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How My Type 1 Diabetes Diagnosis Made Me A Runner

By: Alex Reidy

Alex Reidy is a Development Coordinator at JDRF and writes about her experience with Type 1 Diabetes on her blog, Iced Coffee & Insulin. She will be running the 2017 TCS NYC Marathon with Team JDRF and is sharing her story about how her journey with T1D led her to this race.

At the time, I thought that my type 1 diabetes diagnosis was catastrophic. I left the hospital confused, upset, and completely alone. My perspective of diabetes had been flooded with images of overweight people who didn’t eat healthy, or “ate too much candy”. I felt so much guilt and anger because I thought that I had given this disease to myself. The lack of education that I received that day immediately spiraled my mind into anger and sadness.

I was diagnosed on June 23, 2013, about 3 months before I would be transferring to a new college across the country, and 5 months before my 21st birthday. I was an endocrinologist’s dream when I was first diagnosed: taking my insulin regularly, always checking my blood sugars, and eating and exercising regularly.

I shed that “perfect” patient persona when I found myself surrounded by a new environment at school. I hid my diabetes, I took my insulin when I wanted to, and I didn’t always check my blood sugar. I went out multiple times a week, in addition to having a heavy course load and being involved in any extracurricular activities. The combination of poor management, heavy drinking, and lack of sleep was devastating to my body. I was hospitalized multiple times and dealt with pneumonia, mononucleosis, and the flu.

The biggest reality check came when I returned back to my endocrinologist and received my A1C levels (an average of your blood sugar levels over a span of 3 months). It was dangerously high. My doctor was blunt, and he told me that my lack of care was going to cost me serious consequences down the road. That was the first time that someone had really knocked some sense into me about how serious type 1 diabetes is.

Over the next few days I had to take a step back and think about how I wanted my life to go. I could continue to be careless to my body or I could step up and take ownership of the cards that I have been dealt with.

In the end, I chose to fight. I threw myself into working with organizations that dedicated their missions to advocating, supporting, and ultimately finding a cure for type 1 diabetes. I started off as an intern for the American Diabetes Association, and eventually found my way to becoming a Development Coordinator for JDRF. My experience at JDRF has been nothing short of incredible and rewarding.

Involving myself with JDRF gave me the opportunity to become a part of Team JDRF events: endurance races across the country that grant a certain number of spots to those involved with JDRF. I jumped at the chance to get involved and saw that a majority of the events were about running.

Running and I have a funny relationship. In high school and college lacrosse, running was used as a punishment. Our coach would threaten us with running extra laps or sprints if we made a mistake on the field. Running meant pain, exhaustion, and failure to me. Running meant training all summer for the dreaded run tests, which I lost countless hours of sleep over. There was never a “runner’s high”; I never felt that feeling.

After my days of lacrosse ended, I started to get back into running more on my own time. I didn’t need to time myself or calculate the distance, I would just jog around and see how far I could go. At that point, I was able to truly ENJOY running. I was able to feel the power of my legs, hear the cadence of my steps, and hear my breath as I pushed myself farther and farther each time.

Running has also been an incredible escape from type 1 diabetes. Being able to plug in my headphones and let my feet carry me has not only lowered my blood sugars, but it’s a way to “check out” for a few hours. After about 30 minutes of running, I can usually feel that “runner’s high” kick into gear. I feel a sense of strength and power, and I want to go faster and farther.

I completed my first half-marathon for Team JDRF in March and knew that I wanted to fulfill a life-long goal of running a marathon. I immediately signed up to run the TCS NYC Marathon for Team JDRF and am proud to say that I convinced my older sister, Jillian, to run on the team with me.

Training for a marathon has been a mental and physical challenge. The mental side of training was tough: waking up at the crack of dawn or late night to fit in a run, dealing with aches and pains from training, fitting in the workout when you’re exhausted. Throw in running with type 1 diabetes, and that is another obstacle. I need to keep track of how much insulin I have in my system before I start running, carry emergency supplies when I’m heading low, and constantly be checking my blood sugar to see how I’m doing. There have been frustrating runs where I’ve had to stop and turn around because I was going too low, and runs where I was so mentally exhausted from a bad blood sugar day that I had to walk.

