Turning challenges into opportunities
"It's not what you achieve, it's what you overcome" – wise words from 55-year-old Rosalia Tami, known as Rosi to her friends.
This Peruvian runner has certainly had some challenges to conquer since being diagnosed with stomach cancer five years ago, just after running her second TCS New York City marathon in 2016.
“Learning to live without a stomach was a challenge; running without a stomach increased the difficulty but it is my passion. It allows me to connect with myself, stay healthy, meet new friends, travel to new places.”
A few months after running in New York City, Rosalia underwent a gastrectomy where 100% of her stomach was removed.
“I started running a month after my stomach removal. It really helped my overall wellbeing – physically, mentally, and emotionally. I was very disciplined learning to feed myself correctly, managing my digestive system to be able to have enough energy and not get complications while running.”
After eight months of running in her new norm, she completed the BMW Berlin Marathon (2017) in an incredible time of 3:57. Until the pandemic hit, she was running two marathons a year and has run in Abbott World Marathon Majors races six times, with only London left on her list so she can become a Six Star Finisher.
Getting to the start line and staying healthy is not something she manages alone.
“I have an amazing team around me that allow me to do what I do – they support my mind, body, and soul.
“The doctors and nutritionist ensure I am healthy and have taught me how to eat right to sustain myself during training and races as without a stomach you can digest but not conserve energy for very long, so it takes work and planning, but we do it.
For example, on long runs, she eats before and during the race to fuel her, and she carries a hydration backpack to take small sips of prepared liquid as she can’t drink water or electrolytes quickly during the race.
“My coaches personalize my workouts to help manage my conditions and energy;
my running friends motivate me, and my eldest son has run two marathons with me too which is very special.”
Rosalia has also made lifestyle changes to reduce the stress in her life and pursue a career path that gives her a better balance.
“I used to work in corporate companies but two years ago I quit, and my focus is now on working on projects that have a positive impact on society. And, I have more time for myself and to share with my family.
“My illness has brought me a desire to help others. I now see challenges as an opportunity for learning and transformation and running is a big part of that for me too."
Always consult a physician and get a full health evaluation prior to marathon training. Even if athletes appear healthy after treatment or surgery, or to have a disorder under control, underlying medical conditions could exist.
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