Sunday, May 2, 2010

Race for Hope 5K, and whatever happened to C25K?

There are very few things in my life that I need answers to. I know why I gained so much weight, why I've had problems with school and social relationships, and what I need(ed) to do to right some wrongs I've done to myself and others. I've had one nagging question since I was a little kid, and I've never gotten an answer.

"Why do I have Epilepsy???"

I don't know if I've ever mentioned it before on the blog, but I've suffered from had Primary Generalized Absence Seizures for almost 19 years, and it's greatly affected my life. I have memory, coordination and balance issues, and I've had to give up a lot of activities I loved, like video games, some concerts and clubs, skiing and gymnastics. Like 67% of all epileptics, I've also had the co-syndrome of depression and, for me, it's been the biggest challenge. 70% of all kids with PGA seizures outgrow them, and I did at 12. However, when I was 18, it reared its little head again, and I became one of the few adults with childhood epilepsy. I don't like to be called a victim or a sufferer, because it could always be much worse. I've lived on my own, have no brain damage and having been seizure-free for 9 years, I can drive a car. I'm on medications that have few side effects, and my last brain scan three years ago showed a normal brain.

If I'm okay, then why am I talking about it now?

Because with all I know about PGA, the one thing I don't know is why.
It's idiopathic, meaning there aren't known causes in every case, but can be hereditary. I'm the only one in the family as far back as four generations that I could trace with epilepsy, so it's a really frustrating answer, and without further research and education by the scientific community, I'll never know. One way to raise money for research is to participate in fundraisers, so when I heard that the Epilepsy Foundation of Cincinnati was coming to Huntington to start the Race for Hope 5K on May 1st, I knew I needed to sign up. I ended up deciding to walk instead of run, thinking about how much easier it would be. 

There was nothing easy about it.
5k is about 3.1 miles, which sounds like nothing, right? It sounded so simple, and every time E would bring it up, I'd brush it off. Never mind that last January, I couldn't walk a half mile without stopping 2 or 3 times. Never mind that I hadn't been to the gym in the last week. Whatever, it's just a 5k. Before the race, I gave myself 2 requirements: finish in 60 minutes, and don't finish last. I didn't want to be the one everyone was waiting on or the one that got left behind. I never once took a moment and patted myself on the back for signing up, showing up or doing my best, and I should have.

When the walk started, I power-walked for a little bit, but literally two minutes in, my shins were on fire. Right away, I freaked out, and knew I wouldn't make it. The walk became more about making it to the next volunteer than leaving folks in the dust, and somewhere along the way it became more about the hope than about the race. I realized that I've wasted so much time beating myself up over all the things that I can't do that I've never given a thought to all that I can and that so many people can't, including walking. I walked for the me's that I have been, am and want to be. I walked by a funeral and walked on for the someone in the hearse that couldn't. I walked by Marshall University, and walked on for the people who thought I'd never make it there and those that did. I walked by my bank, our favorite restaurants and city hall. I didn't stop walking, not even once, not even for a second. I stopped checking the time, my heart rate and the calories burned, because in the moment, they just didn't matter. At some point, I snapped out of my internal dialogues, and realized that I was almost there. I'm not ashamed to say that I cried as I got closer and closer, and it was so amazingly cathartic. I could feel the pressure, pain and anger slip away, and what was left was just me. I crossed the finish line exhausted and calm, and met up with E, who was waiting for me.

So, how did I do? 

With an official time of 52:27 (16:53 pace), I ranked:
81 out of 107 participants
18 out of 42 walkers
5 out of 6 overall in the 25-29 division
38 out of 53 overall females
2 out of 3 females aged 25-29

Yup, I placed!


Every time I try to brush it off as an accomplishment, all I have to do is look at this moment and that medal and I realize how awesome I truly am. I never stopped or looked back, and no matter how challenging it felt sometimes, I kept on keeping on, and for that, I rock! I don't always have to be the first or the best; by showing up and taking charge, I can keep being the best Carly that I can be.

 "Life is a positive-sum game. Everyone from the gold medallist to the last finisher can rejoice in a personal victory." - Unknow

So why didn't I run?
Pretty soon after starting C25K, I realized that at least for right now, it's not the right program for me. I'll admit that it was really hard for me to come to the decision to put it on the back burner yet again, but I truly believe that had I kept pushing for it, I would've resented it. For me, the whole point of doing C25K was to have a new adventure, a new activity, and a reason to keep reaching for a goal, and it was just not doing that for me. I'm kind of jealous of everyone I admire who are having a blast with the program, and hope that one day, I'll be back to follow in their footsteps.

