A story was brought to our attention last fall shortly after the Chicago Marathon about one young lady from Boston who overcame quite the obstacle to get across the finish line. Morgan Caraviello ran Chicago with some of her friends (a couple of Six03 Endurance runners) and nearly got a BQ. First we’ll get the story straight from Morgan followed by a little Q&A:
The Chicago Marathon was my first one — my time was 3:39:51 — so a little less than 4 min away from being a Boston qualifier. I actually had a time of 3:40 in mind and had the Nike splits tattoo on my right forearm that I was following very closely. I kept a steady 8:14 mile until about the 20 mile mark, and then slowed a little… I ended up averaging an 8:23 mile. At the end of the marathon I felt really strong and was a little upset I hadn’t pushed myself a bit more through out the entire race. I will definitely know I am capable of going faster for the next marathon I do!
My employer, Liberty Mutual, is one of the leading sponsors so they give 100 bibs to the first 100 people who sign up each year. I actually had signed up to run last year but in early July I was hospitalized for a month with Ulcerative Colitis and was out of work for even longer. It’s a gastrointestinal disease that I was born with and a “flare” can be triggered by calorie depletion, stress, basically anything! Coupled with a stressful job and training for the marathon was a perfect recipe for a flare. So I was so upset that I had to pull my name out. But I was determined to run this year — and I did!
The feeling of crossing that finish line with all of the medical issues I faced last year and continue to face was a feeling like no other. Such a natural high – a feeling that I could take on anything. I can’t wait for the next opportunity to feel that way again (targeting the University of Maine marathon in June 2016 – which is my alma mater!).
Ulcerative Colitis sounds like the very thing that would keep many from even attempting a marathon, so we wanted to know more not only her race but how she started running and how easy it is to manage a condition like that.
So how long have you been running for?
I have always been an athlete – starting soccer at a very young age, then track and lacrosse. As for doing road races I didn’t start until the end of high school, really. It was a way for me to stay in shape and keep that competitive edge ?
When did you decided to tackle a marathon?
I decided to tackle a marathon in Spring of 2014 when signing up to run Chicago under the Liberty Mutual sponsorship, my current employer. It was a very demanding and challenging time in my career during the time I was training. Not to mention that I was getting married in September. The stress compounded on itself – and unfortunately by June of that year I was having the worst flare of colitis that I’d ever had. Training rigorously, calorie depletion, challenges at work, and the stress of planning a wedding all caved in. Stress is one of the leading contributors to a colitis flare. I went into the hospital for 22 days and ended up having to back out of the marathon. I swore to myself that I would get healthy again and run it in 2015. Which I did!
How much of a concern was the colitis?
It was definitely a big concern but I tried not to think about it. My doctor at the Crohn’s and Colitis Center at Mass General always tells me to live my life free of worry. That his job is to ensure that I don’t even have to think about my disease. All throughout training I needed to listen to my body, know when I had exhausted myself, know when I needed sustenance and rest etc. A healthy mind makes a healthy body – I stayed positive, persevered, and made sure I was taking time to relax. There were days where I just didn’t feel like running – and I wouldn’t. I never wanted to outrun my joy of running – I didn’t want it to become a chore. Because it has always been my outlet, my stress reliever.
How tough is it to keep it in check? And is it ever really not a concern?
I am on medication that keeps it in check for now. It is always a concern, but luckily I have been flare free since August 2014!
Best of luck to Morgan in her training and especially staying flare free. A lengthy hospital stay would be a deterrent for so many but the way she bounced back and attacked the marathon was extremely impressive. She is one tough young lady!