Honored to Be Called Part of Team Jill!

Today is a big day for me.  As a member of the 2015 and now 2016 MS Run the US Team, I always have the feeling that I run with a purpose.  That is one of the reasons I wanted to be a part of this team.  The other of course is to help fight MS and make a difference.  By being a part of this team there is so much that has been added to my life.  I get to be an advocate for those with MS through my love of running.  Today I get to be a part of a more specific team:  TEAM JILL.  Team Jill is the reason I applied to be a part of this amazing non-profit.  Jill Kumlien is the first person I met personally with MS.  She is the mother of one of my high school friends and teammates, Ashley.  She is the creator of MS Run the US, and her dream is to crush MS, one dollar and one mile at a time.  A mission I now share.  🙂

Today I will run with 7 other people and push Jill in a running stroller the distance of the Brewers Half Marathon.  Now that’s what I call running with a purpose! 🙂  From what I know, Jill  has had MS for quite awhile now.  I have known Ashley since my freshman year of high school, which was over 16 years ago, and Jill has had MS since I knew her.  She needs help getting around, and there is no way MS would allow her to run on her own.  So she will race with our help!!   Now that’s teamwork!

jill

Jill!!!

Being a part of the MS Run the US Team is more important than any team I have ever been on, including high school and college sports.  The reason being because the overall goal is more important, to cure, heal, and fight MS.  MS is a horrible disease that effects the central nervous system.  It may start with some small symptoms, but over time is starts to effect the entire body, such as vision, ability to walk, and ability to fight off other illnesses.   And there IS NO CURE.  It has been reported that as many as half a million people in the United States have been diagnosed with MS, and hundreds more diagnoses are made every week.  It could happen to any one of us, or someone we love.  In my mind it is a gamble.  And it is very possible that you know someone that either has it, or has a family member that has it, and you don’t even know it at this time.

I want to thank Ashley, Jill, and my entire MS Run the US team and family.  Without the opportunities I have been given due to MS Run the US, I do not think I would be who I am today.  And who I am today is a lot better than the person I was a little over a year ago before I started this journey as a relay runner and advocate for MS Run the US.  It has been a life changing year that’s for sure!  It has taught me so much about giving and what I am capable of physically when I set my mind to something, such as running 165 miles in 6 days and raising $12,251 (year one) to make a difference!!

Please, please, please help our mission by making any amount donation in honor of Jill today.  Can’t afford it?  I used to say this too.  Then I realized I have money for the coffee at Starbucks, the $10 for the fancy drink I get with my $20 dinner when I go out to each with friends….Or that cute top I bought to go out in that I only wore once… None of which made me feel good about myself after.  What is it that you buy that you kind of regret an hour or a day later?  I promise this will make you feel better… And if I’m wrong, and you feel horrible about yourself after you donate to this cause I will match your donation.  Promise.  But if you are anything like me, you will find out there there is no better feeling than giving to a good cause.  I think there is something good that happens to the brain and the heart after doing so.  Find out for yourself. 😉   Just use the link below.  ANY AMOUNT will help us get to our goal.  Even that $5 you would have spent on that beer tonight… THANK YOU!!!!

http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/nikkicahen/msruntheus2016relay

Run Happy, Give Often Friends!  It will change your life… for the better. (Plus it’s tax deducible, so really there is no excuse!!)

Nikki 🙂

MS Run the US Advocate!

My Bobble Head for the MS Run the US website! :)

My Bobble Head for the MS Run the US website! 🙂

Mind Over Matter

It is amazing how MS Run the US and the experiences I had in 2014-2015 have changed my life in so many ways.  I think my experiences last year with both training and learning how to fund raise $10k changed me as a person.  I have always known that I am a goal oriented person, but this took it too a new level, and I think I am hooked.  I love the challenge of having a HUGE project to work on, such as creating and organizing fundraisers for a good cause.  Maybe I am in the wrong profession!  Just kidding, but it has been a fun way to spend my free time, especially since it is benefiting others and not myself.  That is the best part about it.  It has made me put others first, even more than I already did.  I have always been a “people pleaser” but this is different and better.  This experience has made me grateful for what I have and what I am able to do without thinking twice.  It has also made it my life’s mission to help those who could use a little boost.

When I look back at everything I accomplished in 2015 I am a bit intimidated.  I know that sounds kind of ridiculous, but it was a long journey, and every year brings different experiences and circumstances.  Some days I think “How did I DO that?!”  For example, my biggest fundraiser, bringing in $5,000 of the $12,000 I raised, is not going to be repeated this year.  That is scary, but it is also how it has to be.  Almost one year ago I ran 60 miles in one day to kick start my fundraising.  It was great in a lot of ways.  It got people out with me also putting in miles, it brought in half of my goal, and I love that kind of crazy thing.  But it can’t happen this year, I have too much coming up with 7 races in 8 weeks, and a recovering hamstring/glute that can’t be put through that this fall.  It needs to be able to get me through the 2 marathons I have coming up and then time to heal so I can train how I need to in 2016.

So, almost daily, I think to myself, can I do it again?  Running 180 miles in 7 days is not the hardest part at all.  When I ran 165 miles in 6 days, that may actually have been one of the easier tasks of this whole challenge.  The hard part to me was the fundraising, as well as the training.  You can’t just go out there and run 165 or 180 miles.  Well I suppose you could, but I can’t imagine it would go well.  It sounds like a really bad and painful idea.  Instead, I started training 5 months before the true test began.  January when it was cold and dark and not even a month into winter.  And I will do that again this year.  I started slow with miles I was used to running and then about 5 weeks into it I started to jump up into what I called “ultra training.”  This was anywhere from 60-95 miles per week from February through the end of May pretty much.

The crazy thing to me now looking back is how well it actually went.  I only had a small set back and that was right away at the beginning when I had a flair up with an old hip injury that got so intense that I couldn’t run through it for about a week.  In fact, it bothered me 24/7.  At work, walking, driving, sleeping, standing, laying down…   Then I started getting massages and it all got more tolerable.  Did I still have many miles of nagging pain?  Oh yes.  But it was nothing bad enough to stop for, slow down for or even worry much about because I had a bigger goal in mind:  Completing my training so I could run 165 miles in 6 days.

I have learned some valuable lessons since finishing that large feat.  One of them being, don’t sign up for races that I need to keep training for AFTER running 165 miles in 6 days and running over 1,000 miles in 5 months.  Not a good idea, and I have been paying for it since.  Next year I promise myself I will not look toward summer or fall until I have recovered from winter and spring.  I still have not given my body a large amount of recovery time, and it is going on October.  I ran my segment in May… DUMB.  But I have 6 and a half weeks and 6 more races to get through and then I am DONE for 2015.  It’s been one hell of a year.  And I am so ready for it to end.  I am tired.

The whole point of this post is that I feel like the 5 months of intense training for 6 days of high mileage running taught me one super important thing.  (It taught me many, but this one is what I try to remember most often…)  The mind is a powerful thing.  I truly believe the only reason I made it through all those miles before I got injured (which happened pretty quick after I got back) is because my mind was set on competing that huge journey.  This is why I feel positive that I CAN and WILL succeed for year two.  Because it means enough to me and it is important enough that my mind will find a way to get through the training and run my segment.  I may have to change a couple things, it may not go as smoothly as 2015, and I may have setbacks, but I also know that where there is a will there is a way.  Why?  Because this is bigger than me.  This is for those who have MS and didn’t ask to be dealt that card.  I run for them and I raise money for them.  I will make it 180 miles in 7 days as an advocate for Ms Run the US.  Mind over matter…

Run Happy Friends, 🙂

Nikki

day 2