Bent but not broken

Hello runners!! I’m Gelcys aka cheetah g and I’m a wife, mother runner with a sarcastic sense of humor. A little history on how I got where I am… I’ve been a runner my whole life, but unfortunately I was diagnosed with Scoliosis, which to those who don’t know its a curvature of the spine. I was 14 years old when Doctors found it and I was told I need corrective surgery immediately. I must say for a 14-year-old who has never gotten a scratch this was very intimidating. Worst part was, I was told I could never run again. After spending 14 hours in the operation room it was all over, SUCCESS! My back was corrected now on my way to a long recovery.

20141015_224532Six months in, getting picked up from school, we got rear ended in a car accident, and requiring emergency surgery due to one of the metal rods put in my spine had come out! Eww yes it hurt…and BAD. Physical therapy for months, another 2 more surgeries and years later I was doing better. Final outcome, I still have severe Scoliosis, had the rods taken out of my back, and have a higher hip on my left and my leg is shorter by 1 inch. I was left with a nasty crooked scar, and forever chronic pains that won’t go away.


After many years and no contact, I met my husband RC who was in my senior classes in HS. But we never hung out or really talked and as soon as we graduated he headed off to the Army. When he got out and came home we hung out with mutual friends where our love story began. After having our son, we decided to move to Central Florida for a change from the south Florida lifestyle, we couldn’t be happier. They are my world and would be lost without them.


RC aka Alpha and I have always been active, but I always had a problem running after all my surgeries. We then started running, but 200 meters in, I would end up walking and was miles behind him. After several attempts and Doctors appointments they told me I can’t run because my left lung doesn’t have a lot of room due to my spine curving into it, among other physical issues, blah, blah, blah. It broke my heart. After moving to Orlando, I was able to do more outdoor activities. I would walk with my son to the park so he can play.

I always saw several people running, training, staying fit. It motivated me to go after what I really wanted to do in life. I told my husband.  “I wanted to run!!” so he said “I’ll train you.” I got a little nervous since he was the fastest and the squad leader in his running team in the Army.  Little did I know that was going to help me in the end. I started running, from meters to miles, slow and steady. I ended up with some chronic pain that I can’t do anything about because it stems from my Scoliosis. When I see a doctor they tell me I can’t handle running so I shouldn’t try.


My crooked spine
My crooked spine

I suffer daily from back pain, worse on some days than others, shin splints are common due to my shorter leg, and the hip flexor…gets very irritated. Aside from all the issues I have from running. I learned to never give up and go after my goals. I sometimes have to push myself through the pain, let’s not forget the common runner injuries, because yes, I also have been blessed with those too. But you know what?? I’m a fighter, I learned to push through barriers and walls to make my dreams a reality!!! And now…here I am today…A MARATHONER!!!! I am doing what I never thought I could, so never give up on something you believe in, because if I can do it, ANYONE can!



I ran my first FULL MARATHON in January(you can read all about my Disney Marathon experience in my posts)!!!I have ran 5Ks, 10Ks, 10 Mile races and a  few half marathons. It is a MAJOR accomplishment and Doctors can’t believe what I have done! My family and friends know me as the one who fights the biggest battles with a large dose of determination and it also has helped to have the support and motivation of my military husband and everyone in my life . So please stop by, share your story and stick around for a great running adventure! I love reading about stories of hard work and success and cant wait to read yours!


-cheetah g


160 responses to “Bent but not broken”

  1. David Avatar


  2. Darla Gleaves Avatar
    Darla Gleaves

    WOW! love your page. I, to have scoliosis however I was 12 when I was told I would never run again and had the rods placed in my back. I couldn’t wait to prove the doctors wrong. Its great to hear someone else’s story. Thank you for sharing.

    Darla Gleaves
    Lubbock, Texas

    1. runner unleashed Avatar
      runner unleashed

      Hey Darla! Yes sounds a lot like my journey. Just had my rods removed. Thank you for sharing this with me! It helps to know I am not the only Scoliosis runner out there 😉

  3. Nicole Avatar

    Thankyou so much for sharing your story, where you have come and all that you continue to battle through. Today I felt really disheartened after a back injury, I thought I would not be able to continue with my new love of running. I have only been running for the past 7 months. But reading how you have persevered is an inspiration. I will get back out there.

