Running Track and Finding Superpowers
Running Track and Finding Superpowers
Our guest for Hustle and Pro episode #94 fought through a life-changing sickness and now spends time helping others stay focused and motivated to reach their goals. Mariele Landrom, or Coach Landrom to many of our Frisco ISD middle schoolers, is a decorated D1 Track and Field athlete. But as she tells us, her health and life took a turn when she found out she suffered from Crohn’s Disease.
Mariele is married to Hustle and Pro past guest and former NFL player Jamar Landrom.
Enjoy this episode and other episodes of Hustle and Pro in our archives.
[00:46] Mariele’s quick hits & track journey
[04:36] Mariele’s coaching inspiration
[06:48] Living with Crohn’s disease
[15:18] Finding your superpower
[17:00] Jamar Landrom’s support
[19:33] Mariele’s upcoming book
Resources within this episode:
- Mariele Landrom: Instagram @mrsletsgoooo | Facebook
- Crohn’s Disease Info: Mariele’s Dallas Take Steps Walk
- Jamar Landrom’s H&P episode
- Kelly Walker: Bio | Instagram @kelly_walkertexas | Twitter: @kelly_walker_TX
Connect with Lifestyle Frisco:
Welcome to Hustle & Pro, Season 2, talking sports and Frisco from youth to pro. Now here’s your host, Kelly Walker.
Welcome to Hustle & Pro. I’m your host Kelly Walker. And we have a guest in the studio today. And let’s just say only one of us can say that we have a- run track and field at a D1 college and fought through a debilitating diagnosis and was also once a bikini athlete pro. And that is not me. That would be Mariele Landrom. Hi, welcome. Thank you. Did I say your first name, right: Mariele? Dang it. Mariele. See, I’m- your Coach Landrom. Yeah, I know. It’s fine. To me. So I never say Mariele. So Mariele Landrom, I’m excited to have you here. Thanks for having me. Yeah I’ve known you probably a few years now. You coached my daughter. Uh, so few years, yeah. So now I want to know more about your story, just to kind of, uh, let me know a little bit about your, your sports flavor. So what, what athlete would you say is your favorite or most inspirational to watch?
Uh, so of course, track and field is my sport. So I’m going to have to go with Jackie Joyner-Kersee. Um, she is from East St. Louis. I’m from St. Louis. So, um, just being kind of a hometown hero. Um, she was a hipcathlete and so she competed in a lot of different events. And so to me, she was just a woman of, you know, many facets of track and field, not just sprints, but she could do multiple things. So growing up, she was definitely someone, um, that I definitely admired and had an opportunity to actually meet.
Oh, really? Yes. Oh, that’s neat. Yeah. She’s one of those names that, just, is like synonymous with track and field and like, I don’t know. I think I was really young when she was probably out there competing, but I don’t know. I feel like I can just see that, that form. Like, she’s a unique body too, right? Yes. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. So you mentioned track, so it’s a big part of your life. So tell me about what that looked like growing up. Like when did you start getting into track and, and what was your college experience like?
So it’s actually funny. I just, uh, I had a conversation with my dad and he was like, “we didn’t even know you could run.” So it started with Girl Scouts and they had, you know, the badges that you have to earn. So, um, it was called a “Strider’s Badge”. And so during that time, like you had different running events, like long jump and just some different, well, standing broad jump was what I think they called it. Um, and so my dad put me out there and of course I’m like running and he’s like, “Whoa, she’s like really, really fast.” And so that kind of kick-started it. Because he was like, “She has some talent, like, she’s good.” And, um, one of our church members was out there watching and supporting me and they were like, “Hey, let’s get her out in summer track.” And so that’s kind of when my track career started. So I was six years old at the time when I started to run track and it was just kind of a finding that I had a hidden talent and once my dad put me out there on a track, I really fell in love with it. You know, it kind of fit my personality, um, of just being by myself and being out there, you know, just, just running.
Yeah. All right. So you started young then, um, I’m guessing you ran all through high school, cause I know you went to a D1 school to run track.
Yeah. So pretty much after that, um, I ran summer track every year, AIU summer track. And then in middle school we had like a little bit little track team and then obviously in high school, um, I ran track for my high school and then, um, went on to go to Tennessee State University – actually where my dad graduated from. So it was his Alma Mater and, um, I just kinda wanted a different experience. It was HBCU, my, um, coach. She was an Olympian, Chandra Cheeseborough. So just to go to a school with such a rich history of being a Tigerbelle, they have the most Olympians, um, in the USA. So it was pretty awesome to be able to be under her and just take my track and field career to the next level.
