Category Archives: Running

Focus

Did I mention I went to see a low vision specialist a couple weeks ago? My neuro-ophthalmologist had recommended it, since my vision has remained stable over the past six years. I’m not sure why he waited so long to suggest it, because I could have used the help a lot sooner, but that doesn’t matter. Better late than never.

So I went to see this low vision specialist, Dr. Putnam, and I learned a lot. I learned that what I’ve been doing up to this point to manage my low vision has been helpful, in that I’ve adapted. However, I also learned that in many areas rather than adapt, I avoid. Take using cash, for example. It takes so long to figure out what denomination a bill is, or what type of coin I’m holding, that I just use my debit card for everything. Or if cash is my only option, I’ll ask one of my children to get the cash for me. Who knows how many other things I’ve come to avoid because they are too difficult?

The biggest thing I’ve avoided is driving. I’ve never actually had a doctor tell me I couldn’t. I just don’t because I assumed I can’t because I have low vision. When it was time to renew my license, rather than taking the required test, I opted for the state identification card instead. When doctors ask me if I drive, I chuckle. Because to me it seems so obvious that I CANNOT drive. So when this low vision doctor asked me if I drive, I reacted the same as always. I chuckled and said “No, that would be impossible.” Her response surprised me. Now this doctor has seen my visual field tests. She knows very clearly what I can and cannot see. And yet she said to me, “Don’t say it’s impossible. I don’t want you to get your hopes up too high, but I also don’t want you to count it out. There’s a lot we can do. Even if it’s restricted driving, it may be something that’s an option for you.”

This idea floored me, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. I’ve lost about 60% of my field of vision, but the other 40% is clear, as long as I’m wearing my glasses. Is 40% enough to safely drive a car? Dr. Putnam seems to think it could be, or it’s at least enough to warrant exploring the idea.

Speaking of my glasses, a year and a half ago, I bought a new pair with the recommended progressive lenses. The low vision doctor believed that the progressive lenses were not helping me, but were actually hurting me. The way they work, I guess they kind of block out or distort a good portion of that 40% where my eyes can actually see. Which would explain why I had secretly felt extra blind for awhile. I just figured that was the way it was going to be, and I just moved on. But now I have these new lenses, with an updated prescription, and without the progressive lenses. And let me tell you, there is a remarkable difference. It was a little strange the first day wearing them, but now that my brain has adjusted to them I can tell you I see so much better. Not close up of course, but that’s okay because I’m nearsighted. Seeing far away is greatly improved, and that has me thinking again about what Dr. Putnam said to me about driving.

My husband asked me about this today, the idea of me driving again, and I had to be honest, it scares the crap out of me. BUT – I’m trying to open my mind up to the possibility, just like Dr. Putnam encouraged me to do. I’m trying to ditch my all-or-nothing thinking here. Digging up the idea of me driving that I had successfully grieved and buried in its grave. It’s a big idea. Scary too. But I changed my mind once about this, I can change it back. It’s just going to take some time. We are deciding to reopen the chapter on this aspect of my disability and give it more thought and prayer.

So that is the exciting news around here. We have lots of other things going on but I won’t bore you today with the details. In addition to family and kid stuff I’m remaining semi-focused on running and writing, but that’s probably another blog post of its own. Stay tuned, I’ll try to be back at least once before Christmas. Happy Wednesday and peace to you, my friends.

Reading and Running

Lately, I haven’t had anything very inspirational I’ve felt like writing. So I just haven’t been writing. For fear of boring you with all the details of my day to day. But the alternative to writing the mundane hodgepodge is to not write at all, and that’s maybe not great either. Because as I learned in a recent audio book I just finished “reading” (The Shallows, by Nicholas Carr, if you love science!), your brain is like a muscle. If you don’t use parts of it, they shrink and it becomes harder to access them down the road. So I’m exercising my writing muscle by writing even when I don’t have anything to write about. And as I’m writing, I’m sure something will come to mind. That’s always how it seems to work, anyway.

I’ve really been craving dark chocolate. I don’t know why I never keep any around the house.

I have not been running these past couple of weeks. I think after the bout of fatigue following Thanksgiving, I sort of fell out of the habit. I’m hoping to get back into it this weekend though. If the weather cooperates, of course. Treadmill running still sucks.

