Collin started running competitively at 8 years old in USATF and road races around the country. He ran at UC Berkeley in college, where he has a school record in the indoor 5K and is in the top 10 all time for the 1500 meters, 3000 meters, 3K steeple and 5000 meters. During his junior year (2013), he was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis, a form of IBD. It's an auto-immune disease that affects the large intestine (colon). It became life threatening and resulted in an emergency surgery to save his life. After the surgery, he returned to the sport that he loved and finished up his career at Cal.
After all that you accomplished, what drives you to continue running?
This question is incredibly difficult to answer. My drive to run is innate; it's been such a staple in my life that I feel incomplete without it. When I was sick with Ulcerative Colitis I was unsure if I would ever be able to run again, and that possibility was devastating. Regaining the ability to run made me realize how incredibly special it is to me. It allows me be the best version of myself, and in doing so to inspire others to do the same.
How do you motivate yourself on days when you don't feel like running?
I think about when I was sick, laying in a hospital bed for weeks on end. I would contemplate how many fingers I would be willing to cut off to go for a pain free run again; I think I settled on 6. I owe it to all of those who can't run to get out there and make the most of my abilities.
On average, how many times and miles do you run a month?
It depends on the time of year and what I'm training for, but I would say that 75 miles a week is probably a fair average. So 300 miles per month!
You’re the second runner I’ve met with year with Ostomy. Can you explain what that is for those who don’t know?
Sure! An ostomy is a surgical opening in the abdomen that is created for the discharge of bodily waste. The most common reasons someone might need to have an ostomy is due to the partial or complete removal of the bladder or intestine; a result of illnesses such as Ulcerative Colitis, Crohns disease, or Cancer. I had my entire large intestine removed, which means I have what is called an 'ileostomy'.
Has running with Ostomy been challenging in any ways? If so, how?
Absolutely. In general, getting an ostomy is an incredibly difficult experience, both physically and psychologically. It means having major abdominal surgery resulting in a medical appliance (bag) attached to the abdomen at all times. This puts me at a high risk for getting a hernia. Depending on what is removed (in my case the entire large intestine), staying hydrated and absorbing nutrients from food can also be a challenge. The large intestine is also home to gut flora that are partially responsible for regulating mood, so depression and other psychological disorders are extremely common. I continue to deal with all of these things on a daily basis. I have to hydrate like crazy, eat 3,500+ calories a day, strengthen my core with extreme care, and take medication to help with anxiety and depression. Having spoken to thousands of other people who have ostomies, I know that these are as common as they are challenging. All of that being said, I truly believe that with the right routines, support, and mindset that these issues can be overcome. My advice? Never be too proud to seek help when you need it. If this experience taught me anything, it's that I'm not invincible. I'm fortunate to have a great network of friends and family that supported me throughout; I wouldn't be where I am today if it weren't for them.
You have a business called Stealth Belt, what can you tell us about it and where people can find out more?
I do! The website is Stealthbelt.com. We make custom ostomy support belts that help conceal and support an ostomy appliance. I bought one before I became involved with the company, and it was a game changer, both for running and daily living. Using a Stealth Belt gave me the confidence and security I needed to start running, which helped me feel 'normal' again. I am incredibly lucky to be able to sell a product that I know has the ability to improve people's lives.
Have you found that a lot of your customers are runners? If so, what’s been their feedback?
We do get a fair amount of runners who have ostomies and are looking to get back into it, but the majority of our clients are people who just want to be able to go back to living life as normally and comfortably as possible. The feedback we receive is tremendously positive. From MLB pitchers and NASCAR drivers to grandparents and elementary school kids, I get testimonials that make me tear up on a regular basis. I absolutely love what I do!
What does your weight training consist of and which exercise do you feel helps your running the most?
I actually just joined a CrossFit gym! I have a hard time staying motivated to get in the weight room alone, so I decided I'd try something different. As a runner, I always scoffed a little bit at the idea of CrossFit, but the coaches work with me to make sure I'm not doing anything too heavy or too fast, and have even let me incorporate some of my routines into the workouts. Plus having other people around that are motivated is contagious. I promised myself I wouldn't be the person who talks about Crossfit, but here I am... I think the most important thing a runner can work on is hip strengthening. Almost every running injury comes from weak glutes, hips, and lower abdominal muscles. Single leg step ups, Cleans, Split Jerks, and eccentric calf lowers are my go-to's. Crossfit may not be the *best* possible strength training I could be doing, but it keeps me motivated and in a routine, which is extremely valuable given how busy I am each day.
