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The Hardest Thing I have Ever Done

It is quiet.  The air is still. I hear a soft pounding in my chest and my feet on the asphalt.  My heart reminds me of the task at hand: kee...

Friday, August 30, 2013

Let's Not Forget Why I Do This

As promised, I am back to talk about that person I kept in mind while I ran my leisurely 13.1 miles last weekend.  I have to say that for the most part, I was preoccupied by the running companionship of Carla Deshaw and, therefore, did not spend the entire race contemplating my muse de jour.  Carla has become a good friend of mine over these past 18 months or so.  But I digress.  This isn't about Carla.  Other blog entries will permit me more time to discuss her.  No, this one is about my sister.

I have two sisters.  Both strong and amazing women, good friends, bold mothers, ethical to their cores.  My sister Kim and I have shared a very special bond over the years.  We were the middle children in a family with four kids.  We grew up together, just one year apart.  We shared a bedroom and secrets and wishes.  She told me about changes and boys and all the things my mom's catholic upbringing avoided.  Among other firsts, I smoked my first cigarette with Kim.  In fact, it was in quitting smoking years later that I found my love for running.  Ironically, I know now there is also research that links MS and smoking.  I have not smoked now for nearly 9 years.  Kim quits smoking from time to time too, but never for anything longer than a few years.  She is ashamed of it, beats herself up about, hides her habit from the rest of us.  I don't like that she smokes, but I feel like the shame she experiences about it actually prevents her from quitting.  So, I try to act like I'm cool with it.  Secretly, I run my next run for her, as if my efforts might somehow bank some credit into the universe for strength for her to quit, or at least to let go of her shame. 

When she was in middle school, Kim ran track and cross country.  She was small and light and fast.  She could run long distances without seeming to tire.  I envied her, being big and clumsy myself.  Sometimes, I would actually try to run.  I had heard that running brought a unique feeling of freedom and autonomy, something I surely longed for in my youth.  I could never achieve those feelings then.  In fact, on the longer distances in my 8th grade year I often snuck off to hide in the bushes and light up a cigarette, instead of making the effort to complete the distance with any consistency.  Then, when I was 17 years old, my sister and I were in a very bad car accident.  Not wearing a seat belt, she had been thrown against the windshield, smashing her ribs on the steering column and puncturing a lung.  Over the next several weeks, she was in and out of various hospitals.  It was a frightening time for our family.  But all she wanted to do each time she was released from a hospital was smoke.  Insidious addictions seem to run rampant in my family.

Fast forward some 25 years, and there I was at mile eleven.  My friend Carla, who had told me around mile nine to keep up on my pace and not worry about her, had suddenly had her own second wind and went flying by me.  I cheered for her, knowing I could not catch up with her.  I envied her.  I watched her get farther and farther ahead of me.  Then I settled into this thought about how I learn so much from the women in my life, those with me briefly--a mere 18 months so far-- and those who had been there from the moment of my birth waiting to help me unlock the secrets of the world.  And I remembered my last blog and how I had been thinking about Kim. 

Yes, she is hard on herself just like I am.  Maybe even more so.  Actually, yes, more.  And so I brought her into my last two miles to have her along for the ride, transmitting my hope into the universe for her.  She saved my life almost 14 years ago (which is another story as well) and so I owe her everything.  If I would not have survived, my daughters would not be on this planet, my husband would have completely different circumstances in his life, and surely much, much more would have not come to be.  She has had a profound influence on my being.  If I could magically give her those last two miles, make her see the beautiful, wonderful, strong person that I see in her, then maybe she could lighten up no herself just a tiny bit.

My daughters met me at the finish line and ran across with me.  We held hands and smiled and carried with us hope and love.  And this race was for my sister, for their aunt, for the strong and amazing woman I have looked up to my entire life.  Of course it was.

Thank you Kim.  I couldn't have done any of it without you.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Eugene Women's Half

I always do this.  I always think about who this next big run is for.  In the past, I have ran for my husband, my children, the group of MS supporters in my home town who continue to host a team in my name there each year during the annual MS walk.  Heck, I have even dedicated one of these long thing-a-ma-bops to myself.  Why not?

