My Article from the Local paper ~ Overcoming back surgery, my training and my First Marathon

Half Marathon 2012, Big Band Bash, Baseball 076

So touched that she asked me to do this article!! 🙂

6/13/2012 9:36:00 AM
There’s no stopping Harmony runner from reaching her dreams

Lindsay Barnes is shown shortly after she finished a half marathon in La Crosse this spring.

By Melissa Vander Plas

This weekend, Lindsay Barnes of Harmony will be realizing the completion of a dream. The many obstacles and challenges she has faced in the journey towards that dream may have caused some to give up, but Lindsay only worked harder and became more determined to run the race of her life.

Lindsay will be participating in her first marathon this Saturday, running Grandma’s Marathon from Two Harbors, Minn., to Duluth. The 26.2 miles no longer intimidates this runner and the adversities she has faced have only made her more confident that she will cross the finish line.

Becoming a runner

While Lindsay has always been an athlete and focused on fitness, owning The Work-it Circuit fitness center in Harmony, she only began running three and a half years ago. “I never really gave running a chance,” she said. “I tried it as a kid, but was never really comfortable doing it.”

Her younger sister, Abby, was a runner and she inspired Lindsay to pick it up – reminding her that successful runners are mindful runners and when your body may want to quit, your mind has to push it on.

“The first time I ran for 10 minutes straight, I called her and I was so excited,” Lindsay recalled. “I signed up for the Harmony Hustle right after that.”

The 5K, held annually during Harmony’s Fourth of July celebration, provided her with a successful first run experience and she knew she was up to the next challenge – and looked forward to finding a half-marathon.

She signed up for a half in La Crosse to be held the following May and she immediately began training. “It was tough when I first started,” she admitted, “but once I was signed up, I was in.”

She completed her race with a time of 2 hours and 8 minutes and was pleased with her time.

Challenges emerge

Shortly after she completed that half-marathon she was out of commission due to a herniated disc, which eventually required surgery in September of 2011.

“I was crushed,” she said about the back injury that forced this fitness fanatic to stop running and working out each day. “I tried to work out, but I was in too much pain.”

Her back was so bad that she had herniated discs that were bulging in three places. “There was no question I needed surgery,” she said.

She was unsure if she would ever be able to run again.

Today, however, after a lot of rehabilitative training and perseverance, she looks back at her recovery time and said she was always hopeful.

“I would lie in bed and plan,” she shared. “I knew I wanted to run a marathon.”

When she asked her doctor if it was possible, he put her on a schedule that would help her gradually regain her strength.

“When he told me I wasn’t going to screw it up (her back) I was so relieved I bawled,” Lindsay explained. “I was so fit before my surgery and after, I had gained a bit of weight. I knew I wanted to get back into my work-out routines as quickly as possible, but I also knew I couldn’t push it.”

She committed to daily exercise and has not missed a day since she got her doctor’s approval on Nov. 9.


Once she got her doctor’s approval, she immediately signed up for Grandma’s Marathon, which will be held this Saturday. Lindsay shared that she loves Duluth and it is where she and her friend, Heidi Buchholz, have completed inline skating marathons in the past. Grandma’s Marathon follows the same route, which will provide Lindsay with a familiar path on her journey to the finish line.

She also shared that another serendipitous aspect was the fact that this year is the 36th annual Grandma’s Marathon and Lindsay is 36 years old.

Plus, Lindsay, added, “It’s a happy place there on the lake.”

Buchholz has severed as an inspiration to Lindsay as well. She explained that Buchholz ran a marathon in the past as a tribute to their friend, Laura Tribon, who died while they were in high school. Tribon had been a great runner for Fillmore Central and Lindsay explained she calls her “My little runner angel.”

When fighting her body on a long run, Lindsay said that she gets into her own head and plays a little mind game. “For each mile I am running, I think of someone I’ve lost,” she said. “It really helps me focus.”

As part of her marathon training, Lindsay has run a variety of distances, recently completing a 23-mile run to Lanesboro. She not only completed the course on a warm, windy day, she also finished the last five miles without water. She admitted that she was VERY happy to see the Lanesboro dam and her father waiting for her with cool beverages.

She had run a 20-mile race previous to her run to Lanesboro, but was not happy with it and knew she could do better. “I pushed myself too much before that run and I ended up doing too much walking on the route. I gave into the pain,” Lindsay explained.