  4. laurenwayjurlee Avatar

    I have scoliosis and I definitely understand the struggle and chronic pain. Like you, I suffer from shin splints and hip issues. Doesn’t stop me though! Thanks for sharing your story 🙂 So inspiring!

    1. runner unleashed Avatar
      runner unleashed

      WOOHOO! Glad to know I am not the only one affected by Scoliosis 😉

  5. Hannah Avatar

    Hello! My name is Hannah and I just started a blog about my life living with chronic pain, and running through it! I would be grateful if you would go and check it out and tell everyone you know about it! I’m excited to share my story, spread awareness for chronic illness and inspire others! 🙂

  6. Gabriel's Mom Avatar
    Gabriel’s Mom

    Love this!!! I’m a runner, too. I don’t have this kind of medical background but we (my boys and I) have our own story. I was a marathoner, then my oldest came along with Aspergers/ADHD and life turned on its ear. Another little man came along many years later with Down syndrome and multiple medical problems. Long story short, I’m running again and now am taking over an amazing organization in Georgia called myTEAM TRIUMPH / Angels of Georgia #ourangelsrungeorgia ( and we are trying to get into our first races as an organization! We are a ride along program for challenged athletes (those who can’t run it, whatever the reason or disability). Whatever is out there, you can do. It’s all up to you. I’m very proud of this!!! And you! YOU are my inspiration, as well!


    1. runner unleashed Avatar
      runner unleashed

      Wow what an amazing journey you’ve been on! My hats off to you lady! Keep on running for those who can’t! That is awesome. I love it.

  7. blkbuttafly Avatar

    You’re an inspiration! My definition of a survivor and go getter. I’m new to running. I’ve participated in two 5ks and gave into pain and walked the majority of both. I’m participating in another 5k Sunday and yes I’m nervous. I want to run more. I’m going to read this again the morning of and make a mental note to push through the pain. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful testimony!

    1. runner unleashed Avatar
      runner unleashed

      Don’t stress it! You’ll be fine! Take it easy and don’t over do it!!!

  8. Hansel & Petal Avatar
    Hansel & Petal

    Great story!

  9. Ribbo Avatar

    Nice pictures and quotes, real inspirational stuff!

  10. Jill Olivas Avatar
    Jill Olivas

    You rock – and what an inspiration! I will think of you the next time I feel some silly little pain and want to walk – YOU will keep me going and striving to do better. Thank you for sharing your story.

  11. Ana Avatar

    hey! You a total inspiration! I have a scoliosis as well and undergone 3 surgeries, last one at July, 2013. Today I run for the first time in a 3 years! Thank you for all this advises about proper running and hugs from Moscow, Russia!

    1. runner unleashed Avatar
      runner unleashed

      That’s amazing!!! Way to go! How are you doing?

      1. Ana Avatar

        hey! im doing great! on my 3d week of training with 5k running app and very happy about it! thanks again

  12. Nicole Avatar

    what a wonderful blog, great story at such a young age. keep up all your good work… I will be following your blog..

  13. Marina Avatar

    Hello, i like your blog!

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  14. Fawn Avatar

    I am so happy to have come across your blog! You are such in inspiration!

  15. Fawn Avatar

    Hey there! I wanted to let you know I nominated you for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award!

    1. runner unleashed Avatar
      runner unleashed

      Wow! Thank you. I’m honored. Which blog is doing this?

  16. ndeckerrunner Avatar

    Love this,So inspiring. My daughter is 14 and in her second year of her Scoliosis.
    She wears a back brace 23 hours a day and has an S Curvature. It has been hard to keep her motivated on fitness but she has a great positive attitude.

    1. runner unleashed Avatar
      runner unleashed

      Thank you! It does get hard and painful. But love that she keeps her positive attitude. That is important to have!

