A few weeks ago I was interviewed for the local slice-of-life article called “My Favorite Things” in Competitor Magazine. The article was just published in the June 2011 issue. Below is a clip from the magazine.
Quotes & Inspiration
Got another really nice email from a reader and fellow Lyme sufferer the other day. I’m posting it below with his permission. His success is proof that while it can be an incredible challenge to overcome, you can dig yourself out of the exercise Lyme hole with dedication and commitment to yourself.
I’ve been following your blog since finding it a year ago, shortly after my own diagnosis with tick-borne diseases. I found your site during my frantic search to find a way to maintain my military career while I fight my illnesses. You demonstrate that life does not stop just because we are sick. Following your training advice and generally inspiring example, I was able to rebuild my ability to pass the physical fitness exams. For this I thank you. I wish I had some information to share to return the favor, but at the very least, I can tell you that I am extremely grateful for how you have shown me (and many others) a way to regain some control over this wild ride.
Got a great email from a reader the other day. I’m (anonymously) sharing it with you below.
I really appreciate all of the emails I get from people, but hers was especially timely and helpful. You see, even with my somewhat glass-half-full attitude about having Lyme, there are days (like today) where I really feel like shit and completely hate my fucking situation. Getting a note like this really turns things around. THANKS!
I enjoy your blog very much. I had not felt well for a very long time and had suspected lyme but my family md ignored my symptoms. When I sought the help of a LLMD… I had confirmation but scared the crap out of me. I have been to several specialist to rule out other things… blah blah.
My biggest mistake was to read all the hell stories on the web… I literally made myself worse I struggled to function in my daily life because I was convinced I was losing my marbles. Six months later and several rounds of antibiotics… I am feeling somewhat better.
Your blog was a bright shining beacon for me as I like to think if myself as an athlete… tennis primarily and started running when I first was diagnosed with lyme. I’m back to a healthy weight and increasing my workouts… in the hopes of staying healthy and continuing the pursuit of a healthy life.
Your blog has been an inspiration. No one seems certain of what illness I have… but I am approaching the treatment with the intensity with which I train and compete with my tennis and running… I take nothing for granted and nothing at face value. I question everything. I think we strive to compete harder and push our selves to prove that a diagnoses of ld doesn’t need to consume us and define our lives. THANK YOU FOR sharing you positive outlook with us all.
As I mentioned before, I get two or three emails a week from active people with Lyme. Most are from Lyme-suspicious or newly diagnosed people. Others are from folks who are recovering, but need some advice on how to get started. And still others are from us lucky few who are athletes struggling to continue with our training through treatment.
I enjoy the fact that so many of you have found this blog helpful, but it’s also a little embarrassing at times for me to continually post my training and racing success stories. So many reading this blog are struggling and I sometimes feel that I’m sticking it in your face that I’m active, running and, to some extent, thriving all while feeling moderately awful.
Then I get a message when the one below (posted with author’s approval)…
I want to tell you that I have been reading your site for the last year since I got Lyme Bart/anaplasmosis in July 2009. I especially enjoy the running topics because that is a big part of my life also. I too am dealing with the same pain with unexplained improvement or at least the same running times as I had before I got Lyme.
It is so hard to explain to my friends about feeling so sick but still racing so well, but I see the same thing coming from you. I am soon to be 52 and I had a mile time this year of 5:56 where before Lyme it was 6:08. I think we know what pain is and therefore got stronger. I can’t seem to do the distance, 1/2 marathon anymore, but I ran and won a 10k last week in 45:36 and my 5k time this year was a 21:16.
I ran Falmouth a decade ago so it is neat to see you doing the same race I did too.
Reading your blog has helped me through many tired painful weeks and it gave me hope for a recovery. Thank you so much for the effort you put into helping others and for sharing your running and life stories with us. Keep up the training and I will try to keep it up on my end.
I wanted to share this to show that there are others out there, like myself, who are continuing to try, try, try (and do well!) even while fighting this frustrating disease. If you’re having a tough day, keep this in mind. You’re not alone in your struggle.
Watched an awesome and inspiring documentary last night, Runners High. It’s a feature-length film about the Students Run Oakland program. SRO takes kids from under-served public schools in Oakland and works with them to run the LA Marathon.
When teenagers from one of the nation’s toughest neighborhoods in Oakland, California sign up to train for a marathon, they begin the journey of a lifetime. Runners High is an intimate, character driven documentary of struggle, courage, and hope. During a season filled with conflict and possibility, four of these teens bare their dreams, joys, tears and fears. As several stumble under pressure in emotionally charged moments, others realize the journey begins with the power and commitment to accept responsibility for their own futures. Runners High shows that no matter what happens next, one season of training to run 26.2 miles can change your life forever.
I’ve been looking for a program like this in NYC, but have only been able to find the NYRR Youth Foundation which logistically doesn’t work for me. If anyone knows of a different group in or around Brooklyn, please let me know.
One of those days
Needing this today… Try by Sidsel Endresen & Bugge Wesseltoft
(No Link Love today)
Runners are awesome
The running store that I coach for is very friendly with Brooks. I like to think that it’s because we’re all-around damn fine people to hang out with. But it’s probably due to the fact that we’re their top retailer within the specialty running store category on the East Coast (not including FootLocker, WalMart, etc.). Who knows? Regardless, because of our relationship with them, we get some special Brooks perks.
The perks usually involve them sending us free shoes or discounts on shorts. Last week, however, completely surpassed any freebie footwear. They sent us Scott Jurek for four days!
