As we approached the top of the hill to start the half-marathon, I abruptly stopped my nervous chatter. Suddenly, I couldn’t breath. What was I thinking? I not only had MS, but I had recently been so affected by the disease that I had a hard time just making it through the day, much less running any sort of distance. Now I was about to be dropped off over thirteen miles from the finish line. How on earth was I going to do this? Beside me, my friend E had said something, but I had no idea what. I told her I couldn’t talk anymore; I was terrified. She told me not to worry; we would get to the end. We were not there to break any records, just to finish.
As we got off the bus, E pointed out the unusual smell in the air. The smell was so sweet and earthy, and the scenery was amazing. I started to relax a little. The morning was just starting and the air was cool and refreshing. Most importantly, E was with me. She is my rock; she has gotten me through more difficult times than I care to recall. I knew we could at least start the run, and then we would figure out how to get to the end somehow.
The gun went off and we started running. The first couple miles were down hill at a good descent; not too much so my toes hurt, but enough so it was easy to run. The first five miles went by easily. It was slightly hard to breathe because of the altitude, but I was not winded or tired. As the miles kept passing, however, I started to get more and more tired.
After 8 or 9 miles, the slope was decreasing and parts even felt uphill. It was getting hot, and I was starting to hurt everywhere. My skin burned and my bones ached. I was so tired I thought I might fall over at any moment. My husband kept meeting us along the route and checking in. I kept telling him I was fine, but finally I gave in and knew I had to text him and tell him that I needed him. I needed a pill.
After what felt like hours, I finally saw him coming. He pulled over and asked if I was OK. I told him, no. I hurt everywhere and I was completely exhausted. I needed a pain pill and an energy pill. Those of you with MS know what I’m talking about here. I started crying, so I told him to leave quickly before I gave up and hopped in the car with him. I only had 3 miles left, and I was NOT going to give up!
When we got to the last water station, 1.5 miles from the end, I was a member of the walking dead. The man passing out water asked if I need a medic. I must have looked really bad. I told him, no. I was just too hot, and I had MS. I just needed to cool down. He poured water around my neck and down my back as he told me his cousin has MS. He said I could do it; I was almost there. He gave me the extra encouragement I needed to keep going. Five minutes later, as I was putting one foot barely in front of the other, he drove by and asked if I wanted a running partner. I said yes without even thinking. He was sent from God; he was the help I had been praying for.
He coached me all the way to the end. He set small distance goals for me, and told me where I needed to go. He did my thinking for me because I no longer could. Finally, I saw my parents, husband and children on the side of the road cheering me on, my mother bowing to me like she worshiped me. I knew I was close. My coach told me not to stop. He said to tell them I’m busy and cannot stop to talk. I told him to say it. I did not have the energy to say anything or even to even move my head to look at them. My angel told me he was going to veer off to the side but to keep running, I had made it. I looked up and saw the end.
I couldn’t believe I was finally there! It would all be over soon. I put everything I had into speeding up so I could finish at a decent pace, although I had almost nothing left. Although it was the easiest course I had ever done, including full marathons and uphill halves, it was the hardest run yet. Even so, I ran nearly the whole course. I kicked MS’ ass! I proved that I am the boss over my body, not this disease. And I realized once again how lucky I am to have so many loving, supportive people rooting for me. Thank you all!