Yeah. That’s some serious coaching. Was that your focus in high school or did you do other sports?
So really that was my main focus. It was, it was track. Um, I kind of knew that that was my gift and it came to me. So it was something that always stuck with, um, I did like dance and kind of cheer – played around with that, just to have something else, you know, under my belt. But that was the only sport I really was interested in. I tried other things, um, but track just seem to fit me. Um, soccer probably would have been the only other sport I would have tried, but it was during the same season as track. So I never, I never really had an opportunity to, to really do that. So yeah, it was this track and field my whole life.
So I’m guessing, uh, coaching-wise, you had, it sounds like you had some really like high-level coaching and you were at a school where, like you said, they’re known for putting out Olympians and really high-level athletes. So is that having a coach like, uh, who’d you say- her name is Chandra Cheeseborough. Okay. Having a coach like her, is that, what, what made you want to coach athletes yourself? Or how did you know you wanted to be a coach?
Well, really what made me want to be a coach was just going through my life experiences because part of my story that I’m sure I’ll share, um, with the audience of just being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease made me realize that during some of my most difficult times in life, you know, being an athlete helped me to become the woman that I was. And so I kind of wanted to give back to the next generation because I realized that when we’re running or when you’re playing your sport is not always about competing, but it’s about the characteristics that you are instilling in these young people. And so those character traits I was able to take and carry them into my life of, you know, being committed, staying disciplined, doing things when you don’t want to do it, you know, really working hard and going the extra mile. So all of those things helped me in my life. It’s so much more than running. Exactly. Like people think it’s about the sport, but it’s really not. Like it’s bigger than that.
I think people think that from the outside looking in. You know, it’s easy if you’re sitting on the couch while watching a sport on TV, it’s real easy to think it’s just about this sport. Once you’ve been through it- I’ve never been through it at a high level. Like you have, I get to talk to people who have, but right? But I think once you’ve been through it, you realize you gain way more than just a skill of running or jumping or what, you know, your skills, you gain all of those life experiences. And like you said, I think discipline is probably a huge one in your sport, right?
Yeah, definitely. Because it’s just you versus you, you know? A lot of other sports, you have a team, you have other people that you can depend on, but for track, it was you and you had to take supreme ownership. If I went out there and lost, I lost flat out and you can’t make an excuses; like, time’s no lie. So you can’t be like “the ref cheated,” you know, all of those things that people usually say, you know? Team sports. Yeah, exactly. Like if you run, you run. I mean your times are your times. They have electronics.
And you’re going to make yourself better, not, you know, a great teammate quarterback or a great somebody else. Like you are the only thing that can really push yourself farther.
Exactly. Yes. So that’s what really pushed me to, you know, being a coach just because of what it did for me. And so it was like why I give back to the next generation.
So you mentioned your Crohn’s disease. When did that come into play and how did you know what was going on?
So honestly it took a little while for me to figure it out. So, um, kind of a timeline. So I graduated from college and shortly after that, you know, obviously I kind of went cold-turkey from running track just because, I mean, I had been doing this since I was six years old. So I was like, “I need a break,” or whatever. Um, and so literally I had graduated with my master’s degree, just finished planning a wed- finished, getting married. Um, and then three months later, like I just started experience severe abdomen pain. And that was probably the thing that really pushed me over the age to start like going to the doctor to figure out what was going on. You know, also was very fatigued, will wake up just like extremely tired. And I’m like, “I’m too young for this. Like, I just woke up, why am I tired?”
But you had those life changes, too. So part of you probably questioned your, you know, question yourself.
Trying to figure out, like, if, you know, “Hey, I started a job”- just a lot, you know, all at once or whatever. So, um, then at nighttime I would just break out in night sweats and then it just got to the point where I just had a loss of appetite. And then once I just got to the point where it was like, I was balled up in a fetal position every single night, I was like, “okay, something has to give, I can take a lot of pain,” but this pain was just starting to be unbearable and I couldn’t do anything else. So finally, um, I went to the doctor and obviously they have to run a lot of different tests to figure out like what’s going on or whatever. And to make a long story short, they came back and said, I had an autoimmune disease called Crohn’s.
