In a few months, two of my worlds will collide: running and Crohn’s disease. On Sept. 22 in Nashville, Tenn., I will run my very first half-marathon, about three times as long as I’ve ever run in competition.
13.1 miles – woohoo!
(Pray for my mother.)
If you’ve read my blog much, you know that I’ve been on “my journey to fitness” for more than a year. In November 2010 – about a decade after I first tried to become “a runner” – I caught the running bug for real. I started walking/running with my sister-in-law, and when her life got too busy to continue, I did it without her. It was harder to motivate myself without a buddy, but I knew I needed to do it for my health. Next thing I knew, two opportunities came along that would help me stay committed: a weight-loss competition at work, and the local women’s running clinic. I lost 28 of the 206 pounds that I started with. (In August 2011, a pesky surgeon had to operate on my knee, sidelining me for a few months, but on Dec. 31 I got back on track with the running. It took longer to get back to healthy eating.)
One of the reasons – no, dozens of the reasons – that I now love running has to do with the people.
First, there’s Bruce.
Besides Jesus, Bruce is the love of my life. He loved running way before he met me, and he has taught me so much about it. I used to go to races and watch him be fast. Whether I competed in those races or not, I was always watching Bruce be fast. God just made him that way.
And I was slow.
But not long ago, the tables turned and Bruce had to see running from my perspective. He took a five-year sabbatical from running, but it was not self-imposed. He was sidelined by Crohn’s disease. He had a flare-up that began in early 2007, and this one hung on for a very long time.
My very fast husband had to learn to stand on the sidelines and cheer while I competed in races, dragging my slow butt across the finish line from near the back of the pack. Witnessing this spectacle has been a lot less fun for him than it was for me, I can tell you. But he has kept a smile on his face, cheering and encouraging me at every opportunity.
Meanwhile, he has become quite the ladies’ man. (My husband, the chick magnet.)
At last year’s running clinic, we were short on coaches, and one evening I roped Bruce into volunteering. (It didn’t take much convincing.) When the clinic ended in mid-May, he was still volunteering and his love of running had rubbed off on the rest of us. Some of the ladies didn’t want to lose their momentum and suggested we keep going throughout the summer. Coach Bruce to the rescue!
We ladies – young and old, tall and short, plump and thin, brown and pasty-white – kept running. And running. And running.
We ran when it was 101 degrees and humid, the sun causing sweat to blind us. Sunshine or rain, we ran. We ran when we didn’t feel like running. We ran up hills – we love hills! (inside joke) – across bridges and overpasses, around tracks, through neighborhoods and even in the middle of the woods. Before long, we were running when it was cold again and our legs were so frozen they never warmed up, even after we ran 3 miles. (Anyone remember that 12-degree February morning at the river? Or the day it was a balmy 19 degrees?)
One hot day in early spring, a bunch of us even ran two races in one day. (I call us The Crazy Ladies of Running, Plus Bruce.)
And, all the while we ran, Coach Bruce was trotting along, doubling back, making sure his baby chicks were OK.
We were OK – mostly because we had a coach who cared about the slowest of the slow as much as he cared about the leaders of the pack.
No wonder the ladies love him.
Bruce has started being able to enter races again, although he will never get back the stamina he once had. Crohn’s disease has just taken too much out of him over the years. But he is our Coach Bruce. (He even has Brupies – get it? Bruce-groupies!)
And what’s great about it is that he makes it fun. His enthusiasm for running is infectious. For him, it is play, not work. (If you still don’t understand this, listen up: This man refers to hills as “speed bumps” or “extended passing zones.” He’s the crazy one!) At our women’s clinic pre-graduation pasta party this year, his Brupies presented him with a pink and black wig to match his clinic shirt. He wore it proudly, saying he hadn’t had that much hair in years!
At our running club’s Christmas party last year, Bruce won the Spirit Award, voted on by club members. He might not have been able to run in races, but he volunteered and he supported the club and the sport and the runners. (And since I was busy with work and school and never got around to writing the post I wanted to write about that, I guess this is that post.)
Bruce’s love of running and his enthusiasm for helping others to love it … this inspires me.
And so I will run the Nashville Women’s Half Marathon – my very first long-distance race – not for my love of running, which is strong, but for my love of Bruce, which is even stronger.
Crohn’s disease and its companion, ulcerative colitis (collectively known as inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD), are hideously devastating diseases. If you would like to help find a cure for this demon that plagues more than 1.4 million adults and children in the United States, please support me with monetary donations, encouragement or simply your prayers. I have to raise at least $3,200 before the race in order for the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America to pay my travel expenses (at least 75 percent of the money I raise will go to research and education).
I said I was going to run the race of my life, but it’s really the race for Bruce’s life. He needs a cure for Crohn’s disease. We all do.
Let’s race together toward that goal.
Here are the ways to make a tax-deductible donation:
- To donate online, click here.
- To pay by check: Leave a comment here, email me, find me on Facebook or call me and I’ll give you my address or arrange to pick up the check from you.
To learn more about the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation’s work, visit the CCFA website.
Thank you in advance for any way you are able to help. Together we can do this.
“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20).