Running into my 30's
We’re only halfway through 2019, but let me tell you, I’ve had my eyes on 2020 for a while now. Next year will (hopefully!) mark five years of being seizure free & I’ll finally be 30! (Yes, I said “finally.") So, I’ve decided to join Equinox to help train for the 2020 Chicago Marathon as a gift to myself for my birthday next November...because that’s what sane people do.
Most people don’t know this, but I actually love running. More of a sprinter growing up, I used to hate long distance runs. I could barely even manage a mile, and ugh…I’d be so red faced & out of breath every single time. It didn’t get much better as an adult until I met my husband (a story for another time), but I have him to thank for getting me into running.
While training for the 2014 Chicago Marathon together, things didn’t go as planned. I began getting these painful clusters of rashes all over my legs. Since I’d had them once before, I didn’t think anything of it, but this time they weren’t going away. Assuming it was an allergic reaction, I made an appointment with a dermatologist, and it all went downhill from there. A couple of biopsies later, I was told to make an appointment with my primary doctor, left with little understanding of what was going on—only that it definitely wasn’t an allergic reaction. I continued on with my training and setup a doctor’s appointment for the day after the marathon since I planned on taking off work anyways.
At the next appointment, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. To be honest, I don’t remember much of that first doctor’s visit other than being so confused and needing more bloodwork done. I kept thinking to myself, “I just ran a marathon. I’m only 23. How am I sick?”
From there, it was one medication after another, a bunch of different doctors and always bad news. I could feel that I was getting more sick, but nothing seemed to be working. Then, I had my seizure. After that, I was in a place for a few years, and things weren’t getting better. My rashes were spreading. The pain and my flare ups were intensifying. It all sucked—not to mention trying to run a business & seem “okay" on top of it all.
And ugh, the depression. From feeling like I was missing out on my 20’s to not knowing if I was going to live a long & normal life, it’s been a lot to work through. It might sound silly, but I think what hurt the most was not being able to run. Every time I drove on Lake Shore Drive or passed the Lakefront Trail, I was constantly reminded for five years of who I used to be & what I was once capable of, and that was a gut punch.
But thankfully, things have finally started turning around 🙌🏽. While it's far from perfect, I’ve been feeling a lot better recently, and the flare ups have been surprisingly more manageable. I’m even doing things I haven’t been able to do in years.
It wasn’t until our last KM Living x Equinox workout class that something clicked. Joking around with one of the instructors, she asked me why I hadn't joined their gym yet. I laughed and told her, “Because I don’t work out.” What I meant to say was, "I’m way too self-conscious to even think about working out in the presence of other people. I hate how I look and still have leftover steroid weight. Plus, I’m terrified of how my body will react if I put it under too much stress.” But, watching a group of everyday women working out in the middle of one of Chicago’s busiest parks like a bunch of confident badasses was just so inspiring, and you know that smile you have after a good workout? They had that…I wanted that. I went straight home and told my husband I wanted to join the gym, and within thirty minutes, I was a founding member of Equinox Lincoln Common. I was so tired of missing who I used to be. “Just be her already,” I told myself.
Since their doors haven’t opened yet (In September, I hear!), I’ve started running on the trail in anticipation, and let me tell you, it’s been amazing to be able to consistently run again! It’s like that feeling when you smile for no reason at all—every piece of you feels happy beyond words. I also can’t wait to try some of Equinox's classes for cross-training days (Hello, Cycling & Precision Run!) & to feel confident enough to lift again. Ahh, I’m so excited!! (Does being excited about a gym make me old? 🙈)
& truly, thank you so much to Equinox & their team for encouraging me to take the first step. I can’t wait to see how far they can help me grow.