My race was over, having come to that realization a week later. I sat starring at the back of the seat in front of me on a stuffy, full flight headed to Denver. Nervously hoping my kidneys would make it through the ride, I just wanted to get home. Although home would seem so far away considering I had another stop at the ER once I arrived back to Colorado. This was the promise I made to the doctor in Sugarland, TX when she agreed to release me while my blood lab levels were still high but downward trending. Instead of celebrating my 5th National Championship, I was dreading going to the ER for the 5th time this year. HOW COULD THIS HAVE HAPPENED?!
Well here is what all that the doctors are telling me. Untreated Crohns and autoimmune diseases seem to be the theme. I had rhabdomyolysis. I was running world record pace for the 100 mile trail, I made it 93 miles. At about 90, I knew I was in trouble and it was happening fast. Salvaging every last effort I had to make it to the second to last aid station, I stumbled in thinking if I can just get some broth down I will be fine. I can totally make that last 7 flat, fucking sea level miles…even if I had to crawl. Much to my (and probably everyone else's) surprise, my health quickly went downhill. I could not keep my eyes open. My body quit. It was done, more done than it has ever been before. I had NOTHING left.
As a matter of fact, I don’t really recall even what happened from there until I was somewhat functional in the hospital. I had to educate (maybe convince is a better word) doctors and nurses on the fact that this was not my first rodeo and I had been doing this for last decade. As a matter of fact, I was planning on this being my last race at the hundred mile distance. I had to talk them into believing that I do this in the high elevation mountains, in extreme conditions, technical terrain, and for a hell of a lot longer time… there HAS to be another reason it would take me out this time on a pancake, nice weather, sea level course. AND that I was not an idiot. I do not take ib profin. I did consume enough calories, fluids, and was peeing just fine! I wouldn’t get clear answers or support until I arrived back in Colorado to the land of sports medicine doctors who know their stuff. Uncontrolled Crohns was the agreed upon culprit. My levels indicated malnutrition. Nothing being absorbed through my messed up small intestine. Fancy that.
Side note: Texan hospitals really need to work on the health of their menus!
So why wasn’t I on medication even though I was diagnosed almost a month earlier? Insurance. We all know it, hate it, and have to deal with it. And for those of us with Crohns, we know how much it costs ($1500 a month!) for that medication to eat without explosive shits and actually absorb nutrients.
Why the heck would God send my down to Texas to run 93 miles for nothing?! (I'm pretty sure it wasn't just to see santa!) I went there for one main reason. To inspire! And all I could think of is how I probably ended up doing the opposite. Then it hit me…
Although my main goal for Texas was to inspire, my main “business” goal with Rugged Running has always been to create a supportive community that revolves around running, biking, or hiking (because hey we have to have something in common). Blown away by this slap in the face (and although I would have preferred it shown to me a different way), I realized, this was just THAT but to the extreme!
Not only did I have newbie coach, nanny and friend Kelly agree to come along for the trip, help and crew, but Rugged Runner and our Marketing Manager, Joni, would be picking us up from the airport and letting us stay at her place. She would also drive us down to Brazos, crew and help. Oh and it does not stop there… Marie, John, and others stepped up to help get me to the hospital, house and feed my crew who were stuck with me, clean up my tent/gear that was still back at my campsite while I sat in the hospital and even came to visit me in the hospital! Not to mention other Rugged Runners still out on course running and asking how to support me! RR coaches Tara and Shelby stepping up in my place to take care of any other RR athletes all around the globe. Meanwhile, other RR peeps back home helping the hubs out with Maya and their needs and this continued not just days but weeks later… and now months and I’m damn sure it will be years!
And because my health drama never seems to end.. just a few weeks later I started finally taking Crohn’s medication, and wouldn’t you know it, I had an allergic reaction from hell. It mimicked meningitis symptoms. When I found myself back in the hospital again for 3 days, guess who was there to help. The entire Rugged Running family (and of course a few awesome non running friends!) So I guess if I had to run 93 miles and be hospitalized twice, blow a National Championship to see that hard work does pay off (it just might not be the way we expected it too), then so be it. Because it’s not just for me to see, or you to see, it’s for all of you to realize that there is support out there. There are communities forming that you can be a part of, grow with, raise your kids with! I hope you consider Rugged Running as one. I can’t say how proud and honored I am to be a part of the Rugged Running community and all of my athlete’s lives!
Side note: It took the first doctor at the ER 8 Lumbar punctures (spinal tap) until she finally quit and got another doctor who knew what they were doing! Shout out to that dude, thanks for extra ventilation holes in my spine lady!
So what now? Well, back to square one. Getting a Rheumotolgist to oversee all my health issues, autoimmune diseases, and medications! After a few months of healing, I hope to have that one last shot at conceiving and keeping a healthy baby, but if that is not in the cards, then training and racing some “shorter” distances maybe. But I think you all know me enough that that probably won’t be good enough so Leadwoman may also be an option 😊
I can't thank my Rugged Running family, my good friends who always step up (karen, Giovana, and Nahysa), as well as my sponsors who never give up on me! GU ENERGY, ULTIMATE DIRECTION, HEALTH WARRIOR, ELDORADO SPRINGS, ICESPIKE, EVERGREEN MOUNTAIN SPORTS.
I will also be hosting a weekend bootcamp in Conifer CO in January, a luxurious run camp in Arizona in February, and we are excited to start our kids program in March!!! If you haven't already, check out our calendars for purchase to support "Girls on the Run" promoting strong female athletes! CLICK HERE!