Tears and sweat are not exactly the same, but for the story of Colorado native Emily Ruyle, they were shed in equal amounts these past few years.
Emily Ruyle grew up in a small town in Northeastern, Colorado. Like so many athletes involved in The D10, Emily’s own story would soon become a life touched by cancer.
Emily had left Colorado for Houston for work when she received her cancer diagnosis. Certainly, there are other hardships in the human experience, but cancer patients alone know what it’s like to hear the dreaded diagnosis from their doctor. Life gets very real, very quickly; as does life’s fragility.
For a healthy, vibrant, Crossfit-committed young woman to receive a cancer notice is like being hit by a bus. Not everybody gets up from that impact. Emily did.
Wonder Woman: Emily sees mountain; Emily climbs mountain
After her course of treatment, Emily returned to Colorado, to familiar surroundings, to heal in her beloved Rocky Mountains.
In the process of her cancer treatment in Houston throughout 2017, Emily endured 16 rounds of chemotherapy, two surgeries, and 33 sessions of radiation. Were it not for Emily’s commitment to fitness prior to her brutal tour of treatment it’s hard to predict her outcome. We often hear of keeping healthy to prevent cancer, but far less is spoken of the outcomes of patients related to their general health at the time of treatment. A fitness regimen puts the body in a better position to deal with future assaults.
“I was Crossfitting five to six times per week and competing in local team competitions. Through my treatment, I continued to Crossfit, but was down to twice a week and had to massively scale the workouts. I strongly believe that my level of fitness and health prior to diagnosis helped me get through chemo.”Emily remained positive through her intensive course of treatment or her best approximation of positive. Emily produced a list of goals to accomplish after her treatment concluded. She knew this would motivate her through the challenging times ahead. One of those post-treatment musts was to complete a half-marathon. A rather challenging prospect for somebody in the middle of batteries of chemo and radiation. Try to imagine the sickest you’ve ever felt in your life, and then imagine that’s how you feel all the time. Now imagine running thirteen miles.
Lifting is life: but what about when your body betrays you?
Emily signed up for a half-marathon in January of 2018. Emily’s friend created a start-from-scratch program to build her endurance to handle such an event.
Emily’s program began with merely walking, followed by bits of running (a real-life example of that age-old adage). Emily took to running two or three times a week while Crossfitting another two times a week. To hear Emily explain her return to training after what she experienced physically and emotionally is to hear somebody speak of the matter as if no big deal. It’s humbling.
In case you had any doubts, in January of 2018, Emily completed all 13.1 miles of the half-marathon. While the experience was that of personal pride, on the physical end, Emily admits, “It was not a pleasant experience.”
No hair no problem: Emily wore her bare dome as a badge of honor.
Emily returned to her beloved Crossfitting but found that her weights and times were never to again match her pre-cancer marks. That frustration led her to break from Crossfit.
During this Zen period, Emily came to realize her personal fitness wasn’t a competition for ever higher marks so much as the ownership of her own health and maintenance. Fitness was not a means to an end but the end itself. Emily returned to Crossfit at Front Range Crossfit in Denver where she found not a renewed passion for the training, this time training not as sport but as healthcare.
Emily had competed in The D10 in Houston in both 2016 and 2017 despite already having begun cancer treatment. Emily thought about trying to make the 2018 event, but she knew a break was in order for her body. The elements of The D10 themselves are not inherently grueling, it’s the nature of the competitive D10 athlete to make them so. Emily was being honest with herself. She only knows one speed.
Feeling wistful, Emily pulled out her previous year’s D10 jersey tops and wore it to her gym in Colorado. That opened a conversation with a fellow gym member, both committed to be ready for The D10 Houston 2019, the closest D10 event to Denver. In the midst of their interstate planning, The D10 serendipitously announced its expansion to Denver and the inaugural D10 Colorado 2019. The D10 Colorado will support pediatric cancer research at the Children's Hospital Colorado Foundation.
As with most athletes, The D10 is far more than an event, it's a lifestyle filled with great friends.
Emily moved directly into team building mode, forming a Front Range Crossfit team to compete in The D10 Colorado on September 15th.
I may not be the fastest on the field, but the cause and community of the D10 is reasoning enough for me to leave my ego at the gate and come out and compete with a smile and cheer on the D10 community.Emily has come full circle and then some. From D10 athlete to D10 team builder, and now, a Board Member of the Colorado event. Emily keeps photos of herself during treatment to “give herself perspective”. If you know Emily, you know that perspective is to keep looking forward to the next challenge. Don’t forget the low points of the past, but use them to drive the high points of the future.
Inspiration comes from within. However, for an added boost from the outside, consider the tale of Emily Ruyle, a runner for whom hurdles were added to her race. Leap or quit. Emily chose to leap.
We invite you to become a part of Emily's story and invest in her fundraising efforts on behalf of Children's Hospital Colorado and children's cancer research. She and her team, Front Range Crossfit, have set a goal to raise $10,000 for this noble cause.
Better yet, compete in The D10 Colorado alongside Emily and her team. Build your own team and compete. It all goes to one amazing cause.