Finding Inspiration During the Longest Winter on Record

Posted by admin | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 26-02-2015-05-2008


Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, but only a really teeny tiny bit. As anyone who has been training in New England for a spring marathon will tell you, this has been a brutal winter to train in. When Bangor, Maine has received 117 inches of snow and the city I live in over 100 inches, when it snows every other day, when you have 7-8 foot snow banks lining your street, when it’s -11F the morning of your long run, it truly does feel like a never-ending winter. I’m even starting to wonder if I’ll be able to get in any long runs outdoors before April 26, 2015, the day of the London Marathon, (so far I’ve done most week day runs indoors on the treadmill and a few of my longer runs, not easy at all). However, there are people supporting me and companies supporting me who are keeping me in the game and inspired to train wherever and however necessary to ensure I have a successful marathon. I want to give a special shout out to these two businesses who we, as a family, have done business with and who I am very grateful to for their support.

My sincerest thanks go to the businesses listed below:

Biddeford Saco Dental Associates:
323 Main St, Saco Maine 04072
Tel: (207) 282-9962


Lisa Howard Orthodontic

306 Us Route 1, Ste D-1, Scarborough, ME 04074
Tel: (207) 885-1005


Inspiring Me to Work Hard – London Marathon 2015

Posted by admin | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 23-01-2015-05-2008


It’s never easy to wake up at 4:30am during the cold days of a Maine winter to do the prescribed training workout to get marathon ready. It’s dark, no one else is up, and you have to wonder why you’re doing what you’re doing. And then your community gets behind you and backs you and gives you that extra motivation you need to get out there and get it done. This week I’ve been really blessed to have the support of the Saco Veterinary Clinic and TD Bank generously sponsoring me, getting me much closer to my fundraising goal for Worldwide Cancer Research ( I also had an anonymous giver who rounded out my fundraising with another substantial contribution, was it coincidence they donated after my strong performance at the Jimmy the Greek Frozen 4 Miler (took first place for my age group and ran in 28:29 or 7:08 pace)? I guess I’ll never know, but one thing is for certain, when you have the support of local businesses behind you, and you have your family and friends believing in you and supporting you, it becomes a whole lot easier to get up at 4:30am to get it done!

My sincerest thanks go to the businesses listed below:

Saco Veterinary Clinic:
331 North Street, Saco Maine 04072
Tel: (207) 571-9580


TD Bank

4 Scammon St, #6, Saco ME 04072
Tel: (207) 284-4711


Thank you to the Saco, Maine Community!

Posted by admin | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 08-01-2015-05-2008


Giving thanks where thanks is due

As I recovered from Lyme disease in 2010 and ran my first marathon to raise awareness about the disease (NYC Marathon, Nov. 2010), I sort of caught the marathon bug. When you go from not being able to walk properly to being able to run a full marathon, you develop a sense of empowerment like no other. When I trained to run my second marathon, it was with the specific goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon. It seemed like a lofty goal at the time, but with the help of some amazing friends and a very, very supportive family, the dream became a reality. It also fostered in me a desire to do what I now call “The Big 5 For Lyme”*, meaning, to run the 5 major marathons on the planet to raise awareness about Lyme disease whilst also supporting others along the way. I’ve worked hard, run three of the 5 and now am planning on running my fourth, the London Marathon, on April 26, 2015. But for this marathon, I’m really sticking my neck out by running for a charity, Worldwide Cancer Research, and vowing to raise $3200.00 for the charity. I’m doing this for many reasons, but mainly because my life has been hugely impacted by cancer; I’ve lost loved ones, watched my sister battle Lymphoma and tried as best as I could support a dear friend go through breast cancer treatment this summer/ autumn. Cancer truly touches all our lives and realizing how lucky I am to have recovered my health, I want to use it to help others in the same way that has been the most beneficial to me helping myself – by running.

I’ve never put myself in a position to directly ask for so many donations and sponsorships, and to be honest, the thought frightened me more than I dare say. But when you put yourself out there, when you ask, it is surprising how people and organizations will help. I’m am COMPLETELY HONOURED & HUMBLED  that several local, community businesses and organizations in Saco, Maine, where I reside, have sponsored me via a donation to Worldwide Cancer Research.