This year, though, I have a different feeling on the eve of another big run.  This year, I am met with the same gratitude that I usually am, to be this far along in training and feeling semi-okay about the day tomorrow.  The usual trepidation is here, sure, but there is also something else.  My MRI last year showed a new lesion, and I panicked.  This year, I learned in the most recent MRI that the lesion they saw last year could have been there as long as eight years ago. Back, forth, back forth...etc.  My stress did not affect the outcome. 

So, I got back on the horse, so to speak.  But I have done things differently.  I have given myself the ability to go slower, not pushing myself like I once did.  I have taken the liberty of going easy, enjoying the process, rather than chiding myself for not being faster/thinner/more elite (ha!)  And in this, I have arrived at this moment in better mental shape than I have for past runs.

So, if I were going to say that tomorrow is "for" someone, I guess I want to pick someone who I think could also use a little lenience on herself/himself.  Yes, I would think that if I need a little push tomorrow when I think of who is along for the ride, or inspiration, I might keep someone like this in mind. 

And I have someone in mind, too.  But let's see how the run goes.


Thursday, August 1, 2013

2013 MS Walk in San Deigo

I just want to shout out to all the friends and family who came out for the walk in SD.  We raised a ton of money and it was super fun!  The name of our team was BEE-Cause.

I left the finger in the shot as an homage to the man who volunteered to take it for us.

From left to right: Mike, Kim, Simon, Alan!, Emily, Terry, Dave, me, Dad, Annie, Brian, Sue (Annie's mom and the Patron Saint of Smiles), Aunt Joey, Samantha, Josh
Down in front: Olivia, Ryan, Morgan (#42), Gabriella, Veronica and Ziggy (front and center)

I learned a lot that day, too:  there are so many new medications that I might never have to give myself an injection again! That Starbucks is on that route.   And I learned that 5K seems like a much shorter distance in San Diego.

Love this team!  So glad to have them in my corner and in my life!!

Up, Up and AWAY!

Looking at the schedule for the fall, I decided I would only complete two Half Marathons this year.  I was not prepared for the Coburg Half, due to my lack of training while in Arizona.  But after I started back up with my group, and with a little encouragement from long-time running companion Stephanie Grey, (not to mention my recent MS prognosis) I started looking at Half Runs on the trail circuit. 

Our goal was to get in on the ever-gaining-in-popularity Silver Falls Marathon and Half.  That sucker sold out in 10 minutes this morning!  So, we started looking at other options and found a great one!  The Sister's Happy Girl Half.  The race is also on November 2, so it's KISMET!  After registering, I looked at the course (I know, I know...not the other way around).  Their website boasts the trail is "express."  By that they mean [the] "... half marathon is an express race, meaning that participants enjoy a mostly downhill course and speedy running times."  Also, it's all girls, which I find super empowering! 

Here's the logo:
So, here we go!!  Women's Half in Eugene August 25th, Sisters Happy Girl Trail Half Marathon on November 2, and EWEB's Run To Stay Warm on November 24.  By the way, registration is open for all of these runs so get on it!

Now, about that prognosis that goes without mention, I think I'll mention something of it.  As my readers know, my MS was (mostly) the inspiring factor in my distance running.  The prognosis from Doc. L. is only good.  In fact, there is a chance that the new lesions that showed up in last year's scan might only be the result of a better scan, and that they may have been there from the first scan.  This year I want back to the old-school MRI (in the tube not the pancake) and they showed evidence of scarring in my brain that looked very similar to scarring that showed up 8 years ago, also in the old-school style MRI machine.  Doc. L. said this could likely mean that the lesions that showed up last year have actually been there all along and we just seemed to catch them at a visible angle.  Weird, hu?  Well, considering that I have been very fortunate in my exacerbation history, I think that this is SUPER good news.  In fact, it is such good news that I celebrated with a run!

More good news on the physical front, I ran a nice 4.15 mile run with Carla DeShaw the other day.  We chatted and paced moderate to slow.  When I finished the run, I felt like I could do it all over again.  In fact, I ran another 3 miles with Stephanie that same evening (not as strong but mostly because it was HOT!)

My point is, I'm back!  Not just in Oregon and not just in my running shoes.  I'm back in the mind set that I can do this!  And I can, too.  This is what you have all been telling me.

Okay, now I gotta run.

I'm on my way to Eugene Running Company for a new pair of Asics.  My old pair has too many miles on them and the new one is about to...