I am pleased to introduce you to Living Well With Epilepsy’s newest contributing writer, Abby Gustus Alford. Abby is a woman living with epilepsy in Texas. Abby will write about epilepsy and fitness, two topics she is passionate about.
Don’t run that far, Abby. You might have a seizure. Every single time I start training for a half marathon, I get the same response from the people who love me those most. These are my biggest supporters, my mom, my husband, my dad… It’s not that they don’t want me to succeed and finish a half marathon. They want that for me more than anything. But, they think me putting my body through something that difficult has the potential to cause a seizure. So, each time I sign up I get the same response, “That might cause a seizure, are you sure that’s a good idea?”
The fitness itch
I have a passion for fitness. I love being active. I love running. I love going to work out classes with friends. It’s fun for me, and about once a year, I start getting an itch to do a half marathon. That happened to me last fall.
I knew that I wanted to run a half marathon, and no matter what anybody said, that’s what I was going to do. Having epilepsy was not going to stop me.
I understand where the people who love me are coming from. 13.1 miles is really hard on your body. And, let’s be honest, those of us with epilepsy completely know pushing ourselves to our limits can sometimes cause a seizure. It has happened to me before. I think I can keep up with all of my friends, and then, boom – I have a seizure.
But, Sunday, January 17th, I laced up and ran the Houston Half Marathon. It was my eighth half marathon to put in the books, and I could not be prouder of my accomplishment! It was one of my slower races to be completely honest. I was not surprised, though, because my official time of 2:41:09 was right in line with all of my training runs.
When I set out to run this race, I had in my head that I just wanted to finish. I wasn’t going to go for my very best time. I wasn’t going to set any records, but I was going to run for Team Epilepsy and make it count.
For some reason, and I’m sure if you are living with epilepsy you can appreciate it, but accomplishing big fitness goals feels fantastic! Running 13.1 miles for anybody is an accomplishment, running 13.1 miles being able to call my biggest supporters and say “I finished”, well, it just feels really great.
Each and every one of my biggest supporters always gets a little nervous the day of the race for obvious reasons, but each and every one of them is just as proud of me when I finish as I am of myself!
January 17th, I was one proud lady!
Abby Gustus Alford was diagnosed with epilepsy at the age of 12 after she had multiple grand mal seizures over a six-month period. After graduating from Purdue with a B.A. in Mass Communications and receiving her Master’s in Journalism from Northwestern University, Abby started working full time in marketing and communications. She currently works in commercial real estate industry, but spends all of her extra time getting healthy and staying fit. When she’s not out running or biking, she spends her time volunteering for two organizations she is passionate about, The Epilepsy Foundation of Texas and Girls on the Run Greater Houston. She loves spreading her message of hope and works with people to assure them, they too can lead happy, healthy lives… with epilepsy.