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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...

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Hood To Coast 2017!

Our team got in via lottery for the Hood To Coast next summer!  I am so excited.  This is the first race in a long while that I am really looking forward to training for and putting my best effort forward.  I even thought about doing a little essay work around the event, sort of chronical it for posterity.  Lots of people have written about the Hood To Coast, but our team is unique.  More to come, definitely! #JoesTeamRunsThisState

Friday, August 26, 2016

When I Am Feeling Nagative

I never want to write when I am feeling negative about my MS or my running, which should explain the lack of posts these many months.  I have been prone to tripping, forgetful, fatigued; my restless legs rule me at night. Did I mention my short attention span? I joked with a friend this week about having ADHD so bad that I could only call it AD...

Monday, April 18, 2016

Some Runs Have All The Fun

I recently ran the Hot Springs Trail Run along the McKenzie River Trail.  What a great event!  I want to give a big shout out to the people who organized and operated the event, especially Bella with Pink Buffalo Racing (our personal chauffer to the start line).  This 18 mile (30K) jaunt along the beautiful McKenzie River was the highlight of my spring, and also my long run for the season. 

I ran it with my good running friend Shelli Lisenby Clemo.  Actually, the story of how I came to run in this particular event is to the credit of Shelli alone.  She had a friend who had registered to run with her but then experienced a scheduling conflict.  Knowing how much I love to run up that way Shelli asked if I would like to take over the vacancy.  The race directors approved and viola! I found myself happily jogging along that spectacular stretch of trail in some of the prettiest wilderness this country knows, next to Shelli and her cousin Wendy.  But I digress...

The route started at Carmen reservoir and then climbed up the waterfall trail for about a mile.  We ran past Koosah Falls and then Sahalie Falls before crossing the river feed and descending along the same falls.  There was snow on the ground but not nearly as much as we had seen on our preview run two weeks earlier.  We laughed and joked and had great conversation along the way. 

The first aid station was back at Carmen and we snacked up.  I left my jacket (already warm) and we continued on.  This section is relatively flat but still with some technical roots and rocks here and there, not nearly as technical as the first stretch along the falls.  Still, around Tomolich (or Blue Pool) the lava is so staggering that running a consistent pace is virtually impossible.  By the time we reached the next aid station, Wendy decided she wanted to take a little more time along the route so Shelli and I pressed on.  We were bid adieu and good luck by aid station volunteer Ron Stone, another running friend who supported me last year on the MRTR during several training runs. Congrats were given to Ron who had lotteried in for the MRTR this year. 

The stretch after Trailbridge seemed pretty hot to me and I found myself calculating distances in my wandering thoughts.  I also found myself walking intervals more frequently than I had in quite some time.  I knew I was having iron issues in my blood counts but I pressed on.  By the time we reached the next aid station, I suggested that Shelli continue on without me.  By Buckbridge, I joked that I would not finish, but of course I would.  I was being dramatic with the aid station volunteer and we joked about my over-the-top exhaustion.  He asked if I wanted to get swept to which I replied, "How long is the wait?" And then off I went.

Meandering through the flat section before Belknap, I recalled my condition during the MRTR the previous summer.  I was so grateful that I was not feeling nearly that fatigued and so I knew that I would finish and still feel pretty good after crossing in.  During the MRTR, this particular portion of the trail had my eyes crossed and my breathing labored, but during the Hot Springs, I felt great coming into the finish.  There are a few things that I attribute to this: 1) the distance was better suited for me at 30K rather than 50K, 2) the heat factor was not quite as hot as it had been the prior September, and 3) I had more confidence and more experience on trails than the year before.  All of these factors paid off in a strong finish and an easy recovery.

So, that's my Hot Springs run.  Will I do it next year? Yes, I certainly will.

Shelli, Wendy, Rhonda at the start of the Hot Spring Trail Run

Wendy, Rhonda, Shelli somewhere in the middle of the run (still having fun!)

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Letter to my Family About MS . . .10 Years Ago

I live pretty far away from my closest relatives, not counting my kids and Dave (oh, but not discounting them either!)  It's strange how differently we each "tell" people about our MS diagnosis.  I chose email.  Here's what I said when I was diagnosed in 2006, almost 10 years ago to the date. . .

