The beauty of using running to compete against and improve yourself.

In college, a fraternity brother and I signed up for a 5k that was put on by a local sorority. While I was in pretty good shape about a year earlier, I had not run for about a year before this race. My fraternity brother, on the other hand, was in Air Force ROTC and was in excellent shape. I kept up with him for about a mile and a half before I eventually fell well behind him and finished in just over 25 minutes.

Less than a year later I was diagnosed with autoimmune liver disease. As part of my treatment, my doctor placed me on beta blockers. From what I’ve heard/read beta blockers keep your heart rate lower than usual, but in turn prevent it from getting too fast. As a result, even when I ran after getting sick, the beta blockers kept me from running long distances at any respectable paces for the next few years. Additionally, as my PSC and autoimmune liver disease further damaged my liver, I would develop hepatic pulmonary syndrome. The hepatic pulmonary limited my oxygen and made it difficult to breathe with any moderate exercise.

Post-Liver Transplant

My liver transplant cured the hepatic pulmonary, and I am no longer on beta blockers. However, following my operation, it was safe to say I was very out of shape once I started running again. It was a full year after transplant when I was finally running a full mile without stopping, and it was still around a 12-minute pace. I recall the excitement over the past couple of years as I’ve slowly but surely ran miles in 10 minutes, then 9, then 8, and then 7 minutes. While I have not yet hit 6 minutes (although I did my senior year of high school), I would not be surprised if I can do it by the end of the year.

Already this year, I have run a 5k at 8:30 pace (26:30), 5 miles at 8:49 pace, and 10 miles at 9:39 pace. Additionally, I am excited to run my first Half Marathon since last year when it took me around two hours and 45 minutes. I should be able to shave around 40 minutes off this time, which would be under a 10-minute pace.

Why I Love Running

If you don’t run much, then my last paragraph may come off as bragging. Anyone who runs a lot will tell you that these are not very respectable times. They are, at best, average for a 34-year-old, such as myself. However, what I love about running is that to me these times mean a lot. I recall when I texted my wife after my first seven-minute mile. I was so excited! I had to share it with someone. She kindly responded, “Good Job,” but I know she could have cared less.

My next personal goals by the end of the year are a half marathon under 2 hours, a full marathon under 4:30 (Oprah ran a 4:29), and a 5k under 25 minutes. When I set these goals, no one will care. I will be finishing far from leaders, even in my age group. However, I will be as excited as though my team won a championship because I will have known the amount of sweat and hours I put into reaching that goal.

This is the beauty of running.

Join me in my efforts to support Liver Life Challenge!

In 2019, I have decided to run the Chicago Marathon to support the American liver foundation. As a participant in the Liver Life Challenge, I’m helping in the fight against liver disease, but I can not do it without your help. Every step I take and every dollar I raise will make a difference in the lives of the millions of Americans living with liver disease. By donating on my behalf, you will be helping the American Liver Foundation provide critical funding for medical research, public education, and patient support services.