‘I Have MS—and I Finished 50 Marathons Since My Diagnosis’
“Running helped me accomplish what I’ve set out to do—rather than mourn the things I’ve lost, I treasure what I still can do.”
By EMILY SHIFFER (JUL 9, 2019)
Hile has learned to find a new normal when it comes to running with MS.
“When I started tripping and falling, I went to my neurologist, and her words were to lower your expectations. That really hurt,” she says. “But from that day forward my mantra has been, ‘I do what I can and I never give up.’ Even if I have those bad MS days, I still do it, I still go.”
MS-related fatigue has made marathons more challenging lately, and she isn’t sure how much longer she can continue with the 26.2.
“MS fatigue makes all my symptoms worse; my foot drags more, my right leg feels heavier to lift, the neuropathic pain is stronger and more frequent, and I’m not as mentally strong as before,” she says. “It becomes harder to ‘tough it out’. My mantra is to never give up, but sometimes the pain and fatigue break me down and I just want to stop. That is when a walk break is in order and a pep talk from my husband is much needed.”
She’s already purchased a road bike in anticipation for when she’ll need more days off from running. But she’s already accomplished some pretty major goals while running with MS: For one, she is the first person with MS to run a marathon on all seven continents, a feat she accomplished from September 2016 to September 2017.
And through running, she’s been able to raise awareness for MS by partnering with the MS MindShift campaign, which aims to educate people with MS on what they can do to keep their brain as healthy as possible for as long as possible.
Still, she’s not ready to hang up her running shoes just yet: This fall, she will run the Richmond Marathon for the second year in a row on the team she helped create, Team Run A Myelin My Shoes, which raises money for MS awareness and research. Last year, the team had 55 physical and virtual members, and this year, the team already has 100 members.
“With MS, there are a lot of uncertainties. It’s changed my whole life. But I’ve found running has elevated my body, my brain and my spirit,” she says. “And it’s helped me accomplish what I’ve set out to do—rather than mourn the things I’ve lost, I treasure what I still can do.”