24 Aug

Ah, setbacks.  We’ve all experienced them.  We’re taught to face them head-on, find a work-around, beat the system.  But some setbacks are there for a reason, I guess.  And those we have to face and accept.

I was planning to run in the San Antonio Half-Marathon this year.  This has been a goal of mine for YEARS.  I love to run, and I thought the training process would be a great distraction from the stress of fall.  I signed up to run on behalf of the American Cancer Society in a program called DetermiNation.  They pay the entrance fee and provide all the training; I raise money for cancer while I’m training.  Win-win!!  I had already started asking  my friends to make donations in the name of a loved one who had been impacted by cancer.  I was planning to write all their names on my race day shirt, with a goal of 100 names.  And I’ve already got names!

I had already been cleared to run by my primary doctor; his only rule was that I absolutely had to run with  my phone.  This doesn’t seem like a big deal, but I use the nike+ipod device to track my runs, and they don’t have an iphone app for it yet.  Still,  I made the adjustments, and kept going. 

It’s been a pretty hot summer here in San Antonio, so track workouts have been pretty brutal.  In late July I was running and knew I was dehydrated.  I wasn’t sweating, even though I was sprinting in 100 degree temps.  In fact I got chills while I was running.  So I stopped.  I know how to listen to my body.  I wasn’t going to push.

Early the next week I had a routine visit with my cardiologist.  To be honest I didn’t even think I was going to see him.  I thought I was just getting a pacemaker check .  But they said I was on the schedule, so I went with it.  Now you need to picture my cardiologist in order to get the full weight of my story.  Think Ricky Ricardo.  He saunters in the room, “Hey baby, how you doin’?”   Seriously, if I wasn’t in a tiny room with white walls and a picture of the heart anatomy I’d think it was a pick-up line.  I love him. 

“Fine!”  I tell him. 

“No problems?” he asks?

“None!  I feel great.  In fact, I’m going to run the half-marathon in November!!”

And then it went downhill.  He was not at all in favor of my participation.  He feels that the risks are too great.  If I get dehydrated and my electrolytes get out of whack it could immediately cause arrhythmias which may or may not be treatable with my defibrillator…it gets worse but I’ll spare you the details.  Suffice it to say the word “brain damage” was used.  Also “death”. 

So…a setback.  A major setback.

I spent the first five years of this diagnosis facing the reality that was chronic illness and figuring out how to NOT let it rule my life.  It was hard.  I cried alot.  I felt helpless and scared, and only after digging into the depths of my spirit that I didn’t even know I had was I able to overcome that and live a (pseudo)normal life.  It’s been a long time since my disease got in the way of doing life MY way.

But here I am again. 

It’s a reality that sucks.  I’m sorry, it does.  The bottom line is I am now only allowed to run with a partner, I cannot ever push myself, and I can’t be competetive.  If you run you know it is often a solitary activity, mostly because we all have lives and it’s just hard to coordinate schedules.  And the thought of being dependent on someone else in order to achieve my goals is…well, it’s yucky.  Training is all about pushing – convincing yourself to continue when your body and mind want to stop.  I’m not allowed to do that.  If my body says stop I have to stop.  And the competetive thing?  It’s a race. 

So I’m going to do the only thing I know to do with a setback.  I’m going to OWN it.  Here’s the deal – I am going to run in the half-marathon, but I’m going to do it with a partner, and I’m only going to go as far as I can go.  If that’s four miles, fine.  Seven miles?  Great.  But I have no goal.  My only goal is to cross the starting line. 

And now, instead of running on behalf of people who have been impacted by cancer, I’m running for everyone with setbacks.  The money I raise will still go to the American Cancer Society.  But my mind and spirit are in this for all of us who face setbacks every day.  I’m running for Sweet Pea’s mental health issues, I’m running for my best friend with Crohn’s disease, I’m running for my mom and dad who lost their son to a heart condition and 19 years later still feel that pain. 

I’m running for me. 

I’m running for all of us. 

***Want to help?  Make a donation through my ACS link (<—click here) and be sure to leave me the name of the person you’d like me to run for.***


2 Responses to “Setbacks”

  1. Susan Bourgeois August 25, 2010 at 7:51 am #

    Hang in there sister! You have the right attitude. You know that we’re all running with you.

  2. Edgardo Gonzalez August 25, 2010 at 3:30 pm #

    Way to go Katy:) You are a runner.

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