  17. Hilary Avatar

    wow – what a story! Respect!! Can’t wait to hear more!! Might make me stop feeling sorry for myself. I have been struggling with an injury for a year and a half now which is driving me nuts. It is gone from hamstring to my sciatic nerve – which basically means I get a lot of ass pain when and after I run! Anyway I persevere because like you I love running!! I am frustrated though that I am so slow!! Your blog might help me find some patience!!

    1. runner unleashed Avatar
      runner unleashed

      oh I hope my journey helps motivate you!!! I know how painful sciatic pain can be. But strengthening and stretching the area helps! Feel free to ask me any tips and keep reading my blog for future stretches. =)

  18. Les Baker Avatar

    I have got Scoliosis, although not nearly as severe as you. I too have a love of Cheetahs (my Desktop is actually the same picture as your header)(I’m not a stalker, just coincidence). I’m looking forward to trying the exercises in your piece about hip flexor problems as I have lower back trouble, especially on one side, due to my curve. In the past I’ve had Chiropractic treatment, which helped for a little while and an osteopath which seemed better. I can’t imagine what it’s like to have rods in your back so I’m thankful that mine is not that severe, and I too find running a must do. Keep up the good work. You are an inspiration. I’m currently training for a half marathon in October. I love running despite the aches and pains.

    1. runner unleashed Avatar
      runner unleashed

      Thank you for your kind words! So glad to see you are out there beating the odds! Keep it up and good luck in October!

  19. Swim Chick Avatar
    Swim Chick

    Congrats on your success! If you haven’t already, you might want to try ART (active release therapy) for the trigger points that have probably been activated by some of the runner injuries.

  20. Kathleen Avatar

    My husband had bad scoliosis curves both directions almost an 80 degree curve at the worst point. Had surgery when he was 24 and is in less pain now but I told him your story and he is so amazed by you as am I. I can’t believe you had to have the rods removed I can’t imagine how painful that was because I know how bad he was when they were put in. I am so excited for you and as a fellow runner I understand the want and will to run. Running is freeing and exhilarating. We test our own limits and we run against ourselves we don’t compete against anyone else. Love your story you are an inspiration.

    1. runner unleashed Avatar
      runner unleashed

      Thank you Kathleen for taking the time to share this with me. I truly appreciate it! Yes I did have them removed but I had also gone through many surgeries before that. But I couldn’t deal with it anymore. I’m still not pain free but I still can run and thats what matters.

  21. Autumn Avatar

    Excellent article! We are linking to this great content
    on our site. Keep up the good writing.

  22. Kevin Avatar

    You are an amazing athlete. Thank you for sharing your story

  23. Strong Runner Avatar

    Very Inspiring site!!! Keep up your great work, and most importantly, keep on running.

  24. Sabrina Avatar

    I am so glad I found your blog. after many many…..many years of back pain and 3 episodes of sciatica (one was so bad I was almost paralized for 2 weeks) a doctor realised I had lower back sciatica and a slipped disc. I was always into the gym lifting weights and doing spinning classes but last year I decided to start running and I haven’t stopped since then. I run 5 k 3 times a week. Sometimes i’m ok sometimes I have mild pain…all the doctors told me I should avoid any high impact exercise, “especially” running, but I can’t, I don’t want to, and now that I have read your story, I will not, ever :-). Your story is inspiring and your suggestions very useful. Thank you

    1. runner unleashed Avatar
      runner unleashed

      Sorry to hear about your pains. I know what it’s like. But glad you found something to keep you going!

  25. anobles0624 Avatar

    I really enjoyed reading your story. I fractured my spine at 19 and had to get a fusion. I was worried I couldn’t run again but I’ve been running for the last four years and I have plans to do my local half marathon as well as the Disney Princess Half!

