My Story For Ellen

Ellen PhotoI got an email the other day from Ellen DeGeneres.  That in itself is amazing, right!  She said she wanted to send me to Australia!

Mon, Jan 14, 2013 at 12:20 AM

from The Ellen DeGeneres Show to you

Ellen is sending you to Australia! Enter to win the trip of a lifetime!

 

Ellen AustraliaI couldn’t believe it!  I’ve always wanted to go to Australia!  It wasn’t just a cut and dry, done deal yet though.  I would have to fill out an entry form and actually “win” the trip.  I had nothing to lose, so I filled in the blanks and came to a box where I was to answer the question, “Why do you deserve to win?”  Hmmmm…

I love an opportunity to write and I did have a story to tell, so I opened up a blank Word document and began to write.  I misread the requirement though and thought it said 2000 words.  It did seem like a lot and I wondered who would possibly have time to read all these 2000 word entries.  Oh was I ever surprised as I copied and pasted my story into that box.  My exactly, 2000 words didn’t fit!  What?  Then I saw it.  2000 characters…  I had just wasted all this time writing my story and now I have to say it all over again, but in only 2000 characters!   So since I took the time to do it, I thought I may as well share it with someone.  So here you go:

My 2000 Word Story For Ellen

With obesity at epidemic proportions in our country, my husband and I saw the importance of being part of the solution instead of the problem.  We took up the sport of running as a way to lose weight and get physically fit.  We started this at an age that people wouldn’t normally consider running as a fun hobby to pursue.  Let’s just say we qualify for an AARP discount.  Actually, my husband started running before I did.  He was having so much fun with it, I had to join him, plus it seemed like it would be something great that we could do together.

That was just over a year and a half ago.  Oh how well I remember those first few runs.  It was so hard!  I hated it, yet there was something about it that grabbed me by the feet and kept me going.  Before I knew it, we were running five miles and I was amazed when I could run that far without stopping.  In spite of my hate for doing it, I really enjoyed those early morning times with my husband, not the running part, but the fact that I was doing it with him.

Finish Line Gunbunfunrun2In July of 2011, we ran our first race together in Napa.  It was a 5k, the Gunbun Fun Run.  It was the first time that I think I experienced the runner’s high.  Yes, it was an effort, but interacting with other runners along the way, seeing the determination of people of all ages and body types, having people cheer you on; it was awesome!  And I was doing it with my husband.  We crossed the finish line holding hands, together.  I was completely hooked after that race!

We were serious about this.  Both my husband and I had experienced a transformation in our bodies.  We lost weight and felt better than ever.  We got a coach and signed up for our next race which was to be in New York City over Labor Day weekend that year.  It was the 9/11 Run to Remember, just a week before the 10 year anniversary of that horrific terrorist attack.

What an honor it was to run in memory of those who lost their lives on 9/11.  Running alongside the families of victims, firefighters andRun to Rememberpolice officers who were involved in the aftermath was so much more than just a privilege.  I will never forget the moment as I watched two other runners on the course whose lives were apparently connected somehow.  They saw each other and immediately stopped in the middle of the course, fell into an embrace and were weeping on each other’s shoulders.  I was moved to tears myself.  Another totally different, but totally amazing running experience!

This was getting fun now!  We came home and signed up for our next race which was to be in November.  We were doubling the distance now.  This was going to be our first 10k.  We even took it a step farther and signed up for our first half marathon which would be January of 2012.  Our coach knew our goals, gave us our schedules and training was seriously under way.

Just a few weeks after the 9/11 Run to Remember, though, I had a little set back.  Actually, it wasn’t so little.  It was a big deal!  I started having symptoms that were familiar to something I had experienced before.  It was stomach pain that had landed me in the hospital already, twice.  Because of to many previous surgeries and being septic from a ruptured appendix, my body grows a lot of scar tissue.  That scar tissue causes obstructions and I woke up this particular September morning, knowing I was headed back to the hospital.  I had been told before that walking might be helpful when I started to feel the discomfort.  This morning, there was an eight mile run on my training schedule.  I thought if walking might be helpful, running might be even better, so I did my very painful eight miles before I went home and got ready to go to the ER.  My trip to the ER resulted in emergency surgery for a perforated bowel, which left me septic, in kidney failure and a sentence of the next ten days in the hospital, five of them in ICU.

I’ve been able to bounce back quickly following my seven previous, major abdominal surgeries, but I have to say, this one was really difficult.  I really believe that had I not been as fit as I was from running going into this trauma, I really think the outcome would have been so much harder than it was, maybe even different.

Even though I was out of the hospital, I still had much recovery and many follow appointments ahead, as other organs were affected.  I had fluid in my lungs when I was released from the hospital.  I resisted having another procedure done to drain the fluid, so I was told that I needed to do a lot of walking.  And of course, I still had this training schedule with the next 10K just six weeks away.  I wanted to run!

I wasn’t stupid about it.  I did follow the doctors’ orders and walked every day.  As soon as I was given the go ahead to run, I did and with my coach’s help, was able to gain back the fitness I had lost.  I was even able to run that 10K, not really fast, but I ran!

Training continued and in spite of a couple, ongoing issues with my health, I was able to run my very first half marathon in January of 2012 with a time of 2:20:32.  Not too shabby for an old lady who just recently started this running thing, in spite of the setbacks!

When my husband does something, he goes all out.  We not only had a coach and a training schedule.  We now had a race schedule, with races for March, May, July, September and November of 2012.  It just made sense that since we had trained and run a half marathon, the natural progression would be to run a full marathon, right!  We were registered for a full marathon in Cleveland, for May of 2012.  Thus, training for 26.2 miles was in full swing.