My sincerest thanks go to the businesses and organizations listed below:

Traditions Italian Family Restaurant:
162 Main Street, Saco, ME
Tel: (207) 282-6661


Run of the Mill Public House and Brewery

100 Main Street, Saco, ME 04072
Tel: (207) 571-9648


Norway Savings Bank

569 Main St, Saco, ME 04072
Tel: (207) 282-6121


Bangor Savings Bank
270 Main St, Saco, ME 04072
Tel: (207) 282-9210


Biddeford Saco Rotary Club
100 Main St, Saco, ME 04072


Saco Biddeford Savings Bank
252 Main Street, Saco, ME 04072
Tel: (207) 284-4591

Hannaford Supermarkets
532 Main St, Saco, ME 04072
Tel: (207) 282-4152

Diversified Communications

121 Free St, Portland, ME 04101
Tel: (207) 842-5400


* There were only 5 major marathons when I began this quest back in 2010. Those were New York City, Boston, Chicago, London and Berlin. Tokyo was added in 2013.

London Here I Come

Posted by admin | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 21-11-2014-05-2008


I’m so excited to be so close to completing a dream come true, running the fourth out of my “The Big 5 for Lyme” marathons, the London Marathon on April 26, 2015. Already I have completed NYC, Chicago, Boston and cannot wait for London (I hope to be fortunate enough to get into Berlin in 2016). However, London will be a bit different for me as I’ll be running for a charity, something I have not run a major marathon for in the past. I’ll be running for Worldwide Cancer Research, the ONLY cancer charity that will give money to any cancer research anywhere in the world.

( aicr-logo-new_sm

They fund cancer projects in the best research laboratories around the world, firmly believing, as I do, that the answers will not come solely from one scientist in one lab in one country, but rather in collaboration with others. Though this charity is based in the UK, it is presently funding seven projects in the United States including one at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. (

My personal connection with cancer


Valerie Coulombe

My beloved sister-in-law lost her battle with stage 4 ovarian cancer 4 years ago. She spent the last six months of her life in Maine Medical Center. I would run there during my lunch break and spend time with her, a much needed distraction for her to break up the long, monotonous days, while she knew her life was slipping away. Her last wish was to go home. On April 16, her birthday, my brother took her home. She passed away at 2am April 17. During the time she was in hospital, you would never have known how much she was suffering. She always had a smile on her face and a kind word for everyone. I sadly miss her and all she taught me about being stoic in the face of adversity.

10462443_4359085232949_6164659427782476570_nAnnette Coulombe 

That same year, my sister was diagnosed with Lymphoma. She endured a year of traveling back and forth to Boston for treatment and chemo, going into remission 2 years ago. She too fights with tenacity, courage and determination.  She will never be “cured” and will always live with this as part of her life, but she never lets it slow her down or stop her. I’m so proud of all she has done and accomplished and how she helps others go through the struggles she has been through. (pictured left, l-r; me, my sister Annette, Joanna Hoye Connor, on the finishers podium at 2014 Tri for a Cure)

R. C. H.

In May of this year, out of the blue, one of my best friends was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer. Three weeks after her diagnosis she underwent a double mastectomy. She underwent 8 weeks aggressive chemo followed by 8 more weeks of aggressive radiation treatment (Thursday November 13, 2014 was her LAST radiation treatment). This has all been so sudden and she, like me, is the mother of two small boys, one aged 10, the other 12.

Cancer touches all of our lives. We live in a world where we need to find answers via research, treatment and early diagnosis. To make this a reality for those you love please make a donation to my personal fundraising page for Worldwide Cancer Research here:

Remember, I’ll be doing the hard work, training through what promises to be a brutal Maine winter, all you need to do, is give!

Other Lyme Runners Stories

Posted by admin | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 15-09-2014-05-2008


After being featured in the July 2014 issue of Runner’s World as a runner who has Lyme Disease, I’ve been contacted by many other “Lyme Runners” who’s stories I’d like to feature for several reasons yet mostly because there needs to be awareness about the disease and those who live with it. For me, when I trained for my first marathon post Lyme, in 2010, I only knew of two other runners who had Lyme; Perry Field, a professional athlete and Bart Yasso, another extremely talented and gifted runner. However,  both of these persons seemed to be out of my ordinary runner league and I really wanted to find someone like me, a non-professional runner who just enjoyed the sport. Seven years later, thanks to social media and other outlets, I’m meeting others who are like me; Lyme warriors who refuse to give up and who are pushing their bodies, finding health through running and exercise. In order to bring attention to this Lyme runner community, I now share their stories.

