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Marmot taking stock before the Pikes Peak Ascent

With only a few days until the Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon (and the final leg of this year's Triple Crown of Running), I'm psyched. 

Being selected as a Mighty Marmot has made my year - I've participated in some amazing races, challenged myself harder than before, made lots of new friends, and explored all sorts of new trails. 

The last few days I've been taking some time to reflect on how far I've come physically. In short, my health is far better than it used to be, and it feels great. Because of my Crohn's disease, I used to struggle to run short distances without agony. I used to be convinced that my quality of life would progressively drop as I got older, but instead I'm now feeling largely unhindered by the disease for the first time.

My start to running was a gradual one. It started after an emergency operation I had several years ago. Left with a 10in vertical incision across my abdomen, I struggled to walk for several months and truly confronted my own mortality for the first time. I hobbled from park bench to park bench, getting sad watching runners zoom by. I eventually fully recovered, and decided that if I could run, I shouldn’t take it for granted. That's of course easier said than done, but I gradually started running more regularly. Now it is my favorite pastime.

I don't want to say "if I can do it, anybody can" - running isn't for everyone and running up Pikes Peak certainly isn't. But for any of you out there with Crohn's, ulcerative colitis, or many other chronic medical conditions for that matter - things can get better. Everybody is different, but pushing through the agony has paid off in my case. Thanks in part to frequent exercise, ulcers have healed, chronic pain has reduced and I'm now absorbing most vital nutrients without needing transfusions.

So bring it on Pikes Peak. Good luck to all of my fellow runners this weekend - stay safe and respectful, and have fun! I for one will be running up it as a giant f@*^ you to chronic illness everywhere. 

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