Meet our Honoree: Alison Bennett
My name is Alison Bennett. I'm originally from Chicago, Illinois but currently reside in Columbus after graduating from THE Ohio State University (Go Buckeyes!).
I first learned about CCFA when I was looking through my Runner’s World Magazine and seeing an ad for the Las Vegas 1/2 marathon and how it was sponsored by CCFA- it was too perfect. I was hooked on running and ready to do it. Then I found Team Challenge in Columbus and thought it would be a great opportunity to meet other people who have Crohn’s or Colitis. Since getting in contact with CCFA I have received more information about my illness. They also have an iPhone app that helps you to track symptoms. They have helped me realize that I am not alone in my struggles- many people suffer from IBD.
I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in February 2012 after experiencing symptoms and numerous doctor visits for almost a year. My symptoms first began after vacationing with friends in Florida in March of 2011. I found myself taking Imodium on an “as needed” basis to stop diarrhea, which seemed to be every other day. At first I thought it could have something to do with a new diet. My sister and I challenged each other to go on a vegan diet and workout every day to slim down for our Florida trip. I experienced some discomfort as I increased raw vegetables and soy products and cut out meat and dairy products. I had no idea what I would experience in the months to come.
So far it has been difficult to get back to a normal way of life with my disease. I'm still trying to understand my body and test which foods are good for me or not. Stress is a major factor that triggers flare ups, and I experienced several last year. I was training for the CCFA Las Vegas 1/2 Marathon back in August/September when I had another flare-up and had to quit training altogether. I lost 10 lbs within 2 months. My symptoms continued to worsen to the point where I couldn't eat food or drink fluids without running to the bathroom. I was going to the bathroom 3 times within a half hour of eating and was interrupting my ability to work. This caused me to be hospitalized in November with a moderate flare-up. Since receiving treatment I have been on Prednisone for the inflammation; the hardest thing to accept is realizing that you will have to take your symptoms one day at a time.
What I miss most about my life since my diagnosis is being able to do 100% intensity workouts! Running was always my go-to stress buster. I've always been an athlete but since my diagnosis these workouts cause serious cramping and discomfort that I find debilitating. I'm still not sure if and when I'll be able to run again and I really miss it.
When I used to train for running I worried more about my endurance instead of my inner GI tract. Completing my first half-marathon was one of my greatest mind-over-matter achievements to date. I'll never forget the adrenaline rush I had when I crossed the finish line. That feeling is what inspires me now to take charge of my disease. I want the chance to get back to a normal state of life and focus on personal goals, such as running future half marathons and hopefully a full marathon someday. As an honoree for this season I want you all to experience the rush of completing your race and pushing yourself beyond your limits to get to the finish.
I'm all for finding a cure for this disease. I'm also for anything that helps fundraising efforts that go toward research to find cures to help those who suffer from Crohn's or Ulcerative Colitis. I thank you for expressing interest in helping people like me. I'm really looking forward to working with you and hopefully I can provide some small inspiration you to run the race (that I am hoping to run with you!)