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The Daily Battle: Running with Auto Immune Disease

Crossing another finish line means Angela’s winning the battle

Angela Clark wasn’t supposed to run long distances, much less marathons and half marathons. Every morning she wakes up, preparing to battle her autoimmune diseases. In her edition of My Running Story, Angela provides a glimpse of what she’s up against on a daily basis. She also explains how she’s winning the battle with every step she takes and every finish line she crosses.

Angela Clark after crossing another marathon finish line, winning the battle against her autoimmune diseases.

Angela Clark poses with her family after crossing another marathon finish line!

The daily battle

I was a track and cross country runner in high school, but slacked off in college and veterinary school. In my third year of veterinary school, I was suddenly diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, an autoimmune disease. It got so bad that, two years later, when I was an intern veterinarian working 60-80 hours a week, I had two intestinal surgeries. They wiped me out. I weighed 98 pounds, was so weak that I could barely walk around the house, and slept 20 hours a day. Nothing gave me joy. 

My mother gave me a book written by a nurse who had ulcerative colitis. That book said that we should exercise, but let’s face it, we’re not going to ever run marathons. I was not going to have her tell me what I can’t do. Four years after my surgeries I ran my first marathon. Since then, I have been diagnosed with eight autoimmune diseases with the overarching, umbrella diagnosis being “mixed connective tissue disease (MCTD)”, similar to Lupus. Every day I take inventory of how I feel. There’s always some kind of combination of bone-crushing fatigue, joint pain, and swelling. The list goes on – coughing, brain fog, white fingertips due to Raynaud’s, weight gain due to hypothyroidism, opportunistic infections like pneumonia, and painful eye inflammation. I consider MCTD almost like a different person and an opponent. 

What running means to me

To me, running means that MCTD and I are going toe-to-toe into battle. Every day I’m fighting to win. Every day that I can put one foot in front of the other I’m winning the battle. This past October I ran my 20th Marine Corps Marathon in Washington D.C. and celebrated the win (even though I finished two minutes before the course was closing). Even though I only run the Austin Half Marathon, I’m still winning the battle against MCTD (and just a cool and fun run in a cool and fun city!). Everybody has their own “why”, especially in the back of the pack. Thank you for asking what our “whys” are.

My Running Story is a series of blog submissions from runners just like yourself. They submitted their inspirational running stories as part of a contest to win an entry of their choice to the 2020 Ascension Seton Austin Marathon. Their stories range from crossing their first finish line to drastic lifestyle change due to running. Everyone’s story is different and unique, impacting them in a specific way. While each story is specific to the author, everyone can resonate in some form or fashion because of the power of running. Other My Running Story submissions include Kayleigh Williamson, Kirsten Pasha, Michael Coffey, Samantha Santos, Tom Hamann, and Erica Richart.

Austin Marathon Tips for a Smooth Week

Implement these Austin Marathon tips for a smooth race week

The 28th annual Ascension Seton Austin Marathon presented by Under Armour is less than two weeks away. Can you feel the excitement? There’s no better time like the present to take a look at some race week tips. These Austin Marathon tips range from week-of tips to what we strongly encourage you do once you cross the finish line. Whether this is your first Austin Marathon or half marathon or your 10th, these tips will set you up for success! 

Attend the Under Armour HOVR Shakeout Run

  • This is one Shakeout Run you don’t want to miss! Kick off Austin Marathon weekend with hundreds of your running friends, UA HOVR shoe demos, a jog around Town Lake, tacos, and coffee. All distances and paces are welcome.

The expo’s first hour is always the busiest

  • It’s no secret, the first hour of expos is always the busiest. There’s an energy because of race weekend, the opening of the expo, and the industry’s top vendors gathered all in one place. Add the buzz from amped participants wanting their Under Armour shirt and you have a recipe for a busy first hour! 
  • Participants must pick up their own packet at the expo. Don’t forget your photo ID and confirmation number!

Stay near the start line

  • Get a good night’s sleep before race day and wake up feeling refreshed! Book your Hilton hotel today and take advantage of their great rates and hospitality. Pro tip: stay downtown and you’ll be within walking distance of the start (2nd St. and Congress Ave.) and finish lines (9th St. and Congress Ave.)! Just think, you won’t have to worry about parking race morning!
  • Want something specific when you finish your race? Don’t forget to drop off your gear bag. It’ll be waiting for you when you’re done, for FREE!

Run with the pacers

  • The excitement at the start of the Austin Marathon is undeniable. Don’t get caught up and go out too fast! Running with the Austin Marathon pacers is an excellent way to reign in your desire to lay down the hammer.

Celebrate with friends and family

  • When you’re done and you’ve crossed your finish line it’s time to celebrate! Show off your race bling, talk about your PR, let others know your goals and how you crushed them. Make sure you visit the Under Armour recovery zone to work out any kinks. If you pre-purchased a massage from Austin Massage Company (you should do this!), don’t forget to check in with them. And last but not least, don’t skip the Oskar Blues beer garden! There will also be live music and food trucks to keep the party going. Remember, this is your time to celebrate!

Customize race day

  • Let the professionals from FinisherPix capture your race day memories. Take advantage of the pre-race prices and order your photos today. Once the race begins prices go up!
  • Show off your accomplishments! Customize your commemorative 28th annual belt buckle finisher medal. Purchase your personalized nameplate by logging in and selecting ‘Shop’ next to your registration.
  • Wear your accomplishment! That’s right, purchase a limited-edition Austin Marathon belt to pair with your belt buckle. Only 200 are being made!

7 Tips for Better Race Photos

Elusive perfect race photos are within reach

We all have them, those photos that we wish we were not tagged in. With a little planning and self-awareness, you can improve your race-photo game at the Ascension Seton Austin Marathon presented by Under Armour. Then you’ll have Instagram worthy photos to share with your friends and family. Don’t forget to tag the Austin Marathon Instagram!

1. Improve your form

Stand tall! We tend to let our shoulders lean in, so when you see that yellow vest, pull the shoulders back and align the spine. This is also probably just feel good on your body if you have gotten into a slump.

2. Increase your stride

Make your legs look long and fast by slightly over exaggerating your stride. You don’t want to do this for all 13.1 miles, but it won’t hurt for a photo or three.

3. Make your path

Be aware of the upcoming photographers and move so that other runners are not in your way. No point in putting in the work to look good if you are covered up by someone else.

3. Relax your face

We know, easier said than done, but start practicing now on your training runs. Make your cheeks soft and say the word “Money.” Seriously go to a mirror and try it.

4. Think positive thoughts

Have a photo mantra like ” I love running” or “I am awesome and am going to finish this race.” This positive energy will show through in the photo. You can even say something out loud to the photographer to get their attention, a whoohooooo never hurt!

5.Wear your bib on the front

Make sure your bib placement is clean looking and on the front. The automated photosystems use this to tag your photos. You don’t want to sift through thousands of photos to try and find yourself.

One reason you'll love the Austin Marathon: Under Armour participant shirts!

6. Don’t pause your watch… just yet

I know it is tempting to hit the pause button right when you cross the finish line, but give it a few steps. Otherwise, the photo will be of you looking at your watch and not enjoying the finish experience.

7. Bust out the major emotion!

Smiles, cheers, jumps, yells, tears… you’ll get a second look from the photographers. Avoid waving quickly or flapping your arms up and down, they can make you look like your falling in the photo. If you are going to make movements, make them meaningful and keep the pose for more than a few seconds.

You can pre-purchase your 2019 Official FinisherPix race photos now at a discounted price.