However, I motivate myself with the mentality that I CAN DO THIS. When my legs feel like iron rods, my sides are cramping up, and I can feel the salt forming on my skin, there is a moment when I take a step back and think about what I am truly running for.

I always have pushed myself with the mantra, mind over matter. A positive mind can give you the power to achieve and overcome obstacles that you didn’t think were possible.

I’m so excited to participate in the NYC Marathon this weekend and I couldn’t imagine running for any other organization but JDRF.

 

Make sure to check out our Instagram stories this weekend as Alex @icedcoffeeandinsulin brings us along for her first TCS NYC Marathon experience! #SPIBELTxJDRF

Receiving a Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis can be overwhelming, and we are committed to helping families looking for a pump carrying solution. SPIbelt is not only great for holding small personal items while running, but it’s also great for discretely carrying lifesaving medical supplies. Our medical SPIbelts can carry CGMs, insulin pumps, inhalers, and much more.  

 Learn more about how you can receive 50% off your first diabetic SPIbelt.

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It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Do You Know Your Risk?

In the coming month, you may notice that orange and black aren’t the only colors you see trending everywhere. You’ll likely see pink take over, too, and for a good reason: October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month in the United States. This month, the color pink becomes more than just a girly shade. In October, pink is tough. It is strong. It works to honor survivors and raise awareness for a disease that has taken so much from so many people. In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, SPIbelt has partnered with the Breast Cancer Resource Center, an Austin nonprofit staffed by breast cancer survivors that provides guidance, education, and assistance to thousands of women whose lives have been disrupted by breast cancer. Together, we’ve created the pink ribbon SPIbelt— $1 from each belt purchased will go towards helping the brave women fighting this terrible disease.

Breast cancer is the second most common form of Cancer in American women—so common, in fact, that one in eight women will be diagnosed in their lifetime. Keep reading to learn about how to assess your risk and help lower your chances of receiving a breast cancer diagnosis.

How do I know if I’m at risk?

If you’re a living, breathing person, you’re at risk for getting breast cancer. Even men can get breast cancer, although their chances are much, much lower. There are, however, a number of things that increase your risk—some you can control, and some you can’t.

Family History

If someone in your immediate family has been diagnosed with breast cancer, your risk of a similar diagnosis is almost twice as high as women without a family history of breast cancer.

Dense Breast Tissue

If a doctor has ever told you that your breast tissue is dense, meaning you have more connective tissue than fatty tissue, you’re more likely to get breast cancer.

Birth Control

If you’ve taken oral contraceptives for 5 or more years—even nonconsecutively—you have an increased risk of breast cancer.

Age

You’re more likely to get breast cancer as you get older, and most women are diagnosed after they turn 50.

Alcohol Consumption

Studies show that for every one drink that you consume each day on average, your risk of breast cancer increases by 10%.

Menstrual History

If you started your period before the age of 12, you’re more likely to get breast cancer.

Pregnancy

Your risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer is higher if you’ve never been pregnant or if you had your first child after your 30th birthday.

Exercise

If you don’t get an average of 30 minutes of exercise, 5 days a week, you have an increased risk of breast cancer.

Genetic Mutation

An inherited mutation, such as BRCA1 or BRCA2, puts you at greater risk of a breast cancer diagnosis.

*This list is not a comprehensive representation of all breast cancer risk factors. To better assess your risk, please speak with your doctor or visit https://www.assessyourrisk.org.

How can I reduce my risk?

While there is no way to ensure that you will never receive a breast cancer diagnosis, there are a number of ways to reduce your risk.

 Cut back on alcohol consumption.

Drinking less alcohol can lower your risk of breast cancer by 10% or more.

 Get enough exercise.

30 minutes of exercise, 5 days a week lowers the risk of breast cancer. Kill two birds with one stone with our new pink ribbon SPIbelt —you’ll be able to exercise hands-free, and we’ll donate $1 from each purchase to the Breast Cancer Research Center.