BUT! I do want to tell you how the Turkey Trot 5k went, but I want to be careful not to toot my own horn too loudly. So you know I was training, sort of, trying to increase my speed, and was hoping to beat my previous PR of 38:24. But even if I didn’t beat my PR, this was a memorable race. I ran it with my son, who is much faster than I am. I wished him luck and left him at the head of the pack with all the seriously fast runners, and scooted back as far as I could because I knew otherwise I would get trampled when the race started. This race was huge. I think the final count was around 5000 people. Maybe not large by other people’s standards, but it was by far the biggest 5k I had ever run. So with that many people the energy was pretty awesome.

The gun went off and I started running, and people immediately started zooming past me. I would have moved to the side to get out of the way, but I was so worried about tripping I stayed in the middle of the road where I knew there would be fewer potholes and cracks. Did I mention this was the first race I have ever run solo? No guide runners, no sign on my back to alert people that I was a deaf/blind runner. I had this sort of overwhelming sense – throughout the race – that I belonged there. That I was a real runner just like the rest of them. Note that I had not realized until this moment that I ever felt like I wasn’t one of them. So this was a brand new revelation, and I believe it is what propelled me forward, as fast as my feet would let me.

I was getting periodic updates from Runkeeper to tell me of my current speed, but I wasn’t paying attention enough to calculate what my average was looking like. I was just trying to enjoy the moment. So when I reached the finish and saw that my time was just coming up on 34 minutes, I was flabbergasted. My finish time was 34:03 – a full four minutes and 21 seconds faster than my last PR in May. I still don’t even understand how that is humanly possible. Not for me, at least, a woman with M.S. And certainly not in that short of a time period.

I’m still in a mild state of disbelief over the whole thing, but I’m now finally able to process it a bit more. I think the difference for that race, and my speed training on the treadmill leading up to it, is that I dared to run a pace that was just a bit past my comfort zone. Then when that felt comfortable, I pushed a little harder. So if I can just remember to push myself a little bit each time I’m out there, push the envelope so to speak, I know I can complete a full marathon next year, which is my next big running goal. I just have to be careful to be wise about it, and not push myself too hard or too fast. Know my limits, listen to my body and rest when it needs rest. I’ve learned so much this year about my capabilities, both mentally and physically, that I feel ready for this next step.

So I guess this post ended up being mostly about running. Sorry, not sorry. What else? Christmas is coming! I’m not ready, but who ever is? I’ll be ready when I need to be. I’ve been keeping busy with Bible Study Fellowship, bookkeeping for the church, and taking care of the home. Sadly the home sometimes takes a backseat to the other stuff but I’m working on fixing that. In my down time, my relaxing time, I’m doing a lot of crocheting and reading. I have a growing list of books I’ve started reading but couldn’t finish before the library’s digital copy expired, so I’m one by one working through knocking those off the Goodreads list. Not to say that like it’s a chore or anything. I still love my books.

That’s all for now folks! Tell me, what’s your favorite book to read over the holiday season?

Running With Dogs

I’m seriously not trying to draw pictures when I run, but this map looks like the profile of a dog. Do you see it? The pointy little ears and turned up nose?


But! What’s even cooler is that this was my fastest 3 miles, and that was even while running with Piper for the first mile. I’ve been secretly hoping to run a PR at the Turkey Trot on Thursday and I’m starting to really believe it’s possible! My current 5k PR is 38:24 and I would LOVE to come in under that and then go home and chow down on Grandma’s homemade stuffing and corn casserole.

What are you doing for Thanksgiving?

Busy day, busy week

I told a friend the other day, “I don’t know how you people do it!” And by “you people”, I mean those who do lots of things, all in succession, repeatedly over time. Because dang. I am managing, it’s fine, but I lived in my warm cocoon of permanent disability for so long I almost forgot what it was like to have a full schedule. Like normal people.

I’m still permanently disabled, of course, but my new energy levels allow me to do considerably more, and I’m just now feeling like I’m getting the hang of it. Although I have been feeling lately that my fatigue is trying to creep back in and I am almost certain it’s because I haven’t been running. I plan to rectify that situation soon.

Today is an especially busy day because I had a dentist appointment this morning to get a crown set up, and this afternoon I have my regular infusion for my MS medication. It’s noon and my face is still half numb from the dental procedure this morning so it was very strange eating my lunch. I’m tempted to get a second cup of coffee but if I do I’ll have to do drink it through a straw. I’m kind of looking forward to the infusion because it will be a forced opportunity to take a nap. Not that I ever need forcing, of course. Naps are the bomb diggity.

