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Help Needed! Seeking your training stories

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  • Help Needed! Seeking your training stories

    Hi all,

    I am doing some fundraising efforts through MS Can Do (, and I wanted to reach out to the ActiveMSers community to get a bit of help. My efforts are focused around my Ironman Hawaii race on October 13; ultimately, that will be the culmination of my fundraising efforts. (My fundraising site is: I compete as a professional triathlete and my main goal is to win Vegas 70.3 World Champs in September, but Kona is also a big goal as it is the 'big daddy' of triathlon, as you may well know. I'd love to be in the Top 10, or on a great day, Top 5.

    I tell you all this because that while I've been racing professionally now for 10 years, only in the past 2-3 have I actually started to see solid, consistent podium-worthy results. I am driven to train and compete to fulfill the goal that one day I can walk away from this sport knowing that I have done the best I could, period, and feeling that I've reached my physical potential. But more so I have wanted to stand up for something that is important to me; something much bigger and more lasting than just 'winning races'. Being a bit more in the spotlight the past few years allows me some more visibility, and I'd like to use that in a positive manner and one that has more of a lasting impact. That 'something bigger' to me happens to be MS. My Aunt has had MS for 35 years now and she's always been a huge source of inspiration to me, as are all of you who are staying active despite your MS.

    I would really love to be able to feature different people on my website and blog each month from now through October; various people who are training for events, etc. Each one of you has a story, and you may not realize it but your stories are likely to inspire many. It does not have to be triathlon related; maybe you are a cyclist, a runner, maybe you have a walking event that you would like to complete...any activity of any type. I would just love to lift up ActiveMSers a bit through this effort and hopefully inspire a few people along the way to get involved, get active and realize that there are others out there doing just the same.

    Please feel free to send me your stories via my website: on the "Media & Contact" page. (
    I truly appreciate your help, and thank you for constantly inspiring me. Hopefully through this effort we can all raise funds and awareness to help the MS cause.

    Kelly Williamson

  • #2
    Just wanted to follow up on Kelly's request. She is doing a lot to help raise awareness about MS, and she's a halfway-decent person too . This is a really good platform for us to use to get the "Active MSers" philosophy out there.

    For those of us diagnosed in the last few years or so- what was the first thing you did after your neuro/doctor/shaman told you that you had MS? When you got home, you went online and googled or bing'd or ask jeeves'd or whatever and looked for stories about how other people with MS were living their lives. And you found this site. And I'll bet it helped you to get inspired to take as much control of your activities as you can. And if you were dx'd before this site, my hat goes off to you. And you REALLY have to share some insights with Kelly.

    Now imagine if all of us posted just a few sentences about how you are taking back control of your life through exercise and maybe even competition? Imagine the impact that would have for someone that is newly dx'd or going thru a rough patch?

    So send Kelly a sentence or two about what your experience has been. Better yet, in your note, talk about what you do to take back control, and what inspires you to keep fighting.

    And help her hit her goal of raising 10k before she goes to the Ironman World Championships! Link is in her post.


    • #3
      Hello Banshee,

      I just send my story to Kelly and here it is again:

      Hello, Kelly,

      Thank you for helping the MS cause. Here is my story that I hope will help in your fund raising efforts.

      In 2009 at the age of 62 and out of nowhere, I started experiencing extreme fatigue, vertigo, dizziness, balance issues and that tight constricting feeling in the mid-section of my body that is known as the “MS hug”. Finally, after 4 months of seeing different doctors and all the tests, I was diagnosed with Relapsing/Remitting MS and started treatment on Betaseron. One year on Betaseron resulted in elevated liver levels so my medication was changed in late 2010 to Copaxone, and I have done quite well on this medication.

      It took me about a year to accept and adjust to my new life. I decided to help myself as much as possible to slow down this monster MS. I had been doing yoga and meditation for some years and have continued both as I’m certain they are a big help. I was walking every day, but that became laborious and not much fun, so a year ago I started riding my bike. And to my surprise I found that I felt absolutely no handicap while riding my bike. So I had found my new love! I am now riding about 80-100 miles per week and last October I did my first MS 150 in San Antonio. I plan to do it again this year and will try to do the 100 mile course.

      Since I’ve been riding I have seen an improvement with fatigue, cognition fog, dizziness and just overall wellness. I feel that I’m lucky (if you can say that about an MS patient) in that my diagnosis came later in my life. Each MS patient’s progression and symptoms are different, but I like to believe that with my Copaxone treatment in addition to the yoga, meditation, vitamin D, vegetarian diet and regular cycling have helped at the least to keep me stable and possibly may even be slowing down the progression.