Eliot Rogers’ Story

Eliot RogersLemon or Lyme

To begin, I intend to pay homage to everyone suffering from this disease.  After reading Runner’s World article I personally consider myself truly blessed, reading other’s struggles with this insidious disease and the crippling effects it can carry. To anyone that asks I describe the effects that LD has on my body as the “Tin Man Syndrome”, suffering from chronic pain and extreme joint stiffness. For us runner’s this makes our way of life more complicated, but not impossible to carry on. To cope, I personally incorporate an almost religious recovery regimen.  Mornings have been my worst, waking up completely rigid and stiff, so my solution has to begin each day with a rigorous calisthenics session, followed by a run. The soreness and stiffness seem to leave when I start stretching and moving, the so called “oil” to the joints.

Eliot RogersGrowing up I was very much into athletics, everything except running. During high school I was a member of the football, golf, basketball, and tennis teams. Running became a later post high school hobby.  My actual experience contracting the disease and the believed diagnosis  was very deceiving. The story is still fresh in my mind, at the time I was in an inpatient rehab facility recovering from opiate addiction, a nice summer day out and our group decided to have an outdoor therapy session. I remember finding the tick on the backside of my knee, pulling it off and making no big deal of it. Growing up in a smaller, spot on the map town in rural WV, I’ve grown accustomed to them. Pulling/burning them off myself and k9’s on numerous occasions. No big deal right, or so I thought, the symptoms occurred within a few days after the bite. Hot/cold chills, fever, general weakness, general flu like symptoms. The deceiving part is that opiate withdraw symptoms and Lyme disease symptoms nearly mimic one another, a pair of twins that are hard to tell apart. My impression was the opiate withdraw was causing these symptoms. It wasn’t until a month or so after the initial tick bite that the classic red bulls eyes circles developed. At first one, then another, until my entire body was littered with them. It was a scary thing, finding 10+ red crop circles scattered over my body, believing God was punishing me for taking Craig’s lunch money in the 3rd grade.  Fortunately this indicator brought forth the real culprit, I was given a 3 week course of antibiotics, and that was the song and dance.

Now you can say I chase a different high with running, I’ve been running consistently for the past 3-4 years. Gradually working up my mileage, from 5K’s to ½ marathons. The training for my first ½ marathon was very cautious and I focused much on the recovery aspect of it while also gradually increasing mileage, and at the same time not over doing it. The months preceding the race my biggest expenses were icy hot patchs/gels and Epson salts. Every chance that presented itself I would do something beneficial to my recovery. Icing my feet while at work, stretch while waiting on the trolley, heck I’d be at the bar massaging my calves.  My training ended up paying off; I completed Pittsburgh’s Half Marathon 5 mins under PR. My mantra for the last bit was a piece of a poem from Rudyard Kipling’s “If”, and so hold on when there is nothing in you

Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

Thank you all for your time and reading my running with LD story.



Runner’s World Magazine take on the issue of Lyme Disease

Posted by admin | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 01-08-2014-05-2008


Angela Coulombe, aka Lymerunner, in Runner's World Magazine, July 2014Back in February of this year (2014) I was surprised to discover an email from Gretchen Voss, a writer for Runner’s World Magazine, in my inbox. She was working on a piece for RW magazine about runners who have Lyme Disease and she wondered if I would mind being interviewed for the article. Since becoming ill with the disease in 2007, and having my health decline to the extent that after 3 months with the disease I was left a near invalid, I’ve made it my mission to do what I can to raise awareness about the disease.

The road to “recovery” has been a long and bumpy road. But I feel that I am more fortunate than most with Lyme and therefore, feel the extra burden of raising awareness about the disease knowing so many who cannot function let alone lead this charge. It is for them I do what I do and for those out there who DON’T have the disease so that they may never get it, never experience how debilitating it can be, how devastating it can be.  Raising awareness about the disease is the key to preventing it and fighting for those who have yet found treatment that will restore their health.

When you’ve reached a point in your life where you think dying is preferable to carrying on in excruciating pain, you know what it is like to have Lyme. I was there seven years ago and I am fortunate and blessed that I recovered to the extent that I can now run marathons. Yet I realize that there are so many out there who are not as fortunate as myself , and I run for them, I advocate for them, I raise awareness for them (together with Amie Levasseur started Lymebuddies –, organize the Jimmy the Greeks Maine Mall 5K for Lyme Disease Awareness and the autumn music festival, Lyme-Aid – well, really Amie does all the work on this one, I just enjoy the great music she puts on!). I cannot thank Runner’s World enough for publishing this article. The day it came out there was so much conversation about it on social media sites that I knew the article achieved it’s purpose and I was only too happy to be a part of it.