 Know your family history.

Take inventory of your family history. If you have an immediate family member that has been diagnosed with breast cancer, your doctor will likely recommend that you begin getting yearly mammograms at a younger age than women without a family history of breast cancer.

 Be self-aware.

Know your own normal so that you can recognize when symptoms arise— when they do, visit your doctor.

While there’s no sure way to prevent breast cancer, knowing your risk is the best way to take steps toward reducing the likelihood that you’ll receive a diagnosis. Know your body. Know your history. Talk to your healthcare provider. Be proactive about your health. This October, SPIbelt is partnering with the Breast Cancer Resource Center to fight back against breast cancer, and we hope you’ll join us.

*All research and statistics referenced in this blog pulled from www.brightpink.org, www.breastcancer.org, and www.cdc.gov.

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7 Can’t-Miss Spots to Check Out in Austin  

7 Can’t- Miss Spots to Check Out in Austin

Are you heading to our neck of the woods for Austin City Limits? If so, you’re in for a treat. Not only is there a solid lineup set for both weekends, but aside from the music festival, you’re heading to one of the best cities in the world! Okay, we may be biased since Austin is our hometown, but there’s no denying that this little city has so much to offer. From fun things to do and amazing sights to see to delicious eats that’ll excite your tastebuds, there’s something here for everyone.

That said, we want you to make the most of your time in our hood so we’re sharing some our favorite places around Austin that’ll let you experience the city like a local. While we could keep going on and on, we capped the list at just our absolute can’t-miss faves, which you should be able to pack in over the course of a few days. Fair warning: don’t be surprised if you find yourself not wanting to leave come the end of the weekend!

1) Barton Springs Pool

When the weather is warm (which it is right now in October) Barton Springs Pool is the place to cool off. This outdoor pool is fed from underground springs so it’s always the perfect temperature year-round, about 68-70 degrees—talk about refreshing! Whether you’re up for a dip or just plan to lay out and soak up some Texas rays, don’t miss it.

2) The Rowing Dock

If you’re looking for some action of even a great workout, head to the rowing dock where you can rent a stand up paddle board on Town Lake. Take in views of the city as you cruise at your leisure and then paddle down to Barton Creek to check out the turtles. Other things you’ll probably encounter along the way: people practicing SUP yoga, pups joining along for the ride, and fisherman in kayaks looking for their next catch.

3) Bat Bridge

Want to know how Austin earned its nickname, Bat City? Head over to Congress Avenue Bridge right before sundown to find out. Home to the world’s largest urban bat colony, up to 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats emerge from underneath the bridge each night from May-August and look like a cloud overtaking the sky! While most people stand on the bridge to check out the spectacle, we recommend grabbing a spot on the Ann and Roy Butler Hike & Bike Trail below the bridge (on the southeast side) for a truly incredible experience.

4) JuiceLand

In need of a healthy pick-me-up? Local fave JuiceLand is the place to go! Grab a nutrient-packed juice, smoothie, or bowl made with fresh produce and superfood add-ins that’ll bring you back to life. They even have yummy vegan grab and go options if you’re looking for something a little more substantial. While there are 20 locations throughout Austin, we suggest stopping by the OG on Barton Springs Road which is conveniently located right down the street from Zilker Park (the location of ACL).

5) Mount Bonnell 

If you’re up for a hike, this is the one to pick! While the steep 102-stair climb to the top may look daunting, it goes by quickly and trust us, it’s well worth the trek. Once you reach the summit you’ll be at the highest point in Austin—775 feet up!—taking in breathtaking scenic views of downtown, Lake Austin, and the surrounding hills.

6) I Love You So Much Mural

You know you’ve seen it all over Instagram and for good reason: the famous I Love You So Much mural is the ultimate “like” magnet. Stop by Jo’s Coffee on South Congress to snap a photo against the wall with your BFF, partner, or loved one. And while you’re at it, head over to the Greetings From Austin postcard mural (pictured at top), located at the corner of South 1st and W. Annie Street, for double the Instagram photo opps.

