Sometimes the passions that drive our lives just sneak up on us like a happy accident. For Abby Bales, running started early. By the 5th grade she was running short track distances. One year later her long distance running career started on a whim. As Bales was preparing for volleyball tryouts the next morning, a friend called and asked if she’d be interested in trying out for cross country instead. That phone call directed Bales into the sport she still loves today. While starting was easy for this natural talent, continuing has presented its challenges. However, what most of us would call a challenge, Bales has made look like a walk in the park.
From the sixth grade cross country team all the way through high school, Bales has run competitively. She completed her first marathon, the 2003 New York City Marathon, as a way to stay fit after graduating from college. She continued to rack up marathon finishes over the years until her first real hurdle appeared in 2010, when a diagnosis for ulcerative colitis “quickly became very serious and debilitating.” Bales stated that her running suffered, even though she managed to complete two marathons during flare-ups of her condition.
Bales was not responding to medication and got very sick. By 2012 she had her colon removed and replaced with a temporary colostomy bag for five months. Despite this huge obstacle, training commenced.
“It was really, really hard to start training again because my muscles were so atrophied and depleted after the surgery. It was a major surgery and my organs leached amino acids from my muscles to heal, which meant I had zero muscles left. It had never been that hard for me to run ever in my life,” said Bales.
Bales had plenty of reasons to throw in the towel, but clearly that’s not her style. After regaining her strength, Bales ran even with a colostomy bag. (more…)
Most inspiring stories have unlikely beginnings. This is true when you look at the running career of Danielle Hastings. This avid runner, also known as The T-Rex Runner, is a distinguished member of the Marathon Maniacs and is completing her goal of running a marathon in all 50 states. “I have finished 34 states and plan on completing all 50 states by June 2015.”
Hard to believe this is the same runner who quit the soccer team on the first day of practice because the coach made her run a lap. The sport has lead Hastings to and through so many places.
Hastings quit the soccer team when she was seven and remained a non-runner until after college. She shamelessly admits she gave running a try after seeing others running down the street and thinking they “looked really cool.” She further admits she got serious about running a few months after she married and it began to fall apart. “It got me out of the house during a rough time,” said Hastings.
The running pretty much won out, and she told us how running serves as her continued outlet for life’s struggles.
“I would say the biggest obstacle that I have (almost) overcome is my 11-year struggle with anorexia and bulimia,” she admitted. Running has helped her deal with the eating disorders that she has battled since age 16. Unlike many, running is not a trigger for the disorder in Hastings’ case.
“Running has been an outlet for my stress and anxiety and has helped me change the way I view food,” something is no longer Hastings’ enemy. She’s continually learning to see food as fuel. Admittedly, she explains it’s still a daily battle, but one she’s winning thanks to running. (more…)
You might be able to relate to Angela Van Buskirk’s early years. She describes her fitness regimen as one full of excuses, stating she always had a reason why she couldn’t participate in gym class, or explaining how she found ways to weave her way into the back of the line to avoid any physical activity. Angela even recalls being the reason the whole class had to do an extra lap, simply because she wouldn’t “go!” when the teacher called out the command. This was the theme of her active life for many years. But a tragic turn of events would change all of that, leave her with one leg, and four marathon finisher medals.
After doing nothing more than bowling as exercise, Angela found herself a 5’6” woman weighing in at 272 pounds by the year 2000. This number stirred her to a first step toward fitness. She hired a trainer and lost a lot of weight, using the elliptical and treadmill for cardio. The activity and weight loss made her feel incredible.
With the success of winning the battle of her weight fresh, Angela’s life took a tremendous turn when she and her family were involved in a terrible car accident in the summer of 2001. Her entire family was rushed to the hospital, her husband was airlifted in fact. They all suffered pretty awful injuries, but remarkably Angela refers to this tragedy as a turning point in her life.
Angela’s injuries required x-rays that revealed what the doctors said were, “some sort of lesion.” Upon further testing, it was discovered that Angela’s entire left femur was filled with an aggressive desmoplastic fibroma. Her entire left femur had been eaten by the “lesion” and was extending into her hip. Amazingly, this aggressive force was benign and Angela found a doctor who was able to save her leg, replacing the bone with a rod. While the car accident was horrible, Angela calls it a good thing.
“I had no idea what was in [my leg], or that it was even in there, and I had no idea how that set of x-rays would change my life and how something so horrible would turn into the best thing that ever happened to me,” she recalls. (more…)
There are very few sports that allow for a late start in life. If you know someone who plays on a team of any sort, whether it be professional or amateur, chances are they started playing as a kid, maybe played in high school and possibly even college. Very rarely do you see athletes who will tell you they picked up the sport later in life.
The exception to that rule seems to be running. Not all runners ran track or cross country, not all runners were on a team and just opted to keep at it. No, some of the most avid runners came to the sport later in life. Because of that, most runners have a story to tell. One that proves anyone can run, if they really want it bad enough.
When people see me and learn that my life is largely dictated by the sport of running, they’ll often say, “oh, you look like a runner.” I still have a hard time believing them, as this body didn’t always look like it could run and it did a lot more sitting than anything else.
Furthermore, I’m always asked, “who did you run for?”. The first time I was asked this, I stared blankly as I didn’t even know what the question meant. People assume I ran for a university. All of these statements occur because it only seems natural to people that someone like me had a hefty background in the sport.
But, I didn’t. Not at all. Not even a little bit. That’s my favorite part of the story I get to tell these strangers. (more…)
The calendar has officially declared that fall has arrived, even if the weather is slow to get on board. This cooler season isn’t unlike summer in that it is full of wonderful ways for you and your family to stay active and healthy.
Here are thirteen fun things you can do with your loved ones. We encourage you to try one activity for each week of Autumn.
1. Play at the Pumpkin Patch.
The pumpkin patch is a great way to get off the couch and get some fresh air. Most patches have hay rack rides, petting zoos, and even playgrounds. Get the most out of your time, challenge your kids to find the oddest sized pumpkin, or get some exercise by searching the far end of the patch. There’s lots of fun to be had by all.
2. Eat Pumpkin!
While you’re at the patch, don’t forget to grab a few baking pumpkins. The big guys are great for jack-o’-lanterns, but don’t taste the best. The smaller sizes are great for more than pie. Try roasting a pumpkin and serving it with a little salt, or add it to your favorite chili recipe. In fact we have 11 more ideas for cooking with this gourd.
3. You Butternut Forget the Squash!
Whether you’re at the pumpkin patch or at your grocery store, don’t forget about the other delicious plants growing on the vine. Fall welcomes the season for winter squashes like butternut or acorn. The shapes are fun and the flavors are delicious. Experiment with new tastes with Butternut Squash Fries or Roasted Acorn Squash Salad. (more…)