Had you heard of Crohn’s before? So no. So the first thing I said was like, “what is this?” Um, but the good thing was the doctor that, um, you know, diagnosing me with it, she was like, “I have a sister and she was able to live, you know, a normal life. So you will make it through.” So that was kind of promising for me. But at the same time, it was scary because you think about it. I mean, you go from being healthy- top-notch- yeah, exactly, and or thinking that you’re healthy and all of a sudden, like getting hit with something, this traumatic, it was very huge for me.
So is this something that changed in your body because you stopped running or something changed or had you always had it?
So, I think always had it because when I look back on some of the symptoms- like I had really bad gas, I know I may not be great, but it was silent. It was silent, but deadly and my family, we had to let down a window and we would laugh about it. And I would have times when I would be running, I would need to run to the restroom. But, you know, obviously you just kind of say, “Oh, okay, this is just kinda normal.” But remember, like I said, I had went through so much stress in my life of trying to get married. I got a master’s degree in a year, didn’t work out anymore. So, you know, we don’t really truly understand how important exercise is and how it correlates to relieving that stress until it was over. I just kinda ran because it was what I did, but I didn’t realize the benefits of it at the time. And so I probably had it since I was younger, but because I was an athlete and just kind of press forward, it just kind of kept it under wraps. And then all of a sudden, you just- it exposed itself. Yeah, all those triggers together just made those symptoms come out.
So I don’t know much about it. Um, honestly, you’re the only person I personally know who has it. And I’ve heard that you do things in the community to help raise awareness and raise funds and things for it. So how do you live with it? Like what adjustments do you make in your life to make it, you know, bearable for you?
Um, yeah, absolutely. So just to kind of give you a little bit of background about what Crohn’s disease is. So if you think of autoimmune disease, some people are familiar with like lupus, sickle cell, they have ultra colitis. And so it’s something that you can’t necessarily see from the outside. It’s more of our body attacking itself. So we have inflammation in our body. Some people’s inflammation can be in different parts or whatever with Crohn’s, it just happens. It can be anywhere from your esophagus to your anus. So it just depends on what part of your body is inflamed. Um, and so therefore the body reacts to itself and is trying to fight off or whatever. So that’s kind of what Crohn’s disease is in pretty much for me, I had ended up getting down to 79 pounds, extremely malnourished and almost dying. You’re already a small girl. I was already small, but I got like really, really little.
Weak, I’m guessing weak. You’re small but strong, right? And you have muscle tone and everything. So when you were sick, you were probably like thin and weak.
Yeah. Very. Definitely. For sure. But for some reason I was still fighting, I was still going. Yeah. Um, but after I, um, ended up having a foot-and-a-half of my small intestine removed, that’s kind of when the journey began, because during that process, I learned that I had to advocate for myself. I really started educating myself about Crohn’s disease and just how the body works. Um, I had majored in exercise science, so I was very familiar with, you know, just your body parts and how everything functions. And so it was like now putting this into use into my own body and my own lifestyle. So for me, it was figuring out how to thrive in life, because for probably about two, three-year period, I was just kind of existing trying to fight this disease and just figure it all out, going through, you know, the mental and emotional part of it that really takes you down. Not talking about just the physical, but mentally, you know, um, and you’re never going to get back to- yeah, never get back to normal. Um, and so, um, but my goal was to be, to be normal again. And I was gonna, I was determined to do it. And I started by looking at the foods that I was starting to eat, you know, and what I could do to reduce the inflammation without taking medication long-term because we all know the medication is going to have long long-term side effects, but I didn’t want to be on it long-term.
Nobody wants to be; I don’t want to be medicated long-term. And I know, um, some of the adjustments did you make, did you find that, you know, eating certain foods, red meats and different kinds of foods like that and contributed to more inflammation?
Yeah, definitely. And just how I felt. So I just kept a food journal. Some of the first things that I took out were like the beef, the pork, fried foods. You know, obviously eating out, just cause it’s so greasy. Yeah. Um, spicy foods. Tomatoes bother you? Tomatoes were fine, but I didn’t really like them, so I don’t eat them as much, you know?
