By: Stacy Mason

I have to admit that over the last decade I've had a LOVE-HATE relationship with running! If you look closely at this picture (I’m on the left in pink), you will see on this day in March, 2016, running had gotten the best of me. (notice the scraped nose and bandaged knee). I definitely DID NOT feel the love on this day. Right past the 10-mile marker of the Running the Shoals Half Marathon my toe caught in the seam of the concrete, and I went down not even catching myself with my hands. I landed on my face; it’s a miracle that I did not knock out some teeth or break my nose. In a split second everything changed. I was running strong, hoping to finish with my best time ever; suddenly I didn’t know if I would get to finish at all.  

Honestly, I don’t remember it hurting that bad (believe it or not), but I do remember that it made me mad. I had trained all those months on all those hills, and now I knew I couldn't finish with the time I had anticipated. However, I did pick myself up and finish the race; not the way I had planned, but I did finish. 

I had always said that even though I did not always enjoy running or even like running, it always taught me to push through when it was it wasn’t easy. I had always considered running almost like a life lesson in perseverance.  

Little did I know on that March morning in 2016 that just a few months later I would be facing the greatest challenge of my life. I underwent surgery to have a colon resection because of an obstruction and was diagnosed with Stage 3 Colon Cancer. 

I remember the day after surgery when I first attempted to walk down the hall it seemed like an almost impossible feat. I remember thinking to myself, “How in the world did you ever run a marathon or a half marathon? This is so hard.” In that moment, God reminded me I had to simply put one foot in front of the other, whether it was 26 miles or 26 feet. This was my motivation to move forward; I knew I had to trust in my training and apply what running had taught me. 

I actually did run a little during the first months of chemo treatment, but by the end my body was just too compromised from the harsh drugs to continue. I finished the treatments in March of 2017, but it was in April 2018, that my body had finally regained enough strength. I finally began to think about starting to run again.  With the support of my awesome running buddy, Deanna, I have been able to get back to a 3-mile run with very minimal walking.  

My story is not so much about my wellness efforts, but what got me to this point in my relationship with running. Looking back, I see running has helped me understand life is about persevering through difficult times, and when we fall down we get back up and push through to the finish line!