If you’re not a runner – or even if you are – you may not know who Scott Jurek is, but in the world of ultra-running (greater than marathon distance) he’s pretty much The Man. To give you an idea of how baddass a runner he is, here are some of his accomplishments:
- Seven-time winner of the grueling Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run with a course record of 15:36 (that’s HOURS not minutes)
- Three-time and only American winner of the 153 mile Spartathon. A race in Greece from Athens to Sparta
- Two-time winner of the Badwater Ultramarathon. A 135 mile run through Death Valley and up Mt. Whitney
And the list goes on. Check out the highlights section of his website to see more. All of them are pretty staggering achievements most of which boggle the mind of even the seasoned ultra-runners I know.
He’s also somewhat featured in the hot book, Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen. Which, by the way, is a fantastic read. Probably the best book I’ve ever read on running.
While he was here, Scott gave a series of slide show lectures at our Manhattan store, had dinner at a local organic farm/restaurant with a small group of lucky people (Scott’s a vegan) and did two group runs. The first run was in Central Park; the second in Prospect Park, Brooklyn. I couldn’t make the lectures due to work, but I did get to share in the organizational duties of the Brooklyn run. Myself and a couple of other guys from the store mapped out a four-mile mostly trail surface route.
It was a little embarrassing to take Scott on a four-mile run knowing that he averages running 125-150 miles a week (yes, a week!), but if was he was even the slightest bit irritated you’d never know it. He turned out to be one of the nicest people you could ever meet. Very laid back, down to Earth and approachable even with his status as an Ultra-Running Phenom.
After the run, some of us went back to the store with Scott and he hung out, answer questions and signed some autographs. I’m not really one to go for autographs, but since he was signing I decided to get one. He signed a little poster for me that Brooks made featuring him in the trail running shoes that he helped designed, the Brooks Cascadia. It’s now hanging on the wall over my computer in my “motivation space”. The spot where I post goal times, inspirational quotes, old race numbers, photos and (sometimes) medals. A nice addition.
Running makes you a better person
For me, the takeaway from this experience was that the old adage of “running makes you a better person” is really true. Between coaching and just being involved in the community I talk to a lot of sub 40 mile a week runners. Most of them are very nice, but over the last year or so I’ve been meeting more and more ultra-runners and I have to say, as the miles go up so does the cool quotient. Whether they’re local folks, highly-accomplished International athletes like my friends Christopher or top-competitors like Scott, it really seems that the more miles you run the nicer you become.
I know he’d be utterly embarrassed to read this
My friend Christopher Bergland is one of my running paladins.
Chris has won triple Ironman races, run Badwater, written a great book on running The Athlete’s Way: Sweat and the Biology of Bliss and holds the Guinness Word Record for distance on a treadmill in 24 hours. And while I’ll never share any of those accomplishments with him, we do share two things – a passion for rubber bands and the desire to develop a positive mind-set.
One afternoon, a few years ago, Chris and I were having coffee and he starting telling me about his rubber band fetish. He explained how each morning he puts a new rubber band on his wrist as a reminder of his commitment to training. At night, he takes it off and adds it to a rubber band ball.
The balls remind him of the “investment” he’s made in himself and serve as a visual reminder of the effort he’s put into training. The more the he trains, the bigger the ball gets, which, in turn, drives him to keep training. A never-ending cycle; a circle… just like the rubber bands themselves.
His story set off little fireworks in my mind.
Rubber bands, so what?
Chris’ story really struck me. As you may have noticed, I have a touch of OCD and it manifests itself in the quirkiest ways. For example, I’ve been wearing rubber bands around my wrists off and on since high school.
I don’t know what it is… when I find one, I pick it up and slip it on. I’m not picky about color, width or quality. When I find one that’s too big, I break it and tie it into a smaller loop so that it stays on. Sometimes I tie two together and double loop them around my wrist. You get the idea…
What do I do with them? Previous to meeting Chris, nothing. I’d wear a couple for while, find a better one, swap one out. Maybe shoot it at somebody. On random occasions they came in handy, like in a MacGyver kind of way, but none of this amounted to anything.
After talking with Chris, though, I put my obsession to new purpose and started making my own training-related ball. Pre-Lyme I was doing 6-8 training activities a week and the ball quickly grew. However, once Lyme hit me, I gave up “training” and contributing to the ball. And without goals or a visual touchstone to remind me of them, I spun down into a pretty dark place.
Positive Imagery. Positive Mind-set.
I think any runner/athlete can associate with this statement – my mood and general outlook on things are very closely tied to my athletic abilities. When I’m able to get out and run, ride and be active, I’m pretty happy. But when I’m struggling physically, I’m struggling mentally as well. It’s one of the toughest aspects of my illness and until as recently as last summer, I was not managing it well at all. I couldn’t climb out of the hole.
After a particularly low point in August and a lot of self-doubt about attempting to race a 1/2 marathon, I decided to pick up the ball making process again. The next day I went to Staples, bought two 64-count bags of 3 1/2 x 1/4 inch rubber bands and started wearing them again.
Training for the race was rough. And even though I’d run many 1/2 marathons before, it was very much like doing it all again for the first time. But as the training continued, so did the growth of the ball and by race day I had a nice tennis ball-sized example of the hard work I’d put in (see photo above).
Roll Your Own
I bring this up now because I’ve started a new ball of the new year (also in the photo above). According to my log, I’ve run or biked 20 times since January 1st and I now have a 20-band ball sitting on my desk next to my 1/2 marathon ball. Their presence is reassuring; a reminder of what I can still do instead of what I can’t. A reminder of the many commitments, athletic and otherwise, that I’ve made for this year. A reminder of the investment I’m making in my health for myself and my family.
If you’re struggling to stay focused on your goals, stay on track with your treatment or just generally stay positive. I suggest you go to Staples, grab a bag of 3 1/2 x 1/4 inch rubber bands and started making your own ball. It’s a cheap, easy way to give yourself a visual reminder of the path you want to follow.