I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis about seven years ago. I also have a genetic kidney disease called polycystic kidney disease that will eventually lead to a kidney transplant. Most people don’t know I have MS, and when they find out, they are shocked because I really do look normal. This goes to show that you really never know what someone is going through.
For the last few years, once a month, I go to Salt Lake City, and my doctors hook me up to an IV and give me an infusion of my medication for my MS. For three hours, I watch the people around me walking in with canes or being pushed in by wheelchairs, and I watch as husbands lift their wives from their wheelchairs, so they can get their medication.
As I looked at them, I decided I wanted to do something completely for myself, despite my health issues. I have never been a runner, nor have I ever wanted to be. I thought runners were crazy. I used to say that if you see me running, you better run, too, because it’s either a fire or a bear.
In June, I decided to ask my boyfriend, who is a runner, if he thought I could train for a half marathon. I wanted to see if I could do it. With his support, as well as the rest of my family and my doctors, I started training. I trained with a program called Couch to Half Marathon in 20 weeks, which can be found online. The first day had me running one minute and walking three. I couldn’t even run that one minute. But I did it!
The last month of training, I thought for sure my body was doing everything possible to stop me from doing this half marathon. I was getting MS flair ups, which included numb hands and feet, inability to use my right arm all of a sudden, not being able to feel my nose or burning sensations, and even waking up and immediately having fatigue to the point of not being able to get out of bed. My doctors were worried I was pushing myself too hard.
But last Sunday, Nov. 13, was the Rock ’N’ Roll Half Marathon in Las Vegas, NV, and I was at the starting line. They shut down the strip at night to allow for the race, and before mile one was over, I sprained my ankle by stepping in a pot hole. I thought for sure I was done, but my boyfriend wouldn’t let me quit. I pushed through. I had to compensate by running weird, but by mile 12.5, I couldn’t put any weight on my leg at all. I thought I’d have to be wheeled over the finish line in a wheelchair.
I had set a goal to complete the race by 2 hours and 30 minutes, and I could tell I was getting close to that time. Even though I could barely walk, I started to run again. I finished at 2 hours, 30 minutes and 2 seconds. I did it!
It was an emotional journey to go to Salt Lake every month to get my infusion and to see people who can’t walk or do anything, yet I was lucky enough to be able to train for the half marathon and actually finish it!
My doctors told me they are happy for me, but they encourage me NOT to ever try a full marathon. I am, however, signed up for the Ogden Half Marathon. I want to keep training after my injuries heal, but who knows what the future will bring for me?
Danna Woods graduated from Weber State University in 2004. She has worked as the supervisor at the Shepard Union Information Desk for the last 4 years.