If you think long-distance running is tough, try doing it hooked up to an intravenous bag.
Sonya Goins has been training for months to run the Medtronic TC 10 Mile race Sunday, a popular prelude to the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon. And for nearly all that time, she’s been living only on the fluids that dripped into her veins through an IV port she named “Hopeful.”
Goins, 54, a north Minneapolis resident, has suffered for 35 years from Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel condition that can make eating uncomfortable at the best of times and excruciating at the worst.
“Everyone has baggage — mine just happens to be in the form of an IV bag,” said Goins, a television journalist at CCX Media in the northern suburbs.
Goins, the mother of three adult children, called the pain of Crohn’s “indescribable … it’s up there with childbirth.” But she refuses to let the disease rule her life.
So when doctors told her at the beginning of this year that they needed to put her on IV nourishment to give her ulcerated intestines a break, she took it as a challenge. And it hasn’t been an easy one.
“I’ve had to really force myself to train,” she said. “Because of the IV, you don’t really have a lot of energy. Your feet feel like they’re lead.
“I’ll be running this race pretty much sick. But I’m going to do it.”
Goins expects that her daughter and oldest son will be there cheering her on. She’ll be running in a bright orange singlet bearing the motto, “Sonya Strong,” and will hydrate with water only, as sports drinks risk upsetting her stomach.
Goins was diagnosed with Crohn’s in college at the University of Maryland. As many as 780,000 Americans suffer from Crohn’s, according to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation.
Once before, as a young reporter and anchor with Black Entertainment Television in the late 1980s, she was on extended IV feeding.
She moved to the Twin Cities about 20 years ago to take a producing job with WCCO-TV, where she stayed for 16 years before leaving for her on-air job with CCX. She still takes freelance TV producing jobs to help pay her medical bills.
Support from friends and family is important to her.
“I’ve always been strong,” she said. “But there are times when I have to be reminded that I’m strong. Friends — even strangers — encourage me. That really means a lot.”
But even more important, she said, is her faith.
“My mother tells me, ‘God won’t give you anything you can’t handle,’ ” Goins said. “I pray a lot. My faith is what keeps me going.”
Goins doesn’t expect to be at the head of the field Sunday.
“You will probably find me at the back of the pack,” she said with a laugh. “I’m going to be doing more walking than running.”
But she’ll be in it to finish. As she says on her blog, Sonya Strong:
“I have Crohn’s disease, Crohn’s doesn’t have me.”