Posts

Love for Running Transcends Stage IV Cancer Diagnosis

Not even Stage IV cancer can extinguish Axel’s love for running

Runners often credit running for helping them through tough times. Having a bad day? Go for a run? Stress at work? Log some miles on the trail? Frustrating situation? Visit the track for speed work. Axel Reissnecker’s story is the exact same. His love for running is unquestioned and the foundation upon which he relied after his cancer diagnosis. Read Axel’s edition of My Running Story and learn why he’s returning to an old tradition after defeating Stage IV kidney cancer.

Axel Reissnecker and his family celebrate after finishing the 2007 Cap10K. His love for running helped him defeat Stage IV cancer.

Axel and his family (left to right – son Sven, wife Karin, daughter Anja, son Felix) after Cap10K. Credit – Alex Reissnecker

Love for running turns into a tradition

Hi, I’m Axel Reissnecker. I’ve always had a love for running, though I didn’t start participating in races until I turned 44. After my first 10K in the fall of 1997, I quickly ramped up and ran my first marathon in Austin in 1998. This became a kind of tradition with 10 consecutive Austin Marathons from 1998 until 2007. Another annual tradition for me is running the Cap 10K in a costume. I even won first place twice in the costume contest! Eventually, after years of running road races, I switched to the “dark side,” aka trail running. I started running even longer distances, up to 100 miles.

In 2012, I was diagnosed with kidney cancer, Stage IV, which meant the cancer had already spread. I began chemo after the removal of my left kidney and the secondary tumor in my sinuses. However, this did not stop me from running. Less than four weeks after kidney surgery I was back on the trail and speed-hiking a 50-mile race.

The running tradition returns

Seven years later, at age 66, I am much slower than I used to be. This is also partially due to the side effects of the chemo. I also somewhat cut down on long-distance running. Nevertheless, I still like to run. It clears my mind and keeps me relaxed, balanced, and always in a good mood. Running also comes with a lot of health benefits. For example, it helps keep my blood pressure under control without taking meds. Rain or shine, there is nothing like being outdoors and enjoying a good run.

By the way, in 2017 I decided to return to the annual tradition of running the Austin Marathon. So, when you see an old geezer huffing’ and puffin’ towards the finish line on Congress Avenue on February 16, 2020, that might be yours truly!

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, Erica Richart, Angela Clark, Rebecca Galvan, and Jeremy Tavares.

When you Get Knocked Down, Get Up and Run Again

Runner’s ultimate running goal to culminate with the Austin Marathon

Every runner has experienced the highs and low of running. Everyone experiences failure and success, from elite runners to the casual jogger who just started. The mental aspect of running is just as vital, if not more important than the physical. Jeremy Tavares encountered many of life’s hurdles during training for the 2019 Austin Half Marathon. He never toed the start line and was devastated. Read his edition of My Running Story to learn how he overcame that failure to create his ultimate running goal, his “Forty for Forty.”

“It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.” – Vince Lombardi, legendary Green Bay Packers coach. 

Jeremy Tavares poses with his kid. His ultimate running goal will culminate with the 2020 Austin Marathon.Failure leads to inspiration

I trained for the 2019 Austin Half Marathon and failed miserably. As the sleep-deprived father of a two-month-old, my immune system was shot. I tried to push through, but persistent bronchitis kept winning out. Eventually, I was too far behind in my training to continue. At the time I was devastated. I really wanted to complete this race so I could have a nice shiny medal and a story to tell my son one day. At this point in my life, as I look back, it doesn’t really seem like I’ve accomplished much.

My ultimate running goal, “Forty for Forty”

Your character isn’t defined by how many times you get knocked down. It’s defined by how many times you get up. I was going through some of my running gear (shoes, cold-weather gear, etc…) wondering if I should toss or donate them when I thought about my ultimate running goal. I’ll be 40 years old in a few months. What if I made a commitment to celebrate this milestone by running 40 races. My “Forty for Forty” would start with a few 5Ks and build up to a couple of marathons. That sounded kind of epic! I couldn’t let the idea go. I thought about it all of the time. Sheesh, that would give me stories to tell my son with plenty left over for the grandkids!

2020 Ascension Seton Austin Marathon

Now, I’m training hard and eating smart. The commitment I’ve made to my ultimate running goal is as serious as any I’ve ever made in my life. My own father died at the age of 53. I want to surpass that. So, to get to the point, I’ll be back next year. My “Forty for Forty” will culminate with the 2020 Austin Marathon!

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, Erica Richart, Angela Clark, and Rebecca Galvan.

After Diagnosis Erica is Running to Feel Whole Again

Rebecca got back to running after defeating ulcerative colitis

Running was an unquestionable part of Rebecca Galvan’s life. It was there for her whenever she needed. Then suddenly, thanks to ulcerative colitis, running wasn’t there for her. Read how she got back to running in her edition of My Running Story. Rebecca’s happy to once again be the runner she once was and is training for the 2020 Ascension Seton Austin Marathon! Follow her journey on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Rebecca Galvan at the 2018 Austin Half Marathon finish line, after she beat ulcerative colitis.

Rebecca after she crossed the 2018 Austin Half Marathon finish line!

Running is a part of me

Have you ever done something for so long that it felt like it became a part of you, part of your identity? Running was that for me.

Before middle school, I was convinced that I wasn’t an athletic person. Sixth grade PE changed that thought. I found that I was actually a very competitive person and not bad at running. I was constantly runner up to one girl during morning runs. One day I won and running instantaneously became MY thing.

When things got hard, running was always there for me. It was so readily available to aid in times of fear, anger, sadness, and uncertainty. I never thought twice about lacing up my running shoes and hitting whatever type of trail was outside my door.

I thought running was a thing of my past

During my sophomore year of college, things started to change. My health deteriorated, got better, and then went downhill. That went back and forth for what seemed like ages. Running took a back seat in my life and at some points was non-existent. There were several times that I thought it would just be a thing of my past and then, not all of a sudden, I got to kick ulcerative colitis out of my life by removing my colon.

As soon as I got the okay from my surgeon, I jumped back into running. It was difficult at first, but then, just like riding a bike, it came back to me. Just a couple of days short of 10 weeks post-op, I took part in my first race, a local relay marathon. It was rough, but I was so incredibly happy to be back out there.

Goodbye ulcerative colitis

Since then I’ve taken part in 5Ks, a couple of half marathons, including the 2018 Austin Half Marathon, and a 25K. I celebrated my 30th birthday by running 30 miles. I want to continue challenging myself by doing longer distances and faster paces. This is why I have committed to running a marathon at the end of 2019 and again in 2020 in my favorite city, Austin, Texas.

I cannot even get close to being able to explain how wonderful it is to run again. I lost so many parts of myself during my battle with ulcerative colitis, so many that it didn’t even feel like I was really living. Now that I have my health back, I’m that runner that everyone, including myself, used to know, perhaps even stronger.

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, Erica Richart, and Angela Clark.