Gretchen Schoenstein with Overcoming Adversity Through Grit and Community: A Journey with Autoimmune Disease – HGG609

My guest this week is Gretchen Schoenstein, a half marathon enthusiast who has completed more than one hundred half marathons. With unwavering dedication and passion, Gretchen has conquered diverse courses, inspiring countless others with her determination. Join us as we delve into Gretchen’s remarkable journey, celebrating her as a light in the running community and those she serves who are suffering! Thanks for listening!

Full show notes, transcriptions (available on request), audio and video at

Join Jim Collison / @jcollison for show #609 of Home Gadget Geeks, brought to you by the Average Guy Network.


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Two Halfs Two Coasts Two Days

Show Segments

  • Tech gadgets with Jim Collison and Gretchen Schoenstein.[0:00]
    • Jim Collison welcomes Gretchen Schoenstein to Home Gadget Geeks.
    • Jim Collison and Gretchen Schoenstein discuss gadgets and technology, with Gretchen Schoenstein revealing a retro gadget for the first time in years.
  • Leadership, career development, and running with a focus on overcoming health challenges.[3:15]
    • Speaker’s 20-year career in leadership and talent development includes founding an organization to train women to run for office.
    • Jim Collison and Gretchen bond over running, despite Speaker 2’s struggles with health.
  • Living with autoimmune diseases, diagnosis challenges, and treatment changes over three decades.[6:56]
    • Jim Collison shares his personal journey with autoimmune diseases, including being bedridden for six weeks and struggling to find a diagnosis.
    • Gretchen describes their experience with chronic pain after a spinal cord injury, including the impact on their daily life and the fear-based way they lived for several years.
    • Gretchen reflects on how their treatment has changed over the last three decades, including the use of morphine and other medications, and the prognosis given by their ASCO doctor.
  • Autoimmune diseases, potential cures, and the need for interdisciplinary research.[12:09]
    • Gretchen discusses advancements in understanding and treating autoimmune diseases, with a focus on the Benefit Research Institute in Seattle.
    • Researchers collaborating to find cures for autoimmune diseases like lupus and type 1 diabetes.
  • Managing chronic illness through technology and defiance.[16:47]
    • Gretchen tracks steps to reduce flare-ups despite being told to have almost no movement.
    • Gretchen shares their experience with a doctor who said they would never run again, but they chose to defy this advice and continue running.
    • Gretchen reflects on their journey, including tracking their health and fitness, and finding a balance between physical and mental well-being.
    • Gretchen ran a half marathon against doctor’s orders, symbolizing their determination to overcome health struggles.
    • Gretchen’s defiant run opened up possibilities for them, showing what else is possible with belief and determination.
  • Running and managing autoimmune diseases, with a focus on taking small steps and finding hope.[25:16]
    • Jim Collison shares his journey of overcoming autoimmune diseases through running and community support.
    • Gretchen advises taking small steps at a time to manage autoimmune diseases, finding hope in communities like VRI.
    • Gretchen shares their running journey, from their first half marathon to five half marathons in 2010, feeling grateful and hopeful with each race.
    • Gretchen and Jim Collison joke about doubling the number of races, with Gretchen acknowledging the possibility but also expressing caution.
  • Running, personal growth, and fundraising for autoimmune diseases.[29:55]
    • Jim Collison reflects on his running journey, sharing insights on goal-setting and resilience.
    • Gretchen raises money for autoimmune disease research through races, donating to Operation Shooting Star.
  • Managing autoimmune disease through running and advocacy.[34:04]
    • Gretchen shares their autoimmune journey, including finding the right doctors and adjusting medication.
    • Gretchen emphasizes the importance of support and resilience in managing autoimmune conditions.
    • Gretchen shares story of running 75 half marathons to raise money for autoimmune disease research.
    • Gretchen emphasizes importance of sharing personal stories to raise awareness and build impact.
  • The challenges of running with autoimmune diseases and the importance of pacing oneself.[39:17]
    • Gretchen shares experiences of overcoming obstacles in running, including DNS and flare-ups, with a focus on resilience and determination.
    • Gretchen’s consistent running habit was disrupted by autoimmune and preexisting conditions during the pandemic.
    • Gretchen gradually resumed running by setting small goals, such as running a mile, and pacing themselves.
  • Running, grit, and resilience with 123 half marathons completed.[43:27]
    • Jim Collison and Gretchen discuss grit and perseverance in running, with Speaker 2 revealing 123 half marathons completed.
    • Gretchen reflects on their running journey, sharing moments of satisfaction and struggle.
    • Gretchen emphasizes the importance of weight strength training for their comeback in 2023.
    • Gretchen expresses gratitude for ability to run and finds moments of awe at every start line.
    • Gretchen reframes failure as opportunity for resilience and intentionality in races.
  • Managing autoimmune diseases, raising awareness, and finding hope for a cure.[50:26]
    • Jim shares stories of both success and failure in his running journey to raise money for lupus research.
    • Acknowledge frustration and resistance to diagnosis, then own new identity as a person with autoimmune disease and advocate for self.
    • Build supportive team, find gratitude in small moments of good days, and adjust/evolve approach over time.
    • Gretchen shares personal experience with autoimmune disease and fundraising for VRI
    • Gretchen highlights hope and progress in autoimmune disease research and treatment
  • Sharing personal stories to raise awareness for various health conditions.[57:24]
    • Gretchen shares personal experience with autoimmune disease, revealing struggle with stigma and desire for support.
    • Jim and Gretchen discuss the importance of openly discussing health issues, even when struggling, to help others feel less alone.
    • Jim Collison and Gretchen share stories of vulnerability and bravery during their runs.
    • Jim acknowledges the importance of support from others in continuing to raise awareness for mental health.
  • Living with autoimmune diseases, finding purpose through advocacy and fundraising, and the importance of self-care and grace.[1:03:17]
    • Jim Collison is driven by purpose to help others with autoimmune issues through his running and storytelling.
    • Jim Collison and Gretchen share their personal struggles and challenges, including health issues and personal growth.
    • Gretchen quotes Phil Jackson, emphasizing the importance of creating the best possible conditions for success and letting go of the outcome.
    • Gretchen reflects on their journey with autoimmune disease, emphasizing the importance of self-care and grace.
    • Gretchen encourages others to embrace discomfort and have balance of grace and grit in their journey.
  • Mental health, self-care, and vulnerability with Gretchen.[1:10:04]
    • Gretchen shares her journey with imposter syndrome and running, and encourages others to have grace for themselves.
    • Jim Collison and Gretchen discuss their experiences with podcasting and vulnerability.
    • Speakers share their thoughts on the importance of telling personal stories and being heard.
    • Jim Collison discusses emails from listeners, including a family member and a spouse.
    • Rich Hayes joins the show next week to talk about new telescopes with computer technology.

    More from Chat GPT

    Jim Collison and Gretchen Schoenstein share personal experiences with gadgets, leadership, and health challenges. Gretchen discuss overcoming autoimmune diseases through running, managing pain and flare-ups, and the latest developments in autoimmune disease research. They emphasize the importance of grit, resilience, and resourcefulness in running, as well as sharing personal stories to raise awareness and support for various causes. The conversation highlights the transformative power of running for those with chronic illnesses and the value of vulnerability and authenticity in sharing one’s story.

    The following products are mentioned during the session:

    • Garmin watches (for tracking health metrics like heart rate during runs)
    • Fitbit (Gretchen has worn a Fitbit for 10 years to track steps)
    • Apple Watch (Gretchen mentions considering getting an Apple Watch)
    • iPod Nano (Gretchen still uses an old square iPod Nano clipped to her clothes during runs)

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