P.S. for every comment I receive on this post, I'll donate $0.10 to The Epilepsy Foundation (up to 500 comments). This is a cause I believe so strongly in, so please re-tweet, repost and ensure that I'm a little poorer.

31 comments:

Jill said...

I know we haven't talked in many years, but i have to tell you that i am so incredibly proud of you. You have faced adversity head on and have been very brave despite many ups and down and a lot of frustration. You are an incredible role model for anyone who has something in their lives they feel is holding them back from being "normal". I only wish i had your strength and courage.... Keep up the amazeing work Carly

Caitlin at Healthy Tipping Point said...

way to go!!!

Lizzie said...

Congrats on finishing your walk! You're definitely an inspiration!

Heather @ Side of Sneakers said...

How inspirational!! It takes a lot to deal with something like epilepsy, and you are a shining example of how to look past it and live your life to the fullest. Congrats on the walk!

Susan said...

Amazing!!! While not the same condition as yours, my uncle just experienced his first ever seizure. It's frightening, and incredibly frustrating when the cause is so hard to pinpoint. You are doing a wonderful thing!!

And congrats on the race, you've come a long way!! :D

Kelsey said...

congrats!!!

Allison said...

Congratulations!

Sbelle said...

Awesome job, Carly!

Meg said...

Thank you so much for supporting this cause. Someone very close to me has epilepsey as well and I am glad to help you make a donation!

Donna said...

I am so proud of you. In honor of your 5k walk and all you have accomplished, I am donated $36.00 in your honor to the Epilepsy foundation of Canada.

Mary - A Merry Life said...

Great job. That's really inspiring.

I hope you get lots of comments!

Jack Sh*t, Gettin' Fit said...

You rock a tad.

Great story, and great challenge.

Steph said...

Carly, your awesome!
So proud of you!

<3

Pamela said...

Congratulations!! You have SO much to be proud of! A tweet about this blog post caught my eye, because my dad has uncontrollable epilepsy. I will be checking out your blog again and look forward to reading more from you!

Mrs. Hetherington said...

Carly, I'm so incredibly proud of you. Walking, running, moving in general can be a challenge and people do not always realize that. The fact that you did something you believed in is awesome!!! I enjoyed Couch to 5K and love to start the program over if you decide to start again.

Mara @ What's For Dinner? said...

WOOHOO!!!

ari said...

That's great.

Laura K. Curtis said...

Keep going! My epilepsy I like to say that even though my epilepsy sometimes runs my life, it never rules it. I participate in just about every study that comes down the pike because I have a younger brother with epilepsy and sibling studies are SO important to the future! (I have six nieces and nephews, and I really hope the next generation doesn't suffer--nothing fully controls my seizures, so if any of them has brain weirdnesses, I hope the drugs are better!)

Anyway, I found you on Twitter through the #epilepsy hashtag and I wanted to say congrats!

Jess said...

Beautiful post.

I think the most important thing about any race is finishing. Because it takes a lot of courage and determination to cross that finish line. And I'm so glad you did. I'm so glad you're looking at it in a positive light, thinking of all the progress you've made instead of all the can'ts because your can'ts will start disappearing one by one the more you focus on your CANS. I'm really proud of you for getting out there, for pushing through the pain in your shins, for just living in the moment and not worrying about your time, what place, any of that. Because none of that matters. You did it for yourself. You finished.

Good job!

Wearing Mascara said...

So awesome!!!! :-)

Anonymous said...

nice work!!

Dave said...

I want you to know how very proud of you I am every day. You and E are very much a huge inspriation to me, even though you don't know it. I love pushing your buttons because I like your high level of intelligence.

Look up, good job, and we need to hang out again soon!

Jenn (eating bender) said...

Congratulations, girlfriend! You rock!

Shauna said...

well done well done well donnnnnnnnne! :)

Danielle said...

Awesome Job! Keep up the good work! The C25K is hard... but in time you will be ready for that adventure.

Carmela P said...

This is fantastic--good luck!!

Seth said...

Great Job!

Trish said...

Great job on both accounts!!

love2eatinpa said...

what a beautifula and inspriring story. you are very courageous and should be so proud of what you've accomplished!

E said...

You have no idea how exceptionally proud I am. From the moment we met, I knew you were special (why else would I have bought a ring after three weeks), but you continue to surprise me every day with just how wonderful of a person you truly are.

Jen @ Pearls and Politics said...

Congrats! I ran my first almost-5K (actually a 3-mile run) in Huntington in March! It's so empowering to cross that finish line, isn't it?

You rock! :)