However those of us with Lyme chose to raise awareness; local, grass-roots, via media outlets such as TV, magazines, YouTube, or even by running marathons with the disease,  I believe we all share the common goal of preventing others from becoming ill and keeping Lyme in the forefront of peoples minds so that slowly, over time, Lyme will receive the recognition it deserves as being one of the most prevalent and debilitating diseases world wide. Again, can’t thank Runner’s World enough to reaching out to me and sharing my Lyme journey with their readers and beyond.

The full article can be found here:

The Boston Marathon 2014

Posted by admin | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 04-05-2014-05-2008


I don’t know that I ever fully understood or appreciated the term, “closure” in regards to having to find a solution to or obtaining peace of mind from, until running the 2014 Boston Marathon. I also will never really understand how fate works, how you can end up in any place at any time and encounter incredible sets of circumstances that can irrevocably transform your life in an instance. One such occurrence would be the moment I was bit by an infected deer tick that carried Lyme disease, Babesia and Bartonella, changing my life in ways that I could never have anticipated. A second occurrence while  battling Lyme disease, making a conscientious decision to  run a marathon that would qualify me to run the Boston Marathon.
(View video highlights of the journey to the finish line of the 2014 Boston Marathon below).

Boston Marathon 2014 from angela coulombe on Vimeo.

Qualifying to run the Boston Marathon

I have, in the past referred to the Boston Marathon as the “Mecca” of all marathons. There are two ways to enter into it; qualify to run it via running a fast enough marathon to qualify for your age group, or, run for a charity. That’s it. No lottery, no ballot. So, in my humble opinion, this makes Boston quite possibly the hardest marathon to gain entry into.

Lyme Disease and my Boston Dream

In 2007 I  was struck down with Lyme disease. I went from being a very active mum and okay athlete to becoming a near invalid in the course of only 3 months. I have rebuked myself over the years for not knowing anything about Lyme until it happened to me. How could I live in a place where it is endemic and yet not know anything about it?  But that aside, when I was at the point where I couldn’t walk let alone run, and yet I was refused any care beyond the CDC recommended 3 weeks of doxycycline,  I vowed I would do something “incredible” to help others with Lyme disease gain the hope I so badly needed AND at the same time, raise awareness about the disease. The only thing that I could think of at the time that would have that much impact was to train for and run a marathon that would qualify me for Boston… the only problem was that I had never run a marathon before. In fact, the furthest I had ever run prior to Lyme was a 10K.

The Marathon Bug and the Running Philosophy

Well, Boston wasn’t exactly the first marathon I thought about. The first marathon was the NYC marathon which I trained for and ran in 2010. My goal at the time was just to live through it. I knew so little about running long distances, I thought that marathon running meant risking your life via the exertion of every milie of  the run. But, of course, once I had completed it, I was hooked; all I wanted to do was run more, and THEN I wanted to qualify for Boston. The thing I’ve noticed about runners and the running community is how supportive they are of all folks. Runners run for all sorts of reasons; personal and esoteric, to helping others out. The camaraderie runners show others is second to none. So, yes, when I ran the Hartford Marathon in 2012 to qualify for the 2014 Boston marathon and was successful, I knew that what I had to do was to give back to the community; I had to volunteer to help out those who would be participating in the 2013 marathon before I took from the race in 2014.

Volunteering at the Finish Line of the Boston Marathon in 2013

I don’t think there is any greater experience you can have as a runner than helping out other runners achieve their personal goals and being there to support them along the way. So many runners helped me over come Lyme disease. So many helped me go from a 45 minute mile to a 6:50 min mile. Without them, I might have given up, but there was always someone there to help me out along the way. It was my turn to give back. It was with that spirit in mind that 6 of us all volunteered and were positioned at the finish line in Sector 6, for the 2013 Boston Marathon. The day was perfect; the weather was grand, spirits were high, the crowds were wonderful and runners were finishing to cheering crowds and volunteers who wanted to share in their accomplishment! At 2:49 the unthinkable happened; 2 bombs went off shattering the spirit of the day and creating fear and chaos in a once tranquil and triumphant atmosphere. Being caught up in the ensuing moments thereafter were moments where I experienced fear such as the likes I’ve never known, yet I also witnessed the most incredible acts of bravery, courage and compassion. However, I was faced with a dilemma I could have never anticipated before that very moment: would I want to ever run a marathon again and would I want to run Boston in particular?