7) Eat Some BBQ

You can’t come to Texas and not eat barbecue! While some people stand in line at 6am just to get a taste of famous Franklin Barbecue when it opens at 11am, we get that you’ve got a busy schedule and lots to do. That’s why we suggest grabbing lunch at Terry Black’s just down the street from Zilker Park. No matter what you order, you can’t go wrong! Other delicious spots to check out if you have the time: La Barbecue, Blacks Barbecue (a branch of the famous Lockhart, TX eatery), Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ, Micklewait Craft Meats, and Lambert’s.

 Not sure what to wear to ACL (aside from your Luxe, of course)? We’ve got your festival style cheat sheet right here

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Race for the Cure

A shout out to all the survivors, fighters and supporters who participated in the #RaceForTheCure in Austin! Check out some of the amazing individuals that participated on Sunday, September 24, 2017. 💕💕💕

Shop for a cause with the SPIbelt  that gives back! Cost remains the single largest barrier to obtaining treatment for breast cancer, so we’re donating $1 from each purchase of the Pink Ribbon SPIbelt to the Breast Cancer Resource Center in Austin, Texas.

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Five Ways To Refocus Your Fitness Routine This Fall

Photo by Emre Karatas on Unsplash

Five Ways To Refocus Your Fitness Routine This Fall

January may technically be the calendar marker for a new year, but there’s something about fall that always feels like a chance for a fresh start. Perhaps it’s all the back-to-school buzz, which for much of our lives symbolized the beginning of a new year and a time to get focused.

While most of us won’t be heading back to class this fall, September is still the perfect time to get back into a fitness routine after the long, lazy days of summer and refocus your goals for the months ahead. Not quite sure where to begin? Just follow these five tips below and you’ll be back in a fitness rhythm in no time!

1) Set A Specific Goal

Having a clear cut long-term goal gives you something to focus on day-to-day. Instead of setting a generic goal like, “I want to get stronger”, make it specific. Maybe you want to shave a minute off your fastest race time, increase your endurance so you can run your first half marathon by the end of the year, or be able to bench x amount of weight in the gym. Whatever it is, write it down so you can actually see it. Every day when you wake up think about this goal and what it is you can do today to make progress towards it.

2) Make A Schedule

Every Sunday, sit down and plan out your fitness schedule for the week ahead. Do you want to go on one long run and a few shorter ones, take a workout class five days this week, practice yoga at least once? Write (or type) out exactly what it is you’re going to do, when, and where. Once these activities are on your calendar, treat them just like important meetings or appointments that you wouldn’t miss. If the time is set aside, you’ll find you have no excuses not to do it.

3) Find A Buddy

Skipping a workout is so much easier when there’s no one to hold you accountable. Instead of going it alone, sign up for a class with your BFF or plan to meet your buddy for an early morning run before work. Next time you feel like backing out, the thought of letting your friend down will discourage you from quitting. Plus, the social time will become something you look forward to and will make the workout go by so much faster!

4) Get The Right Gear

There’s something to be said for the power of proper gear. Treat yourself to a Large Pocket SPIbelt in one of our fun new fall prints (Peacock and Tiger’s Eye) so you have a place to stash your goods during your next workout. Maybe you’ve been eyeing a GPS watch so you can start tracking your miles more accurately, or a pair of wireless headphones so you don’t have to deal with getting tangled up in a cord anymore. Investing in quality gear will not only enhance your workout, but will keep you motivated to actually get out there and achieve your goals.

5) Switch It Up

Doing the same thing over and over can get boring very quickly. Not to mention, no fitness goal is ever achieved by doing just one type of workout. Throw a strength training day into your running mix, add a yoga class to your schedule to stretch out your muscles and increase flexibility, or instead of taking the same type of class four days a week, try something new two of the days. Switching it up will make you more fit all around and will keep things interesting so you never get burnt out.