What's the weirdest or funniest thing that ever happened to you while running?
With almost 2 decades worth of running experiences, it's hard to zero in on just one. The first thing that jumps to mind is from when I was in high school. We used to do this 'run' where we would go 2 miles over to a creek near the school, and hop from rock to rock trying not to fall in for about 1 mile, and then run 2 miles back to the school. One day during an extremely heavy rain, one of my buddies and I decided it would be a good time to go over and do this run again. Pretty dumb in hindsight, but at 15 year old I didn't have the best judgement. Obviously with the rain, the water levels were much higher, which made it far more challenging to get down the river. We both fell in multiple times, and at one point, my friend fell in completely underwater with just his hand held out of the water, desperately trying to keep his phone from submerging with him (I still don't know why he brought it in the first place). Something about watching him disappear into a pool of water with just a hand holding a razr cellphone above the surface made me laugh so hard that I fell in too. After that we decided it was time to take a different approach and just go through the surrounding woods until we met up with the trails near by. We didn't realize it, but we went straight through massive patches of poison oak, and were covered head to toe for weeks. It was absolutely miserable, but when I think back to that day all I can do is laugh at how ridiculous the entire situation was.
If you had to chose, would you prefer a road race or Steeplechase and why?
Steeplechase 100%. It's one of my favorite events. I was a Pac12 champ in this event in college, and I just love the added challenge of hurdling in a distance event. It takes a different type of athleticism than is typically found in distance runners, so the training for it is more varied and fun.
What are your favorite types of fuel for running and why?
Bananas. High in potassium, slow the digestive tract, great source of carbohydrates, and the perfect consistency for making smoothies or shakes. I eat like 3 bananas a day.
What's your favorite cheat food & drink?
A big, greasy carne asada burrito with guac and sour cream with an XL horchata from my favorite Mexican restaurant, right after getting out of the ocean. Something about the dried salt water makes it just that much better. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
Do you like ice baths? Why or why not?
Yeah, I love them actually. I typically take them when I'm so sore that the numbness from the cold is preferable. Plus the gradual feeling of warming back up in a pair of comfortable sweats is also worth the 10 mins of cold.
In your free time when you’re not running, what other hobby’s do you enjoy?
I enjoy rock climbing (indoor bouldering) when I can. I've also been reading a lot of philosophical text lately, Nietzsche, Jung, and Aurelius in particular. They hurt my brain so gooood. An added bonus is that it gives me something to ponder during long runs. I laugh at myself now for reading more than when I was actually in school. Turns out reading can be fun after all!
What's the most important tip you like to give new runners?
Take it slow. Rome wasn't built in a day. Consistency over time is the key to becoming a better runner. Don't fall into the trap of extreme enthusiasm separated by bouts of injury. Lay out a conservative plan and execute it one day at a time.
What is your favorite running accomplishment so far?
Another nearly impossible question to answer. Winning a Pac 12 championship at Hayward Field will always stand out to me. It was a childhood dream to do a victory lap in a full stadium there and it came true. But another race comes to mind as equally memorable was my first race back on the track after surgery. I ran a 4:16 mile for dead last at the MPSF championship meet in Washington. I hadn't run a race in nearly 2 years, but I got to run that one. My team cheered for me like I was winning the Olympic Finals and the feeling of optimism after completing that race sparked a new chapter in my life. I'll never forget that feeling.
What’s your favorite distance to run and why?
Favorite distance to race is 3K. Perfectly suits my abilities. My favorite distance to run however, is 15 miles. I love running in places that are scenic and beautiful, but I also like running fast enough to feel the 'floating' sensation of sub 6:30 miles. 15 miles is about as far as I can go at that pace without getting distracted by the pain of running too hard or far. Its the perfect distance for exploring a new area on a runcation (run vacation).
What is your favorite running accomplishment so far?
I feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment that I have been able to incorporate running into my life in a way that can help other people. Running was my first true passion; helping those with ostomies has become another. Through my involvement with Stealth Belt, running and helping others have become connected to one another. It's a symbiotic relationship between two things that I care deeply about, and it wouldn't have happened if I hadn't started running again after surgery. I consider that my greatest accomplishment in life, not just running.
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