      I hope this has helped and again your support of MS patients is deeply appreciated.

      I wish you all the best with your races.



      • #4
        Nicely put together fund raising site Kelly, and many many thanks for championing the MS cause.

        I did send in my story and I think Alain is right, might as well post it here too, so here's mine.

        I was diagnosed with RRMS in January of 1999 at the age of 48. I had noticed various symptoms for the previous 9 years ranging from foot drop, numbness, and vision changes, to balance issues, but the thing that really drove me to find out what was going on was the paralyzing fatigue. I spent the next three years trying to get my mind wrapped around the diagnosis of MS, a disease which the wife of a very good friend of mine had passed away from just a few years earlier. Eventually, the worry wore me out and I decided to just get on with living.

        Through out my life I had generally managed to stay active. Although I have never been a swimmer and now running was becoming more and more difficult, I eventually discovered that riding the spin cycles at the club was doable. That prompted me to dust off an old mountain bike I had and start riding outside. The bike took my mind off of the MS because there were so many other things to think about like where I was, where I was going, how far, how fast, the rain, the wind and the traffic and of course the scenery and whatever chaos might be going on around me. It was an exhilarating opportunity to experience life again and I fell in love with it almost immediately.

        I attempted my first MS 150 in 2006. I was only marginally successful. I sagged and short cut my way to the end and still barely made it. I felt my effort was so miserable that I didn’t even attempt the ride in 2007 but I did step up my training on the bike. I successfully completed the MS 150 in 2008 and it was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done in my life, but I decided then that I would do this ride every year until I couldn’t do it anymore.

        In 2009 I noticed that my time on the first day of the MS 150 seemed to improve and by quite a bit and I began to see that the bike riding was actually helping me overcome some of the MS damage, so I started to pay more attention to that aspect of riding. I began to notice positive changes in fatigue levels and strength. I found things I had not been able to do at all in previous years that I could at least do to a moderate extent. I stepped up my training again and I decided to step out and try some longer, harder rides.

        In 2010 in honor of our 60th birthdays, a friend and I did the “Ride the Rockies”, 7 straight days, 532 miles, 27,000 feet of ascent. Although I took one of the recovery days off to visit some old friends, I DID climb ALL 6 of the mountain passes the ride covered. The MS 150 that year was relatively easy for me and again I improved my first day saddle time.

        At the end of 2010 I had a brief relapse that I felt was brought on by an MS drug that I tried. I spent the first part of 2011 getting through the damage from that relapse. In spite of it though, I signed up for the MS 150 including the 2nd day century. I also signed up for the “Triple Bypass”, a single day, 123-mile ride with 10,000 ft. of ascent. Again I improved my time on the first day of the 150 even if only by 7 minutes and I didn’t have any problems on the 2nd day century either, except maybe a little with the heat toward the very end. Unfortunately, I failed miserably on the “Triple Bypass” though. I did several other rides with varying degrees of success that year too and I took the liberty of blaming my failures on the relapse I’d had late in 2010 and my successes on my training. I decided to repeat most of the rides that I did that year again in 2012 to see if I could improve my success rate.

        Although the “Triple” would only constitute a relatively hard training ride for a pro, there is a good chance that it might be more than I am capable of, but whether or not I complete it is not really the point any more. The real point of these rides is the training they encourage me to do.

        I know how lucky I am to be able to ride at all because I know so many who can’t. Over the years I’ve seen how beneficial the training has been for my MS, I believe there is more at work here than simple strengthening of atrophied muscles. And, of course, the various rides with fabulous scenery and multiple opportunities to make new friends, provides more incentive for me to concentrate on that training.

        Sometimes it is a difficult concept to explain to a more competitive rider, but although I appreciate being able to complete the rides I sign up for and I thoroughly enjoy seeing the year to year improvement in my riding skill, it’s really all about the training and the tremendously beneficial effect it has had on the MS.
        Last edited by AMFADVENTURES; 05-29-2012, 10:58 AM.


        • #5
          Hey all...
          Thanks so much for the great response on this. I have received some excellent stories, and I posted the first one yesterday:
          I will post one every couple of weeks; the more I receive, the more I will post. When I post a new story, I will mention it on Twitter & Facebook to help get the word out. Every mention and story is an opportunity to help drive traffic to my fundraising efforts but also to Active MSers, Can Do MS and simply MS awareness. Please let me know if you would for any reason like me to leave your name anonymous; I have no problem at all doing so, of course.
          Thank you again for your help with this.
          Just reading each story that comes in impresses and inspires me!
          Kelly W.


