Sunday, March 22, 2015

Missing the Running Buddy

I don't really like running without my running buddy, but it is necessary from time to time. Yesterday was one of those circumstances... 9 miles with my running club, but my running buddy (awesome friend) was no where to be found! With very good reason though!!!

I have this whole long post about sportsmanship, but it is about the demise of sportsmanship, but based on what I experienced yesterday, I do think it more important to talk about the positive influences first!

I woke up at 7:35 for an 8:00 run with my running club. I debated even going because I literally did not think I had the energy and I didn't want to park very far from the finish of the run. We were advised to arrive early because of a competing event that would take up a big portion of the parking lot, and I woke up AFTER our advised arrival time.

Anyway, I left my house about 8 minutes before 8:00 and made the decision that if I got there and the parking lot was full, I would drive on and try to get my 9 miles in alone, later in the weekend. Lucky (?) for me, there was still parking in the other parking lot, and my group still hadn't headed out for their run... So, needless to say, I sucked up my lack of motivation and went for it, continually telling myself I could turn around at 2 miles, 3 miles, 4 miles... and then why not just make it to 4 1/2 miles, to make the full 9 mile run? And so that is what I did.

I want to start by saying that my good friend and running buddy is responsible for our fuel for long runs. This does not mean she is responsible for buying and providing all fuel, but instead that she brings it every week. Thankfully she forced GU on me when we ran on Thursday night, and so I had some in my car. She is always carrying more than me, and now I see why...

The run was hard, impossible as a matter of fact! So much so, I actually tried walking for a bit at mile 8. If you know me, you know that walking in the middle of a run is recipe for a falling over disaster. I tried anyway, and barely succeeded. I eventually got myself up to a jog again and made my way in to the high school, where I quickly collapsed and hung out on the ground for a few minutes.

In regards to the positive impacts of yesterday though... Our coach was there in the end to get me water and make sure I was OK, typically a task my friend takes care of (but she knows what snacks I like without even asking)... As I was approaching the highschool, two guys from my group gave me a quick high five (they finished before me), another girl from the group turned around and ran the last couple of blocks with me (she likely felt sorry for me cause I looked miserable), and one of my favorite coaches (I don't even know her name) offered me a ride to my car. I say all this because, although I missed my friend terribly on this run because I didn't have the perfect silence from misery, the quick laughs over something stupid, or the intense conversation about vegetable seeds, there were other people who tried to fill that friendly role in her absence! I can only hope they do the same for her next weekend.

None of this means she will ever be off the hook for training with me in the future, but rather recognizes how important my friend and running buddy is to me!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Deal!

Mmm... Cookies!
I like cookies. Do you like cookies? Well, actually, I LOVE cookies. You know what I like more? A good deal... Now, I'm not a big shopper, and try to do it only when I have to, but I can tell you that when I see a good deal, I like to take advantage of it. For instance, if I can buy two cookies for four dollars or ten cookies for eight dollars, I will always choose the 10 cookies... Wouldn't you?

Similarly, If I find an awesome pair of pants that are on sale, and fit well, I'll search for a different color and buy a few pair.

So, when I'm training for an event, and I'm putting in mile after mile, I may as well train for several, don't you think? It is kind of like getting a good deal. Train for a half marathon, but squeeze in a 10 miler and a 5 k while I'm at it? Why not?

First of all, I am a finish line lover, not an addict because I don't need a finish line every weekend, but it certainly feels good when I cross a finish line. But, like with food, there is a threshold in which you quit enjoying Chipotle (or Jimmy John's) because of over consumption, and just need to eat at Panera instead. As I reflect on the one year I did about fifteen events in that year, the finish line started tasting a little like Chipotle.
One of my favorite finish lines.

Well it has been awhile since I have over indulged in 'eventing', and I find myself getting the bug to sign up for a million races. I have some real, and make believe barriers that are keeping me from signing up.

