YOUR story : liz

  Wednesday, 3.13.13

it has been an absolutely AMAZING couple of months collecting stories from truly incredible, courageous & beautiful inside-and-out people for the i want to know YOUR story project. my heart is forever touched & changed...
and i can't wait for these stories to add a glimmer of light, hope & love to your heart, as well.

with that said, today is the *OFFICIAL LAUNCH* of the i want to know YOUR story project!!! woooohooo!

before i share the first story, i just wanted to take a moment to say an incredibly HUGE THANK YOU to all who have shared your stories.

as i have said before, this has been something that has been a tremendous desire in my heart to do since i began my company.
i feel so strongly that we are all somehow connected through almost an "invisible thread"...

& if your story helps just one person in any which way, then maybe we haven't 'done our job', but we sure have helped. me, that is a start.

a really GOOD start.

please meet Liz.
this is her story.

who are you, where are you from, what excites you, what is your PASSION... what's your story?

While I have so many passions, one has changed my life incredibly.
Two years ago I began running as a New Years resolution. I didn’t realize how much it would change my life.

When I was about 9 years old I had a chest x-ray as my doctor suspected that I had pneumonia. Instead they found a huge cyst growing in my right lung.
It was a blur of tests and x-rays and CAT scans and lung function tests. I remember a doctor telling me that they thought it could
be cystic fibrosis and that was a life threatening disease.
Thankfully I tested negative for any terminal diseases. I was diagnosed with asthma and Cystic Lung Disease.
However, being faced with my own mortality at such a young age changes you. I went into a survival mode, never
actually worrying about dying until the ordeal was over.

Right before my 10th birthday I had major surgery to remove the majority of my right lung.
I was blessed with an extra lobe that they could leave behind.
So I now operate on 1.25 lungs.

I was always focused on doing well in life; I graduated from high school and college both with honors.
Yet doing anything physical scared me. I was worried my lung couldn’t handle it.
It was my crutch when classmates would invite me to work out with them.
I knew with my diminished lung capacity there was just no way I could keep up with them.
It was easier just to laugh and say, “I have one lung, there’s no way.”
I didn’t want to do something that I felt I wouldn’t be “good” at.

One night, I was having dinner with one of my best friends, Kara, and she told me about running the Crim.
The Crim is a 10 mile race in Flint, MI where I live. It’s a huge race, usually with around 10,000 participants.
She told me about how amazing that it was to finish and the sense of accomplishment.
With that, I was inspired to conquer the one thing that scared me the most.
I started running outside that spring. And it was hard. So hard.
I couldn’t make it 0.4 miles to the stop sign at the end of my street without having an asthma attack.
It was incredibly frustrating that my body wouldn’t do what I wanted it to. I came home crying on more than one occasion.
But I didn’t stop. I kept trying.
And all of a sudden, one day, I could run one mile, then two, then more and more.

That August I ran my first race ever, the 10 mile Crim!
Then I figured if I could do 10 miles, I could do 13.1 and ran my first half marathon!
It still was hard, I still have asthma attacks ( in fact I have perfected the art of using my inhaler while running ),
but I don’t stop - even if I have to walk.

Last year I turned 30 and I knew I wanted to do something BIG.
So I signed up for my first whole marathon.
The training schedule was grueling and when you couple that with a very grueling job, there were many
moments when I thought I just couldn’t do it. Three weeks before the
marathon I finished my last 21 mile training run and I knew it was time.
I was as ready as I would ever be.

Running a marathon is a surreal experience.
Around mile 18 my entire body hurt.
Around mile 23 the only way I can describe the way I felt was “out of body.”
The only thing that kept me going was the feeling I knew I would have when I crossed that finish line.
When that moment came it was amazing. The second my medal was put around my neck I felt every emotion.
I started sobbing. All the volunteers gave me a hug.

All I could say was “I did it. I have one lung.” I conquered my fear.
That is how I live my life.
I finally let go about feeling like I had to be good at something to do it.
That was my greatest victory and lesson ever learned.

what are 3 words that describe you & your LIFE?

My three words:

what do you love? who do you LOVE?

I love my husband Randy.
This amazing man spends hours waiting for me to finish a race just so he can take the picture of me crossing the finish line
and be there to give me hug and kiss no matter how sweaty and stinky I am.
He listens to me cry on a park bench in the middle of a training run because I’m frustrated that I had an asthma attack.
He’s never let me doubt myself. He encourages me to run when I don’t feel like it.
He never let my fear that I would be last place stop me.
He makes me a better person.

I love my friend DeeDee.
She’s the most athletic person I know and can run so much faster than me.
Yet she chooses to stay at my pace and run almost every race with me.
If she can’t be at a race with me she texts me encouragement the whole time.
She consistently sacrifices her personal time in a race to help me beat mine.

And I love my friend Kara who gave me the inspiration to even try to run.
She told me that it would get easier and not to give up. I'm SO glad I listened to her.

after meeting up with Liz & chatting with her more about her story,
she had mentioned how when she would get discouraged,
Randy would remind her of all the people she inspired to run...

so of course, being inspired myself, i asked her to give me the list :

1. My mom and both of my sisters walked their first 5ks.
When I do my second marathon my sister Amanda says she's going to run the 5k.
2. My cousin Becky ran her first half marathon.
3. My sister in law Hillary ran the 10 mile Crim and her first half marathon.
4. My friends Jen, Melissa M. and Melissa H., all say I'm their running hero lol!

well Liz, you can add me to your list because i just recently signed up for my first half-marathon!!!
you are seriously amazing & beyond inspiring.

i also asked Liz to share with me her TOP 3 images from her races....

& last but not least, i asked her "what is your most favorite quote?!"

This is from my Gramma.
When I was about 10 years old I remember telling her that I hated waking up in the middle of the night and that I was scared of the dark.
She told me,

“No matter how long the night seems, morning always comes.”

And I often remind myself of this in life when things are tough.

Liz, you are an inspiration.
thank you for being so compassionate, fearless & determined...

thank you for sharing YOUR story Liz.

with love & admiration,

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