How are you refocusing your fitness routine this fall? Tell us with #freetobefocused

Step into Fall with SPIbelts newest prints! Check them here

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5 Activities To Unleash Your Inner Adventurer

Photo by David Balanos

5 Activities To Unleash Your Inner Adventurer

 “It is only in adventure that some people succeed in knowing themselves—in finding themselves.” French author and Nobel Prize winner André Gide perhaps said it best, understanding the innate need for adventure in one’s life.

 Adventure can be so many different things and no two adventures are ever the same. One thing they all have in common though, is that they provide us with the opportunity to move past our comfort zone to experience, learn, and grow. Whatever your adventure may be—starting a new job, navigating the waters of being a first time parent, moving to a new city—get out there and live it! Life is too short to walk the beaten path. Instead, forge your own route so that you might discover something much greater along the way. Say yes to adventure. Be curious. Try new things. Take risks. Stay excited. The unknown can be daunting, but the things that scare us most are the experiences from which we have the most to gain. Looking for your next adventure? Any of these five ideas below are sure to satisfy your craving!

 1) Take a road trip: Hop in the car, pull out a map (yes, an old school paper map, not your smart phone!) and head wherever the road takes you. Stop along the way to explore new towns, check out the local watering holes, venture into museums, and check out the scenery. Make sure you have a playlist stocked with plenty of good tunes and, of course, don’t forget the snacks! If you really want to go big, we suggest taking a trip down historic Route 66 or cruising the Pacific Coast Highway.

 2) White water rafting: Looking for something a bit more extreme? Strap on a helmet, a life vest, and grab a paddle. Navigating through rough waters at extreme speeds will certainly get your adrenaline pumping! Just don’t say we didn’t warn you about the amount of strength and endurance it requires—your arms and core will certainly be burning after!

 3) Hiking: Remember how transformative of an experience Cheryl Strayed had while hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in her memoir, Wild? The fresh air, scenic views, and peacefulness of being in nature are quite the trifecta for centering yourself. Whether you go somewhere completely off the beaten path like the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, or Banff or even just a local mountain or trail—get out there and get moving.

 4) Surfing: Heading somewhere with waves? Instead of sitting in the sand and watching them crash at your feet, why not try getting up on a board and riding them out! Even if you spend most of your time splashing in the water rather than actually surfing, the experience (and workout) will be well worth it. 

 5) Skydiving: There’s nothing quite as exhilarating as the rush you get when jumping out of a plane thousands of feet above the ground with nothing but a parachute separating you from free fall! Find places in your area to make the jump or go someplace new—after all, you can’t beat the view from that high up! Our tip: try it in the fall to check out the changing leaves beneath you.

Tell us about your greatest adventure with #freetobeadventurous and we might share your story!

While you’re here, make SPIbelt a part of your next adventure!

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Summer Music Festival Must-Haves

photo via

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Summer Music Festival Must-Haves

Coachella and Bonnaroo may have already come and gone, but lucky for those of us who didn’t get a chance to go or haven’t yet gotten our festival fill, there are still plenty of opportunities left this summer to jam out to your favorite tunes while soaking in the sunshine. Whether you’re getting ready for Lollapalooza next week, planning on heading to Made In America in September, ACL in October (our local festival!) or any other upcoming concert you’ve got plugged into your iCal, one thing you don’t want to forget to bring along is your SPIbelt! Stash your tickets, ID, cash, credit cards, phone and whatever else you might need inside the pouch and you’re set to rock out while going hands-free. Not sure how to show off your festival style? We’ve rounded up our eight must-haves that will have your look striking just the right tune. Check them out below!

Clockwise from top right: Free People kimonoAmerican Eagle Outfitters tankQuay Australia sunglassesSun Bum lip balm. myCharge phone chargerJ.Crew shortsLuxe by SPIbeltPuma sneakers.

1) Breezy Tank

Stay cool with a lightweight and breathable tank. We love the fun tie-dye pattern of this one!

2) Sunglasses

You’ll be staring at the stage with the sun in your eyes, so go for standout shades like this gold mirrored pair.

