by Sandy Cirillo
A little background to get started. I Lived all my life on the East coast in Maryland. Spent all my years working in the salon business from being a shampoo technician to becoming a stylist, nail technician, massage therapist, and cosmetology instructor. This year marks 25 years of being a Type 1 Diabetic. Was never athletic or participated in school sports. So here’s my story….
Rewind 6 years, I’m living in MD and working at the salon. Nights and weekends are spent at many happy hours, concerts, festivals, football games, and most of all being with my boyfriend Greg and his daughter Levi. Not an athletic bone in my body, life seemed pretty normal.
Days and time would pass and like anyone else I assumed everyday would come and go as planned. April of 2013 that was not the case. In one day, one hour, one minute our lives can change. For me, that was the day Greg died unexpectedly from an accident due to an epileptic seizure in our home. He was in his early 30’s. Life is so short for so many. This made me think of my own life, who I wanted to be, and where I wanted to be. What I wanted for my life, and where I would end up next. I thought of all the things I had never done and why I wasn’t doing them. Places I wanted to see and why I hadn’t gone.
With all the free time I had incurred I started taking walks everyday. Alone with my thoughts, talking through situations and doing way too much thinking. I would see people out running and assumed it wasn’t for me since I didn’t “look like a runner,” or have “an athletic body.” One day I decided to give it a go. I couldn’t even make it to the first 1/10 mile marker without being in tears, breathing heavily, cramping in my abdomen and feet while tucked away in my worn out Brooks Ghost 6. I started seeing a nutritionist to help and signed up for workout classes, personal training, and tried rock climbing indoors. I realized I was really enjoying my new routines. My family was planning a summer cruise and I purchased a pair of Jeep 41 water shoes at TJMaxx. Oddly enough these were the only shoes I could comfortably run with. The following spring I signed up for my first 5k with some work buddies. I was still run/walking and at this point I still couldn’t run a straight mile. I finished in 41:57. It was really fun, and I enjoyed being out with the running community, but I wanted more excitement. Next I tried a mud run with a friend and her husband. The Rebel Run. 5k with 12 obstacles. It was fun, but I was bummed the obstacles weren’t challenging enough. Next came ROC, Warrior Dash, and Rugged Maniac. And then it was time, time to attempt a Spartan run. Spartan Sprint at the Palmerton PA course. Within 1 mile I’m crying and wondering why I thought this was a good idea. 1 mile felt like forever and the steep hills were hell on my legs. Many, many burpees and falls later – I cross the finish line. Second that medal was in my hand I wanted more. More torture? More challenge? Or maybe just more medals!! I suddenly felt cool! Haha! I buy a 50lb sandbag from Home Depot. I carry it around the house, up and down the stairs, and around the neighborhood. I find a big hill in the industrial park next to the house and I start running up and down as much as I could. Over the winter, I sign up to complete the Spartan Trifecta that spring/summer. I’m excited and terrified. Can I really do this? What if I pass out from low blood sugar? The idea of actually being able to complete the Beast run was something I never would have imagined for myself. And then, the day had arrived. Driving over 4hr with my partner, Rob up to the NY/NJ line for the race. 15miles/32 obstacles ahead of us and that finish line…..Good God. Its April, I’m in a tank and shorts, and yes my Jeep water shoes with three pairs of socks hoping that will protect my feet. 8-9 miles in, at the bucket carry, my knee completely gives out. Stupid injury I had from showing off in front of my climbing buddies. I have no idea how I’m going to finish, but I know I’m not going to stop. This was also the time I realized my glucose meter stopped working, most likely from jumping in the water during an obstacle. My partner and I finish the race in 10hours. I had never felt more physically and mentally drained and exhausted. 4 hours away from home I tried to find a room to crash only to learn it was prom weekend and everywhere was completely booked. I make it home about 3am and wake up 4 hours later to participate in my work cut-a-thon. I end up cutting hair for 4 hours wearing my medal of victory, and grinning ear to ear every time I hear it jingling around.
That year I completed 12 races. One about every 3 to 4 weeks. The day I received my trifecta will still be one of my best days. Not because I was fast, or because I got out of doing burpees, since both of those statements are false, but because I was really proud of myself. That year I also did a 10k trail run and ran up a warped wall like in American Ninja Warrior. The following year I decided to work on distance. I signed up for the B3 Challenge of Baltimore. This is a race series put on by my local run specialty-Charm City Run. A 5k, 10k and the Charles Street 12 miler. This was the first 5k and 10k that I would be able to run the entire race. No walking or stopping. This was HUGE for me. This was also only 2 years ago. Last year I set a goal to run a half marathon. I chose the Mt. Sneffels half running from Ouray to Ridgeway. Ouray is very special to me. Not only was traveling to Ouray the first trip I took solo, but it was my first time actually seeing the mountains. I knew if I wanted that race bad enough, I wouldn’t let myself down in Ouray. My knee gave out before I hit 2 miles and instead of freaking out like normal, I told myself, “you will run and you will finish this race.” I had to slow my pace way more than I would have liked, but I finished, and I did not stop and I did not walk.
With all my new found confidence and independence from pushing myself out of that box and in uncomfortable situations, I decide to make a huge change. Time to move to Colorado!!! Wanting to immerse myself in and around all the things that have brought me to this happy and new place in my life. This is how I found Runners Roost. Hoping that in some small way I could help to inspire others in pushing forward with goals or dreams that they may have thought were out of reach. Being a part of a community that helped lift me out of that dark space and brought me to a new beginning. Being out here in Colorado and with the running community has brought amazing people and experiences I otherwise would never see. I still may not look or feel like an athlete, but this body has taken me on more adventures than I ever thought were possible for myself and for that I will be forever grateful! #LifeismeantforAdventure