  26. Michelle Keene Avatar
    Michelle Keene

    Thanks for sharing your story.
    I am a runner also and was told not to run by my doctor….that was 9 years ago and I’m still running!!
    I wanted to ask your advice about the KT tape…I have issues with my piriformis and also occasional problems with the outside of my knee (this happens more when I’m training hard). I am a bit confused about which of the tapes would be best for me to use….or are they all the same its just that some are cut and some are uncut??? Sorry if I am being a bit stupid!!

    1. runner unleashed Avatar
      runner unleashed

      There are no stupid questions to this. Have you checked your lower back? Even if it hasn’t been an issue, I know it causes IT pain. Try stretching it to relieve tension. If not try taping your lower back, or use the full knee support app.

  27. christine Avatar

    I too have scoliosis and DDD, training for my first halfie . I too will not let my diseases win, I will fight to the end.

  28. Patrick Mccarthy Avatar
    Patrick Mccarthy

    I just found your blog site and was glad of that. I am a 66 year old guy who used to really love running and got away from it. So finding it hard to get started again. Much more aggrivating and painful every bit of increase even a small bit. But your blog is gonna give me some real good encouragement.

    Also, I am so glad. My wife has some fairly serious scoliosis and she is also struggling as we try to stay healthy and enjoy our lives as wee did in our youth.

    Thanks,and best wishes, I will take time to read this more later.


    1. runner unleashed Avatar
      runner unleashed

      Hey Patrick! So glad my blog serves as positive motivation! And I hope your wife finds a way to stay healthy and active. As you can see it’s not easy for me to run but I am VERY motivated to make it happen.

  29. haira Avatar

    Hi Gelcys,

    My name is Haira and I am sending you this e-mail on behalf of Cordskinz Marketing/PR team to introduce our new product that solves earbud tangles once and for all.

    Tangled earbuds has been a problem for many, if not all earbud-users with no easy solution. Other products aiming to liberate earbuds from their tangled existence require folding, organizing, or tying earbuds in certain way…too much work!

    My team just launched Cordskinz to resolve this issue. Cordskinz provides three main values 1) Easy Anti-Tangle, 2) Cord-Protection, and 3) Ability to style earbuds.

    Check us out at
    Or our FB page

    Our product is brand new in the market and we would love your review.

    If interested, we ask for you to use it, review about it on your blog and/or youtube channel, and share our product with your viewers through your social media sites. When responding, please include your mailing address and two Cordskinz color preferences.

    Thank you and let me know if you have any questions.

    Haira and the Cordskinz Team

    1. runner unleashed Avatar
      runner unleashed

      Hi Haira! Sounds like an excellent product! I would love to review these! Who do I need to email?

      1. haira Avatar

        Hi Gelcys,

        The website asked for an email address in order to comment so I assumed you could see my email address. I apologize for not checking your site sooner.

        You may email me at Thank you 🙂

  30. roy Avatar

    I am roy from China. Actually, I am a sellor of footcare products. But I like your homepage, cause it inspires a lot of people. Best wishes.

  31. Brian Avatar

    Amazing story. I have had back issues stemming from a car accident for 25 years now including time in the Army during the earlier years where 800 MG of ibuprofen was the only “therapy” offered. While my issues pale in comparison to what you have faced, I have heard the same lines from the same type doctors – including one wonderful doctor asking me what I wanted her to do about my pain after I told her I didn’t want drugs and another who told me that I probably cant ride my motorcycle anymore (at age 40).

    The reason I write this is to say that I eventually found a physical therapist and chiropractor who stopped telling me what I couldn’t do and started helping me. I still have problems that can’t be fixed, but they have helped to get my body to work around those problems. I went from constant pain (even when lying down) to being able to stretch of the pain away (most of the time). I still hope to make more progress, but these people have already changed my life.

    I don’t pretend to know anyone’s individual situation, but I urge everyone to keep searching for these people whenever possible. What they are doing was unheard of 20 years ago and it seems they are still improving by leaps and bounds today.