Dear Family,

I wish that I could be with you in person to tell you this news.  And I regret that this comes in email rather than by phone call—I have reasons for using this method to inform everyone and I will tell you why in just a minute.  I’ll just get to it:  I have MS (Multiple Sclerosis).  We got the results yesterday confirmed.  It is in my spine as well as in my brain...and it sounds a lot worse than it actually is.

The reason why I am sending this out to you in this manner is because I don’t think I can handle any overreacting.  This is not to say that anyone would, but I have to avoid any extra stress on this one.  What I really need to ask for is support in ways that are helpful and this is the best way that I could think of asking without getting too emotional.

As you can imagine, this news has been upsetting for me and I am hopeful that you can all help me out by easing into this with me.  I am going to ask that everyone become a little more informed about the disease *BEFORE* you talk with me about it.  I can start you out by saying that this is *NOT* a life threatening disease.  It IS life altering and Dave and I are doing our best here to come to terms with that. 

The other thing is that drugs are available to help to slow the progression of the disease enabling people with MS to live long and relatively regular lives.  These drugs are taken intravenously and this will continue for the length of my life or until a cure is found or a different type of treatment is developed (everything that I have read says that they are hopeful to develop a pill soon).  There are two different types of drugs.  One is intramuscular and is taken once a week but with a long needle.  The other is subcutaneous (like a diabetic shot) and is taken once a day.  I have not decided between the two because I will not be able to start taking the drugs until after I am done breast feeding the girls and after my spinal tap (both should happen in August). So, I have time to think about it.

There’s lots of information available—I am only now starting to learn as well.  Here’s a place where you can read more about this disease:

So, there it is.  I don’t know what else to say.  Hopefully we can all get through this together.  Thanks for reading and for taking the time to find out more about it.  My doctor said yesterday that often the hardest thing about the disease is living with the diagnosis.  It is my hope that we can help each other to come to terms with this together.



. . . Less than a decade ago, the options for treatment were what I described above.  Now, not only are there many more choices (including a pill, a patch, crazy bee sting therapy!) but there is also a vast number of people diagnosed who are not on disease modifying medications at all.  Instead, they have altered their lifestyles, activity levels, diets and stress management; I am one of these.  I did take injections for four year and they made me very sick.  When I was taken off of the drugs, I ran a half marathon and I have been running more and more since.

Ten years ago very few blogs existed, let alone those on personal experiences of MS.  Now, there are blogs, books, movies, websites, photo collections, stories, all evidence that a large number of us diagnosed with this disease are thriving, living well, dispelling the old ideas about this illness. 

There are also more athletes with MS.  I am one of them.

A cure is on the horizon. 



Monday, February 22, 2016

Not Tired

I have to stop myself from making comparisons on my times from day to day and also from year to year.  A year ago, I was pacing in the nine minute per mile range with regularity.  Yesterday, I was lucky to stay below 11 minutes per mile.  As I ran, I kept telling myself that I was not tired, but the truth was faster than my mind-over-matter tricks.  I was running tired. 

Multiple Sclerosis has a laundry list of symptoms that can vary greatly from person to person, but one symptom that seems universal is fatigue.  Each time I feel suppressed, bogged down, even listless during a run, I find myself thinking it must be because of my MS. It's no longer a surprise to me that I often attribute such fatigue to my MS.  But one thing that was surprising during my run yesterday came from one of our newer running team members, Sean.

Sean commented on my complaining of the fatigue after the end of a seven mile run.  He patiently listened to me and then said "remember, you're coming off of an injury." 

Hm! He was right, you know.  And it never even occurred to me to consider my ITB injury as a factor in my fatigue.

Lesson learned: I am too quick retreat into my disease.  Instead of going there, I should either reflect on all of the possible contributors that change in pace, or else just not think about it at all.  Instead, I should enjoy the fact that I can still go out and put down seven miles on a cool Sunday morning with people who will remind me that I still can. 

Thanks Sean!