Posts Tagged by 5k

Team Challenge: Running for Family

I’ve always been very open about my struggles with Ulcerative Colitis…it sucks, big time! In 2012, I ran with Team Challenge and helped to raise money to support the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America.  When Jessica reached out to me to let me know she was doing the same thing this year, I was thrilled!  It’s a wonderful racing team to be a part of and any bit of fundraising helps.  She offered to share her story on why she is running this year…  

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I’m so honored to write a blog post for Sarah. I’ve followed her Running at Disney blog since the beginning. I read a few years ago about her experience running the Virginia Wine Country Half Marathon and was very inspired. Little did I know, that I would have a personal reason to be a part of Team Challenge so soon.

I started running seriously in 2009 training for the 2010 Walt Disney World Half Marathon. Since then, I have run 16 other half marathons and 6 full marathons including 2 Goofy Race and a Half Challenges, Disney’s Wine and Dine Half Marathon and the Dopey Challenge this past January. The half marathon I am running this July will be the most meaningful one of them all. I am running the Napa to Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon on July 20th for Team Challenge. Team Challenge raises money for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA).

Until a few years ago I had no idea what Crohn’s or Ulcerative Colitis (UC) were. That changed forever in 2012. Ever since the birth of my nephew in 2010, my sister had been having trouble with cramping, diarrhea, and other intestinal issues on and off. By the summer of 2012, she had made so many trips to the emergency room, she lost count. Her Gastrointestinal Doctor diagnosed her with UC and planned on starting medicines to start trying to reduce the flares. In August, my family was scheduled to come to Atlanta for my baby shower from Maryland and right before the trip, my sister got a bunch of sores in her mouth. ANOTHER trip to the ER ended with the diagnosis of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease and she was sent home with some “magic mouthwash”.

She didn’t make the trip to my baby shower with the rest of my family and by the time my mom got home to her, she was very malnourished and not improving at all. One call to the GI doctor later and they were back on their way to the hospital. This time she was admitted.

Elizabeth before her life saving surgery

Elizabeth before her life saving surgery

The placement of her PICC line, intending to give her nutrition and medicine saved her life. The x-ray to double check the placement of the PICC line showed that her large intestine had already perforated in multiple places. The doctor said if she was at home much longer, she wouldn’t have made it to the hospital. Getting the call from my dad that she was headed into emergency surgery to have her entire Large Intestine removed was the scariest call of my life.

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A few days after surgery

That same night I was searching the internet for support groups and stumbled upon the Team Challenge Website. A running group that fundraises for the disease that almost just took my sister from me? This is what I needed to do. So this past January, I went to a meeting and was so excited about the wonderful things CCFA does! Their mission is: To cure Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis, and to improve the lives of children and adults affected by these diseases.

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My sister and I

Crohn’s and Colitis hit my family twice that year. My uncle was diagnosed with UC in the spring of 2012 and also ended up having an emergency colectomy. He now has a J-pouch and has his Colitis under control.

The great news is that my sister is on the road to recovery and living her life to the fullest. She is an amazing mom and enjoys spending every moment with her son Emmett.

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In fact she even started running herself!  She completed the Disney Family Fun Run 5k over Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend this past January.  

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I am so thrilled to contribute in my small way toward this wonderful cause. I want my sister, uncle and all of the other people I’ve met to find a cure and live full, healthy lives.  If you want to donate, please go to my Team Challenge fundraising page. Thank you so much, the money goes to such a good cause.

If you want to read my sister’s adventure through Crohn’s, Colitis and her ostomy, her blog is at mamasgotastoma.blogspot.com 

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Jessica lives in Marietta, GA with her husband, 1 and 1/2 year old daughter and three crazy dogs. She runs to have a few quiet moments to herself and keep herself sane. Jessica’s favorite full marathon was the 2013 Marine Corps Marathon and favorite half marathon was an epic adventure with friends running the Wine and Dine in 2013.  Follow her on twitter here: @jesscutler.

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Big thanks to Jessica for sharing her family’s struggles with UC and for supporting CCFA to find a cure.  These are really hard subjects to talk about, but the more we do talk about them, the more awareness that will be created.

If you want to learn more about Crohn’s and Colitis, head on over to www.ccfa.org for more information and please consider supporting Jessica…she even has some fun things in store for your donation.

  • $10: She will send you a Blue rubber bracelet that shows your support of the Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis foundation of America.
  • $50: She will write your name on the back of her jersey to share your support with everyone. 
  • $100: You can sponsor a mile of her race.
  • $200: She will make a “flat Stanley” character of you and take pictures along the course and send them to you after the race.  

