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Follow This Mother!

Amy, her husband Dan Jackson, and her daughter Vivian.
Amy, her husband Dan Jackson, and her daughter Vivian.

Amy DeKorse, 39, was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis when her daughter Vivian, now 4, was a baby. But this New Haven, MI, half-marathon mother runner finds strength in running. “I try to be smart about it. I have physical therapy to ensure proper stretching and strengthening, as well as having all my doctors aware of my training intentions and how to keep me doing it.” 

Best recent run: I love running, but ”training” aspects can get me a little frustrated, though. For example, I don’t really lose myself in speed workouts or hill-climbing like a good ol’ long run. BUT, last week, while forcing myself to do 8x400s right in my own neighborhood, I realized after how great I felt! Counting down the segments, challenging myself to keep pace, and SURVIVING helped in creating a newfound respect for this part of training!

Powerful Athlete: For as long as I can remember, I’ve always admired the female athlete. Growing up a “band geek,” I didn’t feel I possessed the discipline nor had the physical advantage those girls seemed to have. It was like a secret society to which I didn’t have the secret code to gain access.  Weight loss was the motivation for even attempting to “wog” (walk/jog). I followed the early “walk-run” calisthenic program the military issued to my husband. I remember the first week was simply “walk two minutes, jog 30 seconds.” I was SO nervous that I wouldn’t be able to do it -- it took me 12 minutes of walking to get the confidence up to break into a slow jog for the first 30-second segment of my life! That was IT! I was hooked! I DID IT! Something so small and trivial, that provided me the confidence to continue to do it, and (albeit slowly!) get better at it. The effort was small, the change was significant. At 37 years old, I finally gained access to a club I thought you had to be innately “good” at, when all I had to do was try all along… I am an athlete!  Perhaps most exciting was being able to teach this lesson to my daughter, much earlier in her life than I had discovered in my own!

Grand Rapids, MI Color Run ’13 with friends (L to R) Stephanie, Amy, Andrea, and Marie.
Grand Rapids, MI Color Run ’13 with friends (L to R) Stephanie, Amy, Andrea, and Marie.

Living and Running with MS: This is a really tough one for me. When my daughter was four months old, I began experiencing numbness and tingling in my arms, and a persistent burning sensation in my spine. Five months later, I started being followed by a neurologist for Multiple Sclerosis. Since denial is my favorite coping skill (yikes!), I have found it extremely difficult to accept such a diagnosis, as well as the symptoms that accompany it.  The days I experience overwhelming fatigue, I chalk up to over training, instead of accepting the reality. The vicious cycle leaves me feeling more stiff and difficult to move, the more I don’t move! This helps me stay at it, trying to at least walk when I can’t run. It may be the case that one day I can’t…but today I definitely CAN! I try to be smart about it; I have physical therapy to ensure proper stretching and strengthening, as well as having all my doctors aware of my training intentions and how to keep me doing it.

Favorite running weather/temperatures: Since heat can trigger flare-ups, I LOVE running in 50-degree weather. I feel loose and fluid!

Running shorts or skirt: I’m admittedly still a bit body-conscious, so I prefer running in capris, but have a goal to one day boldly wear a running skirt!

5K or half-marathon: Definitely half-marathon. Having completed my first one last fall, I love everything about it. The training it requires to complete it, the support you receive while you’re running it -- and it goes without saying -- the amazing feeling while running across the finish line (for me, 2:38 later!)

Foam roll or stretch: I truly benefit from both. Muscle spasms can be painful and both stretching and rolling fix it for me. I’m careful to allow enough time to be sure I get at least a good stretch in after each run.

Running mantra: Keep running for those who can’t!

Detroit Women’s Half Marathon & 5K ’13 Finisher! "One of my proudest moments, for sure."
Detroit Women’s Half Marathon & 5K ’13 Finisher! "One of my proudest moments, for sure."

The Bachelorette or Orange is the New Black: Orange is the New Black…and Game of Thrones. I was surprisingly and wildly addicted to both!

Favorite post-run (or post-race) treat: Buddy’s Pizza and Coldstone’s Cake-Batter ice cream… Mmmmmm!

If I could run anywhere, it would be ... Along Lake Michigan in the evening to catch the amazing sunset!

Amy calls her husband Dan "the best husband EVER."
Amy calls her husband Dan "the best husband EVER."

What keeps me going when I hit a rough patch in a race or a run: I ground myself by reminding myself that this is one moment in the day, and the minutes are going to tick by either way, so power through it and finish it! I imagine there might be a time when I can’t do this…and THIS is NOT one of those times!

What I thought about during today’s run: It was kind of therapy hour for myself. I get frustrated that I’m not running as well as I was last summer at this time. Appreciating that I’m still running is an important perspective for me to embrace.

Best Mile Ever (and Why): Mile 10 in my first half marathon last fall. I was kind of just plugging along, relieved to be in the second half of the race. During my training, I had never run longer than 10 miles. When I saw the “Mile 10” sign, I did a quick self-assessment and realized I was still feeling strong, in awe that I had made it this far, and realized I had a measly 5K left to finish. Processing all that took the whole mile, and my splits showed me it was one of my fastest miles in the race. I literally, physically, felt “Woohoo!!!” throughout my body!

My running, in three words: Freeing, Therapeutic, Life-changing.

Follow This Mother on Twitter and over at her blog.

5 responses to “Follow This Mother!

  1. Really enjoyed reading this. My sister has MS and she struggles with staying active, even though when she is able to be active she feels better. I need to forward this to her for a dose of inspiration!

  2. I can so relate to this: “For as long as I can remember, I’ve always admired the female athlete. Growing up a “band geek,” I didn’t feel I possessed the discipline nor had the physical advantage those girls seemed to have. It was like a secret society to which I didn’t have the secret code to gain access.”

    I wasn’t a band geek, just an all-purpose geek! Good luck with your running!

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