Earning the Medal of UC

By: Shari Holbrook
Companion Fitness Contributor
Twitter: @73weed

This week I celebrate my 15 year IBD anniversary. 15 years of being truly diagnosed.

Not that I hadn’t had symptoms all my life...they just had no clue why I felt as I did or why I seemed to get whatever went around.

When I learned I had UC, I truly didn’t have a clue. I took drugs..felt better..then worse, like a roller coast. While I was always a fitness lover, I had backed down due to my UC and bone issues in my hands. My doctor urged me to begin a Pilates or Yoga class to help with stress and truly wanted me to back down from my work as a hairdresser as the hours were rough didn’t help with my stress. I decided to take a Pilates class and fell in love! Urged by my instructor to become certified, I decided to do just that. Pilates calmed me, made me feel fitter and helped me meet great people. Going deeper into fitness, I decided to become a certified personal trainer just for my own self. Immediately I was hired to help others get healthier. I never expected to get a job personal training. It was to last 6 months. It’s been 10years. Since that time, I have added Zumba, Fitness Nutrition Coach, SMR foam rolling, and currently studying for my healthy weight management certification. I take weekly spin classes; Practice yoga when time allows; lift; swim; run lightly.

Let’s go to June 2016. I had just had kidney surgery due to a stone. After healing and talking to yet another specialist, I decided to go for the biggest thing I had ever done: a Half Ironman. For those who don’t know, this consists of a 1.2mile swim, 56mi bike, 13.1run. I had biked many events ( including 161mi across the state of Indiana with my daughter which took over 12hours all in one day), ran several events including half marathons, but I had not swum competitively since I was a kid. So..friends stepped up and coached me. I spent almost a whole year training for this event. I had days when the fatigue was so bad I wasn’t sure I could or would make it. I swam, biked and ran constantly while I worked as a hairdresser and trainer. I also cried. I had mental blocks. 

Each week as my miles went up training, my guts couldn’t handle it. I knew I would begin to feel poorly around mile 8. No matter what I did, I would flare. All this training and my gut were winning. Well..I fought. I did a small sprint event and did fine but my swim was poor. I felt very down but after hearing other triathlete stories..this was normal. So..I kept working. I became stronger. I watched my nutrition to see if anything would help my gut behave. Nothing really did but I was so determined to race.

So, July 8 of this year, I suited up at 4 am to wait to race. A calm came over me. My swim was perfect. I was SO happy. Then came the bike.

Wow..I made it...I felt great! The run was my nemesis and I knew my gut would speak up. The heat, the hydration, nutrition..all played a key.

As an IBD patient, we all know that. I could feel my colon beginning to bleed at Mile 8-per usual, but I kept going. I crossed that line in 8hours 32min. I was 2minutes late for ironman true time but, I finished that race and the medal was placed around me. I was elated.

How did I, a UC patient do this? Grit? Determination? Hard work? My diagnosis 15 years ago made me fight. I am not my diagnosis. I am me. I am a triathlete, a swimmer, cyclist, runner, weightlifter, yogi, Pilates instructor, and a half ironman finisher.

I am the face of UC. I am determined, a bit stubborn and I am a strong force. And, I also earned that medal a month before my birthday..my 62nd.

Brooke Bogdan