A Beautiful Race

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.Half Marathon marne

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.

Half Marathon marne 2

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.

18 thoughts on “A Beautiful Race

  1. You are such a rockstar! So inspirational. Thank you for continuing to post. I am 14 months out and just started doing IV treatments for vitamin supplements. Since then, I am FINALLY getting back to running and working out 4-5 times/week. It is amazing what these accomplishments can do for you.

    • Awesome on your progress girl!! And it’s amazing how much better you can feel with the right vitamins. I’m so glad you’re feeling better!

  2. I so enjoyed your post as I had my stomach removed in June 2015. So I am still a newbie to this problem. I have found out that it is trial and error. It’s chew, chew, chew and I am a steak lover. I have lost 184 lbs. not a good way to do it, but so needed. I do have a little more energy, but am having problems keeping iron and protein up. Iron I can’t take as a supplement makes me sick.I do try to eat liver, and other iron supplementary foods. It’s all trial and error. Just wanted to let you know that it does get better. I forget to say that I also took IV iron which helped.

    • Hi Sandy,

      I’m able to take the uncoated Nature Made ferrous sulfate (iron) supplement. You might try again with that one and see if it works this go around. It’s try, try again post gastrectomy.


  3. Marne, Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful accomplishment. I also appreciated you taking time to share about those moments of grace with those you talked to who were on their own journey of healing.

    Will share more later….


  4. Thank you for sharing
    I’m possibly having stomach removal.
    But I’m very active, cycle , work out and run and have achieved a marathon, I’d like to think this will be possible in the future. I hate the thought of never doing this again , any advise

    • Hi Jackie!

      I am now 3 1/2 years post total gastrectomy and am now training for my first full marathon since the surgery. Before this year, between the time commitment to train and dedication to getting all the required calories, I just didn’t want to commit to the full marathon. I have had no trouble running a half marathon each year, and I know Steve Dang has competed in many triathlons post TG. I would just have set expectations about the long recovery. It’s ok to give yourself a break to focus on the recovery and finding out what foods work for you. Granted, the longer the time since your surgery, the easier it all gets. Keep mentally strong, and you will slowly be able to keep up a very active life. It was the first month of recovery that I tried to limit my activity. After that, I was able to slowly start running more and more. I just had to balance how many calories I would burn to do that and monitor my weight.

      All the best,

  5. Hi Marne, Thanks for sharing your story. I had my stomach removed in December last year & have just completed chemotherapy – stage 2b cancer. I’m 60 years old & have run 2 marathons. I’m determined to run more and your story encouraged me.
    All the best.


  6. Marne,
    What kind of vitamins / supplements do you take? I️ was diagnosed with stage 3 lobular breast cancer in 2012. November 2016 found out I️ had the CDH1 gene and had a total gasterectomy December 2017. I️ did have early stage stomach cancer. However, I’m inspired by your story. Kuddo’s to you!
    Best Regards

    • Hi Mary,

      I take a general multivitamin 1-2x/day. I have also struggled with iron deficiency, so I take a separate ferrous sulfate supplement every other day. I did find that Centrum is one of the only chewable multivitamins with iron in it.


  7. You are an inspiration, I am a 55 year old Aussie man recently diagnosed with oesophageal cancer. I am currently undergoing my first round of chemo then followed by surgery including stomach removal surgery. I’m not a runner, but a surfer but just as equally inspired by your journey. Thankyou for sharing it gives so much hope to others.
    Kind regards from down under!

  8. Wow, I’m so glad I found this article.
    I am also have the cdh1 gene and have finally decided to get a TG.
    I am 38 with 3 kids, I worry about not having energy to keep up with them after the op but I think they would rather me around being tired than not around at all.
    I am about to run a half marathon in July before my operation which we think will be September, but in my head I was thinking that it could be my last half marathon.
    Since reading your blog I know that it’s possible to get back out there and run good times still.
    And can I ask how long after your operation did you attempt to run again and how far?
    You’re a inspiration for sure.
    Thanks Katrina

    • Hi Katrina! I am so glad my blog helped you know your running days are not over! I was able to run a half marathon 6-7 months after my surgery. I didn’t train much. I mostly wanted to prove it was possible. You will be recovering from major abdominal surgery, so running won’t be a priority until at least 12 weeks post op, in my experience. Let me know if you have any other questions. Best of luck with your surgery. Getting past the surgery is such a blessing because of the stress you experience beforehand.
      Best, Marne

  9. Phenomanal!

    Thanks very much for your encouraging posts.

    I have just recently been diagnosed, am also a runner (not a marathoner) but maintaining fitness has (I believe) helped me to make it this far, as I have had 3 prior bouts with cancer (Hodgkins 2x and non-Hodgkin’s)

    What you have, and are doing will encourage people enormously.

    I’m living by this modified saying:
    “You have to play the cards you are dealt,
    BUT it is up to you to decide how to play them”

    Game ON

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