And Then There is Courage
By Clara Hatcher
Not many people can say they’ve run Denver’s Colfax Marathon less than a year after donating a kidney. Brandy Loseke can. And this year, she is going to run it again on the anniversary of her surgery.
“I love a challenge,” Loseke said about the 26.2-mile race. Following her organ donation in July, Loseke set a goal for herself to run Alburquerque’s Duke City Half Marathon in October.
Then, she made plans to run the Colfax Marathon in Denver just 10 months after giving her kidney.
“I thought this would be a fantastic way to show people that you can not only give your organs, you can also be kind of a badass,” said Loseke, who lives full-time in Alburquerque with her husband, Brian, and two kids, Gunner and Gracie.
A few years before her organ donation in July, 2016, Loseke got word that her cousin, Terry Gellagos, was sick. Gellagos – a Gulf War vet who served in the Navy and now lives in Denver – was a childhood hero to Loseke.
Loseke’s only question was what she could do to help.
“I am an organ donor on my driver’s license, but I never thought about giving my organ to someone while I was living,” Loseke said. “This is something I felt I was called to do.”
Loseke ended up being a match for a kidney transplant, but because she is significantly smaller in size, signed up to do a paired exchange. Loseke’s kidney would go to a stranger and Gellagos would be moved to the top of the list.
“It was a very humbling experience to save the life of a man who fought so hard for mine and for my country,” Loseke said.
Loseke says that living healthy, nutrition, family and her spirituality are some of the most important things in her life. Post-surgery, Loseke’s style of healthy living was challenged with the difficulties of recovering and living, then, with one kidney.
A normal day for Loseke starts with a run along the Paseo del Bosque “the Bosque” Trail in Alburqurque and ends with the “nighttime routine” she does with her kids. Post-surgery, everything from running to nutrition became a small challenge for Loseke.
“The recovery process was pretty intense,” Loseke said. “It hurt for a few weeks, I’m not going to lie.”
While training for her first run of the Colfax Marathon. Just over 22 miles into the race, Loseke’s knee blew out.
Determined to finish, Loseke walked the last three miles. She finished the race in 4 hours, 15 minutes.
They asked what they could do for me and I just said ‘Meet me at the finish line because I am not stopping,’” Loseke said.
It was the recipient of her kidney, Whitney Stevens, who introduced Loseke to MEND. Because Loseke cannot ingest the amount of protein in most nutrition and recovery powders, she is generally turned off to using them, but decided to give MEND a go.
“MEND came in the mail and I started taking it and noticed it started doing a lot of good things for my body,” Loseke said. “Directly after a long run, my legs didn’t feel so fatigued. The next day, my recovery runs were a lot easier. My muscles didn’t feel as fatigued or sore.”
She began to run her sub 20 5k training with relative ease.
This year, Loseke is going back to run the Colfax Marathon again with hopes to qualify for the Boston Marathon. Her goal is to finish in 3 hours, 32 minutes, which is eight minutes under Loseke’s qualifying time.
Loseke said that she doesn’t ever want to stop living such a healthy, active lifestyle. As far as donating a kidney goes, Loseke, who is now an ambassador for Donate Life of New Mexico Donor Services, thinks that it was a pivotal decision in her life.
“I love life so much and there are so many opportunities out there for all of us, and I think it is important for us to help our fellow people,” Loseke said. “I‘m not a super human…I’m a mom who goes to school and I like to run a lot. I can do all of those things after donating. It’s just made my life richer and fuller.”
Loseke will run the Colfax Marathon in Denver, the same city she had the organ donation in, this coming July, 2018.
With her indomitable spirit, we know she will succeed.