          • #6
            Hi Kelly,
            Thanks for your efforts in fighting M.S. As I started to write my story, I realized it was going in an unexpected direction. Here it is:
            I have been physically active my whole life. A year and a half ago I was 48 years old, still playing soccer twice a week, running most other days, and training for my first ˝ Ironman. I started to suffer from vertigo, dizziness, and balance issues. I thought it was due to overtraining.
            Fast forward to today, and I still have bouts with vertigo, dizziness, and balance issues, and have added foot drop and left arm weakness to my growing collection of issues I am learning to navigate with.
            I have M.S., and am training for Ironman Lake Placid on July 22, 2012—just a few weeks from now. All I can think about is, “When is I all of this training going to be over? I’m tired”. But when I start to reflect on my M.S. Ironman journey, I realize it’s not really about me; it’s a lot more than that. Regardless of what reads after my name in the race results: a time or DNF (but hopefully not a DNF), my journey has taken a village—my village.
            My husband should be sainted, and my three teen-aged kids should be rewarded for being abandoned for my training schedule. Hopefully, there will be, “Go Mom,” posters along the course.
            My coach, Brandi (an Ironman, herself), who would say—no matter how much I whined, “It’s supposed to be hard. You will be an Ironman!”
            My physician, John (also an Ironman), thinks it might have been foolish for me to have entered, said that if it is what I want to do, he will help me any way he can to get to the finish line. He did have to add, “But the run it won’t be pretty”. Ugh.
            The brace maker Jim, he is my new BFF. He has been very patient and helpful through the many adjustments to my two braces. I now have a magic biking shoe and a magic running shoe! Both braces are working well to keep my foot where it was meant to be, regardless of M.S.’ opinion on the matter! He is looking forward to hearing about my Ironman experience with his artwork.
            Jeremy, the bike shop guy: After I told him I didn’t have enough strength in my left hand to safely brake, he found and installed a part that allows me to now brake both wheels using only my right hand – it took a few patient adjustments.
            My favorite running shoe store (Fleet Feet!): Can’t say enough good things about all those guys! This shoe, that shoe, mismatched sizes to fit my brace (Yes, you can buy mismatched pairs).
            All my old friends and new training partners: Well, I will start to cry if I go into how that have helped, encouraged, and supported me along this journey.
            Yup, it takes a village. We all belong to one, and I am glad. Now my hope is – after what I know will be a long day for me—to hear the voice of Mike Riley: “Jill, you are an Ironman!”


            • #7
              Wow Jill! You can totally do this!


              • #8
                Here's the story I wrote.
                Don't get too excited now. Only 50 meters to go. Stay focused. 25 meters. Concentrate or you'll fall down. 10 meters. Give that guy a high five. Just a few more steps. Don't trip on the finish line. Smile for the camera.

                These were the thoughts going through my head this past Sunday as I finished the Buffalo Springs 70.3 Triathlon. The finish line at longer, more strenuous events like this one is an especially tricky place for me. Why? Because I have multiple sclerosis (MS).

                About two years ago, I was having constant numbness in my hands, weakness in my left arm, and I was tripping on things a lot. When I could not run more than 10 minutes without almost falling over from a strange sensation in my legs, I knew something was wrong. I went to the doctor, and, well, you can guess the rest.

                My diagnosis motivated me to get every last drop of happiness out of life. In order to do that, I needed to make some changes in my life. Fatigue is one of the common symptoms people with MS have to deal with. So I asked myself - “What could I do so it would take me a really, really long time before I got fatigued? And have fun while I'm doing it?” My answer led me to lose about 70 lbs, and complete my first Ironman in November of 2011.

                Fast forward a few months to June 2012. I am driving with my wife (who is also competing in the race) to the race course at the crack of dawn. Actually dawn hasn't even entered the equation yet, it's not even 5am yet. The last time I was here was in June of 2001. I was a 27 year old who had signed up for his first half Ironman. After that, I did not compete in another triathlon for about 10 years. So this past weekend was an interesting experiment. I wasn't just racing the other competitors on the course, I was also racing my 27-year-old no-MS self. Who would win?

                Not only did I beat my time as a 27 year old, I crushed it. I crossed the finish line, MS and all, 1 hour and 20 minutes ahead of that cocky twenty-something!

