Woman overcomes obstacles to finish first marathon
Each one of the 3500 runners that cross the finish line here at the Milwaukee Lakefront marathon have their own stories. for Cheryl Akert, hers began about three years ago and its been a journey to get her health back.
"I never thought I'd do this and I have been working on this for a year and the day is finally here," said Cheryl Akert when we spoke with her right before she took off on her first ever marathon.
Sunday morning, Akert told CBS 58, she was still coming to terms with 26.2 miles.
"I'm nervous. I've never run this far before, 22 miles is the farthest. I know I can do it, I'm physically ready, but your mind plays games with you; can i really run this far?" she said.
Over the past few years, Cheryl has been a regular on the race scene.
"I've done a bunch of 5K's, a few 15K's and four half marathons," she said.
A picture of health today. But that wasn't always the case. In fact, three years ago, she was very sick.
"I had a lot of GI issues and stomach pain. They put me through a lot of testing, you name it i had it done," Cheryl said.
Diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, and desperate to get better, she took her doctor's advice and changed her diet and started to exercise.
"I went and joined a gym, walking on a treadmill and holding on for dear life. And that evolved into running," she said.
Losing more than 75 pounds, and while training with the Badgerland Striders, she turned into an athlete; something she never thought she could do.
"They said you'd wanna do a full and I said no no no that's too much and then last summer I got bit by the marathon bug and decided I was READY," she said.
With her parents looking on and friends running with her.
"I kinda dedicate each mile to someone who's helped me," Cheryl said.
"She finished ahead of her phase group which is incredible and I had no doubt that she would do it," said running partner Sara Hartert.
And she's feeling better than she ever has before. She says, crossing this finish line is just another milestone in her new life.
In case you were wondering, Cheryl's already planning her next marathon run.