Posted in Living with Pain

Putting One Foot in Front of the Other

Just after 11:30 AM on June 2, 2013, I crossed the finish line at the Deadwood Mickelson Trail Marathon in Deadwood, South Dakota. In 3 hours, 37 minutes & 45 seconds, my friends and I power-walked (and ran a bit) 13.1 miles through the Black Hills. Just four days prior to the marathon, we practiced a part of the walk at 7.15 miles which took us nearly 2.5 hours so I never expected to be able to complete the half marathon in under four hours – never mind just over three and a half!Image 

For the average person, participating in a marathon is a challenge for sure. It takes training, dedication (or insanity) and the heart to pull it off. As a person who has lived with Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn’s Disease and Ankylosing Spondylitis my entire adult life (more years than I’d like to admit thank you very much), the idea of a marathon was quite frankly….NOT an idea! At least not in my mind. I was not the athletic kid, I was playing the piano or being the band geek. Running? Ha!! 

Once my illnesses took over my life, how my back could handle something or the worry of where the next bathroom would be found, ruled my life. So the idea of a marathon induced panic or pain just thinking about it! My fellow Crohn’s & Colitis friends know what our thoughts are: “What if I have to poop and there is no bathroom?  I SO am NOT pooping in the woods!!” Not the sexiest thing to talk about I know, but that is our reality.  

Hanging around in the freezing cold waiting for the starting gun, it was fun to see the various tee shirts of people promoting their causes. It made me wonder what other stories were out there. As Batman slid through the crowd towards the runners starting locations, it never occurred to me  that he had a story, I just figured it was something fun. I later learned in the newspaper that his name is Tim, he is 26 years old from Pennsylvania and is a Testicular Cancer survivor. Daily running is what helped him heal and as a life long fan of Batman, he thought he could lift others spirits by wearing this costume. Sunday was his first 1/2 marathon too. Gives me goosebumps, how about you?

Everyone out there on the course had their own goals I’m sure. Some were hoping to cross the finish line at a certain time. Others striving to beat last year’s marathon time. Perhaps others were hoping to have their fastest mile. For me – I just wanted to get to the finish line….in one piece….without having to be carried home…or to the hospital! 

 Keeping up a respectable pace, I was amazed when the first hour was done and we were already heading in to our fifth mile. I started sending text messages to my husband because I was worried that we were going to finish a lot sooner than projected, and he and my mom were going to miss being at the finish line when I crossed it. I imagined crossing the finish line and tears would well up in my eyes. It was particularly important for my mom to be there – to see what I accomplished. My mom has been there through all the crappy health crises (and then some). It was about time there was something REALLY good that happened with my health and my body! In my excitement about having my mom there, I exclaimed to my girlfriend in a loud voice with arms raised as though I was a preacher on a Sunday morning behind the pulpit, “She must bear Witness to my Accomplishment – Yes, She Must!!!!” LOL…..Needless to say my friend sped up a bit, so I had to jog to catch up with her. I suddenly realized, I just jogged and it didn’t hurt! 

As I crunched along the trail, I thought back to the time when I couldn’t walk because of the damage in my spine from the fistula caused by my Crohn’s and the fractures from the Osteoporosis. I remembered using my walker to take slow, painful steps from the living room to the bathroom that would bring tears to my eyes from the pain,  frustration and fear I lived with on a daily basis. I thought back to recovering from my back-to-back surgeries in 2009 and how my right hand was practically glued to my left side to provide a modicum of relief from the nerve pain from the surgical site where my kidney used to be. Every step or breathe I took was like a knife stabbing me between the ribs.  After every surgery, I slowly regained my strength. I always pushed to get back to “normal.” When I started walking to regain my strength, I never thought of those steps as a precursor to a marathon. 

Around the 7th mile, my feet really were starting to hurt. I was having some dull aching in my left side where I only have periodic nerve pain, and my hip flexors were starting to swear at me. Rather than focus on what was hurting, I changed my thought process. I brought Reiki in to my energy centers and visualized light filling my body and carrying me down the trail. I channeled Louise Hay by creating my own positive affirmation. I just repeated to myself “I am walking with ease.” I focused on anything and everything that was opposite of the pain. I brought in my lessons from one of my favorite Buddhist teachers Jack Kornfield. When my feet were sending shooting pains, I just noticed it and said “tingling….tingling….tingling….it’s just nerves tingling and it’s temporary.” I heard his voice over and over in my head, and the pain subsided.

This marathon…besides being an expression of my healing, it was an opportunity to use the many things I’ve learned over the years. That investment in my personal library of inspirational/self-help/spiritual books was totally worth it! I didn’t fall back in to my old patterns of focusing on the pain. Instead my focus was on the finish line and how I would feel when I got there. My focus was on the energy of nature and our interconnectedness. My focus was a celebration of life, of my life and the ability to not just put one foot in front of the other…but to run those last few steps across the finish line and declare my willpower the winner!


Hello and thank you for visiting my blog! I am a mixed bag all jumbled up with glitter writing a book, playing on ham radio (I'm WY7YL), being a Parrothead, making jewelry, running, reading, or running around with my camera taking pics of nature and my cats. This blog is a smattering of all of it!

20 thoughts on “Putting One Foot in Front of the Other

  1. Katie congratulations! So glad your different focus techniques got you to the finish line. You go Girl!

  2. Wow, I had no idea of what you have gone through. All I ever see is the smiling person of such positive energy and quick wit. This makes me more aware appreciative of your inner and outer strength. What an inspiration! We are all lucky to have you in our life.

  3. You know this girl has attitude – Positively! She’s also always crossing the line.

    Way to go Katie!!!!

  4. Congratulations distant relative! I married Marjorie Calnek Connelly’s nephew and have a son with mild UC and even that can be challenging. So inspired by you!

    1. Thank you so much Beth!! Great to connect with you. I wish good health to your son – let me know if I can send any healing ideas your way!

  5. Congratulations, Katie! I loved reading your post, and will be sharing it with others both here at SAA, and others in the spondylitis community. What an inspirational story! Wishing you continued success and good health.

    My best,
    Spondylitis Association of America

  6. I could NOT be more proud of you Roo. Congratulations on finishing ANY marathon, let alone with the additional challenges you face. Personally, I think the only good reason to run is if you are being chased by a bear or the Police. and I don’t have any excuses! You are such an amazing person. YOU are the wind beneath my wings……..

    1. Thank you Ron! Of course I’m always looking for validation from my big brother, but your comment is EXTRA special!!!

  7. Congratulations Katie and BIG, BIG HUGS!!! You are a true inspiration!! I had no idea how much you’ve been through. This has been quite a testamony to your Faith and I am so happy to hear how much you’ve overcome!! May you continue to be strong in Mind, Body & Soul. Love & Blessings, Jenn (Hop-A-Long) ❤ ❤ ❤

  8. Way to go Katie! Love how you are able to do so much with your positive thoughts. As has been said often whether you think you can or you can’t it seems you are probably right. This is quite an accomplishment, one you should be proud of, as well as how you’ve been able to draw inspiration from and give inspiration to others. Keep smiling and I will see you down the log, 73.

  9. I ran my 3rd half marathon at Casper WY the exact day you ran this half! Congrats!!!! I hope to run this half next year, I’ve heard good things about it! Btw, your blog on my Husband’s Uncle Leo led me to this post!

    1. That’s great, I can’t wait to say I’ve done my 3rd!! I really liked the Michelson, it’s just really really beautiful!!! I’ll be doing it again next year – let me know if you sign up!!

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