She completed her 23-mile run in 4 hours, 25 minutes, just four minutes longer than it had taken her to do her 20-mile run.

Lindsay does a lot of her training on Highway 44, west of Harmony, near where she and her husband, Brett, live with their children, Trevor and Tayah. However, because the terrain is so flat in that area, it can be a bit windy. That fact led her to start running on the Harmony-Preston Valley Trail, a stretch of which she calls her “happy spot.”

“My dad and I used to walk there with Woody (their dog). It’s not windy and it’s a peaceful, wonderful place,” she added.

When her daughter wanted to run a race with her, Lindsay took Tayah to this spot and ran the 5.5 miles into Preston.

“I do all my major runs from there,” she said. “But it does add time to my running schedule. It adds 15 minutes for the drive there and another 15 for the drive back.”

Lindsay noted that during her training, she averaged 40 miles each week, but put in 54 miles two weeks ago before tapering off before the marathon.


Nutrition and proper diet are also a big part of her training, Lindsay noted. “I eat lots of veggies and fruit and get a lot of protein in,” she explained. “I do smoothies and lots of chocolate milks after my runs.”

Snacks include nuts and fruit, especially peaches and apples.

She noted that giving up sweets has been a challenge, but she does allow herself some indulgences on weekends when she’s socializing with friends.


Friends, family and online runners have provided a great deal of support, encouragement and inspiration as Lindsay moves closer to her dream.

“My friends are so awesome,” she shared. “They listen to me and I know I’ve inspired some of them, which is so rewarding. I know how good I feel and so I use that to try and help others.”

Other friends, Maria Johnson and Kelly Hill, are also avid runners and have served as role models as Lindsay became involved in running.

Her family, of course, is Lindsay’s top motivating factor. “Brett is so supportive and he’s there for me at every race.”

She also laughed as she said he allows her to buy her running accessories and tools without complaint.

Her parents, as well as her husband and children, will be standing by to welcome her at the marathon’s finish line.

Looking ahead

While she is not signing up until she completes this first marathon, Lindsay is already looking ahead to running another marathon this fall. “If I’m in this good of shape, which is the best shape I’ve ever been in, I want to do at least one more. I’d be happier with two,” she added. “I don’t want to be done. I want to see if I can do better.”

Running long distances is hard on a body and she shared that towards the end of a marathon, everything hurts.

“I want to be able to do 8-miles or 13-miles or anything as long as it’s fun,” she added.

Lindsay also plans to do another inline marathon with Buchholz this fall.

“I haven’t done any rollerblading recently as I don’t want to get injured,” she shared.

An emotional high

“There is nothing like the feeling I get when I’m running,” Lindsay shared. “I am an emotional wreck sometimes out there!”

The fact that she has been able to come back from back surgery to being in the best shape of her life, ready to run a marathon, is an emotional realization for Lindsay.

“It’s an amazing feeling to know that I can do this,” she concluded. “It was taken away from me and now, nothing’s going to stop me.”


2 thoughts on “My Article from the Local paper ~ Overcoming back surgery, my training and my First Marathon

  1. Hi Lindsay
    What kind of back surgery did you have? Fusion?
    I am a runner and completed dozens of half marathons and 5 marathons.
    I have been suffering pains that stopped me from any work out since november.
    I already decided to go through back surgery ( fusion of L4-L5), and my main concern is if I will be able to run again. Dont expect another marathon , but running 40 miles a week and a couple of half marathons per year would be great.
    Reading your story makes me be more optimistic , but I wonder if your surgery was similar to the one I will be going through.
    By the did it go in the Marathon?
    Andres ( From Argentina)

    • Hi There, I had L4 L5 Laminectomy done. No fusions, your sounds more intense. I am close to you as far as races, 4 marathons and dozens of halfs 🙂 I was in the same boat could not do anything the pain was so bad in July and had surgery in September and ran a full marathon the next JUne, I was determined. My doctor told me I should not really be running full marathons but my quest is not quite over yet!! I will run 2 more this year and see how I feel. I love running halfs that is a great distance. I am not a fast runner and hills are not my best friend for my back and sciatic nerve. I did my marathons in 5 hours and 2 in 4:31 & 4:32 🙂 just happy to finish and push through I hope and pray that your s goes well for you and yes just take it easy coming back, lots of walking to start but don’t overdue it !! Your body will let you know how much you can do and rest when it tells you too !! Good Luck to you!! Lindsay

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