I ran. I bloody ran. For ten minutes. Ok, it would have been less than a mile (I didn’t track it – I deleted the running GPS app from my phone in a strop months ago.) It was probably not even 3/4 of a mile, but it was one of the things I was most terrified of trying to do. And I bloody well did it.
Since about Christmas, I have lived in fear of my trainers. They have languished in the back of the wardrobe, gathering dust, and more than once I have considered donating them to the charity shop. But whenever I have glanced furtively at them whilst searching for some other lost item (which happens a lot – there is a reason that our wardrobe is known as the Cupboard of Death), I have spotted the chip timer from the half marathon I ran, still firmly attached, in loving memory of the days when I was a “proper” runner. That alone has been enough to convince me to keep them, even if I would have to eventually confine them to the memory box.
Around the end of last year, whilst reviewing year end goals and setting new ones for the coming months, the friend with whom I had run the half marathon asked if I would run another one this year at some point. I swiftly, and pointedly, with not a small hint of bitter sarcasm, sneered, “Err, you DO know I have MS, right?” I thought that would be an end to it. Running Friend would realise the insensitivity of the comment, mumble an apology about how it is easy to forget sometimes, we are still getting used to this relatively new diagnosis and what it might mean…
I was wrong. Her response, quick as a flash and with no time to consider or prepare it, nor check it for levels of appropriateness (thank goodness!) was this –
“Oh, get over yourself!”.
We all laughed and the tension, if it had been there for the short few seconds while she had been suggesting the half marathon, with my other friends looking on and cringing, was lifted. Because we all knew she was right. Yes, I have MS. Yes, running could be harder as a result. Yes, there will be days, weeks and maybe months when I cannot do it. But since when was that a reason to not try something?
I ignored the suggestion for months. Then, when I found myself with time on my hands, (ok, I admit, it was when I had a relapse and couldn’t walk and yes, that wasn’t, in hindsight, the most favourable of circumstances in which to indulge myself) I researched MS and running. I found a Youtube video that has haunted me ever since, of a young woman called Kayla Montgomery. Kayla also has MS, but she is a long distance runner. I watched the video clip of her running, and then collapsing as her legs surrendered, having done exactly what she had asked of them by getting her past the finish line. I watched Kayla who had very evidently, in the immortal words of my friend, “got over herself”.
Since that video became etched in my psyche, my excuses have worn just a little thinner. The phrase “I have MS” is now more of a motivation than an excuse. I have MS, therefore it will be more of a challenge. I have MS, so it will take a little longer. (OK running buddy, I admit I have ALWAYS taken a little longer – I was never all about the speed, that’s for sure.) I have MS so there will be times when I have to listen to my body and rest if I need to. I have MS, so it will be so much more rewarding. I have MS, so it will worth it.
I have sat around cursing this sedentary darkness for long enough. It was time to lace up my trainers and light some candles.