                Did I take home first place in my age group? Far from it. But I took something home that was far more important – confirmation that MS doesn't have me, I have MS.

                I wouldn't be telling the whole story if I did not thank my wife, my family, and friends who are so supportive and understanding. And thanks to my coach for giving me the tools to reach my goals in this sport.



                • #9
                  Here is my story I just sent to Kelly:

                  Hi Kelly,
                  I have been a fan of yours since I saw you do so well at Boulder 70.3 last summer as I was there to cheer my husband on. It was with great delight when I saw your personal interest in supporting the MS community, as I have been recently diagnosed.

                  My MS story started about a year ago, first with some leg tingling that I would feel after a long run (I was training for a marathon at the time), then an electric shock feeling in my rib cage, and fatigue is pretty much a constant in my life. The tingling and numbness in my feet and legs got gradually worse in the Fall of 2011 and finally got my attention enough to get it checked out. I thought it was simply a pinched nerve or something like that, but test after test later, I got the disturbing news that I have MS.

                  That was in March of this year. I am still adjusting to the news, but one of the first things I did was research athletes that have MS. I have been a runner for a few years and fallen in love with running marathons, so I was hopeful that I would not have to give this passion up. I was pleased to find many runners and triathletes who have MS that continue to train and even do amazing things like run marathons and do Ironmans! I plan on continuing to run marathons, do the New Mexico MS 150 bike ride this summer, and possibly even do some triathlons.

                  I decided to start a blog to document my journey of trying to stay in shape while dealing with what MS might throw my way. I hope that I can inspire others to not be deterred by this diagnosis and to keep moving, or start moving their bodies, because exercise is shown to be so helpful in dealing with MS. I just completed my fifth marathon, my first one post MS diagnosis (PMS, as I like to call it!). It was my fastest marathon so far, and I even qualified for the Boston Marathon. I hope and pray that I can stay healthy enough to have many more marathons and triathlons in my future. Thank you for your commitment to MS awareness and fundraising.



                  • #10
                    Beth... Boston? That's impressive! Be sure to say hi to me at BikeMS unless you prefer to remain incognito. And please post your blog link so all of us can read more....
                    Dave Bexfield


                    • #11
                      I didn't really think of myself as having a "story" ... silly me. Here is what I sent to Kelly.

                      The Mystery

                      Call it mid-life crisis that drew me at age 45 into running. Running was a no-brainer for me. I seemed pre-loaded with the mechanics and endurance needed for distance running. In 1999 I ran my first of many “fun-runs” with my friend Patty and worked my way up to marathon distance. Five years later triathlon caught hold of me.

                      I had to learn to swim. I was one of those pour souls you see gasping and flailing, doing their “laps” across the width of the pool. With my head out of the water, wide-eyed and fixed on my destination I pretty much stayed in the shallow end. Put me in the pool any deeper than the 5ft marker and I would not venture more than arms length from the edge. Well boys and girls, to do triathlon you have to swim away from the edge, in open water, where you probably can’t see bottom and your feet won’t touch! I still remember the afternoon I first swam for real, in a training tank in my swim coaches’ backyard. Finally the breathing, arm stroke and kick all came together and a new synchrony of motion became a part of me.

                      I found an awesome tri training group in Roseville, Ca where I learned to bike and swim. I did my first open water swim across chilly Lake Natoma, accompanied and encouraged through a lot of apprehension, by several of my fellow trainees. Swimming across the lake (and back) that day I realized I could overcome fear with perseverance, hope and the support of people who wanted me to succeed. Little did any of us know that even then MS was my other, then silent, training partner.

                      The mystery began to seep into the picture with strange tingling sensations and muscle spasms. Random episodes of vertigo and fatigue had me pouring over my training log and checking my caloric intake. Maybe more potassium or an extra rest day was in order. Sometimes I felt off balance on the bike. My arms and legs just seemed to weaken for no reason. I compared myself to other women with similar build, muscle tone and apparent strength. I just couldn’t figure out what was going on.

                      Now, two years after diagnosis I can look back and think, “Oh, ok, that’s what was happening.” My neurologist believes I had been “managing” my MS by staying active. I agree and I will continue to pursue an active lifestyle while I learn to accept and work with the needs and limitations I encounter with MS. I am very grateful for the people who support and encourage me. Where there is hope there is all manner of possibility.


                      My Two Numb Feet - An MS Diary


                      • #12
                        Thanks, Dave. Looking forward to meeting you at the MS ride next month, I'll definitely look for you to say hi. My blog is