  • The cost of races can be participation prohibitive. I have a cost per mile rule. Basically, I will not pay more than ten dollars per mile for a race, and no more than 150 for any given race. With that being said, even ten, thirty dollar races add up! 
  • Until this past week, the fatigue I have been experiencing has been overwhelming. Basically, to get myself to do anything that would be considered unnecessary was a challenge. For instance, scrubbing the toilet wasn't necessary, so it never got done. And I hate to tell you folks, a deal is not a deal if it is to get you to purchase a cleaning supply, so there are limited resources hanging around my house for that purpose. But notice I did say until this week... For some reason, this week my energy came back. The MS fatigue is gone, and I'm basically back to being the energizer bunny... So maybe it is time to sign up for every race?
  • The garden is something that I have been talking about for a couple of years, and now I have the ability to make it happen, thanks to the most awesome friend! If I want to play in the dirt this summer, I need to give myself some space to plant and tend to the garden! 
  • Injury potential for me is much higher because I favor one side of my body. I favor the right side of my body, because my left side is weaker than my right. I'm working on improving this, but for now, there is a real potential for injury! Because of this, I need to take it slow and recognize that I have temporary limitations that need attention before I over event in 2016?
  • I might not have enough GU! In the spirit of the half marathon training this year, I decided to just dive head first into the world of GU by buying in bulk, it was a deal. What if I run out of GU? Will I be able to continue training?
And so I am sitting here, looking at that list, and none of it really has me convinced that I shouldn't sign up for a few more races, after all, my body will likely be ready since I'm training for a half marathon... AND I feel like I need to take advantage of this deal!

What would you do?

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Merger

I was trying very hard to keep my two blogs separate. I honestly did not want to turn my athletic blog into something that it wasn't, a focus on multiple sclerosis, but I'm learning that the only way I can share my current athletic story is by acknowledging that having MS has impacted my athleticism. So, any good merger requires a name change. I had a ton of wacky names run through my head... Well actually only one; I was thinking of calling my blog the clumsy athlete, and then my friend put me in check, and so the name which was carefully selected over several hours of discussion... OK, OK, so it was a three text, text exchange... 'The Determined Athlete' was born.

As I move forward, I will be posting about the determination is takes to tackle various athletic pursuits. I will also cover topics related to multiple sclerosis, because it is important, at least to me!

So, why waste time... Let's just dive in!

The next few posts are already in process. Get ready to read about safe spaces, Grey's Anatomy, my numb foot, and the new MS exercise class I attend! The adventures and stories are endless, some more exciting than others, but all worth processing by this 'Determined Athlete'!!!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Athletes Have MS?

Two of my three favorite sisters!
If you know anything about MS, you know that it is a progressive disease that attacks the nervous
system causing physical and cognitive challenges to people who are impacted by the disease, and so it may be a surprise to you that there are MANY athletes who have MS. Here is a short list:

Stan Belinda - Former MLB player, played for two years post diagnosis.

Josh Harding - NHL Player, has his best of his career one year after being diagnosed.

Lori Schneider - Mountaineer, first person with MS to successfully climb Everest.

Chris Wright - MBA player, who currently plays basketball professionally in France.
Kelly Sutton - NASCAR driver, and was diagnosed when she was sixteen.

Demitrius Omphroy- Soccor player and star of a Justin Beiber video.

Kayla Montgomery - A high schooler diagnosed and then joined the track team. Click on her name, watch the video.

And my favorite?

Sarah (Me) of course - Former couch rider with a discovered passion of slow running and triathlons.

All ten of my readers already know my story, and so why tell it again? Well, actually I'm not going to, Instead I'm going to tell you a story of how MS has impacted me as an athlete.

Pre MS diagnosis I hid the challenges that I faced because I literally thought I was crazy. Before I was diagnosed with MS, I hightailed it to my car after a run because it was easier to sit in my car and think I was crazy, rather than hang around with newish friends and try to hide that I was crazy.

You see, I always got weak after I ran but never understood why. Fast forward some time, get diagnosed with MS, do a half iron man a couple days later, and then fall into the realization that I had this disease. I am an athlete and I will not let anyone take that away from me. Sure I'm a slow runner, but no one ever said I had to be fast.

I spend hours on the bike paths of Columbus knowing that at any given time I might start dragging my left foot, knowing that I might stumble a lot after I run, knowing that I might simply collapse after I run, but I still do it. I am an athlete.

You see, my biggest problem with MS is that my toes are perpetually numb, along with my arm and my tongue. If you catch me when I'm tired, or after ONE beer, I may sound like and appear to be a very drunk person, slurred speech and all. But again, I am an athlete.

I have days where concentrating is impossible. I'm like a kid with the most severe case of ADD. Seriously, we can be having a conversation about flowers and next thing you know I'm on to philosophizing the name of objects. Or I might literally forget what I am talking about mid-sentence or even what I am doing mid task. My favorite cartoon had the caption: "I have a new skill, forgetting what I am doing while I'm doing it." Despite this, I am an athlete!