Oh, you and Tom Brady, both. I was listening to his food, some food journal him talking about it and he doesn’t eat tomatoes, but that’s what he says: “I don’t really like’em, but I think when you don’t like something, your body is naturally telling you it doesn’t want it.
Right. And so you have to listen to your body. And so that’s what I did. I just kind of kept a little food journal and I started to watch and look at my stool too, you know, because it tells a lot, um, once you put in your body and how you feel, um, and then slowly, you know, I progressed to being like a pescatarian, fish, and I finally just kinda went vegan. So it was just kind of a platform of, you know, figuring out a holistic approach and not just the diet, but the stress, reducing stress. You have to find a way to obviously, um, handle it because we know life is gonna throw many challenges, but stress triggers a lot of these autoimmune diseases as well. And then obviously the exercise will help not only reduce the stress, but you just feel great. You release those endorphins and we know that good health correlates to your mental health. It makes you just feel better all the way around. Yep.
Do you meditate and do things like that?
Yeah, for sure. Meditate in the morning affirmations, all of those things. So that was kind of why I became an advocate. Because like you said, during the process, like my body starts to change and evolve and look even better than I did when I was in college. And then that’s how I ended up getting, uh, started competing into, into the bikini athletic kind of bodybuilding.
Okay, so that’s after you you, you know, reinvented the way you eat?
Yeah, that was, that was after. So that was almost, what, 10 years later. Comeback! Yeah, it was the comeback, but you know, my focus for myself, like I said, was just to get better every single day. And I think back to when I could barely even do a sit-up because mind you, my abs had got cut on. So you talk about them cutting that long incision from about my belly button down- it’s probably about three inches long. So, you know, once they close that incision back up, it had to heal. So it took time. And so for me, you know, you want to go back to being an athlete that you once were, but, you know, I just took it one day at a time and just kept focusing on what the end goal was, which was to just thrive and be healthy again.
Yeah, I think that’s what makes you- I know you’re also a lifestyle coach and wellness coach. I think that’s what makes you good at that. You know, you’ve know how to take it slow so you can take it slow with other people. You’re not one of those people that’s going to just throw somebody into something they’re not ready for on Day 1. It’s like do what you can every day and come back tomorrow and do some more, right? But you’ve pushed me through some workouts and meal plans and things like that. So talk to me a little about, you know, helping other people. And I know you’d like to help people find their superpower, right?
Yeah. For sure. So, you know, when, once you go through and you find your purpose in life, your goal is to help other people find their purpose. And for me, I realized that it was all about the mind, body and soul, once your mindset and your body is together, you’re confident about who you are, then you can truly walk in your, in your purpose. And so, um, that’s what I inspire every single day – is to just help people become the best version of themselves so that they can do whatever it is that they have been called to do, you know, from whether it’s my athletes, that I’m coaching, my clients that I coach, you know, for as far as creating a lifestyle. ‘Cause that’s what we want it to be. We want it to be something that isn’t just temporary, but making it a lifestyle because then you will really see the results that you want. The more you kind of teeter-totter, um, you know, it just, it doesn’t feel great because you’re like, “I know I can do this and I start and stop and it’s just, it can emotionally drain you and you can just get frustrated.
Well, you want it to be a constant way of life. Not, you know, like you said, the draining thing where you stop and start to be healthy. It’s easier to just always be healthy and not be on a specific diet that restraints or restricts certain types of things. Like just always just find the way that your body needs to eat and just eat like that all the time.
Yeah. Just finding that balance and in moderation. You know, people say like, “Well, do you ever eat a piece of cake?” Yeah, I do. You know, but it’s just in moderation, you know? So it’s no, I don’t eat birthday cakes every single day. But when I do one little piece is not gonna, you know, hurt me as bad as it would if I ate it every single day. So yeah, just finding that balance.
And we’ll link to- in the show notes on the post web page, we’ll link to how people can find you, like, online. I know you’re on Instagram and a couple of places, but also it probably helps being married to somebody like your husband. Oh yeah, definitely. So I don’t know, I’m thinking about a year ago, Jamar was here on this podcast and so talk about affirmations and, and his mindset. And so I think you guys get the Fit Couple Award, for sure. Do you guys naturally motivate each other?
