I ran track (05-09) and cross country (07-08) in high school, but to be honest I could barely make it two miles without walking. I was a sprinter and hated long distance running. Before joining cross country my junior year of high school, I was one of those people who would say, “Why would anyone wanna run that far.. or what is the point…. or is someone chasing me?”. I was actually ‘sick’ for the day we had to run a timed mile in gym.
After my last year of CC- I looked at running a lot differently. I admired other runners and wondered how they could occupy their mind for that long, how they could make running look so easy, and how they could run for 45 minutes+ without having to walk. After high school, I did 5K races here and there but it always felt so hard and just meaningless. It was not until 2011 when I developed a deeper passion for running. In 2011, I ran my first full marathon and I learned a lot about myself — I truly believe running is not only an excellent form of exercise but it has shaped me to be the person I am today.
You were diagnosed with Colitis in 2013. What kind of impact has this had on your running since then?
I ran another full marathon in October 2012 – but broke my leg the following February and got sick (flu-like symptoms) and was pretty much out of the loop with running in 2013. Late 2013, I started to get sick again. At first, I thought it was just the stress from finals, food poisoning, or the flu.. but it lasted for about three months. I was running to the bathroom 9-18 times a day, in the middle of the night, and sleeping about 12-13 hours but still feeling exhausted. Later that week, I ended up in the hospital where I received a MRI showing an inflamed appendix, ovary, and colon. I got my appendix removed the following day but was still very weak and sick. I could not eat, drink, or do any of the basic daily functions without the help of a nurse. I have never felt so helpless and robbed of my independence. On the fourth day, I had my first colonoscopy when I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis (February 2014).
How have you managed treatment of the disease up to now, and what has this process taught you about your body, and your relationship with it?
I take a maintenance medication every day. This diagnosis taught me to really LISTEN to my body – if something felt off, wait on the run, or try tomorrow. 2015 was a great year! So, I set a goal for 2016 to run 1,000 miles which was a lot for me.
I had experienced Remission December 2014-February 2016. At the end of February, I went to San Diego and got really sick again and ended up getting an infection called C. Difficile which took 2+ months to get rid of. Through this, I planned my runs around rest stops and carried a belt with essentials – after all, I wanted to complete the 1000 miles for 2016.
In August 2016, my symptoms started to come out of the wood work again – making it hard to run at all. I made sure to eat a bland diet, eat/drink probiotic drinks, and I also eliminated caffeine for the most part, maintained a low-fiber and very minimal dairy diet also. I planned my runs around friends’ house that would let me use their bathroom if needed, gas stations, and trails that has rest stops. This gave me peace of mind knowing that there was always a bathroom close in distance. Any run that I didn’t have to turn around or cut short was a victory, any morning I woke up and was able to fit in a 3-5 miler was a victory because mornings are ALWAYS the worst during a flare.
But, it was the end of December and I was NOT getting any better. I found my doctor and nurses at that time were not as comforting as I needed. They gave me short term solutions that would work for a few days and then everything would get worse again. Finally, I called and made an appointment and was seen the next day. They had me go through blood tests to check my inflammation markers. I was in the doctor’s office and they told me that my blood tests came back normal other than it suggesting that I may have a cold or something unrelated to my colitis. The nurses told me I should maybe go to my general family doctor that it could be stress/anxiety/depression. They did not believe my pain to be real. But I knew something was wrong and I remember my supervisor telling me to “BE MY OWN ADVOCATE”. I told my doctor I was not leaving until we came up with a solution. I cried to him and said that I could not live like this any longer. He agreed to a colonoscopy – and the next day. My results came back showing that my disease was chronically active with lacerations throughout colon — meaning that the inflammation and pain had been going on for at least 3 months untreated. It felt good to know that my pain was not ‘imaginary’ but I knew that it was time to get a new doctor – someone who would be proactive about my condition and on the ball.
Can you tell us one thing that is uniquely Lacey that no-one would know looking at you?
hmm.. I don’t look like I have a chronic illness 😀 (Authors note – one of her favorite sayings is “holy potatoes!”)
You recently attended one of our trail running camps in Estes Park, CO. You said that you booked your place on the camp as a treat to yourself. Why was this important to you, and did the camp give you what your instincts had prompted you to act upon?
This was a treat to myself to celebrate my ‘pending’ remission. I wanted to go somewhere to do something I truly love. Living with Ulcerative Colitis has its’ limitations – but that doesn’t mean I should stop living my life or challenging myself with opportunities to grow. I have never traveled alone, I was afraid to travel for being in fear that I could get sick again from the stress of traveling and being in a completely different environment. I was afraid of getting sick during the trip. It was my personal goal to travel somewhere I have never been, knowing no one and no one knowing me to do something I love. This trip was PERFECT for my goal, and it blew it out of the water!
During camp you were always dressed in bright colors that matched your bright and bubbly sense of humor. Have you always been this way, or is this a positive reaction to your disease and how it affects you?
Honestly, I do wear brighter colors usually.. but I did get a couple of new things that were bright and shiny for the trip!!! 🙂
What would you say to anyone that hasn’t tried trail running and is thinking about giving it a go?
Please give it a go, and have an open mind. It’s a whole new world — but it’s great and full of adventure!
What are your goals for the year ahead in 2017?
The trip itself was a pretty good goal for 2017 but it did give me an idea to create some new goals:
Run every day for a consecutive month – maybe the entire summer.
Complete my 5th full marathon in under 4 hours (last one was 4:06).
Run my first 50K trail race — (still trying to figure this one out!! – may need your advice/coaching :P)
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Terry Chiplin, the visionary behind activacuity, provides positive coaching sessions for clients, working with athletes to enable a positive focus on their status and goals. He can also create personalized guided imagery sessions for clients, delivered as an mp3 audio file that you can listen to on multiple devices.activacuity provides a daily dose of positive guided imagery or visualization sessions. Find out what you can do when you make that mind-body connection – check out our subscription options here.
Our goal is to raise $5000 for the Society over the partnership period.