A lot of elite athletes talk about endurance. Don’t get me wrong, they have great physical and athletic endurance. It the movie Spirit of the Marathon there is a quote that marathon training is basically training for life. You’re going to have bad spots in the marathon and in life. The outcome depends on how you handle those bad spots.
I know several people with Cystic Fibrosis. I can say, that in my humble opinion, the elite athletes of the world cannot endure nearly what someone with CF can. Now, don’t get me wrong, nobody with CF is ever going to outperform an elite athlete. But, I contend that no elite athlete could handle what some of my friends handle on a daily basis.
Let’s see, what in the world could I be talking about. I’ll start simple…meds. Lots and lots of meds. Pills, MDI’s, Inhalations, Shots, IV’s, etc., etc., etc. The near constant battle of not feeling “well.” The stomach that hurts so much you can’t even think about eating. The coughing. Oh, my, the coughing.
I remember my sister Judy coughing so hard sometimes, in a futile attempt to prolong her life a few months, she would actually break a blood vessel or two in her lung. She’d turn blue, she’d cough up quite literally cups of thick, bloody mucus. Day after day, week after week, for 30 years.
That’s endurance. Not running 26.2 miles, not swimming for hours, and not biking 112 miles. Oh, those all take endurance, but we do those for a challenge. For the most part, our lives are not on the line. For my sister, and many other people with CF (and MANY other illnesses), it quite literally was.
Now, I speak from experience on some of this stuff. I’ve taken lots of meds. I’ve coughed up some blood, and I’ve felt sick before. But honestly, I’m not sick like most others with CF. Don’t get me wrong, my Pulmonary Functions Test isn’t perfect. It’s about 75-78%, almost normal. But, when I get sick…I typically get better without meds, etc.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately (can you tell?). I’m working toward another marathon journey soon. My goal is to break 4 hours. I’ll be 40 years old when I run the 2011 Flying Pig Marathon. These are two numbers that many with CF will never see. Making 40 years old will be a celebration for me. Making a 4 hour marathon will be my feat of endurance. But, it won’t begin to come close to matching the endurance displayed by some of my brothers and sisters in the CF world.