My daughter turned 10 on Tuesday (yay for double digits!) and she is having a few friends over Friday night for a sleepover so I’ll be spending the day tomorrow doing some catch up cleaning and preparing the food for dinner. She chose tacos even after my multiple suggestions for ordering pizza, so I guess I’m cooking. Anything for my birthday girl. We all love tacos, so it’s cool. Before dinner though, we’re taking the girls to Playing Picasso so they can do some pottery painting. Then we’ll go back home and eat tacos, then send the girls in the basement so they can watch Harry Potter and be their silly selves without judgment from big brother. Birthdays are fun, don’t you think?

I’m hoping to catch up more on writing in the next few days, to tell you about what I heard God speaking to me at the abbey last weekend, and maybe some other random musings about that habits I’m hoping to hone (like writing). Growth and change, but all good stuff going on here.

Cautiously optimistic

https://multiplesclerosis.net/living-with-ms/differences-after-ten-year-mark/?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=promoted&utm_campaign=Aubagio-CAS&utm_confid=soviec04u

This article came through on my Facebook feed yesterday and I found it interesting because this week marks 10 years since my MS diagnosis. I may be off a little on the date but I’m almost certain it was early October. It was a month or so before my daughter was born, which was 11/05/09. So, close enough.

Anyway, I find it helpful sometimes to reflect on how my mindset has changed, whether it’s better or worse, or both. Most of the time these days, it’s better.

Ten years ago I saw myself certainly being wheelchair bound by now, or at least very heavily reliant on my walker. But instead I find myself fully mobile. I have stored away a walker and 3 canes that are for sure covered in dust by now. My husband and I have talked about getting rid of them altogether, because it’s been so long since I’ve needed them. I am not quite sure I’m ready to take that step.

See, if I’m being completely honest, that suggestion frightens me. Yes, I’m doing well and I’m running races, but the nerve damage is still there, and this article reminds me of that sobering fact. I can run all I want, eat all the vegetables my heart desires, but I can’t heal the scarring that has been done to my nervous system. Only God can do that.

I want to live courageously, without fear of the future, because it’s so much better than living in fear, which is where I was 10 years ago. Heck, even 6 year ago I was there, stuck in fear mode. My body and brain were shutting down on me as a coping mechanism. But that is no way to live, and I am fairly confident those days are behind me.

As I’m sitting here writing I’m gaining courage to let go, so pictured below I present to you my canes. From left to right: The gray cane is folded for easy transport, The 2nd cane was actually my first cane following diagnosis and has ladybug stickers on it that I applied myself (Bug was my nickname through high school and many years beyond), and the last cane is covered in a paisley pattern, because I love paisley. The walker is buried in the basement and not worth retrieving for this photo, but I’ll tell you I put flame auto decals on it and named it Speedy. So you know it’s cool.

I don’t know about getting rid of the walking aids. There is still a quiet voice back there whispering “what if?” and they do hold memories for me. However, they are not very joyful memories, so Marie Kondo would encourage me to let them go. Maybe I’ll just keep the paisley cane, because it’s just so pretty. It does spark a teensy bit of joy. 😁

No, I’m still undecided. I’m going to go for a quick run and see if I can make up my mind!

2019 Capital City River Run

Welp, I did it! I ran a half marathon. All 13.1 miles with minimal walking. All of this training I’ve been doing really paid off, and I was able to run pretty much the entire way. I walked over slippery bridges and once late in the race because I was sensing some drop foot, but other than that I was good to go. I did NOT feel like I was dying, and despite how I looked to others at the finish line, I felt fabulous. I was all smiles and ready to sign up for the next one.

The Comradery: I simply could not have done this race without my friends. Alicia and Staci were with me every step of the way, guiding me away from obstacles and leading me down hills so I wouldn’t lose my balance. They even kept me from taking off in the beginning at too fast a pace, which is something I tend to do, and pay dearly for on these long runs. I happened to see a couple other running friends before the race started, and that really helped to boost my adrenaline. All the runners I have gotten to know are pretty special people. We are a diverse crowd, and yet everyone is so supportive of on another, regardless of all our differences. We are all running with the same goal, but for very different reasons, and I find that pretty awesome.

The Spectators: I had an entire team of spectators cheering me on throughout this race, and this was pretty dang awesome. My husband, my son and daughter (who had no shortage of hugs), my dad and stepmom, my sister and her boyfriend, my niece, and as a last surprise of the morning, my big brother. I was so surprised to see him there because he has been so busy working lately I just didn’t expect he would be able to make it. But he was there. They were all there, and they knew why this was such a big deal. It wasn’t just a race. This race happened almost exactly 6 years from when I lost my hearing and vision. In fact, that morning a memory came up on my husband’s Facebook feed. It was a posting he had sent out updating everyone on my long hospital stay. I was so sick and no one knew what was wrong with me, and I could not walk unassisted, among other numerous issues. So to have that come up on his feed the day I was running my first half marathon was just incredibly fitting.