  32. Gordon Stevens Avatar
    Gordon Stevens

    Ok I’ve only been running for a matter of weeks so far , but with every run , I’m getting results and enjoying it so much .
    One of the First bits of running advice I see ? – “read a blog” !
    one of the first blogs I find ? – a fellow scoliosis sufferer !
    I’d call that fate !
    As quite rightly has been said before , INSPIRATIONAL STUFF !
    Thank you and I look forward to getting involved in this running thing !

    1. runner unleashed Avatar
      runner unleashed

      That is so awesome! So glad you found me and that you are running! Hope you enjoy it and follow along! =)

  33. Claire Avatar

    My Harrington rods are now 25 years old. I went back to cross country 3 months after my T3-L3 fusion and haven’t stopped running since. I ran the Dopey in January and will get my coast to coast medal in September after running the Dumbo in Disneyland. My goal is a half or full in every state. I am proud of all of you for striving to meet your goals, continue to push hard. As a physical therapist I recommend you try a maximalist shoe ( I run in hokas) to continue running as long as possible. Also a shoe lift to correct leg length and avoid additional spinal injuries. Continued good luck on everyone’s goals!

    1. runner unleashed Avatar
      runner unleashed

      Wow you are doing amazing! That is great to hear!!! Good luck at Dumbo!
      Believe it or not, but that actually affects me negatively. The heel lift actually gave me hip pain, and the more support I have it gives me shin splints and ends up hurting me worse.

  34. Susan Avatar

    Glad I found you. I too registered for the Star Wars 13.1. It will be my first and my goal, honestly, is to not get swept up by the people in the golf carts. I too have had chronic pain since age 14 and that is my #1 challenge when running. Well, walk/run. My rationale behind defying my endless list of “Never agains…” from the doctors is simply knowing that I am in pain with or without the mileage. Might as well enjoy the scenery and high five a wookie.

  35. […] scoliosis runner,” was told at the age of 14 she would never run again. And has an absolutely amazing story of overcoming obstacles to become a […]

  36. Shannon Avatar

    I am so excited to have found your blog! Thank you for sharing your incredible story, you are so inspirational!

    I too have scoliosis, had the rods put in at around the same age, and still have them twenty-some years later. I wasn’t active when I had them put in, so there was never any advice that I couldn’t/wouldn’t run (other than the immediate recovery period). I started running short distances several years ago and last year took the leap to longer distances by running my first 10-miler. This year I’ve completed my first and second half marathons, with additional half marathons in the plans. My back has done surprisingly well, I had no idea what to expect and I always let it tell me how we’re doing. I definitely have the hip pain though. It’s not terrible, I know things aren’t “normal” in there, and I’m sure some scar tissue has made it’s way in there.

    I plan to keep running as long as I can, am so grateful my body has let me get this far.

    Good luck to you and keep running!

    1. Runner Unleashed Avatar
      Runner Unleashed

      YAY! I am so happy you are out there running! Congratulations on being half crazy! 😉

  37. Sandi Lofton Avatar
    Sandi Lofton

    You are so inspiring! I’m going through pain issues right now and have been told by some to quit running. I have a tilted pelvis & one shorter leg plus the disadvantage of now being 57 and trying to get back into shape. Running is what I love, even though I’m lousy at it. I started following you for help in getting through my current bout with sciatic nerve inflammation. And I just signed up for a half marathon. My chiro believes in me and told me to keep on moving.

  38. Anuj Agarwal Avatar

    Hi Gelcys,

    My name is Anuj Agarwal. I’m Founder of Feedspot.

    I would like to personally congratulate you as your blog RUNNER UNLEASHED has been selected by our panelist as one of the Top 100 Running blogs on the web.

    I personally give you a high-five and want to thank you for your contribution to this world. This is the most comprehensive list of top Running blogs on the internet and I’m honoured to have you as part of this!


    1. Runner Unleashed Avatar
      Runner Unleashed

      Oh wow THANK YOU! What a honor!

  39. Dana Avatar

    Hi everyone! My name is Dana and I am 13 years old and I have scoliosis

  40. Runner Unleashed Avatar
    Runner Unleashed

    I still use KT Tape! I have many different apps for my Scoliosis pain.

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