- This was printed in February of 2015 in The Madera Tribune, a newspaper in Madera, California. This was the 92nd installment of my weekly column, Mind Over Miles.
There are two types of people in this world — those who find an excuse and those who
find a way. Through running, I have been lucky enough to meet and surround myself with
people who find a way.
My best friend, Madera runner Audrey Crow, has given me permission to tell readers that
she has Hepatitis C.
A woman who runs 40 or more miles each week, qualified for the Boston Marathon, and
finished a 50-mile ultramarathon in less than 12 hours has done it all with a disease that
causes fatigue, sore muscles, joint pain and other symptoms.
Audrey doesn’t use Hep C as an excuse to stay in bed, she uses it as motivation to stay in
shape and accomplish her goals.
“There’re days when I wake up to run but I want to stay in bed. But I think about how
I’m going to be mad when I wake up at 9 a.m. and know I didn’t take that opportunity.
It’s more gratifying when you go out there in that rain, that fog, whatever elements, and
you do it and know that you accomplished something today.”
Running might even be the primary reason she will be eligible for a new, injection-less
cure, called Sovaldi.
“My doctor, a gastroenterologist and liver disease specialist, said I am the perfect
candidate for this drug because I’m very athletic and in shape,” she said. “I was
diagnosed about 20 years ago but I’ve never had any treatments because I’ve been so
active. Now I can take this pill and be totally cured.”
Audrey said her doctor is always amazed when she tells him about the races she trains
for, and says the running is probably the reason why her blood panel results are fine
despite the disease.
“He tells me that other people suffer from this disease, but I’m not suffering,” she said.
“Other people feel tired from it so they don’t do anything. They think ‘woe is me, I have
Hep C; I can’t do anything.’ But they can do it, if they learn how to maintain it.”
It’s no secret that Madera runner, teacher and coach Benny Madrigal has Type 1 Diabetes.
He dons his Team Novo Nordisk jersey at competitions — footraces and triathlons — and
raises money for diabetes research.
He has to manage his blood sugar levels while training and competing for endurance
events, including the Ironman triathlon and various marathons. Since his diagnosis,
Benny has won the Santa Rosa Marathon and Mountains to Beach Marathon.
Like anyone diagnosed with diabetes, there are some days when he doesn’t feel well —
but he doesn’t use it as an excuse. He listens to his body and takes care of himself, and
then finds a way to continue to compete at the professional level.
My coach, Brad Castillo, had hip replacement surgery on Nov. 17. He suffered for years
from hip pain because “it was literally bone-to-bone” he said, but he kept putting off the
surgery because he wanted to accomplish goals, like qualify for and run in the Boston
Marathon, and complete an ultramarathon.
He did both, running Boston in 2013 and 2014, and also finishing the American River 50
Mile run last year — with a broken foot also, but that’s a different story. He was still
hesitant to schedule the surgery because his doctor told him that he would never be able
to run again.
Lesson learned: Never tell Brad Castillo what he can’t do. That man, just four months
after going under the knife, is once again faster than half of our running group. On
Monday he beat Audrey and I running up a hill. He’s a prime example of finding a way,
not an excuse.
“Even though we all have these ailments, we’re not letting that hold us back from living
our dream and doing what we love to do,” Audrey said of herself, Benny and Brad. “The
bottom line is, it really does help you to stay healthy. Look at Brad — he’s living proof
that when someone tells you you’re never going to be able to run again, you can still do
it. If you believe it, if you see yourself running, you can do it.
“You just have to focus and think positive and you’ll find a way.”