Category Archives: Photos

The things you forget in just one year

I’m doing some decluttering in my bedroom and I came across some gifts my kids made for me last year for Mother’s Day. You just can’t make this stuff up. Priceless.

Luke made a bunch of coupons for me and the one on top says he’ll make dinner for the whole family. “Even your vegan stuff.” Nice.

In this next one Natalie says I’m smart because I correct her grammar. Maybe. Or maybe that just makes me a major jackwad. Nobody likes a know-it-all, Right?

This last one really warms my heart. She says I crochet the softest cuddliest blankets ever! I tend to agree, and I hope all my nieces and nephews agree, because I’m working on making one for each and every one of them. The whole entire bunch! (see what I did there? Redundancy.)

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Mason 5k 2019

So Friday night was just us girls, as the boys had a baseball tournament (post to follow). It was Staci (pictured above, left), me, and my daughter, Natalie. She will kill me when she finds out I posted the picture below, with her goofy smile and scraggly teeth.

Now when we got to the race Natalie decided to be a major grump because she was going to have to wait for us to finish running, and she had no friends there (so she thought) and she couldn’t even partake in the bounce house because she was too big (so she said). I refused to let her attitude frustrate me, and I told her that she could be grumpy, as long as she stayed nearby so I could find her after the race. (This was a small town race and we knew a lot of the people there so I wasn’t worried with leaving her alone.)

I told her that as soon as the race started they would be setting up a snack table at the finish line for the runners, and that she was welcome to grab a snack while she waited. This perked her up quite a bit. Then, she asked me if she could run with me at the end, and I explained she could watch for me near the finish line, and when she saw me coming up the hill, she could join me in crossing the finish line. Then Staci asked her if she wanted to run the race, because it was probably still early enough to sign her up. And guess what? She said YES, she wanted to run it! I couldn’t believe it! So we rushed over and got her a bib.

My original plan with this race was to shoot for a new PR, but when Natalie decided she was running, I thought for sure she would poop out like she did with the one mile run two years ago. But I was just so thrilled she was running with us that I gave that up. I would walk if she needed to, just so we could stay together.

And then as we were waiting for the countdown, Natalie saw that a friend of hers was running, so they paired up. We counted down, the gun went off, and so did Natalie and her friend! They left us in the dust. I saw her one more time at the turnaround, and then again at the finish. She was smiling the biggest smile, and waving her medal proudly. She was a 5k finisher.

I did beat my original PR, which is exciting, but it paled in comparison to Natalie’s achievement. She turned her attitude around and stepped out of her comfort zone. She didn’t know if she would be able to run the whole way, let alone run it in 34:32! Not bad for a beginner. The best news is that she had such a great time, she says she wants to run another 5k in the future, perhaps with her brother and me! This one proud momma right here.

My 8ish mile run. Ish.

Today I ran/walked almost 8 miles. I had a successful 8 mile run last week but this one didn’t go so well.

The first 4 miles were fine. Around 5 or 6 my left knee started hurting. I’m not sure why it does this, or whether I should get a knee brace or bother seeing the orthopedic surgeon again. When this happens I generally push through the pain until it gets too unbearable, and then I walk for awhile to give it rest. I need to be careful with it so I don’t end up with permanent damage.

Around mile 7 my left leg just completely gave out on me. With no warning, as soon as I put weight on that leg it collapsed. Thankfully, or miraculously, I was able to catch my balance. So I didn’t fall, but I was nervous to keep running. I pretty much walked the rest of the way home, with short bursts of jogging tiny, careful steps every now and then.

The last mile though, was all walking. Walking, and telling myself this was not a failure, because im doing the work. I’m not a slacker, right Bob? This is just part of my training process, and when my body is telling me I’m pushing it too hard, sometimes I need to listen. Today was definitely one of those times. So training is going well, I guess.

I was chatting with one of my infusion nurses yesterday and she told me she wanted to start running, but wasn’t sure how to go about it. I shared with her that I started really slowly, and had great success with the Couch to 5k program. I encouraged her to just start, and keep moving a little farther each time. It’s a slow progression but if you stick with it and keep your eye on your goal, you can do it!

I still really love running and I love that it brings people together who maybe wouldn’t normally have anything in common. It’s been such a great thing and I hope I never have to give it up!

