Loves to Run: Half-Marathons and Marathons

What is your inspiration, and motivation to be a runner?

I did not become a runner until after my MS Diagnosis, in September of 2015.

I was 350 pounds and before diagnosis. I had MS flares that left me needing assistance to walk, speak, and even write my name. I knew what it was like to be very dependent on others and with my diagnosis, I feared that dependence would only get worse in the future.

Then, I researched and decided to change my diet to combat the disease along with my medication. I began Whole30/Paleo/No Grains, Sugar, Dairy type diet and weight melted off my body. 180 pounds to be exact.  You can read more about that here: 

After about a year, I heard about Cheryl's story and became inspired to pick up running and train for my first half marathon. Today, I say my inspiration is mainly the fact that I CAN run. I am not guaranteed the ability in the future, really none of us are. Today, while I can run, I will run!

How did this goal come to you?

My husband and I began saying "Not today, MS" shortly after my diagnosis when we would have a small victory. Victories like having the energy to visit with my family when I was suffering from fatigue; when the fears of MS tried to rob our joy and we chose instead to celebrate the ever-so-small victories of the day, instead of dwelling on the fears of the future.

When I had lost weight and was feeling better, the thought of crossing the finish line at a half-marathon felt like the coolest way to declare "NOT TODAY, MS!!!" so that became the goal. To date, we have finished two half and one FULL marathon, and we are training for another half this spring.

What marathons are you running?!

I am currently training for the Derby Mini-Marathon in April in Louisville Kentucky, and I will be running a half-marathon virtually with the team during the Richmond Weekend.

I am looking for a race, but my husband and I may just decide to run 13.1 in our little town and check in with live videos with our team to cheer them on as they run that weekend.😊

Which marathon, are you most excited to run?

I ran a marathon with our Run a Mile in My Shoes team in October, and I was so excited to run in a new city and for that distance with such a cool group of MS runners and their supporters. Now, I am just excited for any race we get to do. Each one is a victory over this disease and over my past.

How were you diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis?

I am going to link two of my blog posts here because they tell the story well. I feel like I got lucky.

My diagnosis came after only 2 years from my first exacerbation. They say the majority of the damage is done in the first 5 years and it takes most 5 years for most people to get a diagnosis. My first exacerbation was the worst.

It was on June 27, 2014--read about it here:

The exacerbation that gave me the diagnosis happened in September of 2015. That weekend, I had double vision and dizziness, and honestly thought I had an inner ear infection. A trip to urgent care turned into an ER visit that turned into a two-day hospital stay, two MRIs, a Spinal Tap and a diagnosis of Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis. It was a whirlwind and devastating at the time. However, I look back now and realize how fortunate I was to have doctors who fought for an answer; when I just wanted to go home and hoped things would get better on their own.

How can you manage your symptoms?

Diet, exercise, rest and a treatment that works for me. I feel like the key to fighting this disease is all the above...

You cannot just change your diet and ignore treatment advice from your doctor, and you cannot just take treatment and eat donuts 24/7 and lay on the couch.

It is a healthy balance of diet, exercise, quality rest, and treatment, or at least that has been my experience. I also believe in having a neurologist you TRUST completely. I come with a list of questions each time and my neuro is patient, and gives me sound guidance on everything I am doing with my running, eating, and just daily life.

How did you start running?

I literally ran one minute, walked a minute, for as long as I could. I stayed consistent and went out to run three times a week and tried to increase my running time each time. Two minutes running, one-minute walking, etc. Until, I was able to run a whole mile! I about did a cartwheel I was so excited! I have now been able to run two half-marathons and a full-marathon. There is nothing quite like the accomplishment of running.

Do you have a running buddy?

Yes 😍. My husband, Brian!

Brian is the quiet hero in my story. Every crazy thing I have ever wanted to do, here is right by my side encouraging me, joining me, making it happen. When I wanted to change my diet, he said, "When do we start!?!?" and gave up grains, dairy, and sugar too :).

As a result, he lost 50 pounds and ALSO picked up running! He is a better, faster runner than me, yet he insists on running right by my side when we are out together. He has been right there with me for every victory and every heartache. He is so much more than a running buddy—he is my best friend 😁.

How many marathons and half-marathons have you ran?

One marathon, two half-marathons.

Where do you keep all your medals?!

In our office, on this medal hanger my friend helped me make for Brian for Christmas!

How do you balance work and running?

It is not easy! Training for the marathon was like working a second FULL time job. Everything revolved around training. What I was eating, how much sleep I was getting, what I was doing in the evenings before a big run. It was a huge commitment for all of us!

My kids helped a ton so that we could get the rest we needed and kept our house from looking like an episode of hoarders :). My mother also helped a ton with babysitting, washing my dishes, and creating a little cheering squad on my front porch when we would be coming in from particularly long training runs.

How do you marathon train?

We are three-time-per-week runners. We try to throw some cross training in there too. I generally like a sixteen-week plan for half-marathons and did a twenty-week plan for the marathon. I just searched until I found a plan that worked for our lifestyle.

How many miles do you run weekly?

Depends on where we are in training, but usually we aim for ten-miles if we are just maintaining and up to 25-30 miles, when we were in full-marathon training.

How does running make you feel?

Tired 😊.

Honestly, the first mile is always a challenge. It is a mind game of self-doubt. Then, the legs get warm and we get lost in conversation, or the beauty of nature, and I look at it as a form of worship to our God.

We were made to do this, and it is a time when all distractions can get drown out. It is mentally cleansing for sure.

How do you fuel on the run?

For anything under 90 minutes, we are good with water only. For longer distances, or particularly hot days we will take electrolyte pills every hour, they help to replenish any electrolytes lost in sweat and I also like to eat raisins.

What is your typical diet?

Lots of whole foods.

Breakfast: Scrambled eggs and coffee with coconut milk.

Lunch: Spinach salad with chicken & apple sausage and whole30 compliant guacamole.

Dinner: Usually a healthy protein with lots and lots of veggies.

How do you style your hair, on the run?

For training, it is wadded up in a messy bun, so it is out of my way with a moisture-wicking headband.

For races, I will try to style it in a pony tail that looks kind of cute for pics and wear a headband that does not clash with my shirt😊.

What is your favorite running apparel?

I am a big fan of compression pants and tank tops, but my favorite running apparel item is my Balega socks. They have been running-life changing😊. Cannot run without them.

Do you have a funny race memory?

Hands down this moment in this photo. No one can prepare you for the isolating feeling you have while running a marathon, even if you do have a running buddy. It is so long. It is so lonely. It is so incredibly hard and everything in you tells you to quit. However, this moment of crossing the finish line... WORTH. EVERY. MINUTE. Worth every lost toenail, four to be exact, worth every blister, worth every sore muscle. I will remember that moment for the rest of my life and I am so glad I shared it with my husband.

Do you have advice for other runners?

Enjoy the run. The beauty of being slow is you know you are not at risk of winning, so you just try to do your best and enjoy. We all love PRs and beating our best, but make sure you run at a speed that you can enjoy the run.

Take in the scenery. Laugh at the signs in those races, there are some pretty incredible ones 😊 and chat with your buddies.

After all, we are all running a marathon in this life, right? Let us enjoy the ride. The finish line will be waiting for us so let’s just enjoy the run.

Lots more stories and info on my blog: