My 5k Journey

Yeah, I know I said I’d be back right away, but it’s been a crazy month.  I finally had time to hop on today, so let’s hope I can get my thoughts in order.

In December of 2013, I decided to do a 5k.  I have many friends who are runners and wanted to join in the fun, but more importantly, I decided that I should be doing something with my legs.  I have Neuromyelitis Optica, a disease that affects my central nervous system leaving me blind and with some mild numbness in my legs.  I have many online friends who have NMO that aren’t able to walk without any assistance, and because of them I figured I really should DO something while I can.

So I started “running” in December of 2013.  My first race was the Jingle Bell Jog here in my little town.  It was hard and no, I didn’t run any of it.  If I did, it was certainly less than a minute total.  It was a freezing day and a dear friend of mine joined me.  We had a wonderful time and that’s where my “itch” to run began.

Since then, I’ve done another 21 races and I’ve loved every one of them.  Some were odd (don’t worry, I’ll tell you) and others made me feel less than adequate, but for the most part, I’ve enjoyed every single one.

On New Years Eve 2013, I decided that my goal for 2014 would be to run 12 5ks – one a month.  That quickly changed to 15 in ’15.  I ended up with a total of 17 races for the year.  I’m so proud of myself!!  Let me take you through each race…

Here is a picture of my first race – the Jingle Bell Jog, December 6, 2013.  I’m with my dear friend, K.  See how red my face is there? (I’m on the right).  That’s how red my face gets when I’m run.

Plus it was cold.

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I was so excited to get my first medal.  Only walkers got finisher medals in this race.  The medals were donated by a fellow runner.  I thought that was so nice.

#2:  Ludington New Years Resolution Run – 1/1/2014

Since this was a resolution run, there was no official time keeper other than a woman with a watch at the finish line.  We were around 49 – 50 minutes or so.

#3:  Cocoa Classic in Detroit.  April 6, 2014 – 102:03

I had never seen such a huge crowd of people waiting to run before.  Although the race was poorly organized, it was a blast!  My school friend K and my sister D joined me.  D has an autoimmune disease as well – Myasthenia Gravis,  and she had never done a race before, so we walked the entire thing.  Some pictures from the event:

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#4:  Berkley Days 5k – May 10, 2014 – 45:19

I was so nervous for this race because it was in the town in which I was raised.  Since I’ve put on a considerable amount of weight AND I was (and still am) a new runner, I didn’t want to make a fool out of myself.  I was supposed to meet people to run the race with them, but all weren’t able to make it that day so I did it by myself.  Luckily, I ran into my sister’s best friend from high school, so that made it a little more fun.  It was a beautiful day, but the best part of the race was running with all of the Girls on the Run girls.  They were a hoot!

Some pictures:
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This is my old stomping grounds.  It was neat to be back home.

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And meeting up with my sister’s best friend from high school was a huge plus!

Now, you’re probably looking at that shirt of mine wondering why I have all of those names on it – it’s my NMO awareness shirt.  A friend of mine has a son who has NMO – he’s my son’s age, and a few months prior to me starting to run she began doing runs for awareness for her son’s disease.  I thought that was a fabulous idea, and with her permission, I did the same thing.  The shirt I am wearing says, “NMO – I may have it, but it doesn’t have me!” and the names you see in black are the names of many other NMO patients.  Yes, I have their permission and oh my word, is that shirt ever faded now!!

#5:  Ham it Up, Manistee MI – May 17th, 2014 – 46:11 by my time (47 something their time).

This was one of the races that I walked away feeling not worthy.  I ran that race with all of my heart (well, walking is my running, so I actually walked it with all of my heart) and the race director didn’t log my time.  Instead, he made one up.  So, even though I started and finished at the exact time as my girlfriend K, her time is a good minute or so faster than mine.  Is it a big deal? No, but the way I was blown off when I asked about it was a little off putting.  It’s as if only the elite runners matter in this race.  Will I do it again?  I’m not sure.  Maybe if I can skim some time off.  I know I’m slow, but I donated money as everyone else did, ya know?

#6:  Ludington Lakestride 5k – June 14, 2014 – 50:40.

K did this race with me again and we were a little slower.  I had a hard time running that day.  I don’t remember why – maybe it was the beautiful scenery.  No pictures, but we did get a nice medal.

#7:  Firecracker Run, Manistee MI – July 5th, 2014 – 51:41

I ended up walking this race with a neighbor so we could catch up on each other’s lives.  We were slow, but I didn’t care.  I had good company and it was a beautiful day.  This was the first race my son B did – I was so proud of him!  His time:  36:07.  Here’s a picture of the two of us that day:

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#8:  Mount Olivet Sunrise Run – Detroit – July 13, 2014 – 54:15

This run was an emotional run for me.  It was held at the cemetery in which my grandparents and other family members are buried.  I ended up walking it with an old grade school friend (the same one I did the Cocoa Classic with).   We kept stopping to look at headstones and K found a friend of hers there.  It was a very nice walk, albeit it rained, which actually improved the ambience of the day.  It wasn’t the best with organization though.  I wouldn’t do it again if my grandparents weren’t buried there.  The pancakes after breakfast were a nice touch.

My sister and her son and another grade school friend joined us for that day.  B’s shoes kept untying, so it was a frustrating day for him.  I don’t remember his time, but it was in the 30s.

Some pictures from that day:

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My sister, her son, my son and me – we were happy to be on cemetery grounds when we got there.  We didn’t drive through the safest of neighborhoods to get to Mount Olivet.  So sad.

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The six of us after the race (or was it before?) I don’t remember.  😀

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My grandparents’ headstones.  This was the first time I had visited my grandfather’s grave since he died in 1998.  I was a little bit emotional.  My grandmother died when my mom was 16.  I remember having picnic lunches on her grave when I was a child.  Nice memories.

#9:  Escape to Belle Isle – Detroit – July 19, 2014 – 47:35.6

I loved this race.  I loved the shirt.  I loved the location.  I loved the medal (adorable!)  I loved the fact that my son ran it with me. I loved everything about this race and I can’t wait to do it again this coming year.  My sister came, but didn’t run.  She hung out waiting for B to finish it.  He instead waited for me and we finished it together.  It was also nice seeing a different grade school friend.   No pictures of him, but it was good to catch up.

Picture of that day:

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And our medal.  I wish I had a better picture of the ribbon.  It’s one of my favorites!

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#10:  Color Run – Grand Rapids – Aug. 2, 2014 – No time noted

Oh my word, this was so much fun!  I ran it with my brother and two of my cousins and we were FILTHY when we were done!  They all took off at the starting line as they were so much faster than me, and I just hobbled my way through the race and got as dirty as I could.  I loved EVERY second of this race!

I was so inspired by one woman who did the race walking with two canes.  If she can do it, you can too!  I walked with her a bit, then ran some and found some friends from here that were doing the race as well.  It was great to see them too.

After we ran the race, we went out to eat with my cousins.  It was wonderful to catch up with them.

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My brother and my cousins – pre race.  I had my phone put away and should have downloaded all of the after pictures that my cousins took, but just imagine us FILTHY.  What a blast, but the picture of me with my brother – I look ridiculous!!

#11 Summerville Ebenezer 5k – Alexandria, MD – Oct. 4, 2014 – 49:04

I loved this race.  I was in Maryland for a conference for NMO patients and I thought, “Why not do a race while I’m there?”  So I did.  I found them on Active.com and while I had a hard time finding the starting line of the race, I ended up enjoying almost all of it.

Unfortunately, I rolled my ankle about 20 minutes before the race started, so I asked if I could change my bib to a walker and not a runner (they had separate categories for runners and walkers).  That was a wrong move on my part, but I didn’t know better.  There were walkers who were running, so I guess it didn’t really matter, but I would have liked to walk/run and it was stupid of me to panic and change my race.

Still, I had a great time.  It was put on by a church and the people who ran the race were some of the kindest people I’ve ever met.  Many of them asked if I was new to the community (I kind of stood out being I was one of the few non-African Americans there) and when I told them I found their info on the web, some of them were genuinely surprised!  Also, many of the people who did this race were first time walkers and their conversations were HILARIOUS!  “We signed up for this?”  “How long is a 5k again?”  All joking, of course, but so much fun!  I especially loved the signs they had along the route with encouraging Bible quotes and I absolutely LOVED the after race meal – Chicken Caesar salad and fried chicken!  If I am ever in Maryland and I’m able to do this race again, I definitely will!

Pictures along my route:

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We interrupt this boring blog to tell you about what happened NEXT!!  While I was still in Maryland, I got a call from my mom two days later – she got the call for a lung transplant!!  My son J was with me, so we quickly packed up and drove home as quick as possible. I missed her going back into surgery by 15 minutes, but her surgery was extremely successful!  It’s currently March 23, 2015 and my mom is still doing great!  What an incredible life changer for her.