Me and said best friend celebrating 175 miles over two days!
Some people may ask why I keep putting the strain on my body and my response is this: The more active I am now, the better I will feel in the future. Running relieves the stress from the emotional impact of knowing that I have a disease that could progress. AFTER a run, my brain processes information better, during is a different story... Seriously, don't ask me to add zero and zero while running because I might tell you it totals nine. One of the most important reasons I run is that I get to spend several days a week with my best friend literally running around Columbus (over the summer the bike is thrown in to). And the most important reason I do all of this exercise despite having MS? Because I am an athlete!

Because I Can

I'm about to say something sacrilegious if you knew where I work... Good thing I keep my work life separate from my blog? Perhaps... But I've never been into awareness weeks, or months. Why? Because the day/week/month comes and goes, and very few remember it.

I'm assuming most of you are totally unaware that this is MS awareness month/week depending on what source you are looking at... which perfectly illustrates why these awareness periods don't excite me, since we can't even agree on whether it is a month or a week!!!

Here's the thing, I get down on these weeks and then I remember the ice bucket challenge that tore through all social media news feed for weeks. Basically that was one guy making one statement and not realizing the impact it would have to raise awareness for ALS. I honestly don't think anyone was expecting the world to take it by storm in such a way. I watched people's reactions to this challenge and simply chuckled. Some people were angry that their cause didn't get quite the attention, some people were annoyed that their news feed on facebook was clogged with hilarious videos of their parents dumping buckets over their heads, some people laughed hysterically when Bill Gates created an ALS ice bucket contraption to spill water over his body... You know what? Regardless of the reaction that people had regarding the challenge, it got everyone's attention and now more people are aware of the struggles people face day to day as a result of ALS.

I often wonder why I am not so clever. I mean really... had I thought of dumping a bucket of water over my head because I have MS and want to raise awareness, perhaps the MS society may have realized similar increases in funding. The reality is that I am not so clever and so, instead I write my blog post for my five readers... And knowing that I may have raised awareness of one is enough for me...

So why does MS awareness really matter to me? Well quite honestly, it is because of the people who are more impacted than myself. It was so hard for me, being a person with MS, to watch the women and men who came out to cheer on the riders at Pedal 2 the Point last year. It was hard to watch them in their wheelchairs, with their canes, walkers, even the other riders who were wearing their 'I ride with MS' jerseys, and not wish away their struggle. Going from perfectly abled to less so has to be a trip, and not one of leisure.

So here are the stats, totally unsited, but out there to find if you like google:

- Approximately 500,000 people in the US live with Multiple Sclerosis. Amazingly, I have two cousins with MS and an old friend from girl scouts living with MS. Those are the only people I know personally with the disease.
- MS drugs rank near the top of specialty drug costs for employers. Shhh... don't tell my employer this!
- The average cost for an MS patient a year, in medical expenses, is $30,000. Now, don't be freaked out by this, as you have to consider the more severe cases skew that dollar amount upwards fairly significantly (thank goodness, that could really make me poor, not just broke).
- MS ranks second to congestive heart failure as it relates to costliness.
- My siblings have a 1-3% chance of developing MS, which is why I tell them to spend some time in the sun!
- Vitamin D deficiency is a common problem with most people who have MS. Unfortunately, I am so fair skinned, being out in the sun is not an option for replenishing my vitamin D stores, but vitamins are!

I could go on with the statistics for awhile, but I'll stop there since I have no interest in siting all of these sources. I think what I am trying to illustrate is that MS is expensive, and really anyone can have the disease.

Now, I'm not going to go and dump a bucket of water on myself, or jump out of an airplane to raise awareness... Instead, I am going to ask all of my readers to take a moment and talk to someone you know about MS. If I am the only exposure you have had to this disease, then go ahead and share my story. My elevator speech would go something like this:

I'm a 35 year old woman living with MS. I'm lucky because I can still do everything I love to do, although I may not feel my toes while doing it! I want to continue doing what I love (running, swimming, cycling), and currently there is no guarantee as MS progresses differently for everyone and there is no cure. I don't feel sorry for myself (most of the time), and I will continue to challenge myself physically and mentally. I want to find a cure, but not for myself, rather for the thousands of people who are not as lucky with me. Tomorrow, I will go out and run a few miles, and dedicate those miles to every person I know (and don't know) who has MS. Why you ask? Because I can!