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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.

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.