Getting to the Core

By: Katie Austin

Today was the day that life would take me on a detour.  I had been procrastinating for some time, waiting for the perfect “tomorrow” to start working out and eating right.  To think, almost two years ago I was battling breast cancer and struggled to keep food down as I battled nausea from my chemo treatments.  Now, I love the taste of food and my body is paying the price.  It was time to take action to become the healthier version of myself.

My intentions were good that Thursday afternoon as I took off across the Lake Murray Dam the stretches from Lexington to Irmo.  I parked my car, took a swig of water and told myself that today was the day.  I felt good as I walked and at times, I ran as far as I could, then walking fast to keep up a good pace.  I made it to the other side in Irmo (approximately 1.7 miles) and was motivated to travel the same distance back to Lexington.   I have to admit, a motivating factor was that my car was parked on the Lexington side of the dam so if I wanted to drive home, I would have to walk back 🙂

Lake Murray Dam sidewalk facing Lexington

I made it to my car and as I sat drinking the rest of my water, I was feeling pretty good about starting my exercise program.   I was already thinking about what I would do the next day to keep myself moving in this healthier direction, but when I woke up the next morning, things would change.  I would spend the next three weeks trying to figure out what was wrong with me.

I awoke the next day with pain in my upper-right back like I have never experienced before!  I had a lot on my plate that weekend and chalked things up to soreness coming from starting a new exercise routine.  I ignored my back pain and didn’t seek medical attention until the following Tuesday.  What would follow next was a series of doctor appointments, scans and tests to rule out whether or not my cancer was back.  Talk about stressed out as I felt like my life was spiraling out of control again!  They ended up ruling out a cancer recurrence (thank goodness!!) and determined that I had pulled or torn a muscle in my back.  I found myself extremely relieved that it wasn’t cancer, but at the same time frustrated, worried and one big ball of stress as I just wanted to know how I could make the pain go away.

I really pondered how a simple brisk walk with short sprints over a 3.4 mile stretch could cause the pain that I was in, but then it hit me – I didn’t take baby steps to get back into shape, but a full leap forward which stressed my body out.  Since completing my breast cancer fight, I haven’t really taken the time to get my strength back, ensuring that my “core” is where it should be to support my new workout.  Did I really think I could jump back into life, doing my normal routine and playing sports without taking the time to ensure that I was physically ready?  I have since relieved my back pain after seeing a physical therapist and reversing my bad habits that weakened my back to begin with.

Sometimes mind over body needs to be the reverse.  If I can give any advice to those beginning their workouts, take it slow, listen to your body and set reasonable goals.   My mistake was that I was trying to accomplish a lot in a little bit of time, which ended up setting me back several weeks.    Now, I have a new focus and direction which gives me hope that I will continue on my path to better health.

“He who has health, has hope; and he who has hope, has everything.”

I wanted to share this recent personal experience so that if there are readers going through something similar that it gives you hope that no matter what comes your way that, in time, things will get better.   I am feeling better, healthier with each passing day and I know that I will reach my goal in due time even if it takes many baby steps to get there.

If you have a suggestion for a health program that works best for you, post it here!   I hope to see some of you during my walks on the dam.  I wear pink in honor of my breast cancer sisters, so I am sure I will be easy to spot 🙂

Running for the Colon Cancer Challenge …

By: Summer Brons

On Saturday, March 24 I participated in Lexington Medical Center’s Colon Cancer Challenge.  Held at Dutch Fork High School in Irmo, the event offered 65-mile and 25-mile cycling races, as well as an 8k run and a one-mile fun run/walk. With the race practically in my backyard (and with a modest registration fee!), I signed up for the 8k, happy for an opportunity to run my favorite distance for a great cause.

The 8k didn’t start until 8:45am and it was probably after 8:15 by the time I arrived. I’d intended to show up earlier, but I found myself in a bit of a battle with my iPod Shuffle, having determined that the morning of a race was the perfect time to completely erase everything on the device and begin anew. Multiple syncing issues later, I gave up the fight and decided to run with my iPhone since it was already in my hand and I knew it had music. I can’t run without my tunes, I just can’t. Kudos to other runners who can pound out the mileage without a soundtrack…I am simply not one of them.

I’ve digressed.

I made my way over to Dutch Fork High and was pleased to find that the event was extremely well-organized.  I was parked within seconds and able to walk straight up to the registration tables and pick up my race packet with no wait, no hassle. All that was left to do was sit in my car and compile a suitable playlist. (Shameless plug time: A premium membership with Spotify is totally worth it.)

As the clock ticked closer to 8:45 am, I made my way to the starting line with the other runners. It was a small field and everyone seemed to be in good spirits as we listened to the speakers touting the importance of colon cancer awareness prior to the start of each race.  As the horn blew and we set off, I went out entirely too fast and found myself tired within the first half of a mile…oops. I don’t run with other people very often, so when I’m in a situation with other runners around me, the excitement tends to push me beyond my typically manageable pace and I’ll burn out quickly.

Luckily, I was able to settle into a reasonable clip and particularly enjoyed the downhill stretches throughout the five-mile route. The course was great; a nice mix of flat, downhill and uphill terrain as we looped back to Dutch Fork High.  My Garmin clocked me at just under 48 minutes for 5.03 miles. Solid! As long as I’m under a 10:00 min/mile pace, I’m happy.  9:40 or under is grounds for excitement in my book.  According to the results posted by Strictly Running, I came in at 47:52 for an average pace of 9:38 and finished 10th out of 24.

The race was a great way to kick off my weekend and I’d like to give a huge thanks to Lexington Medical Center, Strictly Running and all involved sponsors for pulling the event together!  Cancer awareness is so important; it’s great to see folks getting involved with the community to help spread the word and raise funds for continued research and treatment.