Resolve and Strength

I cannot  imagine what it was like to be the victim of a senseless act of violence. I cannot imagine what it is like to lose a loved on to such an act In the weeks following the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, I felt nothing at all except a sadness I could not control, life seemed meaningless and empty and I had a hard time just functioning. I guess you could call it post traumatic stress disorder. Life seemed surreal, my job meant nothing to me, and all I really wanted to do was hold my children, cuddle and hug them and my husband, reach out to my family and friends and tell them how much I loved them. But thankfully the BAA was there to help and for the families involved in the tragedy, the One Fund was started up, the city of Boston and the world rallied behind them, and purpose once again came back into my life. Strength from the running community and all communities poured into not only Boston, but any community that needed a lift. Running the Boston Marathon in 2014 became something more important to me than I had ever imagined it could or would be. It would become my tool for healing yet again, this time, not from physical wounds, but from mental scaring. I would run with the city of Boston, I would be Boston Strong, I would be Lyme Strong, I would find closure not only for me but for the families affected by the bombings. I would survive and give courage, hope and inspiration to others.

 Marathon Day 2014

On Marathon day I returned to the city of Boston ready to be a part of a celebration of love over fear, of courage over cowardice, of determination and resolve. I was ready to give back to the community who gave so much to me in my battle to beat Lyme disease. I was ready to be a part of a movement that would not be hindered, harassed, intimidated, stopped. I ran with the memory of the victims of the 2013 bombings in my heart, I ran with those I know who have Lyme disease and have not recovered like  I have, in my soul. I ran strong and proud and determined. I ran #Bostonstrong and #Lymestrong and was truly humbled to be a part of a day of healing that did bring closure to my year and I hope brought closure of sorts to others who were impacted by the events at the 2013 Boston Marathon.

Please view the video of the day as posted above. If you were there both in 2013 or 2104 or both, I’d love to hear from you! Drop me a note and let me  know your thoughts on the day.


Chicago Marathon 2013

Posted by admin | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 31-10-2013-05-2008


In October 2012 my friend and running buddy Martha Hall ran the Chicago Marathon. It was such a great event for her, she asked me if I would like to run it with her in 2013. What an honour to be asked to participate in one of the five biggest marathons in the world by a friend who considered me worthy of accompanying her on such an adventure.

Right now I have to explain that Martha and I have known each other over 30 years. Though we lost touch after school, our lives have had parallel experiences. Via the gift of social media, we were able to reconnect with each other back in 2009 as I was recovering from the worst thing that has ever happened to me in my life; Lyme disease. When I hatched my plan to run the New York City Marathon, Martha was immediately on board. As a marathon veteran, she convinced me that I could run a marathon, though I had so many doubts. Having Martha run my first marathon with me was one of the most special gifts life has given me, my loving and supportive family being the best gift ever, and amazing friends another. I owe my whole marathon tutelage to Martha, the good folks at Marathon Training Academy (Angie and Trevor Spencer), and of course, my running posse, AKA, the Real Runners of New England.

So, yes, I was delighted at the prospect of running the Chicago Marathon with Martha and experiencing this incredible event as well as visiting a city with magnificent beauty and incredibly friendly people. And so, with my running posse, training began at the end of June 2013.

As any runner will tell you, training comes with it’s ups and downs, sacrifices and rewards. This was the 4th marathon I trained for (I’ve run 3, had to pull out of the 4th due to injury). Feeling my fittest in the years since Lyme disease wracked havoc with my body, I decided that I should train at a level that I felt would push me a bit. I added a bit more speed workouts and cross training workouts to my weekly routine. It was all going so well. Sixteen weeks of training seemed to fly by. Then came the taper. I’m not sure exactly what happened, but I guess it’s called “taper psychosis” and I had it big time. All of the sudden, I felt as if many of my Lyme symptoms were returning; joint aches, upper shoulder and back pain, sore feet and headaches. Doubt consumed me for the first time; would I be able to actually run at all on marathon day? The two week taper dragged on, and though I ran short distances during that time, I struggled to find my groove. I started to wonder if the goal I had set myself at the beginning of my training would be achievable.

