They say every journey starts with a single step but every marathon starts with about 450 training miles, a healthy dose of humility and ends with a start line.
I am often asked if I was a runner before I was diagnosed with MS. The short answer is no, unless you count miles I would run periodically to get in shape for some event or life milestone. Most of the times, those miles would be short lived when shin splints would side line me.
It wasn’t because I didn’t want to run, I just always thought …… someday. My sister ran several marathons and became an Ironman while I was busy raising 3 young kids. She inspired me to add “run a marathon” on my bucket list but I didn’t yet understand the commitment or marathon mind-set.
Three years post-HSCT, I was able to start running again but this time it was with a purpose. The gratefulness that I had drove me. I went to the gym to strengthen long forgotten muscles, mapped out training runs and pushed myself to go farther and faster. I signed up for a small local triathlon to introduce cycling and swimming into my routine to help build muscles and new pathways. All the hard work paid off and I even earned some various wins at my local 5K’s and triathlons. Those wins will always be treasured but I have also face planted mid-race, crumpled to the sidewalk in pain, run on numb feet and been bear hugged by a large sweaty man with no shirt. Some memories do beg to be forgotten. 🙂
All of these events had one thing in common, they all started with the first mile. Here’s the thing. The first mile is hard. For me, my body feels clunky and awkward. I feel like a sham, like I should just go back to knitting in my chair. My body eventually cooperates but a lot happens in my brain during that first mile. I give thanks, cheer myself on, try and set my pace and anticipate the next mile. Most of us feel this way, whether it be the first mile on a run, walk, or the first mile on your HSCT journey. You feel unsure, out of your comfort zone and perhaps scared. I’ve finally learned to embrace this feeling and know that the first mile in whatever challenge you are facing will always ease into the second mile and it always gets easier. I also try to remember that sometimes in life we have to go backwards to go forward. A fall might happen, the road might be bumpy or the journey might feel like a roller coaster. Recovering from an injury, surgery or a disease takes time and a lot of patience. And those who know me, know how I struggle with patience.
Running for a charity to bring awareness to a cause so dear to my heart humbles me, but I still worry….what if I fall short of my fundraising goal, face plant at mile 7 or 20 or say something so stupid that I need to wear a disguise for the run? Trust me, there are some “pulling a Shari” moments that still make me cringe.
So this blog is my first mile on this “Shari Aims to Run London” journey. Time to forgive my grammar, give myself a pep talk, post my fundraising link everywhere and train hard.
*If you know anyone that has MS and would like more information on HSCT, please feel free to reach out. AIMS is a UK based charity that is helping those with auto immune and MS get HSCT worldwide. My fundraising will directly help those wanting HSCT and this gift is life changing.