lot of school because of pain. Still, no one could help me.
Finally, after blood tests, MRI's, CT scans, and x-rays, I was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis. My doctor immediately put limitations on my physical activity and recommended only walking and swimming as exercise. I was crushed that something I was so passionate about had been taken from me by a disease that was controlling every area of my life.
Fast forward two years and MANY trial-and-errors with medications later, (which would bring us to February '13) I decided to stop letting my doctor's and arthritis define me. I realized that only I know my body well enough to limit it and with that, I started to run again!
I started by running 1 mile. I started out at a slow pace because I knew I'd need to ease into things, but eventually, I was running about an 8 minute mile!
Only a few weeks later, I was running TWO miles at a time. I was comfortable and oh-so proud of how much I was growing. I was "satisfied" with and proud of that, but my ultimate goal has always been to run 5 miles. That's when I decided to slow things down and see just how far I could go...
One of my biggest milestones was reaching 3 miles. At that point in my journey, I really started to believe that giving up is not an option... That I am in control of my body... And that I am capable of so much more than I could ever imagine.
A few weeks later, I had a rough day at school and decided to take it out at the gym. I rocked 4 miles that night and could not believe it. That night, I seriously laid down thinking... HOW?! WHO AM I?!
Finally, just about two weeks ago, I Ran 5 Miles & Lived To Tell About It. I've reached a goal that I set less than 6 months ago, I feel healthier and stronger than ever, and my smile is just a tad bit more genuine because of how thankful I am to have earned this passion of mine back.
I'm grateful for the journey that's brought me to this point... I'm thankful for all it's taught me, and I'm so stinkin' glad that I can use my story to inspire, motivate, and encourage. I'm grateful that I CAN run - it's a privilege, it's a passion, and it's something that makes me who I am.