Weekly Rockstar_ Laurel Graham
Shortly after being diagnosed with muscular dystrophy as a kid, I was told I'd never be able to run. In fact, my school gym note from my doctor excused me from running activities. My MD eventually progressed to a point where walking became incredibly difficult due to the deformities in my feet and ankles, as well as due to the weakness in my lower extremities. I walked on the sides of my feet and often felt like 50 feet was 5 miles. I underwent bilateral foot and ankle reconstructive surgery and spent the next 1-1.5 years getting a feel for my "new" feet and learning to walk again. During my recovery I remember getting out of breath just from crutching across the room. That was a horrible feeling, and at that moment I promised myself that I'd get in the best shape of my life if I could get through recovery. Fitness started slow and small, but 2 years after my last surgery I set a goal to run my first road race, the Virginia 4 miler. I completed that goal with tears in my eyes and a bounding heart. It was small, but only I knew how far I had come to get there. Flash forward a couple of years and I now have countless triathlons under my belt, including a Half Ironman, which I completed with a metatarsal stress fracture, because yes, I am that stupid and that stubborn. When I set my sights on something, it gets done. I'm 2 weeks out from my second 70.3 with plans for a full Ironman next year. When consulting with my doctors and surgeon about activities I can do, I've been told multiple times to stop running, that I "shouldn't run", etc. because it's just too much. But my surgeries and recovery gave me a new life. Triathlon has given me a new life. And damnit, I'm not going to quit when I've come this far.