My Running Story – Kim
February 7, 2017
The Alpaca That Changed My Life
April 13, 2017

Still Forging Ahead

Paul and Me before Frantic Frog 2013

By: Debbie Erickson

I started running in 2013 when I had the bright idea of competing in (or at least completing) a Sprint Length Triathlon.  I did not run at all, I never had, nor did I swim or bicycle for fitness or fun.  SO, I decided to take a No Boundaries class through Fleet Feet, I took several Masters Swim classes at the YMCA, and I bought a really nice road bicycle and started to ride outside.  I didn’t love running after finishing NOBO, in fact I actually hated running but I had a goal in mind and I continued to run.  Eventually running and I grew from hate to tolerance then acceptance and now I actually miss running when I don’t get out and see her for the day.  After finishing the NOBO class at FF, I took Tri-101 and 102 there as well  to get ready for what ended up being two Triathlons that year – The Huntsville Sprint Tri, and Wet Dog.  My friend David Kyle who has MS is a world class athlete in the world of para-triathlon.  He is such an inspiration to me for many reasons, and I was inspired to try to Tri because of him.
I am going to side bar here so you can understand where I am coming from.

Paul and Me before Frantic Frog 2013
Karen Paulukitis, Paul Erickson, and Me at Warrior Dash 201

I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in July 2012 after dealing with physical issues since February 2009 that turned out to be MS.  One day that February I just woke up after what I thought was a back strain turned into pinched nerve.  My feet and hands were numb, not like the numb you feel when you’ve fallen asleep on your arm to have a “dead arm,” but instead it was a dullness to sensitivity.  I would describe early symptoms as though I had a pair of socks on my feet and hands, and could feel things but the sensation was reduced.  This grew in intensity and the numbness spread up my arms, and legs.  I found myself stumbling when I walked.  I still remember taking my first Body Pump class at the Y, and lifting the weight bar while doing chest presses wondering if I would be able to hold on to the bar and weights and not drop them on my face.  We are all guilty in this day and age of computers and instantaneous access to information via google, Web MD, etc. to self diagnose what is going vs. actually going to a physician.  So instead of talking to my family physician what was going on with me I went to a chiropractor who adjusted my back twice to three times per week for four months.  I went to a optometrist, and ophthalmologist when I had visual disturbances.  And I went to an ENT when I thought what was going on with my eyes was sinus related.  None of these doctors could find out what was going on with me.  It was during a routine annual physical that I was discussing what all was going on with me to my wonderful doctor (she is awesome).  She said “I don’t want to scare you, but I think you might have MS”.  Early 2012, I had two sets of MRI’s, a spinal tap, and a neuro-feedback study (that was fun NOT) where they stuck needles in my body that were live with electrical current and watched how long it would take for my brain to register what was going on.  They were testing for neuropathy.

Long story shorter, it was all encompassing, and very time consuming to go through this. I am thankful to have found out what was going on with me so I can deal with it head-on. I am of the opinion that how can you deal with something unless you know what is going on. I have friends that have some physical issue going on and do not either want to take the time to find out what is going on with them or quite frankly I think they are scared of knowing what is going on. I have been running longer distances lately preparing to run in this year’s Oak Barrel Half Marathon in April. It will be the second time I have ran this race as I completed it last year in 2:45. My reason to run isn’t motivated by my running performance in some race or someone else’s running performance, and I am not constantly trying to best myself, THAT IS NOT MY REALITY. What gets me out there to run again and again are those bad runs, where everything falls apart. I am inspired to continue to try when it hurts the most because I don’t want to lose what I have. It is easy to quit when it is tough, it builds mental strength and fortitude when you don’t quit but continue to try. There have been some issues this week with my training, something new is going on with my body in not a good way. Having said that, as long as I can continue to run I will because I can. And as long as I can I will. Whether or not I will be able to run another half-marathon remains to be seen. The new issues that appeared this week have me concerned, and honestly I am a little more than pissed off about it all. What can I do about it except to find out what if anything has changed with my brain. Yes, I am scared. I am worried about what may happen. Worry does no good, and creates more stress. So I am trying to work through this mentally, and find the positive in this. I am trying to “Stay Out of My Head” and find a way to overcome this latest obstacle and continue to Forge Ahead.

Paul and Me after Oak Barrel Half 2015 - Miss Mary Bobo's Porch