20th Anniversary Trip

Today is our official anniversary! I woke up this morning and Mike said to me “you know what today is?” And I kid you not, I said “uuum, Wednesday?” Because I legitimately drew a blank when it came to the day. We celebrated last weekend so in my mind, I had already moved on.

So just a little about our trip. We went to Traverse City because that’s where we honeymooned. Twenty years ago we stayed in what was then my grandpa’s future retirement home on Old Mission Peninsula. He and my grandma built the house intending to retire there some day, but my grandma passed away from breast cancer before they could realize their dream. Grandpa since sold the property, and the new owners tore down the house and built something bigger and more extravagant. (They kept the garage though!) We were able to snap a selfie with the house in the background, but we didn’t dare step too far onto the property for fear they would see us and think we were a couple of creepers. (I don’t know what a creeper is, I’m just making that a term.)

Revisiting the site of our honeymoon, 20 years later.

I mentioned that my grandma passed away from breast cancer. She was someone very special to all of us, and I miss her dearly. We had a special connection, but I feel like she had a bit of a special connection with all of us in the family. She had a magical way of making you feel like you were the most important person in the room. She truly loved her family, and gave her heart and soul to each of us, every second she had the opportunity. I was in high school when she passed away and I always wished she could have met Mike. I feel like they would have gotten along well. He would have loved her spunk. Anyway, so I was able to visit her grave stone, and kind of say a little hello and let her know I still miss her. It’s kind of sad but kind of sweet that she and grandpa will be together again – “retired” – on the peninsula. Sort of like they planned, but not really. 

The entire weekend was very relaxing. We are a no frills kind of couple. Not much for romance. We just enjoy each other’s company and I suppose that’s how we’ve lasted this long. It was extremely refreshing to be able to have an entire weekend together, just the two of us. We ate good food, we saw beautiful sights, we took seriously solid naps, and we caught a beautiful sunrise over the West Bay. It was better than I could have hoped for, and I hope we don’t wait another 20 years to take another trip together.

Just goofing off at the playground like a couple of kids

Mike, I love you. You make me laugh, you make me cry, you make me stronger. These last 20 years have been quite a ride, but I wouldn’t have wanted to spend them with anyone else. You are my perfect partner in life, and I look forward to the next 20 years.

Sunrise over the West Bay. Traverse City, MI

Gazelle Girl 10k 2019

I’ll be honest, I’m not even sure where to start with this post. I had a lot of thoughts running through my head throughout the race and these couple days following.

I’ll start by setting the stage for this 10k race. It was cold and rainy, and by the end, snowy. Michigan weather at its finest. We had been watching the forecast so we knew what we were getting into, and none of us were swayed. We were committed to completing this race, no matter the weather.

I should back up. By “we” I mean myself, a friend from church, and two other friends of hers. So you could say this was kind of out of my comfort zone. I had asked Chris, my church friend, if I could tag along because it was an all female race, and it looked like a lot of fun. It was out of town and they already had plans to stay at a hotel the previous night and they welcomed me with open arms. The comradery among runners is incredible. I’m fairly new to running compared to a lot of others, but throughout this whole experience I was never tempted to feel like an outsider.

The race itself started out pretty smoothly. I was feeling strong and confident for the first few miles. However, about halfway through I was noticing my left foot dragging quite a bit. This “foot drop” is one of the symptoms of my MS. Running doesn’t cause new symptoms, but it can aggravate old nerve damage. I have been training for my half marathon this coming fall, and have done plenty of long runs with almost no foot drop, so the fact that it was happening so soon was disheartening. Maybe I was just being more affected because of the excitement and nerves for the race, I don’t know.

My friend Chris had agreed to run with me for the entire race, to be sure I was safe. She did a fabulous job pointing out all the potholes and manhole covers, and steering me away from other obstacles. Throughout the race I did not trip even one time! However, I would not have finished this race without her assistance.

I think it was around the end of mile 4 I was having serious trouble keeping my foot from dragging. I was also experiencing some side and shoulder pain, but I was afraid to slow down and walk. My balance is better when I’m running. Something about the motion, I guess. I have another friend with MS who says the same thing about running. Walking requires a different movement and different nerves, I suppose. I told Chris what I was experiencing and she urged me to walk to give my body a rest, and use her arm for balance. At this point I was pretty discouraged and frustrated with what was going on with my body. I had not expected this to happen so soon. When Chris explained to me that my pace at the beginning of the race was much faster than I had been training at, it all made sense. I had been training between a 14 and 15 minute mile, but I had been running closer to 12! So clearly I had made a mistake, and I was paying the consequences.

I tell myself I don’t care about times and personal records, but that’s a big fat lie. I do care. I am always competing with myself, and I feel a great sense of pride when I am able to see my pace improve. The problem is, I want it to happen sooner than is realistic. So now thanks to my prideful denial of my physical abilities, I hobbled the last two miles of the race mostly hanging for dear life on Chris’ arm. I felt ashamed, defeated. My ugly pride had taken a hit. I started off too fast and it hurt me in the end. This felt a lot like failure, because I feel like I should have known better.

But listen – this was NOT failure. I finished the race! And with a PR to boot! So I made it more challenging for myself by starting too fast, and I had to lean on a friend to accomplish my goal of finishing. So what? Can we all agree there’s nothing wrong with that? We all have challenges in our lives, and very often we have to lean on our friends for help. Friendships enrich our lives, make us stronger, make us better. This is good!

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 ESV “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.”

There was a point in the race that I was feeling particularly angry. Not angry at myself, but angry at the multiple sclerosis that makes things so difficult. On most days I am able to function like a normal person and can almost forget I have this affliction. But then you run 6.2 miles and you are reminded. And that sucks, Big Time. So yes, I was angry. But then I was reminded that I hated running for most of my life. I didn’t start running until 2015, six years after I was diagnosed with MS. I run because I have MS. To show myself and others that it’s possible. MS doesn’t have to mean life in a wheelchair. This is what I believed when they first diagnosed me, and I know now that’s not the case.

I watched the following day as Worknesh Degefa dominated the Women’s Elite Race in the Boston Marathon. She ran the last 20 miles alone. Way ahead of the pack. Yes, it was cool that she was in the lead, but what was even cooler was that she was doing her thing. It didn’t seem to bother her one bit that she was surrounded by absolutely no one. The mental fortitude that must have taken is something I aspire to. If I can run these races and just zone out Degefa-style, then perhaps I can keep a steady pace and finish strong.

So I learned a few lessons with this race. I learned that you can’t rush the process. You have to pace yourself, and that requires patience and humility. There may be people zooming by you, but pay no attention. As Chris encouraged me I think during mile six – “you do you”. Forget about the other runners. Just keep moving toward the finish line. You’ll get there. Lesson #2: You want to change your pace? Do it in training. Don’t switch that up during a race. Sorry, I don’t know how that applies to life. It might pretty much just be applicable to running 😉 And lesson #3 was that friendships are invaluable gifts and not to be taken lightly.

My dad was able to join us to spectate this race, and it meant a lot to have family there rooting me on. He called me the following day and asked how I was feeling. He specifically asked if I was still planning on running a half marathon and I answered without hesitation – YES. No question. At this point in time I have no idea how I’ll physically manage it, but I’m choosing to trust in the training process. Four years ago I was barely walking, three years ago I ran my first 5k, and just 6 months ago I ran my first 10k. This body just keeps getting stronger. The more I push, little by little, the farther I can go. I don’t know how far MS will let me go with this running stuff, but I’m gonna keep pushing the line until she forces me to stop. And with God’s grace, I have hope that day will never come.



Half Marathon training has officially begun!

Me, wearing a balaclava on my head, standing in an open field covered in snow.

My current running goal is to complete a half marathon. I have one picked out for September 22, and based on my fitness level my Runkeeper app tells me my training should start… two days ago. But better late than never, right? Today I jogged a sluggish 3 miles. Three laps around the neighborhood. The sun was out, the wind was friendly enough, and I was feeling pretty solid.

Until I tripped on a crack in the sidewalk on that third lap. Peed my pants a little, but I caught myself! And the near fall seemed to boost my adrenaline, giving me the oomph I needed to finish that last mile. So it was a great run, overall. And Piper, as you can see, was really happy to have me back!

Piper is licking my face. She loves me.