3) Denim Shorts

Is there anything more quintessential to festival style than denim shorts? Nope!

4) Luxe By SPIbelt

Our Luxe belt’s cool metallic hardware makes it the perfect accessory to your festival look. Bonus points for coordinating the metal with you sunglasses like we did here! Not only will the Luxe turn heads, but it securely holds everything you need and keeps it safe from pickpockets.

5) Portable Phone Charger

Don’t let a dying phone kill your vibe. Charge up on the go right inside your SPIbelt so you can continue to Instagram and Snapchat to your heart’s desire!

6) SPF 30 lip balm

Because no one likes sunburnt lips.

7) Sneakers

You’ll be on your feet and dancing around, so choose a comfy pair of kicks that’ll keep your feet happy all show long.

8) Kimono

For those who really like to push it, spice up your look with a funky kimono. The bold print will make you stand out in the crowd and the fringe trim will move with you as you get your groove on!

We want to see how you rock your SPIbelt! Show us on Insta with #spibeltstyle

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A Q+A With SPIbelt Ambassador Tasha Holland

A Q+A With SPIbelt Ambassador Tasha Holland

This month on social media we’re focusing on all of the ways you’re #freetobebold while wearing your SPIbelt. While we think all of our ambassadors are bold runners for their confidence, courage and ability to take risks, Tasha Holland’s journey as a runner is one of the most bold ones we’ve ever seen! The mom of two started running to improve her health and within one year she had run not only a half-marathon and a marathon, but completed her first 50k ultra! We chatted with Tasha about her adventurous running experiences, what pushes her to continue challenging herself, and how SPIbelt has played a role along the way. Check it out below!

How did you first get into running?

I began running a little over three years ago to be healthier. I was overweight and have four endocrine diseases. I was desperate for change and wanted to be proud of my body instead of ashamed. I had little time to drive to a gym and running seemed to be the easiest option because I could walk out my door and just run. So I did!

How has running pushed you and inspired you to be more bold?

Running has pushed me in so many ways. It has definitely made me bolder and braver. When I ran my first 110 miles at Ozone I learned how to run on blistered covered feet and discovered how to dig deep and run through the pain. When I first began Vol State, I was scared to run at night. Everything made me jump! Running in the country at night is stressful and I second guessed every move. But by the end of my 314 miles I was at peace in the night. When you run across a state you discover things about yourself that you never knew. I grew so much during that race! With each new accomplishment, my confidence in myself has grown.

What races have you competed in that have pushed you to be bold?

My first Olympic triathlon pushed me like crazy! It was an open water lake swim and I’m not a strong swimmer. It was the scariest thing I have ever done during a race. I finished it in 42 minutes—double the time of everyone else, but I was thrilled! I had faced a fear and overcome it, smiling and triumphant.

I continued to push when I signed up for the Tarheel Ultra (378 miles along the North Carolina coastline). I ran that race solo, which means I was responsible for carrying everything I needed or finding it and buying it along the way. It was a new adventure and quite scary. It was hot during the days and freezing at night and I lived eating out of gas stations. For someone with Hashimoto’s, Celiacs disease, and that is also lactose intolerant the challenge to eat nutritional foods was huge. I finished that race in 7 days and was the first female finisher (setting the course record for females!) and placed 3rd overall. Less than 24 hours later I ended up in the hospital with cellulitis and a severe concussion. I had fallen and hit my head with 16 miles to go, but refused to stop until I finished. I was banned from any activities for a month so that I could heal. This adventure taught me how resilient I could be.

What does an ultra race like that entail and have you participated in any others?

Vol State and Tarheel are both 500k (plus) races across states that require 31-50 miles of running a day to finish in the required time. I ran Vol State last year crewed, but this year I’ll run it solo just like I did with Tarheel. For these races you carry everything you need and replenish supplies along the way in gas stations, dollar stores, restaurants, or grocery stores. You can sleep in motels or anywhere outside you can find—gas station benches, on the grass in town squares, on the side of the highway in a construction zone, and under trees in parks are a few of the places I have slept! These races test your endurance and resilience and it’s often a mental battle to keep moving. You’re responsible for your safety as well as finding your way, your shelter, and your food. They’re extremely tough, but are guaranteed to change your life!

