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The Life-Changing Impact of Running

Life-changing journey brought runner to the streets of Austin

Running is life-changing. That is undeniable. It impacts runners of all shapes, sizes, and speeds. Running’s positive effects can be felt in veteran runners and newbies. It impacts everyone differently. For Jose Antonio Santiago, it all began with trying to complete 100 meters. It wasn’t easy, but it took him on a life-changing journey. Learn how that 100-meter run brought him to the streets of Austin and introduced him to his favorite marathon, the Austin Marathon.

From 100 meters to the Austin Marathon

Jose Antonio Santiago poses at the 2019 Austin Marathon finish line with a Mexican flag. His life-changing journey began when he started running nine years ago.

Jose Antonio Santiago poses at the 2019 Austin Marathon finish line.

It all started nine years ago, trying to run 100 meters continuously. I found it difficult. After I did that I increased the distance to 200 meters. Six months later I ran my first 5K. After crossing my first finish line, I felt an emotion so strong that my life changed completely. Running is life-changing. In the following weeks, I ran my first 10K. Two years after I began running I completed my first marathon in Monterrey, Mexico, where I live. I crossed the finish line in 5:01. 

Austin Marathon love

I went to Chicago in 2018 and ran the marathon in 4:16, a 45-minute improvement. My most recent marathon was the 2019 Ascension Seton Austin Marathon. Everything allowed me to experience the city of Austin in a different way, the course, the people, the State Capitol, the finish line festival. I’m excited to return to Austin and run my favorite marathon on February 16th! One reason I love my annual visit is I get to soak up all of Austin while running the 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, Rebecca Galvan, Jeremy Tavares, Axel Reissnecker, Blair Nagel, Brittany Drennan, Rene Arguello, Christy Thomas, and Shawn Livingston.

Lifestyle Change Introduces Mother of Two to Running

Lifestyle change leads to running, becoming more of a role model for her kids

Think back to when you started running – what was the reason? Just like every runner is different, so is the story of how every runner became a runner. Watching her boys grow up, Christy Thomas, mother of two, decided to make a lifestyle change. Read her edition of My Running Story to learn what led to this lifestyle change and what distance she’ll run during Austin Marathon weekend.

My running story is extraordinary because it has changed me inside and out

Image of Christy Thomas at a running event. She began running because she wanted to make a lifestyle change. Christy will run the 2020 Austin Half Marathon!

Christy started running after deciding to make a lifestyle change.

In 2015, I realized that I needed to make a lifestyle change. I would watch my two amazing little boys and be happy because they were mine. And then I would start thinking that if I wanted to be able to enjoy them as much as I could and as long as I could, I needed to change my habits and my health. There weren’t any major medical issues, but I was a bit overweight and pretty sedentary. I was ready to change my lifestyle.

I started with just a few miles at a time. During the Texas summer. And IT WAS HOT. Some would say it was the perfect time to begin. I was miserable. Then it got a bit better. And I found friends who ran. Better yet, friends that lived close, ran the same pace, and had kids about the same ages. It all clicked. 

Can’t stop running

I haven’t stopped running. In fact, my friends have pushed me to run farther and faster (not at the same time) than I ever thought I could do myself. Since I decided to make a lifestyle change and began running, I’ve become a healthy and happy role model for my kids. And I know I’ll be around for a long time to see my boys grow up. I’m excited to run the Austin Half Marathon and continue to be an excellent mother and role model.

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, Jeremy Tavares, Axel Reissnecker, Blair Nagel, Brittany Drennan, and Rene Arguello.

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.