The Final 5k: At 10 miles my family was there cheering us on, as they had in several other spots, and my son started jogging next to me. The excitement of the moment took over, and I invited him to run the final 3.1 miles with us. They frown on this sort of thing, I guess, but no one bothered us about it. He did a great job keeping me going and holding me steady down the hills. However, when we were nearing the finish, we were at the top of a very steep concrete ramp that feeds into the baseball stadium where the finish line was. He danced on ahead of me while Alicia and Staci took my arms to help me down. I was so embarrassed to see my husband at the bottom of the ramp, taking our picture. It looked rather pathetic, as if my legs had stopped working, but really it was just a matter of keeping my balance down the incline. When we reached flat land my son was waiting for me and we began to sprint the last stretch towards the Finish. I was so giddy I was almost in tears. And after I crossed the line I tried to stop but instead just fell to the ground. This is what seems to happen after my races and it alarms people because it looks like I’m hurt but really it’s just muscle weakness and poor balance. The motion of running keeps me on my feet somehow, so when I try to walk it never works. They brought me a chair and a woman put a medal around my neck and we all just stayed there congratulating each other and taking pictures.

It was a fantastic race and I am so glad I did it. Every time I try a longer distance I think about how far I’ve come, and I wonder how far I can go. My curiosity I think is what drives me. I just want to see how far I can go before my body says no. Yes, it tries to tell me no some days, but I’ll always try to call it’s bluff.

I am so grateful to everyone for supporting me and cheering me on. I could not have done this without you. Most of all though, I owe my gratitude to Jesus Christ. I would not have even started on this journey into running and health if it had not been for His sustaining grace and comfort. He is my constant, every day all day running partner. Hallelujah!

The Finish Line:

Love/Hate Relationships

This is not a post about people. This is a post about food. Just a warning, that’s all.

So I’ve been becoming more and more fed up with my belly area lately. I’m trying to accept that it will always be pooched out a bit more than I would like, because I have somewhat of a swayed back. However, it bothers me that it seems to change in size on the daily. Just last weekend at the Girl Scout camp I was joking with the other moms that it was so bloated and firm it felt like I was pregnant. And while that’s funny, and we chuckled about it, it’s also rather uncomfortable. So I have been doing more research into what foods cause that type of bloating and it turns out the biggest culprits are my favorite foods. Duh, right? Coffee, breads, pastas, protein bars, raw veggies! Oh, and sugar, which is of course, in everything under the sun.

My plan of action? I’ve started by doing a better job of reading nutrition labels to look for sugar content in addition to carb and protein content. And stopping to think before I eat something, and ask myself, “is it worth the bloated belly?” Sometimes I’ve decided it is, but more times than not I’ve been able to say no, and find an alternative snack or meal. One of my favorite replacements when I’m craving chocolate (which is daily) is to drink a glass of my ItWorks chocolate greens. I had been drinking it every day and somehow got away from it, so it’s good to have that resource. It curbs my chocolate craving without the inflammatory sugar, and as a bonus it provides me with all those nutrients my body needs to work better. Win-win.

I can avoid raw veggies by roasting them instead, no problem. And I think I can find replacements for the flat-out sugary foods. Its the breads and pastas that will be tricky because boy, do I love my carbs. I’m not the greatest cook, and what I am able or familiar with cooking pretty much all involves pasta or rice. I’ve not been real impressed with substitutes like cauliflower rice and zucchini noodles. I think those are going to be flavors and textures I just may have to endure at first and hopefully I’ll grow to like them.

I am still not eating dairy, because it was causing major headaches when I ‘cheated’, and I noticed the nerve pain in my feet was starting to come back. So that’s one inflammatory food that I have already eliminated. I have put eggs and some meat back in my diet, but only in small portions. With this half-marathon training I was feeling the need to find more variety in my protein sources, and I’m not creative or kitchen savvy enough to do it the way the actual vegans do it. My husband calls me a “chea-gan”. Vegan who cheats, get it?

So, that’s where I’m at. I guess. Trying to work on the inflammation. It’s challenging saying no to the foods I love, yes, but I noticed right away that it was making a difference in how I feel, so that motivates me to keep going with it. Over time I’m sure I will find more appealing alternatives and it will become a habit, just like all the other health choices I’ve been making over the years. I’ve got to stop loving the foods that seem to hate me. It’s just dysfunctional, you know?