This is something that I wrote for my running group blog site, the coach called it "Regina Triumphs at Marine Corps" I ran my first marathon, the Chicago Marathon in October 2005 and finished with a time of 4:50. Two months after running in Chicago, I woke up in the Intensive Care Unit of Presbyterian / St. Luke's Hospital in Denver. I had contracted necrotizing fasciitis, more commonly known as flesh-eating bacteria. No one knows how I got it. I went to bed on a Monday night with a shoulder-ache that I attributed to overdoing my swim workout that morning. I woke up in the middle of the night with my left arm throbbing with pain that I knew wasn't due to muscle pain. Then I woke in the morning with the pain, a high fever and throwing up. By 2:00pm my husband took me to the emergency room. They diagnosed the necrotizing fasciitis and by 6pm, I had my first of many surgeries in Boulder and later, in Denver. When I woke up in the ICU on Christmas Eve 2005, two months after doing my first marathon, I couldn't even sit up without assistance, much less walk. I had a great team of doctors in Denver and by removing more and more of my skin (the fascia) they were able to arrest this disease. I also spent some time in the hyperbaric chamber to promote healing. When it was done, I had a swath of diamond shaped skin missing from my armpit to torso on my left side. I was also missing some skin from my neck and to top of my chest. To replace the skin, the plastic surgeon had to take skin from the top of my thighs to put on my chest. My son called me Franken-mommie (with my permission) since I had so many stitches. I was lucky with this disease. One man I know lost both his feet. Another lost his arm and shoulder. I was diagnosed quickly and only lost a lot of skin. But when I woke up in the hospital bed, I was struck by the thought that I had just run a marathon two months before and now I couldn't even walk the three steps to the bathroom. I got out of the hospital in the first week of January 2006 and went home to recover and start physical therapy. The plastic surgeon who did my skin grafts told me that I probably wouldn't get back full use of my left arm, my dominant arm, due to the locations of the grafts and my armpit without further surgery. I took the rest of January at home recovering and starting physical therapy and some walking. I always walked in the same shoes that I had done the marathon in. I had no further complications once I left the hospital. On February 1st, I went back to work. By March 1st, I went back to running. I needed to start running because I wanted to run the Bolder Boulder 10K – a race I've done every year since moving to Colorado except for the year I was pregnant. The recommendation from my running group (Fast Forward Sports) was to be able to run 30 minutes several days a week. I was going to have to work to get there before the training started. The first day I went running, I didn't even bother with running clothes. I just changed into my running shoes and started plodding. I think that it was only about a 10 minute run, but it was enough to get a little sweaty and start breathing hard. I was so happy when I finished that I almost started crying. After all I had been through with the past few months, these feeling and little pains were so familiar and just plain normal that it felt like coming home. I continued running and rejoined Fast Forward and finished the Bolder Boulder 10K. Around that time, thanks to a great physical therapist, I got full use of my arm back. This amazed my plastic surgeon when I went in for a check-up. With all my skin grafts and graft sites finally healed, I could also go back to swimming. I trained that summer of 2006 and did the Bike Tour of Colorado – an annual 400+ mile 6-day bike tour through the Colorado mountains. In October, I completed The Other Half Marathon in Moab, Utah. I was back to full health and 2007 was going to be my year! Fast Forward Sports offers training for triathlons and I was going to fulfill a long-time goal of doing a half-ironman distance triathlon. To prepare and train for it, I did a duathlon, a sprint triathlon, an Olympic distance triathlon as well as returning to the Bike Tour of Colorado. I completed the half-ironman distance in August 2007. While I was training for the triathlons, friends were signing up for the marathon training program. I was tempted, but also scared since my first marathon hurt and I wasn't sure that I wanted to experience that again. I knew I was up to the training though. It would be a way to get closure to this two years that started with the Chicago Marathon of 2005. I am proud to say that I completed the Marine Corps Marathon on October 28, 2007. My time was 30 minutes faster than Chicago. The best part was that I really enjoyed the race and I was just happy to be in a marathon again. When I crossed the finish line, I nearly broke down in tears because I felt so lucky and grateful to be where I was standing.