Long time readers will remember that each June I participate in a 5K in my area. This year the coordinator (who is also my friend) asked me to write an article for the newspaper and I will post it below. As a side note, I still have 24 pounds of baby weight on my and as I timed myself during a practice 5K on Saturday, I am slower. This bothers me. All I can do is my best, but I am really going to be working on training and improving that number in the 19 days I have left to do so!
Thanks for reading. Here's the article:
Four years ago, the Duncan Founder's Day 5K meant absolutely nothing to me. I wasn't even completely sure what a 5K was. It was special to some people because it was a MS fundraiser. Others found the race important because it brought the city of Duncan into the spotlight. Many participants were there simply because they loved to run and I'm sure there were countless other sentiments of a personal nature that we will never know. But to me, it meant nothing.
All I knew was that it involved running and was being coordinated by a friend, J'Nell Ash. J'Nell happened to be my weight loss mentor and that year, while I was well over 300 pounds, she told me I needed to do the 5K. I had done everything else J'Nell had taught me about taking control of my health, but I drew the line at the mention of participating in an athletic competition. Not now. I was sure I couldn't physically complete three miles, even if I walked it. But the main reason I said no was the intimidation I felt from the extra 100+ pounds I was wearing. I told my friend no, but promised that I would the following year.
The year flew by and soon I was looking the 5K in the face. I had lost some weight in that year, although not as much as I thought I would . But I had spoken that I would be participating, and so I faced my fears and signed up.
Although there were many sincere athletes there that day, I was pleasantly surprised to find that not everyone was. There were large and small, young and old, serious runner and casual walker. As I neared the finish line, J'Nell saw me and ran along side. She crossed the finish line with me and then gave me a huge hug, which turned on the spout to a flood of emotions. It was a watershed moment. It represented so much more than a 3 mile race. It represented victory over all the areas in my life with which I had been fighting so hard to improve. I could do hard, intimidating things and come through a winner. I could overcome. And I did.
This year, the race holds even more meaning to me, as I have witnessed first hand the way MS turns people's lives upside down. A few short weeks ago, my brother-in-law, Doug McConnell was diagnosed with MS after he became unable to walk almost overnight. It has affected every area of his life. Losing his independence, needing a vehicle large enough to accommodate his wheelchair, having frequent home health nurse visits, loss of wife's income as she cares for him, making handicap accessible modifications to his home----the list of immediate and drastic changes goes on and on. This year I will still run for myself, but I will also run for Doug, who can not run for himself.