Sunday, Jan 17, the city of Houston hosted the Chevron Houston Full Marathon and the Aramco Half Marathon. It was a beautiful day with perfect running weather, no breeze, 40s-50s during the race, and a clear blue sky once the sun rose.
I was yet again blessed to participate in the half marathon. I was extremely disappointed with my race results last year because of my iron deficiency. This year I am in full health. But as I stood in Corral B unable to start in Corral A with my friends, a little part of me was kind of bummed out. Luckily the pre-race excitement was the main emotion I felt as I stood there just smiling about the day.
So, God always has a plan. I started talking to the fellow runner randomly beside me in the corral. His name is Andy, and I learned he was about to race in his first ever half marathon after having open heart surgery within the last year to repair a 100% blocked vein to his heart, commonly referred to as the “widow maker” since most people don’t survive the blockage. He had trained for the half marathon with his teenage daughter who is a cross country runner. But the morning of the race, she was in a wheelchair because they recently discovered she has something called POTS (Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome)
My jaw was hanging open just listening to his story. Starting, as well as racing this half marathon, clearly was a giant milestone in his life. These races are more than just feet pounding the pavement. For me, as well as so many others, the race is a line in the sand or a triumph we’ve accomplished. I didn’t race with him for more than a few miles but was able to look up his results afterwards. He crushed it exactly the way he wanted to. The human capacity to overcome obstacles and soar with even more appreciation for life is amazing.
One of the big reasons I started this blog in the first place was during the hours of searching online for post-gastrectomy capabilities. I couldn’t find any resources sharing about their abilities in athletic adventures. I went into my surgery following a marathon PR since I wasn’t sure if my running career was over or not. This year, I feel like screaming to the world, “I’m back!!!!!!!!!!”. Once I sorted out what vitamin supplementation I need to do and packed on quite a few extra pounds, I was able to run just as well as I have run with a stomach.
My husband and children waited for me near the finish line. They also met a man whose young daughter had just survived ovarian cancer. They felt blessed just to share stories with one another and what this race meant for the people overcoming their personal obstacle. He took the photos I posted as I was squinting to see and wave at my ever-supporting, wonderful family.
I ran my half marathon in 1:39:15. This was only a minute off from my best half marathon time (with a stomach). My running days are far from over, stomach or not.