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Monday, October 25, 2010

Strides: Intestinal Fortitude

This is a series on runners participating in the 3rd Annual Dean of Students Half Marathon Challenge on November 14, 2010. Today's post features Morgan Jackson a sophomore Biology major with a Sociology minor from Colorado Springs, Colorado. Ben Newhouse is the Associate Director of Campus & Community Involvement. He graduated from trinity 1999. They had not known about their common ground. They do now.

Morgan Jackson
Why do you run?
I played varsity soccer and swam on the varsity team in high school and swam and played soccer while dancing all throughout my life. So I have always run to stay in shape for those activities but when I got to college I knew I wasn't going to do either at the collegiate level. I got the e-mail from Dean Tuttle about running a half marathon and decided to give it a shot. I ran the half marathon last year and will do it again this year and hopefully many years to come.

Talk about how running relates to your health issues.
Well the summer before my senior year of high school I started having excruciating stomach pain for three weeks and saw several doctors before being diagnosed with Crohn's Disease. So during that initial three weeks I could barely walk let alone run or do any of my favored activities so that set me back a little bit. Currently I haven't had many issues with my Crohn's, however, sometimes when I run I do experience some pain. Unfortunately, it often does cause me to have to stop and walk a bit before I can resume my run. Thankfully, it doesn't affect me on every run and so most runs I am able to run like normal.

What's on your running playlist?
As far as my music play list goes I don't really have one. I tend to just put my iPod on shuffle and skip the songs that aren't working for that moment. However, I do like to listen to a lot of Trapt, Skillet, A Bird a Sparrow, The Hit, Maroon 5 and Mayday Parade. Anything with a steady and peppy beat is good.

Ben Newhouse
Why do you run?
I was never a runner, and I got tired of all the excuses I was using for not getting out there. So I chose to do something drastic by signing up for the half marathon. My motivation is--I may not look the part, but I'm out there.

How is your experience training a second time?
Last year, 13.1 miles was intimidating. It's amazing how much more confidently I train knowing that I succeeded last year. I wish I could pass that knowledge on to the first time runners. I know they can make it!

Tell me about Crohn's and how it relates to your running?
Crohn's disease is a GI disorder that causes a person's immune system to attack their own body, which in short turns the intestines into Swiss cheese if untreated. Symptoms include intense abdominal pain, rapid weight loss, vomiting, and well, you get the picture. Five years ago, I was diagnosed with Crohn's. I had lost 80 pounds in 3 months because I couldn't keep anything down. Fortunately, with surgery and ongoing treatment, I have been relatively symptom-free (or as Crohnies call it, flare-free) ever since. Many don't fare as well and have endured repeated surgeries and aggressive drug therapy with little to no relief. Five years ago, I was so weak that I could barely walk. Today, I run because I understand that the ability to do so is a gift. I run because so many of my fellow Crohnies are still too sick to join me.

What is the best thing about running with students?
I love hearing about their week--the successes, the challenges, and the drama. I find that I am much better listener during runs because talking would waste precious oxygen.

Editors Note: Student Bart Davis has gathered about 12 students to run the half marathon to raise money for Crohn's research. Bart has family members with the disease. Ben Newhouse is helping the group.The Dean's Half Marathon Challenge runs for the San Antonio Food Bank.

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