When I was a kid growing up in the 80’s, my mother told me in her heavy Filipino-tone, “Bullsh*t now! You are hardheaded!” Her words never bothered me and in a weird way, I was pleased to know that I had the capacity for being stubborn. Don’t get me wrong. I was not a problem child; I was shy, kind hearted and ambitious. However, I have always had a strong sense of will to do something big. Now that I am in my 40’s, I am finally embarking on that journey.
When I met my husband, Brian, he was a runner. I was intrigued by his races, particular marathons. He would come home totally sore and barely able to walk. I wanted to know that feeling, so without hesitation, I registered for a marathon. My first race ever was a marathon. Training was extremely hard because I was not a runner, but the race itself was so gratifying. I was hooked! To date, I have completed more than 40 marathons since October 2000.
Nonetheless, running has not always been joyful for me. In October 2006 I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Within a year, demyelination had weakened the electrical signal from my brain to my right shin. Because of that, I constantly felt like I was going to stub my toes while walking or running. During a race, I started tripping and falling, and finished the run with bloody knees. Soon after, I learned the falling was due to drop foot, a common symptom of MS. I wanted to find a way to keep running but my neurologist told me to “lower my expectations.” That ticked me off and I went into hardheaded mode.
My mantra “do what I can and never give up” was born. I found an awesome orthotist who customized a carbon ankle-foot orthotic (AFO) for me. It holds my forefoot up at a six degree angle so I no longer fall. It is because of this that I have been able to continue running.
I have set a new goal for myself. I want to be the first person with MS to run 7 marathons on 7 continents in 12 months. I am definitely not lowering my expectations! By doing this, I hope to inspire people never to lower theirs. I want to encourage others, with or without MS, they should do what they can and never give up!