When it comes to our siblings, there isn't much we won't do for them. Just ask Colleen Caul, who recently completed a 65-day, 1,000-mile running journey from St. Louis, Missouri to New York City to raise funds fighting cystic fibrosis, a genetic condition her younger sister Katie Rose lives with. Colleen ran about 15 miles a day (no rest days!), quickly becoming best friends with her sneakers, foam roller and chocolate milk to finish the trek strong. We caught up with the star sibling once her journey was over to find out why lacing up her sneaks was how she decided to help.
1,000 miles in 65 days—that's so impressive! What kept you pushing to cover the distance every day? It was really difficult, but whenever the road got tough I just thought about my sister and what she goes through on a daily basis. All of the people with CF [cystic fibrosis], my heart goes out to them. Whatever pain I felt through this whole journey was nothing compared to what they have to go through.
You were an actress and dancer, but never called yourself an athlete. So why running? Running has completely transformed Katie's life and improved her health by leaps and bounds. It's so good for her lungs. So when our uncle, who has run 14 marathons, started coaching her in 2004, I jumped on board.
Was there any significance to the 65 days? Absolutely. When children find out that they have CF, they usually can't pronounce the name of their condition. So they say "65 roses" instead because it's easier. The rose is also the registered trademark for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. So I wanted to run this in 65 days to honor the story behind CF.
Why didn't you give yourself any rest days? People have to deal with CF everyday. You never get a day off. How did Colleen fuel all this running and stay motivated when she was exhausted? Keep reading to find out.
What tools did you rely on to prevent injury? I switched between four pairs of Asics sneakers, rotating through a pair every day to make sure one set wasn't getting too much wear and tear. I used my foam roller and The Stick quite a bit, stretching 45 minutes before and after each run, and then again before bed. I even broke my foam roller before I got to New York City! Other than that, I always made sure to have loads of BodyGlide and Vaseline, moleskin and great moisture-wicking socks.
With all of this running, you must have been starving! What were your go-to foods? Bagels were always number one. They're so good! But I also had a lot of bananas, pasta with marinara sauce, cereal and oatmeal. They are all good sources of fuel and I just think they taste great.
Any favorite drinks? Right after I finished my run each day, I immediately refueled with chocolate milk. In fact, about halfway through my journey, the National Milk Mustache "got milk?" campaign added me to their Team Refuel! I was so excited to be included with this team of elite athletes, and I was already drinking it to help with my muscle recovery, so it was a perfect fit. They ended up supporting me with a $5,000 sponsorship as well, which all went to The Rose Foundation.
Tell me about The Rose Foundation. It's the non-profit that I founded in January 2011, in honor of Katie, to raise money for research and awareness. All of the money I raise goes directly to the foundation, no matter what. So far with this trek we've raised more than $40,000.
Did you ever feel like you weren't going to finish? That it was too much to take on? Honestly, no. I had so much support, so many people coming to see me throughout my journey that I couldn't ever fathom not finishing. At one point there was a long stretch of just me and the cornfields, but then a woman from Ohio who has CF came out and joined me for a few miles. She told me that the hospital can be a really lonely place, and she was so inspired by what I was doing. She had no idea how inspiring I found her. It just reminded me of exactly why I was doing this in the first place.
Inspired to support The Rose Foundation? Click here to learn more about how to help.
Now tell us: What athletes inspire you?