This changed EVERYTHING for me – I became one of her primary caregivers for a few months and from October 5th until the first week of December, I was primarily downstate to help my parents out.  My mom was a perfect patient and I was glad to do it. Unfortunately, even though I was still running, I gained about 10 pounds!  My mom wasn’t eating much before the surgery, but after – she was hungry and you know me, I don’t turn down food.  I’m still fighting that weight gain and need to start taking weight loss seriously.

Here’s a picture of my mom and one of her life-saving surgeons about 10 days after her surgery.  When he walked into the room, I started to cry:

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It was amazing to see my mom breathing without oxygen.  In fact, she was doing so well that she wouldn’t STOP talking!!!  Those poor nurses!

ACK!!  I just lost half of my post, so I’m doing the next couple of races all AGAIN!!  Grrrr….. let’s hope I remember everything.

Okay, where was I?  Mom had her transplant, I moved down there temporarily, my husband held up the fort here in town and my awesome kids got themselves to school and church on their own.  I’m so proud of them.

The house? Well, it suffered.  In fact, I left the kids $200 to buy some healthy food and when I came home the garage was filled with pizza boxes and the food I made for them was still in the fridge or freezer.  Still, they didn’t starve, but my youngest kept saying to me, “I just want some fruit, mom, I just want some fruit!!”

Back to the races…

#12:  Detroit Marathon 5k – October 18, 2014 – 44:51

I enjoyed this race.  It was along the waterfront, which is always nice.  I have a love for Detroit in my heart and I always feel safe there (well, not when there was gunfire at Henry Ford hospital), so this was a very nice run.  I especially loved the pre-race expo they had for the marathon.  It encouraged me to sign up for the half marathon this year.

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#13:  Despicable Run – Gross Isle – Nov. 2, 2014 – 46:52

Who doesn’t like running with minions?  I loved this race! It was a nice course in a nice suburb with nice people.  What more could you ask for?  I had a couple of people ask me about my shirt and they stayed and cheered me on after they finished.  Isn’t that nice?

Of course, I had to get a picture of me with a minion for proof that I was there.  😉

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And isn’t this medal adorable?

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#14:  iCrush Diabetes Run – Big Rapids – Nov. 9, 2014 – No time noted

This run was through a lovely park along a river walk.  Do I know the name of the river?  Of course not.  I’m sure I did when I ran the race, but with NMO and being 44, it’s long forgotten.

I really enjoyed this run.  Dr. Singh is the man who put it on, and before the run he had a short seminar on diabetes and running.  Since my dad is diabetic, I found it to be very informative!  The people there were also very nice, and it looked to be a family-run event.  I believe his mother or mother in law also was there.  Believe it or not, it was such a small run that I won 1st place in my age group (there were only two of us in my age group).  Still, I won a nice mug and everyone got a finisher’s pen for finishing the race – a nice touch.  The tech shirt was nice too and the food after the race was fabulous!  It was catered by Ferris State University’s cafeteria and it was the best spinach wrap I have ever had.  Absolutely delicious!

#15:  A Christmas Story Virtual Run –  November 28, 2014 – 47 something.

Now, I broke my phone when I was on my last run.  It flew right out of the case when I was talking (yeah, shouldn’t talk with my hands), so I went without a phone for a month.  Without a phone, I didn’t track, but I did do it.  I did it here around my neighborhood.  With the virtual pack, I got last year’s medal (a leg lamp, no less!), an awesome long-sleeved t-shirt, a bib (so cute) and two packets of Ovaltine!  I really want to do this race in person some day.

#16:  Kintera Jingle Bell Jog – December 6, 2014 – 43:34

This was my fastest race of the year.  I was really surprised that I was able to do it so quickly.  Well, quickly for me that is…  I paced myself against a runner that was slightly ahead of me and I think that really helped me.  The race was also in Detroit, one of my favorite places to run, so I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Detroit has a special place in my heart, so every time I get the opportunity to run there (or visit), I make sure I take it.  Plus, the Christmas costumes were fun.  Maybe I’ll dress up next year.  As for repeating this race, it’s a definite!

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#17:  A Christmas Story Virtual Run – Dec. 10, 2014 – 48:14

No, I’m not making a mistake and you’re not seeing double.  I did two of them this year.  This particular race was THIS year’s race.  Same bling, but a different medal.  I did this race on the treadmill.  I hate running on the treadmill – I always think I’m going to trip and fall, so I tend to go slower.

