Thank you for hanging out with me! From day to day you never know what life will throw at you. And it will often be this way in my blog as well :) But lest RUN WILD and LIVE FREE in this amazing adventure together!
I have had to take a lot of time off this year from running compared to 2015. So decided to look back on my write up I did on my personal facebook page about my first Half Marathon in 2015 and wanted to share it with you all! And Gazelle girl....I am coming for your in 2017!
It took me until the day after my first Half Marathon, the Gazelle Girl, for it to really sink in that I ran a half marathon! It was a long journey getting to this point. I stared out in late fall of 2014 with the goal of doing the Gazelle Girl Half Marathon in April 2015. I chose a 20 week beginner friendly training plan as I had already been running for about a year and a half and had completed several 5Ks but had never been able to get myself past the 4 mile point in my training. So I began the plan! It took me longer than the 20 weeks and several time I talked about just not going any further. But once I got to the 10 week point I felt like I had already committed so much time and effort to the program I didn’t want to give up. Set backs during the 20 weeks such as an injury in November and getting the flu in February made me wonder if I would even complete the training let alone on time for the race in April. But I stuck with it and altered a few of the week’s plans. Once I ran 10 miles I felt it was a reality to try for the race. My personality makes it that I need to run the actual distance once before I register for a race. Just to know I can do it. Well of course I chose a route that was very hilly and by the time I was done with the 13.1 miles I swore to myself I would NEVER do that again. After a few days rest…..I registered for the Gazelle girl run! Pain is only temporary whereas the feeling of accomplishment lasts forever. I also ran another 10 mile run before race day to test out my fueling ideas and water break ideas and it went very well so that helped boost my confidence. Still leading up to race day there were several times I felt like I was going to throw up just thinking about the race. I pondered in my head what my strategy for the day would be and how I would run the race and even up to the time of the start I still hadn’t decided.
I was very nervous until the day before the race when we went to Grand Rapids to do packet pick up and check out the Expo. For some reason that settled my nerves and made me excited for the following morning and race day! I even was able to sleep well that night which has not happened the night before even a 5K in a very long time.
Going in to race morning I was rested, had my game plan with my husband on where he would meet me on course with my sport jelly beans and knew the course was fairly flat. Thankfully we got there in time for me to wait in line for 15 minutes for the bathroom and still have time to get to the start line with the other 2000 runners and feel ready. I lined up right around the 11 min a mile pacer and knew with my run/walk method of doing the race that I would actually end up near the 13 min mile pacer but figured I didn’t need to start there and try to fight my way through the crowd as I had decided to run the full first mile. The full first mile was one of the best paces I have had for a mile in a race before. And I felt good. I almost felt too good at that point as I wanted to keep running but knew if I did I would regret it later so made myself settle into my run/walk plan as that is how I had trained for this race and knew it would work well. The race was set up very well and they had bathroom stations along with water/aid stations ever 2-2.5 miles. The first 3 miles were wonderful. After the race my parents asked me if I ever get a runners high and at the time I was so tired I said “no”. Looking back on things I think I can take that back. I felt so good the first 5K of the race and even the second 5K. I started to think “what did I get into” once I got past mile 6 but then realized by mile 7 that I had completed more of the race than I had left to run and we truly were “on our way back” to the finish. That was a very exciting and proud moment for me. Running through the riverside park was probably my favorite part of the race. Such wonderful scenery and great spirit stations. Crossing the 10 mile mark was so wonderful as well. To think all that was left was a 5K. And I had done so many 5K’s in the past I for sure could finish this race. AT this point I was starting to get very hungry and pretty tired. But I had come so far and I was NOT going to stop. I would cross that finish line no matter what! At this point I was still doing well with my run/walk method. At mile 12 I hit what I call a “wall”. I think a lot of that wall was actually caused by the large hill that was at mile 12! What a “wonderful” place for a hill to be….the last mile! LOL. I chose to walk up that hill and even a bit further than I had planned at that point. With ¼ of a mile left I knew I had to dig in and run! The cheers from the people I don’t even know on the side walk on the road cheering me on and saying things like “WAY TO GO” “YOU GO GIRL YOU ARE FINISHING STRONG” and “WE ARE PROUD OF YOU RUN HARD TO THE FINISH” were incredibly inspiring and so helpful to me at that point in the race. It really brought a smile to my face that complete strangers were cheering like this for me. How awesome is that!? Coming through the finish line was so wonderful. To run through the finish line was my goal. To finish the race was my ultimate goal and to finish in 3 hours was my final goal. My official time was 2:59:33 (and that included one bathroom stop). So I achieved all my goals for my first half marathon.
I am so inspired by accomplishing this race. I could not have done this without the support from my husband and family along with how fun it was to see my parents throughout the race as well cheering me on. My husband was there for me exactly where I needed him and when. At the two aid stations we had chosen ahead of time along with riding his bike ahead in the race to exchange my water bottle out for me. I could not have done this first one without him!
I am excited and nervous to say that I don’t think this will be my last half marathon either. I want to get better at this distance and have seen how it has helped build my confidence in running 5Ks through my training for a half. It has shown me I can truly do anything I put my mind to as well! And I love wearing my Gazelle Girl Half Marathon charm on my necklace and know I earned it and wear it proudly!
Today I am tired. I am tired from a full day at Michigan’s Adventure (an amusement park) on Friday and tired from a day of hunt testing on Sunday. I am tired from the toll AIH can take on me.
But more than I am tired I am BLESSED
Blessed to be able to see my son and one of his friends face their fears head on at the amusement park and overcome them (big roller coasters) and see their huge smiles after!
Blessed to have my wonderful husband by my side through all life’s joys and trials for the last 12 years (today is our anniversary) and many more to come!
Blessed to have an amazingly supportive family both related by blood and those I now call family through our many ventures over the years with our animals!
Blessed to be able to spend the day in God’s creation watching a puppy I bred and own do what he was bred to do and it putting me in awe like it was the first time I have seen my beloved German Shorthaired Pointers do their job so effortlessly!
So today I am tired but today I am beyond BLESSED in so many ways. Tonight I will rest. Rest with my family and rest in Gods love and amazing grace. Not every moment of every day will be the most amazing. But every moment of every day we are blessed!
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."
My story with being diagnosed with AIH started in the spring/summer of 2002. I was living in Mt. Pleasant, MI and my home church in Holland, MI asked me to come on a mission trip with them to Niagra, NY. I grew up loving mission trips so of course I was happy to go.
All the way to NY I slept a lot. Which I figured was just being tired but the other leader who was driving was concerned and expressed that to my mom. She was with as well.
I don’t remember much of the time in NY. I know I slept a lot that first night and was not feeling well spending a lot of time in the bathroom. The next day I went to the hospital. Being the area that we were in I got questioned a lot if I had been doing drugs or sleeping around. This can be very frustrating for an 18 year old who was not doing any of that. It was very frustrating to my mom as well. They did bloodwork and told me I had hepatitis. This answer did not sit well with my mom because there was nothing I had done in my life to bring on a contagious type of hepatitis. So she rented a car and we drove home. I can’t even imagine the stress this was on her.
To give an idea of how sick I was here are what normal Liver Function Tests are supposed to be. There are three that they test ALT, AST and ALK. These measure a number of functions in the liver but are vital to know the health of the liver:
ALK 30 – 120
ALT 10 – 40
AST 10 – 40
I started this journey in July 2002 with levels of:
No wonder I couldn’t hardly keep anything down and was spending a lot of time in the bathroom along with having yellow skin and the whites of my eyes being very yellow as well!
I was so blessed to be able to have my parents by my side though as they demanded the best doctors in west Michigan to see me immediately. I am sure there were countless phone calls made that I was not even aware of. After these blood test there were several other tests to rule out every other liver disease. Several CT scans and tests to drink really nasty stuff that I don’t even know what they were for! Everything except for my LFT tests came back normal and fine. So last ditch effort was to pull a liver biopsy.
My biopsy was in September 2002 (I believe) and at that time my levels were even higher:
My liver biopsy itself was not bad. The after math was terrible. I have never experienced so much pain and discomfort. But the biopsy led us to a diagnosis of the AHI. We had some answers finally. I was put on very high dosage of prednisone taking 12 tablets a day which was I believe 60 mg a day! Thankfully this helped bring my levels back into a more stable range. It took quite some time to be able to lower my levels of prednisone and add in Imuran.
Imuran is an immune suppressant medication. It is the same type of medication that they will put a transplant patient on often. With the combination of Imuran and prednisone the LFT levels held stable to closer to normal range.
We did decide to have a second opinion done as well at the University of Michigan in the spring of 2003. The doctor we worked with there was one of the best in the nation. He was able to review all of my tests and the past liver biopsy from my doctors in Grand Rapids. He told us that that was one of the worst liver biopsies he has ever seen and that he has really never seen anything like it before. My liver biopsy from UofM confirmed diagnosis and he said it looked much better than the original.
There is a lot more to my story and journey through the last 14 years since diagnosis. But I am just amazed looking back at it now. At 18 we think we will live forever and we don’t understand the extreme nature of some of this stuff. As more of an adult and now that I have a family I really realize how lucky and truly blessed I was from the beginning. God gave me an amazing family that truly went to fight for me. I look at those levels and wonder if I should even be here or if I should have more damage to my liver because of them! Through all the other people I have met with AIH I have never seen anyone with levels that high. It really shows me that God has a plan for me and my life. Am I living it? I don’t know. I am doing my best though and I am excited to see where the future leads!
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.