Arriving in Chicago, we headed to the expo to pick up our bibs and acquaint ourselves with the information necessary for a successful run. I was fortunate enough to qualify to be in the first wave, starting in corral C. My goal was to run a 3:35 marathon and as such I decided for the first time to try running with a pace group.

Marathon morning arrived. With the usual dose of nerves, what I like to call “jelly belly”, and dressed in my signature Brooks Running attire (lyme green nighttime mesh hat, lyme green Epiphany short sleeved top, Infiniti shorts, low cut Brooks versatile low-cut socks and my lyme green Adrenaline GTS13) I headed out for the short walk from my hotel to my corral. The one thing I forgot was the closing time for my corral. Arriving at 7:15, I forgot my corral closed at 7:20am for a 7:30am start. As it turned out, I made it into my corral with one minute to spare and no chance of lining up with my 3:35 pace group. I was on my own. However, this is what my training prepared me for. You see, all throughout my training, though I did run with a group of other women and men, they were all much faster runners than myself. On my long runs, I’d start off with the group, but after about 10-13 miles, would have to fall back and run the remaining distance by myself. I felt prepared for the challenge of taking on the marathon alone, relying on my Garmin as I had done on so many other runs.

In a big marathon like Chicago, you forget what it will be like to run with so many people. You forget that it may take several miles to find your space to run your race. However, by mile 8 I was able to do this quite comfortably. I have to say as well that the race support at Chicago was phenomenal!!! The supply of fluids and fuels all along the route was amazing. The volunteers were friendly and helpful and the crowds were wonderful. Running in such a supportive atmosphere made the run go by quickly. The course was great as well with may turns so as not to get bored running in complete straight lines. I reached mile 13 at 1:47, as I had done in so many training runs. Miles 13-20 seemed to fly by. At mile 20, like most runners, I was starting to feel fatigued, but I knew I had enough left in the tank to finish. At mile 21 I saw some friends of mine who live in Chicago; what a tonic to see friendly faces cheering you on. From miles 23-26.2, I had to dig deep. I started to really feel leg fatigue, though my breathing remained easy and calm. I finished at 3:42:46, and though I did not meet my goal of 3:35, I had a good, strong race that didn’t leave me too fatigued. The best part of the whole run, though, was that for the very first time in my marathon history, I did not have blistered feet!!! That, and during the run, none of my Lyme symptoms occurred and so far, so good. I’m back to cycling, lifting weights and doing shorter runs and feeling great. Who could ask for more?

Below is a video recap of the marathon experience filmed on my iPhone spliced with photos also taken from my iPhone. Enjoy viewing!

Chicago Marathon 2013 from angela coulombe on Vimeo.

The Evolution of a Runner – having the balls to finally look the part

Posted by admin | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 07-10-2013-05-2008


A few years ago, when I first started “running” (after a long struggle with Lyme disease), a friend came to cheer me on at a race. His comments were, “You don’t wear anything to run in that distinguishes you from other runners. I couldn’t spot you in the race. You’re going to have to wear something brighter next time so I can see you.”

I find this funny now, but when I first started running, I didn’t want to look like “a runner”. I didn’t want anyone to think I could run or had any ability in the running stakes. If I could have run in just pajamas, I would have done so, but feared that too might draw attention to me. Instead, I opted for a pair of long black trousers I’d worn through my last birth (call them maternity trousers, but they did a great job doubling as dance slacks and running trousers), a natty t-shirt and cross trainers. I figured with this look, no one would recognize me as a runner (I just looked like a weirdo instead). This strategy worked well, in fact, too well. You see, what I’ve learned via experience is that it’s really not a good idea to wear long black trousers in 90F weather to run 6 miles at noon. I know, trust me; it’s not a good idea.

Typically during summers in Maine the temps can range from 70-100F, but rarely do they reach over 80F for prolonged periods of time. It does get super humid, though, making long runs unpleasant unless you’re well ventilated and in the right clothing. On one lunch-time run I discovered this first-hand. I’d headed out in my chosen garb; the long black trousers, the t-shirt, the cross trainers, to run 6 miles around Back Cove, a pleasant loop around a body of water in Portland, and back to the office where I work. It was in the 90s, it was humid and there was very little breeze. I had no discomfort until the last mile. At that stage, my trousers were wet with sweat; in fact, I was soaked from my head to my toes in sweat. I had to stop, but when I stopped, my hands started swelling up. I had no idea what was happening. I thought I was experiencing the first signs of a heart attack or something more sinister. I was afraid and I could only think of getting out of the sun and getting some water. I made my way up the street looking for any establishment that might be open that could help me. I convinced myself I was dying, holding on to hot brick walls for balance, as I made my way up the street.