Thanks again for the support and one day we will find a cure!!

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One Year of CrossFit

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One year ago today I walked into my first On Ramp class at CFM.  I was excited to start this journey, but terrified at the same time. It seemed like complete chaos in there.  The music was blasting, barbells were dropping and people were moving all over the place in some sort of strange dance I didn’t know the steps to.  It was thrilling to watch and I couldn’t wait to join in.  

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During that first class we went over proper form and movement set up: shoulders back and down, squat stance, etc…  It was like a whole new way of holding my posture and moving my body, something that has now become second nature to me.  Our first WOD was a few key movements for time:

  • 200m run
  • 15/12/9 of:
    • Air squats
    • Push-ups
    • AbMat sit-ups
  • 200m run

I finished this in 10:45.  Not great, but not too shabby for my first day.  I’m sure I could shave at least 3 minutes off that time today….going to have to give it a try soon.

Since then I have made some pretty impressive (in my opinion) improvements to my strength and fitness.  Here are some of my weight improvements from the first time I did the movement:   

  • Dead Lift: 63# >> 220#
  • Back Squat: 53# >> 145#
  • Front Squat: 58# >> 128#
  • Overhead Squat: 43# >> 73# 
  • Squat Clean: 45# >> 73#
  • Power Clean: 63# >> 103#
  • Thruster: 33# >> 75#
  • Close Grip Bench: 48# >> 90#
  • Shoulder to Overhead: 33# >> 85# (split jerk)

I remember during that first week when I picked up my first 33# barbell, I thought it was SO HEAVY!  It never even occurred to me that I could lift over 200#.  Crazy!

220# Dead Lift!

220# Dead Lift!

Not only am I stronger, but my running has improved a great deal!  With minimal running training, I was able to PR my 5K time by 4 minutes, my half marathon time by 8 minutes and somehow complete a full marathon!  I don’t think it would’ve been possible without CrossFit.  

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CrossFit has changed my life in more ways than I could have imagine.  It has not only made me physically stronger, but the emotional strength that has come out of it was unforeseen and just as rewarding…if not more.   I read a great article yesterday about how those who do CrossFit are “a society of those who simply want to be better” and this is 100% the truth.  It has given me the confidence to just be better.  To be better to myself and to others.  To strive to reach what I see as the unreachable.  To look my fears straight in the face and tell them to fuck off…I got this. 

CFM has become a second home for me.  I look forward to going there and that is something I have NEVER said about any other gym.  The only other place I look forward going to and torturing myself is Walt Disney World for a race, but that has a ton of other positive things surrounding it.  But CFM is different, I can go there and not be judged.  I have amazing coaches who not only look out for my well-being, but also push me out of my comfort zone.  Just yesterday, 2 different coaches told me to go up in weight and I’m so glad I did.  It’s pretty awesome to know that people have faith in your abilities even when you don’t.  

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And then there are the friends I have made.  I am lucky to have found a positive, supportive group of people through CrossFit who not only push me to be better, but make me laugh everyday. They make working out fun because let’s be honest, if we didn’t laugh our way through a lot of the WODs we would be miserable…they are HARD!  Plus it’s really cool to see everyone’s progress over time and how each of us have our own strengths.  Having this support system to talk about tough workouts with or to make me go on days where I’m just not feeling it has probably been the best thing to come out of CrossFit.  Totally unexpected and totally awesome.   

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While I have made tremendous strides in my fitness this past year, I’m still nowhere near where I want to be.  Body weight movements are still very difficult for me.  Pull-up, push-ups, burpees, box jumps…REALLY HARD.  In fact, I can’t do any of them without scaling down or having some sort of modification.  I know if I lost weight these things would be easier for me, but I sadly have a love affair with food and booze that is difficult to break up with.  I am eating MUCH better these days and try to eat clean 80% of the time, but I’m not perfect and still love my bread and martinis.  I know I’m getting stronger and leaner so this will come with time and practice.

Clearly, I love CrossFit.  It has made exercise fun and coming from me that’s saying something!  I used to HATE weight training and dreaded doing it with a passion.  I would do these repetitive exercises alone in my basement and just be bored to tears.  To actually look forward to power clean practice is mind-boggling to me.  I don’t foresee stopping anytime soon and all I want to do is GET BETTER.  With every PR I hit, the more exciting this sport becomes and the more I want to keep going.  Yes it’s hard, yes it hurts and yes I must be crazy, but I love it 🙂  

I must be crazy if I'm smiling on an Air Dyne!

I must be crazy if I’m smiling on an Air Dyne!

Have you tried CrossFit?  
If so, what have you learned from it?
If not, are you interested in trying it?

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