20 August 2015


I just got home from Birdcamp! It was a lot of fun. I know there will be tons of detailed blog posts about it, so I'll just mention a few highlights:
  • I did an 8-mile long run (/walk) in beautiful Leavenworth, Washington. This is a pretty long run for me these days!
  • I stayed with my wonderful roommates from last year, Kim and Ayesha. I am so lucky to have met these ladies last year and even luckier that we all wanted to room together again.
  • We floated down the Wenatchee River, which was beautiful and relaxing. 
  • I took my phone swimming. It drowned. I lost all my pictures.
  • I got to spend time with 99 amazing women who love running as much as I do. 
  • It was inspiring, satisfying, and extremely well-organized (ahem, Lesko). 
  • Meditation with Bree of Jasyoga was super satisfying, and it planted the seeds of my little Birdcamp revolution.

I could list 50 more cool things, but Birdcamp is way more than the sum of all these great moments. It is a magical place where dreams can grow without shame or fear. It's a place where you can pry yourself open and not be afraid of what you will find.

I loved the discussion we had about goal setting with Adrienne Langelier and Lauren Fleshman. I used to love setting running goals, but ever since my running has been affected by MS, I haven't wanted to set goals. I still can't run more than about 4 miles without breaks, and I've been stubbornly vacillating between hoping I can run again like I did a few years ago and considering quitting altogether. 

I've been thinking of my running-related MS symptoms to be different from other "normal people" injuries. Like a good drama queen, I've been convinced that my situation is so much worse than a broken foot. But MS has a lot in common with typical running injuries. I am currently unable to run as far or as often as I want to. I am slower than I want to be. The future of my running career is uncertain. On the other hand, a big difference between having MS and a more traditional injury is that nothing hurts, which is a good thing. And I can't make it worse by running.

It seems like I should approach this like any other injured runner would. So here are the goals I set at Birdcamp.

1. Do what I can do
I will find a run/walk cadence that allows me to complete my February half marathon. At camp, I started experimenting. I ran 10 minutes and walked 1. That seemed totally doable until a giant hill kicked my ass. So I will keep experimenting until I figure this out, and at the same time, I will put together a reasonable training plan.

Maybe I won't recover from this injury, but let's consider the alternatives. I could quit running. Um, no. Not until I really can't run anymore. I could stubbornly keep trying to run as if I'm not injured, but that's not really an option. When my legs stop working, I physically can't keep running. It is better to focus on what I can do right now, today, this week, for the next few weeks, and adjust if necessary.

2. Stay positive and hopeful about the future
I often say (cause I'm a drama queen) that I have an "incurable, degenerative brain disease." You can see why I don't do well at parties. But I don't actually believe that it has to get worse, and most of the time, I believe it could get better. I'm not even always convinced it's "incurable." I believe that staying positive is a huge factor in health outcomes, so I will keep hope alive in my mind and in my heart. I will focus on what I can do, not what I can't.

At Birdcamp, I thought a lot about my relationship with running. Me and running, we've been at a standoff, standing petulantly with our arms crossed, refusing to look each other in the eye. I've been angry at my new limitations, and I believed by accepted them, I'd lose something. But now I can see that was wrong. There is no harm in accepting what *is*. If suddenly someday I recover from my "injury" and can run more or faster, that will be great. And even if not, accepting my self puts me on a better path.

This is why I love Oiselle and the VolĂ©e. It's so much more than a group of women who wear the same clothes. It's a safe place to find out who you are and what you're capable of. At Birdcamp, I stopped being angry about where I am with running. I realized that I have a massive opportunity to grow as a runner and as a person, and I should take it. 


  1. I got really sick in the days leading up to my last marathon. Could barely stand upright two days before and had to let go entirely of any and all goals other than just hoping to finish the race. Instead of running on my own for a PR, I ran with two of my teammates who were much slower than I was (but whose pace still kicked my ass by the end of the race that day given how I was feeling). And the funny thing was by letting go of my expectations for the race and just being there in the moment, it ended up being the most fun I've ever had during a marathon. If we wanted to stop and take a picture, we did. We did run:walk intervals...maybe 5:1? But mostly we just had fun, enjoyed the scenery and the experience, and didn't really ever think about the time. We were running in San Francisco with friends--it was all good.

    All that is to say: being present and mindful of where we are, right now at this exact moment, is powerful stuff. (I need to remind myself of that about every twenty minutes).

    Also: After reading this post I can't think of anything I would like to do more in February than run/walk that half with you.

  2. Ahhhh! That sounds like so much fun! YES.

    And your comment reminds me - when I have a phone again I'm going to get one of those apps that beeps at you every 20 minutes to remind you to breathe and be in the moment. It seems weird to entrust one's mindfulness to a device that encourages mindlessness, but whatever. I enjoy contradictions.

  3. Birdcamp sounds like so much fun! I wish there was something like that on the East coast. I guess I have some research to do! I would also LOVE to run that half right along side you. End of February? <3

  4. Late to the party here, but I'm enjoying following your story. I have MS too and am still running - so far so good. Some of the changes have been positive (lost 30 pounds by changing my diet for MS) but some have been less so (I get nausea a lot more than I used to) but I just ran my first marathon, something I tried and failed to do for seven years before MS diagnosis...I think, like you, that mindset is key and that doing what you CAN do is a great approach. Thanks for letting us follow along!