Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Greatest Effort...

is not concerned with results. It's a very familiar phrase for the Buddhist crowd, and I've mentioned it here before. I came upon it first in a fortune cookie around the time things started to go downhill with my running, and for years it was stuck to our bathroom mirror as a daily reminder.

I took the word "results" to mean race times then, but it has slowly crept into other areas in my life. The efforts I've made with my diet-lifestyle and with trying to quiet my immune system since being diagnosed with MS came to mind when I recently read this quote again in a book. When I started making changes I kept a daily journal of all my symptoms along with my energy levels, which I evaluated and scrutinized along with my now pathetic running log (these were the five minute run-five minute walk days). I expected things to change quickly for me, and I couldn't wait until enough time had gone by that I could bug my neurologist for another full boat of MRI's so that I could compare the activity and number of lesions to my original scans.

About nine months ago I inquired about when I could go back in the tube for more tests, and my neurologist got all head-shrinky on me. "I can order the tests anytime, but I have to ask why you want to know, and what you will do with the results. You are clearly doing well; you've said so yourself. What difference will the tests make?"

I was expecting a fight, not an existential dilemma to ponder. Still, after thinking on it for several months and discussing it with my wife I saw the doctor again, and I told him I would hold off on the tests unless I had an attack or exacerbation, which I don't see as imminent given how I'm doing. The daily symptom weather report suffered the same fate, replaced by the inventory I mention in the previous post. Damn you cookie.

How am I doing? Here are the miles from the last month or so (you can follow me on Daily Mile in the sidebar above to see more)


I've started to get back into the 40+MPW window, which is where I am hoping to keep things. The paces are coming down into the low 7's on days when I'm recovered and rested, and there have been some great moments during recent runs where a palpable feeling spontaneously comes over me. The runner's high was one of the first things that disappeared on my runs after my exacerbation, and I welcome it back. July and August were especially hard for me, and I'm thankful that I seem to be coming around a bit again. I'm still struggling to run at faster paces, but I think my abilities are probably fairly close to where they were this spring before falling off in May.

I'm racing the Jim Click Run & Roll 8K a week from tomorrow, and I'm going to try to keep a 6:30 or better pace if I stay calm. It's a long way from the 5:20 pace I held at this race in '08 when I was at my strongest, but it certainly beats sitting it out as I did last year. The legs still get jittery and stop following through when I push too hard or get overexcited, so I'm going to do my best to keep relaxed while staying focused. I don't see the pace goal as a result I'm chasing so much as a strategy I'm following that will hopefully allow me to give my best effort without overcooking things and getting myself in trouble.

This post is dedicated to a reader who is going through the painful and uncertain possibility of an MS diagnosis. I know my last post indicated I would focus only on my running and not my illness on this page, but the two are part of the same whole, and trying to segregate two things that are so obviously intertwined is futile. I know it's possible and necessary to observe and reflect on how things are without dwelling or getting overwhelmed, and I'm giving it a try here in an effort to show a reader in a similar situation that it's worth it. Good luck in NYC.