Outrunning Crohn’s: Part 2

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In Part 2 of Outrunning Crohn’s, runner Kelly Crabb reveals the top 2 ways she stays active while having Crohn’s Disease. To read Outunning Crohn’s: Part 1, go here.

Motivation

How do you usually feel when you’re able to give back? Good, right? Well for me, what motivates me is the ability to help others. Sure, I’ve advocated for years for myself and others how to get better resources, education and being proactive when it comes to health and disease. But 5 years ago, I found an app to help me help others in a very different way than I had been doing and for free! I found Charity Miles and soon began walking, running and biking for donations to non-profits like the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, Girl Up, Team RWB, etc.  With sponsors like Johnson & Johnson, Thrive Market and other large corporations, Charity Miles “earns” donations for each of the miles that its users walk, run, bike, swim, kayak, etc. You’re even able to “hack the app” and put your phone in your sock, arm band or waterproof case and get to it! However you want to earn your miles – gardening, race walking, kayaking and yes – even fartleks! Where there’s a will, there’s a way and with Charity Miles, there is both! With resources that are readily available to us (and free!) why not pick a program that raises money for research towards cures, doing the miles would be doing anyway!?

Another big factor in my motivation is through an endurance program called Team Challenge, through the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. Team Challenge is a program aimed to help raise money to go to research, educational programs for patients and caregivers and to spread awareness that with better education and partnerships with providers, patients have the ability to be as proactive as they can with their condition. You might be thinking “how can somebody with Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis expect to run a marathon?” It’s a valid question and it poses a lot of unique situations. I’ve now participated in two half-marathons with Team Challenge, raising over $12,000. I’ve been active within the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation since the day I knew it existed and I never looked back. A lot of my Team Challenge teammates have been through a variety of physical ailments, including Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis. Every day that we see a teammate or a friend in the hospital dealing with issues or recovering from a surgery is more reason to stay involved and keep fundraising while dealing with the challenges of racing to a finish line where someday, I hope, will be a cure. I thank my teammates for keeping me grounded, for running with and for me when I’m unable to and for giving us all perspective that even in the darkest, difficult times, there IS a finish line.

Support

Recently, a friend who also has Crohn’s sent me a challenge on my Garmin app. At first, I was hesitant when I opened my email! It’s hard to start over! It’s incredibly hard to keep starting over, after you’ve been hospitalized, had major setbacks and medications/courses of action don’t go as planned. One day you’re training for your first sprint tri and the next, you’re prepping for your next series of scopes. Training plans, much like life with illness, do not always go as planned. With support of other patients, my caregivers and my care team, this has made acceptance of my disease easier to grasp. This does not mean that the hard days won’t exist, but instead, there will be people standing next to you, as opposed to behind you or in front of you. Learning to walk through your illness WITH other people can be a huge battle; letting them in, letting them support you makes all the difference. When I’ve been unable to complete physical challenges, or even leave the house, there has been times I’ve reached out to my Charity Miles community and asked them to “be my feet” so to speak.  Never once have my teammates ever wavered in showering me with support, taking the miles I would do on an average day and running them for me. In fact, a lot of times, this has motivated them to do more miles and more importantly, educate themselves more about the disease. To me, that is the ultimate feeling of support. There are handfuls of people who would give up hundreds of miles just to see me complete one. With their understanding and motivation, it is my dream to one day complete a full marathon, using all of my training miles to help other people with the simple use of an app.

While I do have Crohn’s Disease, I’ve recently spent a lot of my days telling myself that it doesn’t have me. One day, this will not be the case. I tell myself that one day I’ll spend more of my time worrying about when I’m able to cross a finish line than worrying if I’ll be able to cross one at all. I always tell people when I’m able to physically fulfill my goals, I do it hard & I do it 110%. Because, it’s likely, that the next day I might only be able to give 50%. I see where some people might be confused as to “Why?” I would do that to me body. For someone to understand my answer, they would have to live in a body that is completely unpredictable before they would begin to understand my logic. There was one day this week when I was able to do 17,500 steps; it wasn’t easy to make the choice to get up extra early and stay out extra late in order to achieve these steps, but I made an active mental choice to do it. Today, i look at my watch and at 5pm, I had a total of 700 steps. These days are the hardest. Physically, I’m in so much pain, that mentally, it seems that all of my goals have been gravely unmet. Since my tank feels like its 150% full some days, I run it to the ground, knowing days like today, I’m running on empty. No matter where my journey takes me, I’m grateful to have a unique perspective when I run. I’m not always able to complete every part of a training plan, but that doesn’t make me incomplete. Or that I’m not just crossing finish lines, but I’m outrunning Crohn’s.

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