HOUSTON - Preparing for and competing in a marathon is not for the faint of heart.

Whitney Parks is living proof.

Lots of emotions running through me for sure, Parks said on Monday. It s the most rewarding and trying journey I ve ever been on. Always say blood, sweat and tears and I mean it literally.

If you see her today, you wouldn t believe that just a year ago Parks weighed nearly 300 pounds. It was last January when she changed her diet and began exercising. She s dropped close to 100 pounds since she started, but the road traveled hasn t been easy.

My husband cleaned out the entire house of all the junk food and I was literally standing in front of the pantry with the door open crying for cookies, Parks said. He kept telling me Whitney, don t do it, don t do it . I wanted to go to the store and get some Oreo s and he kept telling me No, stay strong, stay strong . There s a phrase that s very popular this week and it goes a little something like this... Run a marathon, change your life.

Whitney Parks is a prime example of that, but there are so many cases of athletes that never even thought they d be in this position come Sunday, much less, be alive.

You take for granted your health and you take for granted the sun in your face, long-time runner Bob Tyson said.

Tyson was an avid runner, having completed 5 Ironman triathlons in his life. But in 2010, he was diagnosed with Stage 4 lymphoma. 6 chemotherapy and 18 radiation treatments later, he s back and ready to do what he loves.

Completing the half marathon on Sunday will remind me again of the gifts of God, Tyson said.
Bob and Whitney are just two who many call crazy for competing in the event. They see it as just living life.

Every time, about one foot from the finish line you tell yourself you will never do that again, Tyson said. Two steps on the other side of the finish line, you re ready to do it all over again.

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