The first establishment I came to was an employment center. Confident I’d found help, I opened the door and approached the reception desk, asking if I could have some water. I was shocked when the reply was, “We don’t have any water.” Again, thinking I was dying, with full-on panic in my voice I asked, “Is it okay if I just sit in that chair over there with my head between my legs so I don’t pass out. I think I’m having a heart attack, I’ve just run all of Back Cove and I think I’m over heated and my hands are swelling and I think I’m having a heart attack.” That got a reply. The man behind the counter jumped into action, not only offering me water, but offering to call anyone I might need to contact so they could come help me before I died in the job center. I told him I was supposed to be at a meeting at my office in less than 15 minutes, so if he could phone my office, let them know I was somewhat detained and that I’d be there as soon as I felt it was safe to walk without passing out, I’d be there.

When I’d recovered sufficiently to leave the employment center and walk back to work, I caught a glimpse of myself in a shop window. I looked terrible. I looked worse than terrible. I looked freakish and bloated and red all over. Okay, that was no excuse for someone making a snap judgment to let me die before I explained my appearance, but still, it got me thinking. Why was I wearing clothes that were dragging me down and now, potentially, life-threatening? It was a turning point.

lymerunner-224x300When you’ve gone all non-running clothes, transitioning into what I would refer to as proper running clothes, (you know, wicked tops, shorts with built in undies, being fitted for proper running shoes, etc), can be very intimidating. It can really move you out of your mental comfort zone, though, as I’ve discovered, move you into a physical comfort zone. Making the transition from heavy cotton to Lycra can be very, well, disturbing, if you’re at all body conscious, and let’s face it, almost every women I know is just a bit (especially me!!). And with so many brands of clothing out there, how do you choose one brand over the other?

I guess my answer was made for me when I got fitted for my first pair or proper running shoes; a pair of purple Brooks Ravinas that I fell instantly in love with!! The rest of my relationship with Brooks Running is history. When I ran the New York City Marathon in 2010, I wore Brooks tops, capris and shoes (picture left). I also ran for all of those battling Lyme disease under “Lymerunner” a persona I have taken on since.

brooksgearSince becoming the Lymerunner, it seems only right that I should start to wear more Lyme green (pictured right). I can’t be happier with Brooks. The clothes are light weight when needed, warm when needed, they fit me just right and I love their comfort. Brooks service is second to none. Ordering online is a breeze, delivery is efficient and nothing pleases me more than receiving my goods a week later, knowing I’ve got top quality gear to wear on my next run.

TrifortheCure1NationTri1I guess in a way Brooks has made it much easier for me to now not only look like a “runner”, but to perform like one. Over the years, wearing Brooks gear, I’ve been able to achieve new PRs and even qualify for the Boston Marathon, which I’ll be running in 2014 (picture left: 2013 Tri for A Cure with Joanna Connor and Annette Coulombe, picture right: The Nation Tri, PR of 45:00 for a 10K in 91F heat).

JoanBennoitI’m looking forward to continuing to wear the Brooks brand as I work on improving my running, setting new goals and achieving new heights (picture left with Joan Benoit Samuelson August 2013). I’ll continue to support my Lyme buddies by wearing my Lyme green tops, and just in time for winter training, I’ve purchased my new favourite piece of Brooks gear, a new Lyme green, rain proof, wind proof, glow in the dark winter training jacket. Bring on Boston and don’t ever say you can’t spot me in a crowd of runners!!!

brookscoatSo that’s my evolution. Thank you Brooks Running for bringing it about!!! (picture right, my new winter running coat, bought especially for those morning winter training runs in preparation for the Boston marathon 2014). If only all evolutions could be so simple and effective!

