It’s Time to Run a Marathon without a Stomach

January of 2016, I finished my 3rd half marathon post gastrectomy. In the excitement of race day, I decided to sign up for the full marathon in January of 2017. Halfway through 2016, I was starting to doubt my decision. With 5 marathons under my belt, I am well aware of both the time commitment and calorie burn required for the 4-month training schedule prior to race day. How am I going to actually do this? The answer is friends.

Over time, I have met many running buddies just as crazy as me. Actually, some of them are even more dedicated than me. They might even run 4 miles before a 5AM run. These are inspirational people with a passion for running and a healthy, active life. It was these same running buddies who have inspired me to run the full marathon. They have been there at 5AM on Saturday mornings, shoes laced up and ready to put in the long mile runs together as a team. This morning with their camaraderie, we completed our longest distance pre-marathon day of 21.8 miles. With that milestone, I can say I have trained through the toughest distance run required prior to race day. We will taper our long runs down to 18 miles next weekend, then it’s just maintaining a more normal running week. I am now both mentally and physically prepared for race day. My goal time is 3:30 still, my same goal with my stomach. We’ll see if I can break that time on race day.

Back in July, I got another “nudge” that I was meant to race the full this year. I  opened my monthly update email for the race, skimmed it for any interesting information and deleted it. Later that day, I get that same email forwarded from my husband with an email chain to him saying “Is that your wife?”. Of the 25,000+ racers from Jan 2016, someone randomly selected my photo to throw into the email banner. Yes, that is me on the left. If that doesn’t mean I was supposed to race this year, I don’t know what does! Race day is Jan 15, 2017, and I will not be taking the left turn for the half marathon.

For race logistics, I’ll tell you about energy gels and water consumption. I am able to eat gu while I am running with no negative side effects.  For me while running and actively burning calories, I never encounter even a semblance of blood sugar problems. Without my stomach, the gu is absorbed more rapidly during the race, providing a near instant energy boost. Whereas when I had my stomach, the energy boost was delayed 10-15 minutes. I plan to take 3 gus during my race and utilize the water stops. I do find that it is harder for me to drink water during races. Plain water continues to be one of the most frustrating food/drink items to consume on the typical day. Everyone with stomachs has the luxury of gulping down their water. I very patiently pinch the cup so it doesn’t slosh all over me, then keep running while taking sips to get it all down.

I am about 3 1/2 years post surgery, and have been able to gain weight. I describe to friends that I am fat and happy. I will never forget how weak I was when my weight bottomed out at 103 lbs (46.7kg). Going through TG recovery gave me a new appreciation for a strong, healthy weight. This morning, I mentally noted how impressed I was to eat a small plate of eggs within 3 minutes. In my early post-op days, I had some very bad experiences with eggs getting stuck in my throat and taking many hours to get down. I can enjoy sweets in moderation now, and I can eat a good portion of a meal at dinner in the same time others finish their meal. This doesn’t mean I have the capacity to finish the meal, but I can eat the leftovers later. I still depend on snacks, and have to take special care to prioritize eating on days when I burn a lot of calories. I found a box of prepackaged nuts for on-the-go at Costco with salted almonds, unsalted almond, and salted peanuts. These plus peanut butter crackers tend to be blood sugar savers for me on busy days. I’m not sure what people think during a work meeting when I bust out peanut butter crackers like a little kid, but I’m not bothered.

And since it has been so long without a post, I was going to share a few highlights from our year. We took a family vacation to Seattle, so here I am off the Puget Sound.

Kyle and I needed a couples vacation to rest, relax, and recharge. Thanks to our wonderful family back home watching our kids, we were able to visit the beautiful beaches in Aruba.

And none of this is possible without all the support from my loving husband.

Have a Merry Christmas, and I will post my post marathon highlights.

11 thoughts on “It’s Time to Run a Marathon without a Stomach

  1. Yeeeeeeeeeees!!!!!!!! I’m literally pumping my fists in the air because I am so excited for you! Go team no stomach!!!! Praying for you and your family! Thanks again for the beautiful Christmas card!

