I am excited to report that I ran my first official mud run/obstacle course; the Delta Dash. It was a challenging 5K through some nasty, smelly mud, some crazy terrain changes, and some pretty serious obstacles. At the point I started the race. I had planned on using this race as a race to prepare me for the Warrior Dash, which I run in just a couple of weeks. At the point I finished the race, I had the realization that this was in fact not a training race at all, but rather a race deserving of its own respect for the challenges in it. I learned that it is wrong to underestimate your opponent in OCR and Mud Run racing: the course itself.
You see, I am honestly not competing with anyone but myself. I believe that in the back of my mind I want to beat this person or that person, but honestly, I just want to finish safely. In this race, I did learn that you have to plan really well when you are packing Parkinson’s disease. About halfway through the course, I experienced “wearing off” in a significant way. Wearing off is when your carbidopa/levodopa no longer works. Here’s the drawback; the focused movements that you relied on to scale walls and other obstacles, the balance that you used moving through changing terrain, the mental focus you needed to just get one foot moving in front of the other, and the drive to keep moving suddenly spilled out of me. It was at that point I could have stopped, asked for assistance, and been carted off the course in a mud buggy. But that day, I could not accept that.
Halfway across the country, a friend was running the Spartan World Championship in Lake Tahoe. He had spent the entire week encouraging me, helping me to realize that I was not running a little race at all, but pushing myself to be so much more in spite of Parkinson’s. I was amazed and inspired by him running in the Spartan, and humbly he said that he drew inspiration and encouragement from my run. He told me I was running for much more than the Delta Dash, running for much more than finishing, but instead that I was running to make an impact; an impact in my life, and many lives that were being encouraged by the fact that I was running to defeat PD in my life. He told me that I was an incredible individual for stepping into this arena. He had already been encouraging me and coaching me as I have prepared for the Warrior Dash and have been able to raise over half my goal for St. Jude Children’s Hospital that I will run on October 21st. But this week was different; this day was different.
Running with me was an amazing team of family members and coworkers who ran to show their support of me running with Parkinson’s. I heard them say that if I could run at my age with Parkinson’s, then they really had no excuse. I watched as we worked together to get every member through that course, over obstacles that were scary or difficult, but all finished the race. In the end, we were exhausted, filthy, smelled awful, and a little banged up. But what I saw through the muddy faces were the most beautiful smiles and laughter. We had accomplished something bigger together. That day, my other friend Christian finished his Spartan World Championship, and I was proud for him as he is a PD fighter as well. His family was so proud of him as he crossed the finish line. I would imagine the whole experience was exhausting and surreal for him. I think he is still smiling.
I woke up Sunday morning, and my Parkinson’s hadn’t gone away. I still struggled to get out of bed, even more this day because I was a little stiffer, and banged up. I still had tremors, still had to take medicine, still had a masked expression, and shuffled around until my medicine took effect. I still hated PD, but as I looked in the mirror that day, I was even more thankful for my new perspective. For a moment, I had defeated Parkinson’s; it is a daily fight. That Monday, as I started back in the gym to prepare for the Warrior Dash, I signed up for my first Spartan Sprint in April of 2018. I told my buddy Christian I was going to pursue my first Trifecta in 2018. I said it is no longer about wanting, but now about doing. He told me he would be there to encourage me along the way, and then ended his message with one word. AROO. I think my Parkinson’s is about to have a tough year. AROO, PD, AROO indeed.