So actually Jamar, um, well, I, we both motivate each other, but it’s on a different level, right? I mean, our personalities are totally different, but yet we still have that like competitiveness and like drive to be better, which I think is why it connected us, right? I love to see him, you know, on the football field, do his thing and then, you know, me running. It was just like, you know, we all had our, our different sports, but coming together, we had the same, you know, mindset and, um, you know, I’m grateful for him because we had just gotten married three months after I got diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. So, you know, the characteristics that I saw in this man definitely stood the test of time because you talk about “for sickness or health,” he didn’t know that he was going to marry somebody that was 23 years old, track fbn, then get diagnosed with, um, a life-changing disease.
He talked about that when he was in here with me. He talked about you. And I thought that was really sweet. How, like you said, I mean, you don’t plan for- when you’re, when you’re young and fit and excelling at, you know, high-level sports, you don’t assume your spouse is going to get sick a few months after you get married and things kind of come to a screeching halt for a minute. So it takes a lot to get through that as a couple.
Yep. It does. Yeah. And so of course we went through our challenges. That’s why I said like, when you, when you talk about life, like we went through probably the six quadrants of life and really quick. So mentally, emotionally, spiritually, got tested financially, um, relationally and physically, like all of those components were like tested off-the-bat, but also that’s what made our marriage stronger. We knew that we were like built for this and made for this. ‘Cause we’re like, “Look, if we can endure this, then we can endure anything else that life is gonna throw at us” because of the age we were and we just kept fighting or whatever. So, um, yeah.
I think that athlete mindset helps you guys – helped you back then too. But it helps you now. And it probably helps you with, you know, the kids that you guys raised and that you’re going to keep raising. I know you have, uh, more children on the way, right?
Yes! So excited. Having my first little girls.
And then you also have something else happening soon, right? I think you’re writing a-
Yeah. So I am finishing up my book and just kind of putting the final touches on when, um, the book that I will be putting out just about my story of Crohn’s disease and how I was able to overcome it and thrive in life and just help others to be able to heal after going through something traumatic because this happened over 12 years ago, but it took time for me to heal. So I want to share that story and journey and let people know that we can’t put a time on when you’ll heal. You know, it was just, you just got to keep, keep going. And so I want to inspire the people that regardless of what they look like, or the storm that they’re going through, that they too can overcome and thrive again in life. And so I’m really, really excited to not just help people who are dealing with some similar things, such as Crohn’s disease and ultra colitis, but people that have been through been through something traumatic in their life, but they really know that they’ve been called for a greater purpose and they want to find that purpose and that use that inner strength that got them through that traumatic time to, to walk boldly in their purpose. So I’m really excited about it. Um, yeah. So that’ll be launched in January. We’ll do the pre-launch probably by mid-January. So I’m really excited about that and the lives that will be changed because of that book.
Yeah. I mean, I’ve recently heard you talk about, you know, um, at an event, a little kid coming up to you and finding out through somebody else that you had Crohn’s and she has, and like how it changed her, knowing that there’s somebody that she could look up to, they got through it and it could even talk to her and say, you know, “You’re going to be okay. This is how you have to look at it and wrap your mind around it and be positive and take it day by day and get through it.” So that’s awesome. The book is going to be exciting to help other people get through it like you did.
Yep, absolutely. Absolutely. They don’t have to go through it alone because a lot of times people don’t talk about what they’re going through, but it’s like, you know, “Hey, you have to talk about it because you don’t know who else is going through the same thing that you’re going through.”
And you said, “You can’t see it,” right? This isn’t something that’s obvious when you’re, even when you’re hanging out with people, unless they’re going to talk to you about it. You might not realize that somebody is really struggling with something painful, really physically painful, but just that is disrupting their life. If it’s not something that you see in one of these mainstream things that everybody talks about all the time, like, you know, if you’re, if you have, if you’re going through chemo or something, you can usually see that, or you hear about that, but then there’s people that are going through something that’s quieter in their life. So that’s great that some people will be able to read your story and talk about it. Yes, so excited. Well, I appreciate you taking time to come in here. You’re a busy coach here in Frisco ISD and middle school track coach. And you know, you have a family of your own plus all those kids that you coach and, and lift up every day. So I appreciate you taking time to sit down with me and talk.
Absolutely. Thank you for having me. It was a joy.
Yeah, it was fun. Um, and thank you for listening to this episode of Hustle & Pro. Make sure you subscribe and leave a review wherever you listen to your podcasts and we’ll see you next week.