What made you decide to take the leap from running casually to running in these types of races?

After my first half marathon I claimed I would never run a marathon. How little I knew myself! I love a challenge and wanted to be that small percentage that called themselves marathoners. It was only 13 more miles, which I figured I could do. I chose the Hatfield and McCoy marathon that is ranked as one of the toughest 10 marathons in the United States. I had planned on running it alone until a very nice 50 State Marathon finisher heard me telling someone it was my first and told me he would like to tag along. “No one should ever run their first marathon alone”, he said. It was the toughest thing I had ever done. I hit a wall at mile 20 and never recovered, but he refused to leave and stayed with me until the end when I finished around 6:30. Because of him, I have given up my own race multiple times to run alongside first time marathoners. When I discover it’s their first I ask if I can tag along, hearing my friend’s words of wisdom in the back of my mind.

After my first marathon I took a month off of running and got to thinking that if I could run 26 miles then I could run a 50k, and if I could run a 50k then I could run a 50 mile! I wanted to be amongst the few runners that have run mind staggering distances. I ran my first ultra—a 50k—within a year of when I took my first steps to running!

I love challenging myself and seeing how far I can go, both mentally and physically. I want to push until I feel like I can go no further, then push some more. It’s moments like these that show us what we’re made of. I want to show my diseases that they don’t own me. Running makes me stronger and more confident.

What type of preparation do you take to prepare for races?

I don’t do a lot to prepare. I run marathons to train for longer distance races and run bleachers and hills to train for trail races. I also bike and even swim a little, and do light weights and core work as well.

What goes through your head on race day?

The hours leading up to a race can be the hardest. I’m usually so excited that I can’t sleep—I’m lucky to get four hours! It’s just so hard to stay calm when I know I’m about to start something that I may not finish. I know I’ll hate it at some points and will love it at others. I’ll most likely curse, cry, and laugh during, but no matter the outcome I always learn something new about myself.

What do you do when a race doesn’t go as planned? Can you tell us about specific moments when you’ve really had to push yourself to be bold?

When things don’t go as planned, I stay calm and think of a new way to continue on. I ran into a lost, hurt, aggressive dog during the West Virginia Trilogy 50k last year. He was at the top of the trailhead, miles from civilization. At first I thought I was hallucinating, but when he raised his hackles and started growling I knew he was real. We had a 10-15 minute standoff during which I was certain I was going to be bitten. I talked to him and made my way slowly up the hill, stopping a lot and trying to appear harmless. He came so close to me that I could pet him and I held my breath as he sniffed me. He growled once and then ran away. I was lucky that day that I only lost time on the clock. It could have been much worse.

I have gotten blisters too early in a run, ran out of food and water, gotten lost, been stung by hornets, caught in thunderstorms, lost shoes in calf deep mud, fallen in stream crossings, had heat exhaustion, and fought hypothermia. Some of these things can be worked out, but some can end your race. All you can do is just deal with one mile at a time. I stay calm and do my best to stay positive and keep moving forward. If the mile I’m in sucks, the next mile could be better. You never know until you get there!

How has your SPIbelt played a role in you being such a bold runner? 

SPIbelt accompanies me on every adventure. It has been with me since my first half marathon and I also wore it for both of my 500k’s! I can run knowing my possessions are safely by my side—mace, gels, car keys, phone, other food sources, charging accessories, and more. I love the reflective belts so I can run at night with confidence knowing that cars will see me, and the hydration belts come in handy when it’s too hot for a vest. Honestly, I cannot imagine running without my SPIbelts! When you have gear you trust and believe in, it makes it easy to be bold in your actions when on racing adventures.

 

We want to hear about your bold experiences while wearing SPIbelt. Share them on Instagram with the hashtag #freetobebold and we may repost your story!