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Monday, November 14, 2011

104.8 Miles Worth of Marathons Complete--So Far!

Me after the marathon with Flat Scotty (a small/flat version of my husband I bring for special occasions when my husband is gone)

This weekend, I completed my fourth marathon.  My time was nowhere close to my best time, but I finished it and I'm so happy I did.  If you had asked me 6 years ago if I would ever run a marathon, I would've probably laughed.  If you had asked me 5 years ago if I would ever run a marathon, I would've thought it was physically impossible.

Just over 5 years ago, I was diagnosed with Graves Disease (a form of hyperthyroidism).  My symptoms were intense--123 resting heart rate.  I went from a Division I college athlete to barely being able to do a push-up or even 3 jumping jacks.  It was pretty terrifying.  But the diagnosis triggered something in me.  It was that whole "fight or flight" mentality.  Either I could flee and sit on the sidelines the rest of my life using Graves Disease as an excuse, or I could fight to regain my health.  So, under my doctor's supervision, I decided to fight.  Little by little I regained my strength and health.

About a year later, I really wanted to prove to myself that I would not allow this illness to take over my life, so I set my mind to train for and complete a marathon.  While I was training, my symptoms worsened and my medication needed to be adjusted.  A few months later, I asked my doctor if I would be okay to do more long distance running and he gave me the thumbs up.  My new years' resolution that year was to complete 4 road races--I completed 8 and signed up to complete a marathon in January of the following year.  I seriously got hooked on running!

I ran my first marathon just over 2 years after my diagnosis; it was the Disney Marathon in January 2010.  That year, Florida had record low temperatures and I ran my first marathon in 25 degree weather.  I ran all 26.2 miles and I was amazed at what my body could do.  The last 10 miles of my run, my iPod died and it was just me and my thoughts.  I can't begin to tell you how many times I thanked God during that race.  As I crossed the finish line, I had tears streaming down my face because I proved to myself that I could do it!

Here's a picture of me just after I finished my first marathon
My second marathon was incredible.  My mom had never really run much but she signed up to do a 5k while my sister Allison, and my brother-in-law Vince, and I ran a half marathon.  She trained for it and she did it.  A few weeks later, she announced that she was signing up to run her first full marathon in support of Team-in-Training.  She literally went from couch, to 5k, to marathon in 9 months!  My sister Lauren and I didn't think it would be right for her to run it on her own, so we signed up to run the Seattle Rock 'n Roll Marathon with her.  My mom was 61 when she completed her first marathon!  I was, and still am, so proud of her for that accomplishment.

A picture of my mom, Lauren, and me at mile marker 25.
A few months later, I signed up for another marathon with my brother-in-law Vince, my sister Lauren, and a couple of friends.  I always heard great things about the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington DC, and I was so excited to be able to run it with more family.  Lauren and I ran together for the first half of the marathon before I told her she could push on without me.  She motivated me to run the first half faster than I've run a half marathon before--ever!  Needless to say, that was my fastest marathon time.  The part that made this marathon even more special, was that my brother, Dennis, recently redeployed from Afghanistan and his plane landed down the road from the finish line shortly after we completed the marathon--I'm talking within 30 minutes!  It made for an amazing and memorable family reunion.

A picture of Lauren, Dennis, me, and Allison (pregnant) after Dennis arrived.
As I mentioned earlier, yesterday was my 4th marathon.  But I didn't mention that it was my 1st marathon without medication!  5 years later, my physician told me I can come off of the medication I was taking.  It was such an amazing/freeing feeling to complete 26.2 miles with no medicine.  God is so good!

I've had a lot of women tell me they could 'never' run a marathon.  I tell them they can if they want to.  Marathons aren't easy--at least for me they're not, but how much of life ever is?  I may not be I'm definitely not the fastest person out there, but that's what I love about them.  Everyone is running their own race.

So, if you're on the fence thinking about running a marathon, with proper training, you can do it!


  1. You are an awesome, amazing rock star, Kristen! You totally inspire me! Way to go, girlfriend!

  2. Kirsten, that is awesome -- and so is the fact that you're doing it medicine free!!! Yes, our God *is* an AWESOME God!!! (And I love your Flat Scotty -- that made me smile and cry at the same time.) Have a *great* week! :)

  3. How great you are! Congrats on a job well done! You are truly inspiring...Big hugs to you! Loretta

  4. I'm so proud of you Kirsten. I didn't even realize you'd gone through all of that. God is so great (I'm starting to see that more and more each week). Keep it up! You inspire me.


  5. Kirsten,

    This website is incredible. I had no idea about your story, truly amazing and inspirational. I'm so glad that you have found something that is so special and helpful in your life. I can't begin to explain what a gift running has been for me over the years. Best of luck in your upcoming endeavors, I think you are amazing! Happy trails!!


  6. Kirsten, i just found your blog and love it! And your story - amazing!! You just seriously encouraged me. Im a long distance runner and hurt my knee badly in the marine corps marathon two years ago and since have been uncertain about putting all that distance on my knee again - but you reminded me to put my mind to it and do it! Its amazing what our bodies can do when we push them!
    Your Mom is a rockstar by the way!!

  7. This is truly an amazing story. Thank you thank you thank you for sharing it with me. I am so astounded at the human spirit and drive towards growth and grasping onto our lives with grace, with support from others, and with a little bit of persistent vision


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