Lymeriot’s (aka Valerie Brightbill’s) battle with Lyme Disease & Making a Dream Come True

Posted by admin | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 02-07-2013-05-2008


Since my own Lyme diagnosis and battle with Lyme Disease, I’ve come into contact with many, many people who are also battling the disease. Amie Levasseur and I started Lymebuddies ( to try, as best as we can, to help others with the disease and their families. It seems like the very least we can do to try to make a difference. But that alone didn’t seem to be enough. Amie and I also started two annual events to raise awareness about Lyme Disease and to bring the Lyme community together to help aid in spreading information and support throughout the community. One of the events, the Jimmy the Greek’s Maine Mall 5K for Lyme Disease Awareness, in it’s second year, is one of the largest events in the state of Maine bringing this community together. Together with Jimmy the Greeks South Portland restaurant and the Maine Mall, we work hard to spread information about the event. However, it came a huge surprise to have been contacted by a woman in Indiana who wanted to participate in our event. It seems that she too has chronic Lyme and battles it daily. One of her goals was to run a 5K specifically to benefit Lyme Disease awareness, and low and behold, it was our event she chose to participate in. Below his her account of her struggles with the disease and her view of being at the 2nd annual Jimmy the Greek’s Maine Mall 5k for Lyme Disease Awareness.

Val Brightbill, aka LymeRiot and Stephanie Vostry at Jimmy the Greeks, South Portland.

I wanted to take a moment to share my experience with everyone. I am 36 year old lifetime athlete. I contracted Lyme Disease in either 93, 94 or 97 from what is remembered by a tick being seen. As we all have learned that you don’t necessarily remember a tick bite; but these are the three times I do remember ticks attached. I was finally diagnosed in 2002 after no one in the medical community knew what was wrong with me; in fact I had to loose my vision totally in one eye and partially in the other as well as partial hearing loss in one ear before doctors took notice; because my pain, stiffness, and fatigue was attributed to a litany of “diagnoses” (chronic fatigue, years of ‘abuse’ on my body playing sports, depression, and the possibility of MS) It took a retinal surgeon who I was referred to b/c of my blindness to send me for testing for Lyme and co. The tests came back “unequivocally” positive for Lyme and Bartonella. I then was given the standard protocol of 3 weeks of Doxycycline of which did nothing. After several minor flare ups and remission status’ I came out of remission in 2011 after a 3 ½-4 week battle with campylobacter. This particular flare up put me in a wheelchair a week after I ran my first ever road race. I could not get any doctor to acknowledge my flare-up or Chronic Lyme Disease status. I felt lost, unheard, mis-understood, and started to question myself. Again, I was being told that it was normal to feel this way.

Val Brightbill, aka LymeRiot and Angela Coulombe, aka Lymerunner, with the Lymebuddies signage at the Maine Mall.

I some how got myself out of the wheelchair after between 2 ½ and 3 months and started training again; this time I decided I was going to do it big. I trained for my first half marathon. I completed my half marathon and felt extremely strong; the toll it took on my severely compromised body was that I was showing signs of kidney issues and luckily I had a great friend and RN with me (Sheila ‘she-she’ Counterman) who started supportive assistance and was able to relay to the appropriate people the kind of assistance I needed. But, I completed my first ever half marathon! I made it my mission to try to make people aware of Lyme Disease and how mis-understood it is.  I decided to find a Lyme Race to participate in. In my quest I stumbled upon Angela Coulombe,, and Jimmy the Greeks race for Lyme. I decided I WILL participate in this race. After much communication with Angela and her tireless efforts I was given the news that the whole trip had been coordinated and my RN was coming with me just to be safe. What a blessing, my dream and mission was coming to fruition. I was prepared for what came next.

Val Brightbill, aka LymeRiot, Angela Coulombe, aka Lymerunner and Allyn Genest at the 2nd Annual Jimmy the Greeks Maine Mall 5K for Lyme Disease Awareness

I was so moved, touched, surprised, and empowered by being around others who had heard the same long story as I and I was finally understood, validated. Hugs were plentiful, phrases like “I get it” were therapy to my soul. When I finished the race and at the post race festivities I was in tears and wrought with such emotion at the support and love that was there for the Chronic Lymies. A piece of my heart is and will be always in Maine, and I know that as I return year after year to participate that we are making a difference no matter how small and no matter how slow the progress is. Thank you Lyme Buddies, Angela Coulombe (lymerunner) and the Maine Mall for making a hope, evolve into a dream, evolve into reality. I love you guys…See you next year! -LymeRiot

For me personally, there is no greater feeling than that of being able to help another person and I was only too happy to have made this new connection to LymeRiot!!! I feel blessed that though I do have Lyme, I also have developed friendships that inspire and motivate and this is just one example of such. I can’t wait to see you back next year, LymeRiot!!! Love you too!!