#18:  Belle Isle Fifth Third NYE Race – 12/31/2015 – 55:18

I have never been as cold in my life as I was the day I ran this race.  Oh my word, it was bitter, bitter cold.  We were in the negatives with the windchill and although we were prepared by wearing almost everything we owned, we were still FREEZING!  I ran this race with my sister and my niece.  My nephews and my son B also ran a race that day, but they ran the race for kids – it was only a mile.  They were smart.  My sister, my niece and me?  Not so smart.  My niece, A – she took off and good for her, she wasn’t as freezing as my sister and I were, but us?  We walked the whole thing. My sister was having MG problems, and I wasn’t going to leave her alone, so we walked it.  It was a beautiful walk, nice and sunny, but very, very cold.  Very cold.  Oh my word, it was cold. And windy.  And cold.  Bitter cold.

#19:  (Or #1 for 2015) – Farmington Hills Commitment Day Run – 3.13miles 1/1/15 – 48:44

I shouldn’t have done two races two days in a row, but I did and I’m glad I did.  Farmington Hills was MUCH warmer than Belle Isle the night before.  My brother and I did this race together.  No pictures, but we received a nice shirt and a high quality medal. I’d do it again if I were in town.  The problem with this race and the one the night before is that the rest of my family with the exception of B were up at home, so I didn’t get to celebrate with them on New Years Eve.  That was weird being without my husband on NYE.  Not sure if I want to do that again.

#20:  Running with Curves Virtual Run – Feb. 9, 2015 – 49 minutes or so

My app stopped working when I was running, so I lost track of time.  This run was another virtual run on the treadmill.  I found Running with Curves online through Facebook – it’s a wonderful community that is so supportive to non-traditional runners – you know, those of us with curves.  I just love this community.

#21:  Erin Go Braugh – Duarte, CA – 3/7/15 – 44:34

Two times I’ve had that time!  I LOVED this race.  First, I was in sunny California.  How could anyone not love that.  It was a smaller run with all kinds of runners in different parts of their journey and the people there were so welcoming.  They loved having someone from Michigan and a few people asked about my shirt.  I’ve been wearing the same green NMO shirt to every race I’ve run, and this time I wore a new one.  I had just finished an NMO patient conference in Los Angeles a few days before and was able to pass a new shirt around the room, so I have new signatures signed by patients THEMSELVES and the privilege of running in their honor.

Here are some pictures.  Gosh, I loved this run and wish I could do more with this group of people.  They were so nice!

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Yeah, not race related, but that’s me getting my blood drawn for the NMO blood bank at the NMO conference.  Anything to do to find a cure.  Now some actual race pictures:

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The Cheetah is this running club’s mascot, so of course, I had to get a picture of myself with the cheetah.  She has a name, but I can’t remember what it is!  The box of Lucky Charms was a part of a drawing for participants.  I didn’t win one, but had to get a picture of it.  I’ve never seen a St. Paddy’s Day version of Lucky Charms.  The medal glows in the dark. LOVE it!!  And I had to take a picture of the cacti there.  I was told it was ugly, but I had never seen cacti before, so I had to snap a picture. I loved this run and I hope that they have another scheduled the week I’ll be in town next year.

#22: Pi 3.14 Run – 3/13/15 – 53:27

Okay, I couldn’t do it on the actual day of the run because B had basketball games all day and I didn’t want to miss his games, so I ordered the virtual kit.  What a great race – I walked it because I was pooped from my long trip (which you’ll read about in my next couple of posts), so getting 3.14 miles in was exhausting for me.  It reminded me that I have this stupid disease.  Hate it, but I did the walk and for that I’m proud.  In the virtual kit, they sent me apple pie, a t-shirt and a medal.  How cool is that?

#23:  Corktown Race – 3/15/15 – 46:32

From what I heard, 8,000 people signed up for this race and thank goodness, it was a beautiful day!!  One person asked me about my shirt and told me he would run in my honor, how awesome is that?  It was nice being high fived by drunk people on the parade route.  If I can talk my husband into running this with me next year, I’m doing it again.  We will run, then pub crawl.

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Okay, so that’s a quick/long summary of my races for now.  If you can see, I haven’t really took off much time.  I hover between 46-47 minutes on average and I really need to work on that.  Problem with that is that sometimes my legs won’t let me do much, so running is proving to be difficult.  I’ve decided to follow a training plan for a half marathon (which I am signed up for this coming October), so I’m trying to follow that, but I’m finding my body only allows me to do so much.  It’s very frustrating.  Plus, with all of this excess weight I have (I’m currently at 170), my knees and ankles hurt when I run.  I’m trying to strengthen them, but it’s taking longer than my impatient self likes.  Hopefully, with time, I’ll get stronger.

My next post is going to be all about my MRI and then my awesome trip to Los Angeles.  Oh what fun!!

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This entry was posted in Devic's Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Neuromyelitis Optica, NMO, Running and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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