Written By: Sara Jensen
This week I am highlighting my friend Kristin. Here’s what she has to say:
Way back during my first year of college, I had a crappy boyfriend, a strained relationship with my parents, and struggled to find my place at school. I came home from my first year with shingles! Yes, a 19 year old college student had shingles, brought on my stress and anxiety. We decided an antianxiety medication would be a good idea...
Flash forward about 7 years (wow was I really on it that long!?). I was done with school, married to a great guy, settled into our home and a job. Now time to think about babies! But I could not get pregnant and take the medication, and I really did not want to be on them anymore anyway. I decided that I would replace the medicine with exercise, and signed up to participate in the April Sorenson Half Marathon in July of 2014. I gradually weaned myself, and had no trouble doing so since I was running so much. I followed an extremely difficult training plan, logging 100 miles in one month during training. Looking back, I definitely overtrained and risked injury, but I finished and I was pretty proud of myself!
We found out we were pregnant in October 2014. Other than an occasional prenatal yoga video or walk, I didn’t do much during my pregnancy to stay fit. Joshua arrived in June 2015. I love summer babies! We enjoyed walks, and tried running a little toward the end of my maternity leave. I did a few 30 day challenges.
Back to work, winter and life as a working mom didn’t leave much time for exercise. It wasn’t until this spring that I really started to get back in it. We lost a member of our family; my 22-year-old cousin... A senior at Winona State, studying exercise science with dreams of becoming a P.A. A handsome young man with a heart of gold and endless potential for his future. It is still hard to understand why he had to be taken from this earth too soon... Anyway... He had participated in many Tough Mudders, and my sister decided to organize a group to participate in the Twin Cities Tough Mudder that took place in July 2016.
Somewhat reluctantly, I agreed to join in. I started running again, made my husband put a pull up bar in our basement, and did a nightly strength training routine.
I was terrified at the start line. But once we got started, it was awesome! We were running with a group of amazing friends and family of my cousin. The event is sponsored by the Army. It was hard not to imagine it was our cousin standing there cheering us on. I can say that finishing that was one of the best feelings of my life. I did things that I never thought I could and brought out a new strength and confidence that I never knew I had.
I ran my second half marathon, the Mankato Half Marathon in October 2016 with my dad and sister. Loved that it was a family affair! Mom, Derek and Josh were cheering us on at the finish line. Dad did amazing and I am so proud of him!
In December 2016 my sister Kelli decided that she was going to run Grandma’s Marathon, that’s right a MARATHON. I thought she was nuts. But then I signed up too. We were able to get in a few spring training runs together before she injured her knee and wasn’t able to run anymore. It was a hard decision to run and train without her, but we’re not ones to give up once we’ve committed to something. In honor of her 22nd birthday, I ran 22 miles while she biked along side me. A month later I was standing at the finish line after covering 26.2 miles in 4 hours 10 minutes 54 seconds as bib #8462.
In July our family and friends did another Tough Mudder as Team Bute, and this time my dad participated too! So much fun to do things as a family!
I added another Mankato Half Marathon metal to my collection that fall, then found out we were expecting baby #2 shortly before Thanksgiving. I signed up for the Mankato Half Marathon that would take place in October 2018 in February, thinking that would be my motivation to get back in shape after the baby was born.
I had all intentions of continuing to run and exercise during my pregnancy but at our 20 week ultrasound we found out that our baby girl had a heart defect. I was worried that pushing my body would cause her distress, so no more running for me.
Clara was born on July 17, 2018. Besides her heart defect, she also has Down syndrome. We spent a total of 45 days in the hospital during her first two months of life, with a large portion of those days recovering from open heart surgery to repair the defects.
Once we finally arrived home at the beginning of September, I thought there was no way I would be able to run 13 miles in 6 weeks. I emailed asking for a refund, and immediately regretted quitting before I had even tried. So I basically said “never mind” and ran a total of 6 times before showing up at the start line. I had no goals or expectations, only wanted to finish. Which I did, and came in well below the time I was anticipating. Every time it got hard, I would think of all Clara has been through, and if she can go through that, I can get through this.
Something about running reminds me that God is the one that created us, and is the one who allows us each and every breath. “It’s your breath in my lungs, so I’ll cry out to you always.” By taking care of myself, both my physically and mentally, I know I can be a better wife, mom, employee, daughter and friend.
Running has also taught me how to set goals and work to achieve them. And that I am capable of doing way more than I ever imagined. And that mentality can carry through to other areas of of my life as well.
Although running and fitness is time consuming and a big commitment, it is so rewarding to cross those finish lines and see all your hard work pay off.
I am thankful for this passion for running that God has placed in my heart, and I am excited to see what I can do in the future.