  2. Thank you for posting this… I was getting discouraged because I’ve been having problems keeping my blood sugar up and you reminded me that I need to keep up my calories when I do a lot more and with three younger kids, I forget sometimes that I might be tired because I’m burning up my energy faster…

  3. Hi Marne. Thank your for taking time to post and inspire; I am always grateful to read your updates. What a Christmas blessing to hear your continuing story and amazing life that includes doing marathons. I am grateful to report that it has been six years since my emergency total gastrectomy because of a Stage 3b adenocarcinoma this December 26. Took some years to sort out energy levels that had been affected by chemo and radiation (that I had in early 2011), and those related to adequate absorption of nutrients; sometimes still learning. I am still learning to eat more consistently through out day. I too often take home leftovers since others often finish long before I am half way through. I am thankful for those days when I finish a full meal over the course of a couple of hours. Great that I can enjoy sweets in moderation. Maintaining my weight between 185 and 192 lbs on my six-foot frame, and running and lifting weights; so glad I can do that. Still a task to sort out the complex world of vitamins and nutritional supplements. I bring my snacks (honey stingers and a packet of almond butter) and drinks to work meetings–and church. Outside of my own eating, I had the joy a couple of weeks ago of teaching a family how to make fresh corn tortillas, gluten-free red chile sauce (since they have a sensitivity to gluten), and cheese quesadillas. I am blessed with a loving supportive wife, and an ever present God. I am brimming with gratitude. Thank you for keeping in touch with the rest of us. Merry Christmas and blessings to you and your husband in 2017.

  4. Wow what inspiration story my name is Esther I’m from Israel and I love reading what you wrote about running I’m two years after my total gastric gastric total gastric stomach I also have no stomach and I’m finally after two years of wigth 48which is a big thing for me I startkiloed at 43 kilo
    I hope to get a job and I hope to be able to go back to jogging and running as I used to before my surgery I’m grateful that I can eat now better and learn how to cope with the choking I have less du.pingthnk

    God I still suffer from anxiety

  5. God bless you .. you don’t know how mush you give hope to feel and think better about my mom
    She is a patient in MD anderson with stomach cancer still she is recovering a chemo treatments
    But actually your page full with hope god protect you
    My regards

  6. I am happy that you have done so well with your eating habits. I had my stomach removed in March of this year but it has not been fun. I started to eat a little better after the second month post surgery. Then I went to MD Anderson and was suggested to have 4 more rounds of chemo, which I was only able to tolerate 2 rounds because I got what is called a fistula and collapsed colon. I went back to MD in September and was told that I had no obstructions and no fistula showed present in CT so they gave me a different type of chemo (pill form and Less time on infusion). I decided to stop Chemo for now because I no longer have an appetite, every time I want to eat I get nervous because I know it is going to cause nausea and I have now continued to have daily episodes of sharp pains in my lower abdomen And nausea normally between 7-9 at night. I am down to 98 lbs and feel week and tired. I noticed you mentioned you went down to 103, what did you do to get back on track? I really want my normal life back

    • Hi Dawn, for me it was just time to heal and no hiccups in recovery. When I got strep throat, it set me back. I also didn’t have to go through chemotherapy sessions. Keep on trying to eat as best as you can. I was really weak when my weight was so low. Now that I have recovered more and am able to eat more, I have more energy because my body has more fat stores to burn.


  7. Dear Marne,

    My name is Harvey and I’m about to undergo complete gastrectomy. I’m 62, in very good health other than early stage stomach cancer. I’ve recently started a new job in the past year and my colleagues are very fitness oriented. I’ve been asked to join their running group, which I hope to do post surgery.
    I realize calorie intake will be problematic for some time, but if I am able to sort that out, I hope to join the runners in my organization. My biggest challenge is I am not a patient person, so recovery will not happen quickly enough for me. I’ve been given advice to be kind and gentle with myself while I heal post surgery.
    Please keep you updates coming. They are an inspiration for me.
    Warm regards,
    Harvey Easton

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