All was going well with training until March.  I was still having some kind of issue with my liver that the doctors weren’t sure about, so I had a series of CT scans and MRI’s to watch that.  The surgeon didn’t want to be quick with another surgery.   I also developed a large bump on my belly which turned out to be an incisional hernia.  I would need to have surgery again, but it was safe to wait until after the May marathon.

Early in March during one of my speed workouts, my hip seized up and brought me to an immediate halt.  I was barely able to limp the three miles home that day.  I started physical therapy right away, as I couldn’t afford to lose time in my marathon training.  I was sidelined and became just a race shirt collector for the March race.  It was bittersweet to watch my husband cross the finish line without me, but I would never want to hold him back.

Over the next few weeks it became evident the marathon in May was not going to be an option for me either, so I went ahead and scheduled the hernia repair in April.  This would give my hip the time it needed to heal, while I was recovering from surgery, as now my focus shifted to the next race.  The next half marathon was in July.

The surgery ended up more involved than it was expected to be.  Not only did I have one hernia to repair, the surgeon said my belly had so many holes it looked like swiss cheese.  This made surgery number nine, the biggest and most painful one yet!

We did go to Cleveland in May.  Again, I added a really cool race shirt to my collection.  This was supposed to be my husband and I’s first marathon.   He still ran and I waited.  I was so proud of him as he crossed that finish line!  I posted the picture of him wearing his medal afterward with the caption, “I’m married to a marathoner!  Now that’s hot!”

photo (5)I was able to start training again around the middle of June, but was only able to walk the Napa to Sonoma Half Marathon.  That was certainly better than having to sit on the sidelines and watch.   You can’t beat a birthday celebration in Napa either!  We had friends with us who had the idea to celebrate my 55th birthday by trying 55 different wines!  Challenge accepted, done and documented!

Eyes now focused on the next race in September, the Oregon Wine Country Half Marathon.   Training once again was progressing well.  I felt good and my body was cooperating.  I still had to walk a good bit of the Oregon race, but I got to run part of it, too!

To make a long story a little shorter, the next setback to cut into my training was a knee injury.  That affected my November race, and I had to walk half of that one, too.

My knee was recovering and I was back in training.  Then I started having problems with my neck, which turned out to be bulging disks.  That’s where I’m at now.

Yesterday was the PF Chang’s Rock N Roll Half Marathon and Marathon, here in Phoenix.  This was supposed to be my rescheduled, RocknRollHalffirst marathon.  I was only able to walk the half because of my neck issue.  My official time was 3:04:35, which is a pretty swift pace for a 13.1 mile walk!

My husband finished his second marathon yesterday.  He is amazing!  He has been so supportive of me through all of this.  I stopped working a few months after the big surgery and in spite of all the medical bills and co-pays that continue, he wants me to be healthy and happy and hasn’t asked me to go back to work.  I have been able to stay home and recover.  I’m now beginning to pursue things I love, one of them being something that’s dear to your own heart, which is loving people through kindness.  I’ve been taking steps to do volunteer work.  I’ve also started writing a blog, which is both therapeutic and enjoyable for me.  More importantly, I hope it can help and encourage others.

My husband loves his job, but he’s not only working, going to school and getting A’s, he’s running!  He’s running a lot!  Yes, once again we have a year of races already scheduled.  I hope to be able to start training, very soon now.  It will be another “start over”, but I’m determined.  I won’t give up!

So this pretty new hobby has not only made us fit, but it’s taken us to new places.  We learned that we can physically do much more than we ever thought we could!  We’ve been challenged and learned that we are mentally and emotionally stronger than we ever thought.  Our friends have been inspired to become more fit as they’ve watched us through this journey.

So why do I deserve to go to Australia?  I don’t feel I “deserve” anything, but I am grateful for everything.  I’ve always wanted to go to Australia and so has my husband.  How awesome would it be to be able to surprise my husband with a trip to Australia!  Not only would I want to go there.  I want to run there, together!  So, like the little donkey jumping up and down on Shrek, picture me.  I’m jumping up and down saying, “Pick me, Ellen!  Pick me!”

P.S.  Talk about inspiring, I’m inspired every time I watch your show!  I love the things you do for others!  It’s totally amazing and you’re awesome!

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________

I have a little update to the story since I wrote it.  I did see the Physical Therapist the same day I wrote that story.  He said that my neck feels much better and he gave the ok to start running again!  I have to be patient and take it slow and easy, but I hit the road for the first time yesterday and it was great!  I felt like a giddy little kid when I got home!  Coach gave me a new schedule.  He’d rather play it safe than be sorry, but he said he’s going to make me a machine.  This old lady, “a machine”!  Awesome!

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4 thoughts on “My Story For Ellen

  1. I love to hear someones’s story when it is filled with passion, and yours is! Your passion is inspiring for others to push through obstacles saying, “Yes, I can” when there are boundaries telling you “No you can’t.” You also share the wisdom of surrounding yourself with professionals who are qualified to give you advice and loved ones who care about you staying healthy and strong. I think you should print these words out and MAIL them to Ellen – she should read your story.

    • bspargo says:

      Thanks Mel! It’s not just running that is on my mind. It is running though, that has taught me that I have much more on the inside than I thought I did. I found that I have more strength than I thought I did. I can take far more than I thought I could take. I can do more than I thought I could, I just have to push through some things. Yes, learning to “push through” will take me much farther than my feet ever will! Yes, I can! P.S. Do you think I can get this past Ellen’s people so she can read it?

  2. Sue Bishop says:

    Well done! No matter how many letters, characters! Praying you get the trip! What a journey you have been on! I love you cherished friend!sue

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